I was hesitant to include this comp as part of Chicago Week, because you’re going to get a taste of most of the bands on here later. But this comp rules and as far as I know, aside from a couple of songs which appeared later on “singles and comp tracks” collections, this is the only place those songs have been released.
I could do a million posts about Harmless Records. I corresponded with Scott Harmless quite a bit via snail mail in the late 90’s. Back then we called it by another name, “mail.” I was working a decent paying full time job and living at home with my parents (in Germany at the time) and was mail ordering a SHIT TON of records from back in the states. There was a period of a few weeks or months where I could take my break at work, walk to the post office, pick up the morning’s records, go back to work, then repeat the same thing with more records in the afternoon.
I remember getting packages with new releases in them, checking out the catalog that came with them, and sending (well concealed) cash right back to him the next day or even the same day in some cases.
Eventually, his goals and tastes with the label branched out into more hardcore sounds, and I lost interest and stopped paying attention. You guys think I’m a pop punk nerd now…1997 josh was a snobby purist who would have thought American Steel sold out for the big leagues when Destroy Their Future came out.
A few years later, the internet happened. I’ve since reconnected via email with Scott (I’m fairly certain it was originally through a myspace posting where he was liquidating most or all of his deadstock from the label, in one last push to get it out of his house. He’s always been super gracious and happy to help out with information about bands or stories of Chicago/Homewood 90’s pop punk. One thousand 1000 Yesterdays thank you’s, Scott.
This comp features mostly bands that also put something else on the label, but it is FAR from a simple cheapo label sampler. As I mentioned, none or very few of the songs appear anywhere else, or wouldn’t until much later. Plus, they’re fucking great songs.
I still throw this record on and listen to it all the way through. I don’t know that there’s a much better test to determine if a compilation has staying power than that. Sure, some of the songs don’t hit me as hard as they once did, some of them never really hit me hard, but whatever. It’s a mix. If all the songs were the best songs on the album, none of them would be.
One of several albums of which I own both the CD and the vinyl version. The below scans are kind of a mishmash but aside from the tray card spines and disc labels, there’s no real difference between the two sets of art.
Winepress: Perhaps the poppiest of the bunch. Keyboards that aren’t super overdone and in fact may not be noticeable until the very end of the song. LOVE Winepress. That’s as much a statement with an implied “I” for the subject as it is an imperative statement.
My Foolish Halo: I love the way the drum rolls happen during the breaks in this song.
Mushuganas: Maybe the first band I think of when I think of 90’s Chicago pop punk.
Bollweevils: Maybe the first band I think of when I think of 90’s Chicago pop punk.
Hubcap: The least pop punk band on here, but it’s upbeat. I remember being thrown by the weird cadence and vocals, but being intrigued enough to track down their LP. Good shouty garagey noisey something.
Squirtgun: Oh hey, a Lookout band. Their presence on this comp may have been the impetus for me ordering it, since I had seen them play for me and 50 of my friends a year or two earlier back in Arizona.
Kendokwan: Jangly, clear guitar, upbeat clear vocal pop music with distorted choruses that takes a turn and the last minute . IE the most emo song on the record. It’s good, though.
The Fighters: To this day, whenever I’m at a show and lose myself in the music and forget that there are people around me, when I come out of it and realize I’ve been flopping around like an idiot, this song comes to mind.
Walker: Maybe the first band I think of when I think of Chicago pop punk.
Chemical Blue: The song at the end of the record that often gets cut off because I’ve usually moved on to listening to Walker’s full length by the time it comes on. B/w a band I always tell myself I should listen to more whenever I do hear them. Not sure why I don’t know more Chemical Blue songs by heart. Scott Harmless was in this band.