You just can't go wrong starting a compilation with a solid Alkaline Trio tune. It worked well on last year's fantastic "Plea for Peace / Take Action" and it works well here too. The Trio's speedy "Jaked On Green Beers" kicks things off on this 24-track comp from Side One Dummy and Blink 182's Atticus clothing.
There's a lot of material on this little disc. Quite a few of the big newsmakers of late are on here and (for me personally) it wa great to finally check out some bands that lots of people talk about but I'd yet to hear. At its least, this compilation marks a place in time for both pop punk and the labels Side One Dummy and Drive Thru Records (both of which have more then a couple bands populating the disc).
The first third of this album features many of the big guns of pop punk delivering pretty solid tracks. The Movielife, Autopilot Off, and Midtown all deliver powerful songs from their most recent work. Blink 182 includes "Time To Break Up," a standard speedy Blink song that offers nothing new to their fans. Finch, who are have emerged as one of Drive Thru's best upcoming bands, contributes "Post Script" from their recent album. I thought the Christmas themed "Ex-Miss" by New Found Glory was awkward (as Christmas jingles outside of the season are). A great stand-out track is the Rival Schools B-side "On Vacation," which darkens the tone a bit. However the most publically anticipated song on the album is Blink-182 side project Box Car Racer's first commercially available track, "Tiny Voices." The song is fairly timid, decent but definitely not the Refused / Fugazi / Minutemen hybrid the band was hyped as. To me, it simply sounds like Blink 182 with more mature lyrics and more stylistic range (which is what that band needs anyways, so no harm done).
Midway through, the compilation gets more diverse, kicking off with some anthemic street punk via Madcap's "Bright Lights Big City." Somewhat out of place as it chugs in, but still a welcome change of pace, is "am / pm" from American Nightmare. Glassjaw has one of the most interesting songs on the CD with "Radio Cambodia" from their upcoming album. After a decent Bosstones track with some great ska breakdowns, Bad Astronaut slows things down with "Catherine Morgan."
Unfortunately the disc looses its momentum in the final third and, despite some good songs, never really recovers. A trio of agonizingly similar tracks by The Starting Line, Simple Plan and Name Taken seem to drag the pace down. That block represents 5 or 6 minutes typical pop-punk song writing that seems so derivative from the bands preceding it. The Used and Agent 51 both contribute strong songs, but not enough to regain the energy the disk lost. Jimmy Eat World closes things up with a so-so live version of "A Praise Chorus."
If you're even a fair-weather fan of more mainstream punk rock then you should pick this up in a second. It has plenty of high-energy songs and is peppered with tracks that the average mall-punk may not be exposed to (American Nightmare, Rival Schools, Glassjaw, Madcap). There's well over an hour of music on here, with enough great songs that its shortcomings are mostly forgivable.
Click here to see an E-Card with a full track-listing and song samples.