Various Artists – Slaying Since 1996

Various Artists
Slaying Since 1996

Certain milestone anniversaries are always reason to celebrate, and Suicide Squeeze Records’ 10th anniversary is no exception. SSR are kind enough to allow us to join the fun as they celebrate their decennial in fine fashion with the release of Slaying Since 1996, a double-CD collection of new, rare, and classic songs from a plethora of artists that have worked with the label during its 10-year existence.

This assemblage is a veritable treasure chest of indie-rock goodies, with 34 tracks and over two hours of music. All the cuts were culled from SSR’s archives, spanning the 10-year period of 1996 to 2006 with at least one track representing each year. In order to entice consumers, the two discs contain a total of 13 previously unreleased tracks, with the icing on the cake being an additional eight tracks that are currently out of print and no longer available elsewhere.

It would be impossible to mention all 34 tracks here, so the following is a short synopsis of what this reviewer considers the highlights (the complete track listing is available on the label’s website):

The classics include the single that got it all started in 1996 from Seattle’s 764-Hero, “Now You’re Swimming,” the vintage “A Life of Arctic Sounds” by a brash and unseasoned Modest Mouse, the melancholic rock of Elliot Smith’s “Division Day,” and Pedro the Lion’s plaintive vocals and bittersweet melodies on “June 18, 1976.”

The rare includes the ghostly B-side single “After the Ladder” by The Black Heart Procession, the heavy-handed, post-punk of The Melvins on a live version of “With Teeth,” the dub-style, art-punk of Les Savy Fav’s rare B-side single “We’ll Make a Lover Of You,” and the neo-psychedelic “Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da” courtesy of Athens, Georgia’s Of Montreal.

The new consists of many previously unreleased tracks, such as the sinuous avant-pop of Chin Up Chin Up’s “Trophy’s for Hire,” the ambient-flavored, instrumental post-rock on “Evergreen and Ivorbean” by Red Stars Theory, Earlimart’s smoky, murk-rock on “Caruther’s Boy,” and the dark, atmospheric guitar noodlings of Minus the Bear on “The Game Needed Me (Dälek REMIX).”

The rest of the two-disc set is rounded out by many diverse bands with equally divergent musical sounds, yet all are bound by the common thread that is Suicide Squeeze Records’ formula of providing great music made with great care and a punk-rock soul, be it the airy pop of Crystal Skulls, the lo-fi folk musings of Iron & Wine/Six Parts Seven, or the Sex Pistols-influenced punk-rock of Hint Hint.

In addition to all the great music, the limited-edition set is packaged in a sharp-looking, double digi-pak with creative cover art, informative liner notes, and with the slightly tinted red and green color scheme, it appears as though Suicide Squeeze Records are presenting indie-rock fans with a Christmas present in July that will surely make a cool Summer.