Various Artists – More Ways than Three

Various Artists
More Ways than Three

Compilations often come from records labels or magazines trying to promote their artists or just create some buzz. You rarely actually pay for a compilation, unless you troll the dollar bin at the CD shop.

The compilation More Ways Than Three, from Innocent Words Records, features 17 different artists of all stripes. It isn’t a promotional vehicle – it’s a means for raising money and awareness for Riley’s Children’s Hospital. The Innocent Words imprint follows from a music magazine of the same name. Troy Michael founded the magazine and label, and he has a special connection to Riley’s Children’s Hospital. At age 14, Mr. Michael had a kidney transplant at Riley’s.

More Ways than Three doesn’t follow a certain theme or stick to any particular genre. When was the last time you saw a King’s X track anywhere near an Ani Difranco number on one of these things? In addition to those two artists, you have Sub Pop’s Kinski doing “Semaphore,” Juliana Hatfield performing “Hotels,” and Haymarket Riot’s “Castor Oil.” How’s that for range?

The Innocent Words label contributes three of the songs on the compilation. Triple Whip provides the song “Pump” (sounding a little like Lifter Puller), Lorenzo Goetz gives us “Slumber Jaw,” and Terminus Victor supplies the previously unreleased “Burning Capabilities.” Terminus Victor typically tends to sound a little unhinged, but in a good way.

For me, two very pleasant surprises were Tegan and Sara’s “I Bet it Stung” and Hamell on Trial’s “The Disconnected.” I hadn’t heard of either of these acts before the compilation. Hamell on Trial’s spoken-word story told of meeting a young punk band (named the Disconnected) willing to travel hours and play to an empty field after the conclusion of a festival to which they weren’t really even meant to play. It was inspirational and made me want to find out whether the Disconnected ever put out any music. Tegan and Sara’s track made me think of warped but well-done Japanese pop.

I’ve already mentioned perhaps the most well-known of the artists on the CD. But let’s face it, though. You’re probably not going to buy this thing because you want to hear a wide-ranging collection of music. You’ll probably buy this because you support Innocent Words and think that doing a benefit for a children’s hospital must qualify as one of the best reasons for putting this kind of thing together. I’d have to agree. Hats off to Mr. Michael.