Loud And Clear's compilation obviously features San Diego bands, but what surprised me was the overall quality and diversity of the music on here. While this label was unknown to me, they put together a great collection of music and I was wrong to doubt this album. While I've only had previous experience with one band on here, No Knife, I was impressed by many of the others. Here are the highlights...
Comfortable For You brings the rock right away with a dual guitar assault and a sound akin to old Fugazi on the track "Double Barrel Breakfast Cereal." Kill Me Tomorrow are on Omar Rodriguez-Lopez's Gold Standard Labs label and have toured with Blood Brothers and currently Pretty Girls Make Graves, which made me pretty interested, but their fuzzed-out thumping and squealing on "Xerox My Hand" didn't win me over. The Black Heart Procession, a band I haven't heard of a lot but never actually heard, surprised me with an Old West-sounding tune, "From The Shores Of A Washed Up Heart," complete with mariachi trumpets and blasty trombone bringin' the bass. The feel is reminiscent of Murder By Death, which I like, but the song is too short. "Nasty Portion" by Sleeping People is an instrumental workout with intricate guitars and lots of odd meters and dynamic shifts. Hot Like (A) Robot I had heard in name only, and while their track "To Die For Glue" is solid melodic rock, it's one of the few previously released tracks on here.
The track I was waiting for was No Knife's "Riot For Romance" remix, which is done by the album's producer Greg Wales. The remix definitely makes the song a lot creepier, spacing out the guitar licks and putting a hell of a lot of reverb on them, adding in some harmonium and some ambient noises, and taking out all but a couple lines of vocals. This is all over fat beats, of course. Bunky mix things up a bit with "Rodents In Love", a 36-second spazzcore song from a drum and guitar duo, which is appropriately poorly recorded. Twenty First Century Lepers first hit me as just another retro rock band, but then the AC/DC vocals and the odd usage of synthesizers convinced me otherwise. The song ends with a climbing chromatic section then a fall to end the song; a surprising but welcomed finish.
Sin Sin 77 bring another twist to the comp on "Lies" with female-fronted new wave rock similar to the new Sahara Hotnights, and apparently this is a side project of Petey X of Rocket From The Crypt. The album ends on a mellower indie rock note, including a solo track by No Knife's Ryan Ferguson. He is not No Knife's vocalist, and that along with the simplicity of the song make it sound nothing like his full band. Hushed vocals, acoustic guitar and gentle keys make "Wait For Me There" quite a soothing track.
From abrasive to technical to mellow to electronic, this comp's eclectic nature gives it a lot of points in my book. Most songs being unreleased is another plus, and then on top of that, 50% of the profits go to the San Diego Humane Society, which works to prevent animal cruelty. I'd recommend this to anyone into underground music of any variety - it's one of the best comps I've heard in a while, and I don't tend to dig comps all that much.