Various Artists - D-Sides (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Various Artists

D-Sides (2015)

Modern Action Records

The Modern Action label makes its trade in revved up, power-pop punk. The result is a roster of high energy, clean sounding rock bands that salute the 70’s era when punk and glam-pop met on the same stages, like Top of the Pops. But, while the Modern Action bands unabashedly love bands like the Adverts and the Pointed Sticks, they usually reserve a little bit of their music to acknowledge the clichés of the genre and either divert form them, or playfully embrace them.

D-Sides a collection of demos from bands on the label displays the enthusiasm that each of these bands have for the genre. Most strikingly, these songs don’t sound like demos at all. Each track is crisp and well rehearsed. For example. The Brief demo cut of “I’m being watched” flies by in a minute and a half, and while it jostles on the rails due to its hyperactivity, never feels like the band is learning the ropes. It feels fully formed. Perhaps leaning closer to demo territory is The Amoeba’s “Ain’t about her.” Like the Briefs before them, the song is already fully formed and the band sounds tight. The only thing making it a “demo” is the muddy sound- but looking at bands on the Burger label and 1-2-3-4 label, such a cloudy sheen is used an aesthetic for many bands on their “Studio” recording and really serves to give the song character.

Because each of these bands share a similar objective, that is, rapid striking and snapped out lyrics, and because each of the recordings are pretty bullet proof, this comp doesn’t feel so much like a collection of outtakes or “D-sides,” but really an introduction to the label. This is more an intro-comp than a rarities record, even if these tunes are rarities. What does it say when bands’ demos are just as good as their studio recordings? Probably that good tunes are good tunes, no matter the medium. Here the medium is demo cuts on vinyl, but it’s arbitrary. These tunes rock.