Various - Experiments in Audio Rocketry (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Experiments in Audio Rocketry (2003)

1-2-3-4 Go!

As Punk Goes Acoustic's woes continue, a compilation comes out with the same premise, but is vastly more credible [making it okay for a majority of you to buy]. Experiments in Audio Rocketry is billed as "a mostly acoustic compilation," and is just that - many of your favorite punk bands doing mostly acoustic songs. The tracklisting includes such heavy hitters as NOFX, Jesse Michaels [of Operation Ivy/Common Rider], Kevin Seconds [of 7 Seconds], Ann Beretta, and Bad Astronaut, as well as some of the scene's up-and-comers like Against Me!, Gunmoll, Lawrence Arms, and the Arrivals [woah, kind of a weird Gainesville/Chicago thing going on there...]. There's also plenty of bands that many of you probably have never heard of, but are well on their way to make a name for themselves - Grabass Charlestons, Fifth Hour Hero, and This Bike Is A Pipe Bomb all come to mind.

As you can see, the lineup is rather stacked, but the biggest letdown is that a number of these songs [from big and small bands alike] are previously released in one form or another. This turns the compilation from something that is truly one-of-a-kind into more of that mix tape of all the acoustic songs you have in your punk album collection that you've always wanted to make but you're too lazy [c'mon, I can't be the only one who wanted to do this]. NOFX's "Whoops I OD'd" was one of my favorite tracks off their new album, but on this comp the song is just way too... well, *produced* for a CD such as this, packed to the brim with raw, 4-track acoustic performances.

Jesse Michaels' "The Bell Tower" is definitely a highlight, as is Justin Perkins' "On The Other Side." Kevin Seconds, on the other hand, contributes a bit of a stinker in "Life Gets Sadder" [or maybe it's just me, as I loathe the guy's voice]. Gunmoll's "Untitled" is absolutely amazing, and No Idea labelmates Billy Reese Peters and Grabass Charlestons show just how close punk really is to country music.

But my favorite contribution to the CD is that of the Arrivals, performing a combination of "-1" and "Hell Can Wait" live on a Chicago radio station. It sounds heavenly, and further cements my love for this massively underappreciated Chicago band. Definitely the gem on this comp.

This CD is a heartfelt collection that obviously had a lot of effort put into assembling it - you'll be hard pressed to find any flavors of the week on here. Sadly, the album tends to lack a lot of real standout tracks that warrant multiple plays - it's nice enough to listen to all the way through and all, but the replay value is virtually nil for me.

Don't let my ambivilance stop you from picking up this, though - if I've learned anything from the readership of this site [at least the ones that comment frequently], this CD should be more popular than water [or beer] for most of you.