Various Artists – Beluga … On the Rocks 3

Various Artists
Beluga … On the Rocks 3

It’s tough to review compilation albums, especially ones that are two CDs long. But that doesn’t mean it’s hard to listen to this compilation of 36 very unique songs. What Beluga Records has done is to cull a batch of very unique bands, all presumably from Chicago, a veritable mecca of rock these days. It seems like Chicago has room for every kind of band remotely associated with rock, and here they all are. That’s what makes this compilation so good. So now, I’ll try to be quick with my summaries, just to whet your taste buds.

Alrighty, Disk 1. You’ve got some uproarious punk-a-billy from Redneck Exorcist (a fitting name if I’ve ever heard one), snotty grrrl-rock from Grand Theft Auto, and a great, frenzied power-rock song from Douglass Kings. I love the quirky little Looper-esque pop instrumental from the horribly named The Baldwin Bros. I tend to skip the nonsense of descendro Allegro and move on to the fun, power-rock and inexplicably catchy “Yard Sale” from Muchacha. I kind of like the frenzied noise of Plague of Yeti, very chaotic. And Beluga’s best sell, Today’s My Super Spaceout Day, throw out one of their best feedback-washed rock with “Jesus Jumping Jacks.” The Cells have some more power-rock, pretty typical, followed up by a nice bubblegum pop song tinted with Brit pop from berber. Sasha 13’s “Silver” is nice and somewhat Sneaker Pimps-esque. Skip over the raunchy “Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” from Lomal and listen to some fun power-pop from Cats & Jammers (just try to get them out of your head!). Picnic Lightning’s “Potato Baby” is obnoxiously cute!

Now, Disk 2. Whew, keeping up? There’s some good stuff here! It starts with The Baltimores playing some girl-fronted power-pop (lots of power pop here, it’s what Beluga’s all about) that sounds like pleasantly something out of 1995 except with more moog! The puta-pons are odd start-stop rock that’s kinda neat, a little bit That Dog-y. Jupiter Down have a nice, very large rock sound that still manages to be slightly droney. There’s some alt.country from Pistol Whipped, Aerosmith guitar riffage from Zipperhead, and fun, Brit-pop ala Beachwood Sparks, perhaps, from Uniform. Like any good Chicago comp, there’s a typical Wesley Willis song here too. I really enjoy the retro-ey, bouncy but smooth pop of The Goblins, but I can do without more crotch-rock bands like The Velouria Beat. Kelly 18 have another frenzied burst of noise and chaotic rock. There’s a nice, bass-heavy indie rock track from Seamus that I like quite a bit, followed by guitar-rock from Made to Fade (sounds like a Metallica tribute band). Big Angry Fish finish things off with a weird little answering machine and snoring track.

That’s about it. 36 mostly power-rock or power-pop songs, all with a lot of energy. There’s some real gems in here, some really unique bands and some really strong rockers. Beluga has most of the best ones on their roster, so check out this comp. and check out the Beluga backlog for some good Chicago rock.