When Scott lamented having to avoid bashing a charity-driven compilation out of sheer logic and morals, he was thankfully put in an easy position because the two-disc album happened to contain multiple rare or unreleased tracks, and he was able to give it relative but sincere praise after all.
This is where I'm forced to let guilt settle in.
While this year's version of SubCity's Take Action! compilation series (Volume 4 for those keeping score at home) is virtually a who's who of the hottest punk / indie / post-hardcore / metal / punk-pop / "emo" / hardcore / etc. bands today, too many of the tracks are already available on the respective band's pureVOLUME site or the like (roughly a third). A small handful even represent the singles from their respective albums, having already been made into a video and loved (Dillinger Escape Plan - "Panasonic Youth") or hated (Boys Night Out - "I Got Punched...," Hawthorne Heights - "Ohio Is For Lovers," Underoath - "Reinventing Your Exit," Mae - "Embers and Envelopes") by most of you already.
The only real unreleased tracks (besides the demo version here and alternate take there) are from Andrew W.K., NoFx, Brazil, and Brandston. AWK's strong yet inspiring words that open the compilation should be more than enough to prevent any soul from doing the unspeakable (seriously), and NoFx's following contribution, "Concerns of a GOP Neo-Phyte (Wrong Version)," is a surprise throwback that'll have you scanning the track listing on your copy of Heavy Petting Zoo to make sure this song was actually recorded within the last four years. "And So It Goes" from Brazil is disjointed and dragging, containing a really awkward flow with questionable inclusion of piano and wailing trumpet. Brandston's "Little Birds And Sparrows" is a more up tempo number from the band that still bores me.
As far as the rest of Disc 1 goes, The Break affirms my premonitions of mediocrity, Ever We Fall spews nothing but clichĂ©s in every chord, and the hardcore/metal block of Shadows Fall/Mastodon/Terror doesn't do a ton for me, but its following one-two punk rock punch of New Mexican Disaster Squad and A Wilhelm Scream works well. However, the liner notes claim that NMDS's "You're Incorrect" comes from an album of the same name, when it's really from the self-titled...I won't bother touching the obvious joke here. And of course, Hawthorne Heights still makes me laugh. And cry. And then laugh again.
Disc 2 has Roses Are Red and Hidden In Plain View worsening my already miserable cold, Despistado affirming every At The Drive-In comparison they received, and The Lot Six (who are quite the catch live, I might add) providing some dirty, fast rock 'n' roll.
The harder-to-find tracks are basically hit or miss. Murder By Death's "Canyon Inn, Room 16," which originally appeared on a split last year with Volta Do Mar, is a soft, piano-driven number vividly uncharacteristic of their last full-length, and could very well disappoint a few people relying on the band for making this comp their money's worth. Against Me!'s "You Look Like I Need A Drink" (originally on the Cavalier Eternal 7") is great for those who still haven't gotten a hold of the colored vinyl.
The enhanced portions are noteworthy additions. Not only does it include Paul Quinnett's, Ph.D., Suicide: The Forever Decision...For Those Thinking About Suicide And For Those Who Know, Love, Or Counsel Them - which normally retails for $17.95, but a depression screening tool, information on suicide prevention training programs, web-based resources, volunteer opportunities, and petitions to sign, all of which really help reinforce the anti-suicide message the compilation sets out to achieve.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated towards The National Hopeline Network, a service of the Kristin Brooks Hope Center. The artists and songs featured here may not prove to be the greatest ends of compiling efforts possible, but the effort in passing along a positive message and hope for truly depressed teens for a fourth time is achieved admirably.