Mike Park delivers the second volume of his Plea for Peace charity compilation, the long-awaited followup to the series that debuted in 2000. Okay, is it really long-awaited? Maybe not by many, but previously unreleased tracks from the likes of Pansy Division, Jawbreaker, Cave In and more definitely make it worth the purchase, especially when they're contained within 52 mostly good-to-great songs total.
Chuck Ragan opens Disc 1 with "For Broken Ears," off the first 7" of his singles club. For those first hearing Ragan in solo form it's a fine introduction and should get anyone pumped for either of his upcoming releases. Alkaline Trio and Anti-Flag both contribute classic old-school jams -- "Cringe" and "Their System Doesn't Work for You," respectively. I found Dead to Me's Fat debut Cuban Ballerina merely pretty good, but "By the Throat" stands out mighty here for some reason. Tim Barry's unabashed country jangle provides a unique moment to things, while the Dexter Holland cameo of the Dwarves' eccentrically poppy "Salt Lake City" will have you double-checking the track listing. Planes Mistaken for Stars craft one of their best, most refreshing intros on "Never Felt Prettier," even though I'm not quite digging on the entire song. The Singularity sound like they could sign to Fat any minute now with the dreadfully gravelly vocal-charged "Leigh and Strokes." Smoke or Fire ("The Patty Hearst Syndrome") and the Bouncing Souls ("The Gold Song") both offer a standout apiece from their latest albums. Meanwhile, Bleeding Through offers a bit of a cheesy metal reprieve from the generally punk rock nature of the disc. Cave In offers another break themselves with a live version of "Dead Already" from their 2005 cassingle; however, it sounds better than its rough studio version, further showcasing a crust/d-beat styling from the band the likes of which fans have never really heard before...ever. Sundowner's excellent "Steal Your Words" closes quite the solid trio of singer/songwriter tracks on Disc 1.
Over on the second disc, Andrew Jackson Jihad's previously unreleased tune "No More Tears" should please fans of acoustic anarcho-folk-punk (Plan-It-Xcore?). Shinobu is next with their vaguely Jawbreaker-esque "Teachers Get Tired" (also previously unreleased) and I may check out more of their stuff based on this one. However, the real deal is up next with a rare live cut of "Do You Still Hate Me?," and it's fucking fantastic; Blake Schwarzenbach absolutely pleads and strains his line of "and I miss you!" during the climax, truly sounding more sincere and emotional than any given moment off Live 4/30/96 -- it's even more heartwrenching than Schwarzenbach is usually capable of. Mike Hale offers the peculiar but amusing "Leatherface Fan" and Drag the River The Boss-heavy "Me & Joe Drove Out to California." NOFX chip in a track from their own 7" series with the above par "100 Times Fuckeder," and the Draft a 7" contribution as well in "Devil in the Shade." The Sainte Catherines ("Ring of Fire = 4 Points") and Western Addiction ("Mailer, Meet Jim") offer a bit of a heavier outlook, with Cursive ("Bad Sects") oddly sandwiched in between. I could do without Throwdown's "Burn," but Heavens' "Patent Pending" I somehow can on yet another compilation. Mike Park's twangy "Roger Staubach Plays the Lead" closes it nicely.
Some of the only real criticisms that could be levied here would be the overabundance of Fat Wreck Chords acts (six in all -- Asian Man has seven, but it can be excused because they're the label responsible for the comp's release), and a few songs that are already offered as a free download on a band/label's website per usual compilation habit.
Plea for Peace Volume 2 is otherwise a great and diverse collection of tracks with some wonderful moments and rare treats. Additionally, with 100% of the proceeds going to a good cause, it's hard to go wrong.