Various - Playing 4 Square II (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Playing 4 Square II (2002)

Suburban Home

Volume I was one of my favorite comps for a very long time. You have to know I'm always in search of fastpaced melodic punkrock and I'm sure most of you will have noticed that Fat Wreck Chords is my absolute number one label to fill those needs. But these Fat bands are all very well known of course. That's what makes comps like these so magnificent; it's the perfect resource to discover new bands that are on the rise in this compartment. And you can bet some of them will become popular one day. The first comp had 4 blocks of bands from the same label, while on this one they appear mixed, although they always follow the same pattern of labels: Suburban Home and Drive-Thru (who were also part of volume I) and newcomers Fueled By Ramen and Polyvinyl. Polyvinyl was the unknown label to me while I'm pretty familiar with the others thanks to this website. Let's go through the input from the different labels one at a time:

1. Suburban Home
The Gamits are one of my recent favorites with their fast poppy tunes.
The Fairlanes deliver one of their more held-back songs as far as I know them with a few outbursts in the chorus but an over-all emo-approach.
Contender is actually on Negative Progression (distributed by Suburban) and I urge you to check out this band if you like Thrice with a poppier twist.
Counterfit has a high dosage of that modern emo (you know, with the hooks included).
Saturday Supercade (on Liberation records) is more of that catchy poppunk very reminiscent to Midtown, but with an additional synth-sound.
Discount (on New American Dream) broke up quite a while ago, but this girl's voice still is one of the best out there ever, in combination with the sticky guitars

2. Drive-Thru
Allister is top poppunk again. This has just somewhat inferior quality since it's a demo version.
Finch must be the loudest band on Drive-Thru with pounding drumsection and guitars that mix fast and slow parts as if it was meant to be? One of the best song compositions on this comp.
Home Grown. I only know this band from their album "That's Business" on Burning Heart with that unbelievable funny song "Get A Job". But man, did they change! At least with this one. Catchy guitars a la Blink 182 only played so much faster and even the vocals sound similar. Really unexpected to me!
The Movielife with their best song ever for me. And if I tell you this is one of my fav bands in the fast poppunk genre, this means this song is just fabulous. I love this guy's voice.
The Starting Line is next. I'm really anxious to hear if this band can deliver some equally high-quality emo-poppunk with their full-length that is to be released any day now? One of the bands I'm expecting very much from.
Rx Bandits adds some ska-touch with horns to their rocking sound. I love these party-tunes that remind me a lot of reel Big Fish, but slightly faster.

3. Fueled By Ramen
Recover is actually somewhat like Contender and Thrice, with the screaming and melodic vocals nicely mixed.
The Stereo is usually sounding more conventional than with this song. Here they manage to deliver some energy thanks to tight guitarplay. One of their best songs indeed. Vocals are impeccable as usual.
The Impossibles is smooth yet brutal in the chorus. One of those highly underestimated bands I think.
Cadillac Blindside's driving hard song appeared on both releases that were on FBR. More gruffy vocals than most of the bands on this comp, but maybe the most sincere and emotion-charged sounding of them all. Too bad this brand broke up recently.
Blueline Medic has the softest of starts, but this song is building up to a great touching chorus and the drive is continued until the end.
Whippersnapper somewhat disappointed me with their latest release on FBR and that has everything to do with the mediocre vocals, illustrated in this better song of them. Just nothing out of the ordinary.

4. Polyvinyl
The Ivory Coast reminded me of the Cure, although the chorus definately has more power. A piano-sounding synth is creating somewhat mysterious tension. Pretty good, especially near the end of the song when all systems get going. A little bit too spun-out maybe though.
Paris, Texas has more power, guitar magic and an amazing bass-line. Pretty complicated songstrucutre with OK vocals and a piano-synth here as well. Good.
Mates Of State has a weird song. Galopping xylophone-alike synth bridges that could have been used for a children's TV program, male/female choir-alike vocals. It's pretty amusing and not sounding bad, although I couldn't imagine listening to this all through an entire album.
Rainer Maria is mainly focusing on good female vocals, the music is boring.
Sunday's Best could have been on Vagrant Records. The Get Up Kids is what comes to mind, although it has somewhat of a more rocking build-up further on in the song.
Aloha is not the best choice for a finishing song if you ask me. Some mayhem sound coming from electronic instruments and vocals that don't fit. I guess this is too sophisticated for the simple person I am.

I agree that there's comps like this in abundance lately, but I'm sure that's just a consequence of the "supply and demand" principle. I can assure you that this one is very interesting if you like poppunk to be catchy and fast, good vocals and mindsticking songs loaded with emotion. If you're looking for hard shit or soft emo let this one go past you, but if someone asks me what music I like these days, I can easily hand them this comp.