I’ve yet to grasp the purpose for these compilations. They’re not label samplers, treasure troves of unreleased material, nor do they have any overall lyrical or musical theme. All I can ascertain is that the Atticus compilations seem to be a yearly collection of songs with a clothing company’s name attached. With the goal of an honest review I’ll withhold the voice in my head that’s screaming about excessive branding and music commodification. The connection between a record label and selling music seems far less superfluous than that of a clothing-company.
However despite these reservations over its motive, musically this record tops its predecessor in nearly all respects. The album kicks off with Rocket From The Crypt’s “I’m Not Invisible” followed by Hot Water Music’s “Remedy” and Thrice’s “To Awake And Avenge The Dead.” Not that any of these are unreleased, but it’s a solid group of rocking tracks that give this an overall mix-tape feel. Similarly there’s a good sampling of album cuts from Dillinger Four, The Suicide Machines, Jets To Brazil and The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. While these were previously released they’re all generally strong songs that keep the disc buoyant.
As for the unreleased material, The Dropkick Murphys cover the traditional “Fields Of Athenry” in epic sing-along fashion. A more fully realized version of Sparta's "Vacant Skies" evokes the same killer atmospheres that they did on their full length. Not to be outdone, Rise Against’s “Heaven Knows” proves once again why they’ve garnered such admiration in the punk scene. While decent, Maxeen’s “Soleil” sounds deceptively emo at times and isn’t the best example of the band’s infectious new-wave influenced material. There’s a very pleasing simplicity to Down By Law’s “Next To Go,” a skate punk track with a late 80s feel.
Not everything is as effective. Blink 182’s over-produced “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over” sounds glaringly out of place here. Despite some experimentation, I still can’t shake the feeling that I’ve already heard every Finch song a year ago from Glassjaw; “Worms Of The Universe” is no exception. I was hoping for a better first impression of Matchbook Romance, as their “Greatest Fall Of All Time” will sound embarrassingly dated as soon as the emo tide ebbs.
The album closes on a harder note with great cuts from Over My Dead Body and Bane. Bane in particular brings a great change of pace to the compilation and hopefully should prove eye opening to some of the more mainstream audience. Finishing things off is a live recording of the Alkaline Trio's "Crawl." Being a BBC Sessions track it's excellent sound quality and will surely be appreciated by their legions of fans.
All in all there is a fair amount of interesting stuff on “…Dragging The Lake II.” With less blatantly trend-of-the-moment material this disc should have a bit longer shelf life then the first. Pick it up for the Dropkick Murphys, Sparta and Rise Against gems.