Various Artists – Shreds Volume 4: American Underground 1996

Volume 4. One more to go and we’re done with the CD series. This one has the least number of bands I’m familiar with and/or interested in, so I’ll get right to it.

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1. Honey Rider – “Superstar Sex Machine”: Dreamy pop-sounding stuff.
2. The Detroit Cobras – “Village Of Love”: Almost like a 90’s garagey version of a girl group from the 60’s.  I bet this was fun live.
3. The Beltones – “Insipid Sedentary Girl”:  This goes back and forth between two styles. One sounds like the Crumbs a little bit, the other sounds like a 60’s guy-vocal group.
4. The Krabs – “Anytime, Anywhere”: I’m either starting to notice a theme or my ears are broken. These guys also remind me of the Crumbs. Or maybe an upbeat Jon Cougar Concentration Camp. Good stuff.
5. Planet Seven – “Panic Button”: Instrumental Spacy surfy rock with clean reverby guitars. Not too surprising with a name like Planet Seven. I always enjoy this stuff more than I expect to at the outset. It’s really too bad the late 90’s had that swing revival thing instead of a surf revival with stuff like this. Oh well, we’re coming up on 20 years, so maybe it’ll come around again soon.
6. The Decibals – “Kiss Me Carolynne”: Ok, now I know it’s not just me. More garagey pop punk that’s clearly got one foot in each. Did these guys put something out on Mutant Pop? Methinks they could have.
7. The Durfs – “Because You’re Nude”: Shreds Volume 4: American Underground Bands That Sound Like The Crumbs Who Put Out A Record In 1996.  Don’t get me wrong. The Crumbs fucking rule. And I only kid out of love. It’s a little strange because there’s no mention of a theme other than the same release year for these songs, but SOMETHING is going on here.
8. Discount – “Rooftop Empathy”: Are you really reading this and don’t know who Discount are or what they sound like? Classic 90’s female fronted pop punk from Florida. The common complaint is that “sounds kind of like Discount” in the description of a band is sexist codespeak for “is pop punk with a female singer”.  I’m not trying to say that all or most pop punk bands with a female singer sound at all like Discount. But that sort of stereotype and default description had to come from somewhere, right? Even if it’s only because Discount was the first band to do it and be recognized for it then they get saddled with having their name plugged into that sentence, the fact that it happens means something. Genre defining? Fuck off, sexist. Imagine a more poppy post-hardcore band, then put on some super poppy vocals, super personal lyrics, and there you go.
9. Moped – “Turkey”: Pop punk with female vocals that sounds nothing like Discount.
10. Stool Pigeons – “I Gotta Dream On”: Whoa, I never knew there were cuddlecore bands that weren’t Cub. If Buddy Holly and the Crickets were born female in the 70’s, they might write songs that sound like this.
11. The Grumpies – “Weather Girl”: OH SHIT THE GRUMPIES ARE ON. They covered a song that was on Volume 1. They covered a band that was on Volume 2. As far as I know, no connection to Volume 3, but here they are on Volume 4.  What do they sound like? Super fast noisy poppy feedbacky garage pop punk with dual male and female vocals that rules and will melt your face off. Whenever I play The Grumpies for someone who’s never heard them before, I feel like it’s the same thing that happened in the 70’s when someone would play the Ramones for someone and try to use pop language to describe them (they sound like the Beach Boys!” “Um, no they don’t”. “Clean out your ears, they do.”). There are crazy poppy harmonies and melodies in here that are obvious to some, but the feedback and speed and noise apparently makes it difficult for some to discern.  Like F.Y.P or Toys That Kill? Recess Records put out The Grumpies LP “Who Ate Stinky” and that should tell you something. Namely that if you don’t have The Grumpies then  your store could use some fixin’.
12. All About Chad – “I Know A Girl”: Lemonheadsy? I don’t know. Lacks an edge for me.
13. Me First – “Princess Confusion”: I feel bad for this band. They had the name Me First in 1996, and then that lounge act cover band came along with a too-similar name and exploded and eclipsed this band. I seem to remember this band getting the “folk” label applied, but this was before Plan-It-X came along and changed what that meant for a pop punk band. Clean guitar for the verse/distorted guitar for the chorus, folksy vocal stylings, (I guess), and it kind of makes sense that someone would call this “folky”.  I sure wouldn’t.
14. Subincision – “Anti-Bark Device”: Something about the meter of this song reminds me a LOT of X Ray Spex’s “Highly Inflammable” but I just listened to the latter and it doesn’t really sound the same. Still reminds me of it. Weird. Sort of streetpunk sounding, pretty sure it’s about taking anti-bark collars off of dogs and putting them into the body cavity of the dog owners. Works for me.
15. The Andersons – “My Life Still Sucks (In A Bad Way)”: Catchy pop song like you’d hear on a college radio station. Reminds me of the last Mr. T Experience record.
16. The (Young) Pioneers – “(It Looks Like He’ll Be Joining) The Navy”: It’s unfortunate that an amazing band can get name dropped by Against Me! and still remain relatively obscure.

Get it.

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