Various Artists – Summer Solution: Reason Y Compilation 2002

Various Artists
Summer Solution: Reason Y Compilation 2002

I’m often amazed by how much good music exists out in the world. Sometimes it seems like there are bands and performers lurking in every corner, waiting to jump out and blindside me with some amazing new song or sound or idea. I often forget (or maybe choose to ignore) how much bad music there is out there, too. Every once in a while I’ll hear something that throws this fact into my face in stark black and white. -BAM- And then I know; there is bad, bad music being written and performed all around the world right now.
The problem with labeling music “bad” is that it’s hard to do. When you hear something outstanding, there is no doubt in your mind about what you just heard. When you hear something bad, often your judgment waffles. You are forced to decide if it was really bad, or just something that you personally don’t like. This compilation forced me to make that decision over and over again. Which means, as a whole, this compilation is bad. To be fair, not all the music on this compilation is bad, though. Most of it is just mediocre (kissin’ cousin to bad), and some of it is good. But it’s like picking good fruit from amongst a pile of rotting fruit. Not really an appetizing proposal. Here’s a track-by- track assessment of this comp.
Bird Gets The Smile, “Here and Gone” – Things do not get off to a good start. This band has potential, but this track is watered down, bland emo. The Warren Commission, “Minute Murder” – It starts to get better. This is nice, straight-forward girl fronted indie pop, but still not spectacular. The Beatings, “Brighter than Bright” – This is good east-coast indie rock. Not overly ambitious, but what it does, it does well. And it will never get played on the radio. Perfect. The Idiot Toaster, “Green Algae, Yellow Fish” – Great name. Lo-fi, punishingly rigid, powerful, slightly math-y, rawk. Surface to Air, “Fallen” – Nothing special here. This band can’t decide if they want to be metal or stick with pop. Fiesel, “Action Destroys Perfection” – This is okay. The concept is really cool, it just doesn’t reach out and grab you. Vaguely progressive instrumental rock, with all the proper amounts of dissonance and disaster that it implies. This band will probably get better, and when they do, listen up. Delvic, “Born to Kill.com” – Some bands try to fit into several genres at once and end up with something so uncreative and bland that it means nothing. This is one of those bands. Words for Snow, “My Myopia” – At this point in the CD, things truly head south. This is just bad: musically, lyrically, conceptually. Plus it’s too long. Someone call a major label rep, maybe they’ll take it off our hands. Tristan Da Cunha, “Outlaw” – Wow. It’s always scary when a band doesn’t bother to come up with something even slightly original and just tries to co-opt some other bands schtick. In this case, the two bands in question would be Primus and the Minutemen. The Switch, “Two for Flinching” – Really good Brit power-pop. Fans of Matthew Sweet and Teenage Fanclub, get in line now. The Secrets, “Chinatown Bus” – Singer/songwriter synth-pop. Reminiscent of Magnetic Fields, but not nearly that creative or original. Noahs Dove, “Expiration” – This band has now broken up, so this track is sort of irrelevant. Girlie vocals and by-the-book dream pop. Milch, “Principio” – Now this is interesting. After a CD half-full of mostly mediocre indie-rock, what’s the last thing you’d expect to hear? If you said, “Jazzy, 80s soundtrack-influenced electro Latin rock,” you nailed it. This is really, really good. Truly different and original. We have a winner. Helicopter Ejection Seat, “Super Nova Scotia” – Really mathy progressive rock performed by two bassists and a drummer. This band has now broken up and turned into a much better one called TIMBER! See them instead. Waterpistol, “Missouri Soupbowl” – This is what passes for an emo band in the “just label it and ship it” record production culture. Document, “Twelve Paper Sails” – Lo-fi indie rock, with slightly emo and math leanings. I know that sounds jaded, but it’s actually okay music. You just have to listen hard, and the lyrics are completely unintelligible.
Now go and listen to your favorite album and thank God that it even exists.