Various Artists – We Just Call It Roulette Vol. 1

Various Artists
We Just Call It Roulette Vol. 1

There are record label comps but who knew there were recording studio comps? The first to come across my stereo is surely a good one with impressive packaging to boot. The concept is simple. Russian Recording in Indiana calls upon 14 bands that have graced their studio, be it by recording or mastering, to donate a track and then a member of one of the bands will design the packaging. We Just Call It Roulette Vol. 1 is planned to be an annual release from the studio in limited edition pressings of 500.

Packaging for the debut in the series was designed by Jason Isenbarger of Morrow and in sticking with the Russian theme he has put together a snazzy package looking like something out of Stalin‘s back pocket. Instead of a normal flip out matchbook style sleeve there are two magnets holding it in place. While this sounds like not much worth pointing out it’s a smart move; anyone who’s tried to open June of 44’s The Anatomy Of Sharks will attest to this. But does the music hold up to such creative standards?

Most samplers of any kind are always a hit or miss affair. In the case of a particular label you have a vague idea of what you’re getting but in the hands of a studio where bands of all styles and genres come to record, especially in Indiana, the field is wide open. Wasteland DC offers up some fast n’ furious speed metal, only with far better production than the rest of the genre, with “Age Of Fear,” originally featured on their debut Through Hollow Eyes. Nate Jackson’s contribution “Jacob’s Hand” is a great country blues stomp with some Waits-ian growl and a good use of reverb on the chorus. The Coke Dares fill tracks 3 through 5, not because of any special treatment but because the average length of their songs is a Minuteman-esque 43.2 seconds; each a crunchy blast of punk reminiscent of The Buzzcocks. And speaking of Watt, Boon, and Hurley, the ghost of their lyrical spirit is channeled through “Spotlight” by The Abner Trio which also ties into the leftist theme of the album packaging.

Other artists such as Thousand Arrows, Beltane, Morrow, and State all pitch in worthy numbers somewhere between Touch & Go post rock and moody garage rockers. As compilations go the concept is unique and the results are better than one would expect.