Like Jesus Christ and the slap bracelet fad, what once was dead is back again. After eight years of absence filled with various benefit comps, online samplers and other intangibles, the Fat Music series returns to the compact disc format stronger than ever.
When you really think about it, assembling an outstanding collection of songs should be a piece of cake for a label with the roster of quality bands Fat is able to boast. And an outstanding collection of songs is exactly what you get on Fat Music Vol. 7: Harder, Fatter + Louder!.
The compilation enters with Old Man Markley in the same way their Fat Wreck debut Guts n' Teeth begins: the bluegrass harmonies of "For Better or Worse". With a pattering banjo and spinning fiddle, Old Man Markley shows just what the buzz has been about with a song that's actually vaguely reminiscent of Guttermouth's "Foot-Long"...for better or worse. The Swingin' Utters deliver the title track of their excellent Brand New Lungs 7-inch, while the Mad Caddies offer up the spaghetti-reggae tune "Why Must I Wait" from their "greatest hits" collection Consentual Selections. It's an alright song, but nowhere near as good as "Save Us", the other new track the Caddies tacked onto Consentual Selections.
Banner Pilot exploded in 2009 with Collapser, and the house show anthem "Greenwood" certainly helped. It's the best song on the comp, but it makes the following track–Pour Habit's "Heads of State"–sound a little mechanical and hollow next to the Midwestern sincerity of Banner Pilot. Fellow no-coast pop-punk bands Dillinger Four and the Lawrence Arms also appear, the latter of which contributes the digital bonus track "Demons" from Buttsweat and Tears, an exceptional inclusion for those who where left out after purchasing the EP on vinyl. Dead to Me is represented by the dub collage of "X" from their divisive LP African Elephants while Teenage Bottlerocket and Chixdiggit! make up the Ramonescore portion of the CD.
On "Hot Sand", the Cobra Skulls sound a bit like Against Me!, who is also represented with a demo of "Holy Shit". None More Black's comeback effort is included in the form of "Sinatra After Dark", while fellow East Coast melodic punks Smoke or Fire sound fresh on "Integrity".
For those of us who grew up on Fat comps, there's a bit of a nostalgia factor with some of the label's California core of Good Riddance, Strung Out, No Use for a Name and, of course, NOFX. All the tracks by those bands are strong, and NUFAN's cover of Cheap Trick's "Dream Police" is outstanding.
For whatever reason Fat decided to bring back the physical comp, the result is a success. Take one of the best labels in punk, extract some of its finest material, and you have Fat Music Vol. 7: Harder, Fatter + Louder!.