Various - Two Way Tie for Last [cassette] (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Two Way Tie for Last [cassette] (2014)

Baldy Longhair/ Fleeting Youth

The punk compilation was formed in the late 70's as way to introduce listeners to bands that they might not know about. Let them eat Jellybeans, Bullshit detector, and Hell comes to your house forged this tradition and really, help set the pantheon of punk legends by merely including bands in their grooves. This tradition continued with force well into the early 2000's with the famed Fat Music, Give em the boot, and Punk—o—rama comps. Perusing any of those tracklists is a review of who's who in the punk scene (with a few lesser deviations). And then, mighty comp, after having ruled supreme in the realm of music introduction, died suddenly killed by the internet.

And, that's not a bad thing. A DSL line now makes hearing obscure 70's singles as well as the newest "hot" band as easy as three clicks. So then, what purpose does Two Way Tie for Last a cassette compilation issued by Baldy Longhair and Fleeting Youth records have?

It's a lot of fun. That's the purpose. Across its massive 95 minute running time, the tape tears from band to band from both label's rosters (and beyond). As the different bands rip through tune after tune, the diverse taste of each label really is put on display.

Frankly, (and thankly) the bands here are wildly different. Mayor Creep has a rapid, shambling tune called "Bike lane" that is as much garage punk as it is hardcore. Wolf—Face's "I wanna be a homo—sapien" winks at Screeching weasel with the title but is actually a gruff—punk gang shout out. Later, quite daringly, Verbal Phantom does an abstract, Motown sampling Hip Hop tribute to Jennifer Lawrence. Wise Girl's "So broken" borrows from No Doubt, The Muffs, and Lemuria. While many comps get bogged down with sameness, or mediocre tunes, the songs here are expertly curated. Each band brings their best material and the label has sequenced them so that both the bands stand out from each other, and the bands' respective skills are put on full display, contrasted against their varied tape—mates.

As with great comps, there are some rare and exclusive tracks included. Crazy and the Brains take the brass ring with their live take on "Vanity Fair" which starts out with abstract, amorphous goth—drone before the band suddenly snaps into a super—revved up version of the song proper in classic garage rock style (all with a xylophone interlude). Crust—punkers Through Thorn and Brier blast out an especially raw and ragged version of their already nasty song "True Venom," live on WFMU.

Really, you could probably find all these tunes separately on bandcamp and youtube. But, in doing that, you'd miss the art of how different songs stacked on top of each other create an effect not heard when the tunes are in isolation. There's also something to be said for a comp that can't skip tracks and forces you to engage with it, asking you to keep up— instead of visa—versa. This might not ever reach the fame height of Jellybeans, but damn if it's not doing it's best to compete.