Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Various Artists - Sun, Smog and Hate (Folktale Records LP)

Just in from Foxy Digitalis:

A compilation is a tricky matter, and the more artists the more dubious the odds of positive results become. Too many artists can spread the album too thin, and too few just feels like a jip for each track you do like. So I was a bit hesitant to throw on this compilation concerning, as its title suggest, sun, smog and hate.

Luckily this little number isn’t half bad, presenting ten tracks by ten artists each focusing on the more depressing qualities of the Golden State and other locales with less fortunate nicknames/attitudes from the get go. You have to admit, it’s a good idea, and the players here come up big with some very humorous, dry and downright obscene portraits of their collective hometowns. That most of these performers typically has a cutesy-ish singer-songwriter slant only makes the grim outlooks more endearing.

So what of the music you ask? Most of the bands here I’ve heard nary a word from, but many of these are the ones coming up the best material here. Clark 8’s “Get Back to It” is a slow drawler that’s snide as hell, while John Thill’s “Smog Machine” cuts hastily from indie vocalizings to feedback crunch without so much as a bridge. Other luminaries come in the form of French Quarter’s taught and fertile melodic pop sensibility on “Overpassing” (which also appeared on his recent release, “Ugly Unknowns”) and Andrew Jackson Jihad’s exceptionally brief call for contentment on the amazingly titled “Hate Sick Hard Party Pt. 2 .Com.” Asleep in the Sea’s “Microcosm” is an orchestrated work of real scale and depth that leans to the sunny side, closing the record on a less sarcastic and, dare I say, hopeful note.

A really nice little compilation, nobody stands too tall above anyone else and the loose thread of thematic material holds the LP in order. It airs on the poppy side, but it’s good to hear that this kind of music is still being done with such dignity, creativity and sneer.

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