I have a big problem with compilation records/downloads/etc. Let me qualify that sweeping statement a bit: I'm not referring to those releases that we can fondly look back to in the earlier days of punk rock, which served as the most convenient way to hear a number of bands, many of which ended up playing a big part in our lives. What I mean is the plethora of compilations/samplers that are basically issued as part of marketing campaigns to lure us in and make us want to buy (or more often than not, not buy) products from labels. I appreciate that this is an over-simplification but in general I find that tracks on modern comps etc. are usually the best a band can offer and any subsequent purchase is un-necessary.
With all that being said, I decided to take a chance and give the free download compilation produced by Leeds, U.K.-based Bombed Out Records, nattily titled A People's History of Bombed Out Records, a try. The reason being, that this was more in line with the excellent Dischord 20th Anniversary set that came out a few years ago rather than being a direct advertising ploy. Okay, you don't get the extensive liner notes, pictures, etc. that Dischord issued but in the end it's all about looking back at some of the bands that have been featured on the label and enjoying the music they released. As an aside, it's no surprise that a handful of the bands featured display a sound not too dissimilar to some bands that have been on that fairly eclectic US label in the past.
Bombed Out has been around and releasing records for 13 years now and has worked with many bands (primarily but not exclusively from the U.K.) that have been trundling up and down the motorways, entertaining all and sundry. Many of the bands featured no longer exist but members can still be found in more recent bands if one takes the time to track them down.
The other thing that makes this album worthy of ones' time is that it is far from being a one-dimensional collection of bands, another downfall of many compilations/samplers. With bands like Zapiain, Eighty Six and the Dauntless Elite kicking proceedings off with a more straight-up melodic punk sound (think Leatherface/Jawbreaker), the inclusion of Remainderfour, Dugong, Saturday's Kids and the Take provide a more indie rock and/or a post-punk feel to compilation thus giving it an edge of other compilations I've heard lately.
The remainder of the bands continue with this variety: Peachfuzz displaying their power pop sensibilities whilst Kelly 8 has a slightly rockier sound that brings to mind Hammerbox. Fig 4.0 throw everything including the kitchen sink into their thrashier punk sound, whereas Dropnose and Joe Ninety keep hold of the kitchen sink in mixing a harder punk sound infused with a dash of melody on their included tracks. The Amistad and the Mercy Suite both provide some tuneful melodic punk, highlighting that the UK has had strength in depth in this genre over the years even if some of it passed me by. The Leif Ericsson is another band which relies on a distinctly melodic approach yet they manage to sound suitably different to anything else on here and are also one of the bands that I was already aware of.
The Brown Hound James Band offers up a track that is obviously influenced by a host of American bands, one of which must be Samiam / Dave Hause (The Loved Ones) as I can clearly hear their inspiration working its way into the song. This is the one artist on the compilation for which the Bombed Out Web site contains no information or none that I can find. I'm intrigued as I like what the band does and would gladly listen to more if it's up to this quality. Finally comes Adam Jones, from Peachfuzz, showing us his solo acoustic skills which, quietly, bring this documentation of Bombed Out Records to a satisfactory ending.
There are certainly a few bands here that I was previously unaware of, that I now want to hear more from, so in one respect this has worked well as an inadvertent marketing tool for Bombed Out Records but it doesn't feel as if I have been listening to musical promotion throughout the eighteen tracks. Like many other DIY labels around the world, Bombed Out has continued to seek out decent bands to work with for one thing--the love of the music. The guys behind the name know that it's not going to be much more than a labor of love but they can reflect with great satisfaction, quite rightly too, on what they've achieved and hopefully look forward to what they can still offer both bands and the public.
This is available free from the label's Bandcamp page, so do yourself a favor and check it out as it is a more than respectable snapshot of the UK scene (along with some Swedish input from Kelly 8) over the years. Even if you don't go on to buy anything that any of these bands have released, listening to this collection of music is a worthwhile way of spending some time.