Various - Deep Elm Unreleased No. 1 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Deep Elm Unreleased No. 1 (2002)

Deep Elm

Just the idea of this comp makes it worthwhile - all unreleased tracks. Labels, is it that hard to get unreleased tracks from your bands? Compilations nowadays are worthless without unreleased tracks [I couldn't tell you the last comp I bought that *didn't* have unreleased tracks on it]. So which bands from Deep Elm's deep back catalog and roster were chosen to appear? Here's a list:
01. Planes Mistaken For Stars - "Blinders"
02. Seven Storey Mountain - "6.8.2000"
03. Red Animal War - "Last Train Out"
04. Brandtson - "Optimist Club"
05. Triple Fast Action - "All Better Now"
06. Pop Unknown - "New Found Friends"
07. Five Eight - "Skin Deep Pretty"
08. Starmarket - "Hated"
09. Dead Red Sea - "Ice Skating"
10. This Beautiful Mess - "Unsuitable For Any Melody But Yours"

Only 10 tracks? That's it? Deep Elm has put out over 75 releases and worked with dozens of bands, and they could only get 10? Ahh, the press release explains everything: "UNRELEASED No. 2 is coming soon and includes..." I see, they're trying to milk this for all it's worth. Alas.

So, as for the songs themselves, they all fall into the "pretty good-to-great" category, and I think I figured out why. A lot of Deep Elm's bands, while most are individual in their own right, can wear thin on the ears over the course of an entire album. With a one track shot, all of these bands succeed at their own little subgenre of the "emo umbrella," if you will. Highlights are the first Planes Mistaken For Stars song ever recorded, a wicked Seven Storey song that would've fit in perfectly on their new album, and a great Triple Fast Action song that makes me wish they never would've broken up.

The downside to the comp was also revealed to me in the press release: "[P]lus brand new recordings from Brandtson, Red Animal War, Dead Red Sea, and This Beautiful Mess."
Brand new recordings? All four of those bands have just come out with albums - it makes me think Deep Elm purposely withheld songs for the sole purpose of an "unreleased" compilation. It's kind of shady, and it marrs my overall opinion of the comp. It's still good, but it could have been better. Also, to Deep Elm: on the next compilation, could you make the liner notes more expansive? Have the bands write something about the songs, include band info, anything. One card inserts are so minor league.

Planes Mistaken For Stars - Blinders [clip]
Seven Storey Mountain - 6.8.2000 [clip]
Brandtson - Optimist Club [clip]