Various Artists – Homemade Hits, Vol. 1

Various Artists
Homemade Hits, Vol. 1

There’s an awful lot to like on this 26-song compilation from Kittridge. In 70+ minutes of home recordings by a gaggle of unknown bands, there are numerous examples of fine songwriting and plenty of interesting sounds put to tape by these housebound auteurs. With styles ranging from electro dance-pop to ragtag tuning-averse scree, to straight up indie pop, Homemade Hits Vol. 1 passes by like a particularly enjoyable hour of your favorite college radio station, without the incoherent DJ.
The hit-to-miss ratio is impressively high, among them Katie the Pest’s “What Color Are You?” which sounds like some basement bound Flying Nun band circa 1984, catchy and rough with a strangely compelling refrain over the bass-less fuzz. Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti also compel strangely with the crooked “Want Me.” A stiff, clumsy beat staggers along while Ariel sings some unsteady harmonies and chops at some chords. But the harmonies, chords, and drums are all cool and the song sounds like a lost artyfact from Lenny Kaye’s Nugget series of forgotten garage greats. A bunch of these songs remind me of an earlier era, but that’s due more to the fact that the bands use some musical jujitsu, making their low-fi bondage work for them than any imitative tendencies. Check out Holy Shit’s “New Colors” or Honeybunch’s “All That’s Left of Me is You,” for authentic sundazed psychedelia and some Rhode Island Merseybeat respectively. Props to Luke Top as well for the way the druggy Donovanesque chorus of “Take it Easy” sidles up unexpectedly. I love when songs do that.
The oddly doctored vocals and surfy guitar of “Bernerter” by Philadelphia’s Persons makes for an appealingly weird listen, as does the salty-tongued robot sassing his way through the crashing new waver “Pig I’m” from Rose for Bohdan & Lil’ Pocketknife. Things get a little more unorthodox elsewhere on the disc, but some of the best tunes overall are simple ones like the elegiac “Drive” from Honeymoon Diary. Short, sweet, dreamy, and jangly – can’t help think Flying Nun again, especially personal favorite Look Blue Go Purple. Evoke LBGP and consider your hand stamped for full access to the VIP lounge.
The perfect pop of “Breathe” from Going Stagg had a little voice whispering in my ear again. The one that taunts “How come you’ve never heard of this band? Your grandma never heard of them either, do you two exchange mixtapes of Pat Boone?” and on and on and on. It’s just the terrible realization that no matter how hard you try, you’ll never know every pop song ever recorded. But the upside is finding those that you can, and then dropping obscure band names during job interviews to see if your prospective new boss just happens to be the coolest guy ever. This time tomorrow, I just may be discussing Going Stagg or Lunchbox with the HR department over at Quiznos.
A very strong collection of songs, largely unreleased and presumably rougher than the primary recordings of these bands, Homemade Hits Vol. 1 is like a river that branches into 26 little tributaries. It does what a good compilation should: point in a lot of new directions to lure the curious explorer.