Various - Hard  To Get Volume One - An Island Rarities Compilation (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Hard To Get Volume One - An Island Rarities Compilation (2003)


Out of all the majors out there pilfering the indie scene for the next big thing [or at least a decent-sized cash cow to tide over their boss], Island is one of the few that actually seems to have their collective shit together. This compilation, billed as a rarities collection, seems to be Island's way of saying "who's got the talent now, bitches?"

Or maybe not, but still - unreleased Thursday and Thrice tracks pretty much allow Island to school just about everyone else. Thursday's contribution, a cover of Sigur Ros' "Ny Batteri" is 6 minutes of sheer beauty - Geoff's voice has never sounded better than when he's just singing gibberish [oops, I mean "Hopelandic." Whatever.]. The Thrice song on here, "Eclipse," is available on the vinyl version of The Artist In The Ambulance, but since most kids these days don't buy vinyl, the label put it on here. It is a killer song, uptempo, heavy, good sing/scream interplay, and a nice slow breakdown to wrap it all up. Better than most of what made the full-length.

Now while these are probably the two biggest selling points of this compilation, there's plenty more unreleased material to be unearthed here. The Audio Messiah himself, Andrew WK, contributes a demo version of "We Want Fun," which allows you to peek into the recording process of the man. Sure, this is technically the same song as the final version, but it's definitely not polished at all, and there's a lot more piano and strings coming through in the mix. AWK's vocals are also quite snottier, it's kinda neat.

Letter Kills, Scatter The Ashes and Die Trying are the three completely unknown bands on here, and while the label is trying to push them as "screamo" or whatever [more like The Used-lite meets bad bar rock, especially with Scatter The Ashes], none of them are really that good. Die Trying does get points for a catchy little counting thing going on in their vocals, though.

Autopilot Off's "Clockwork," presumably off the oft-delayed full-length, sounds great and really rips. Lots of cool guitar effects going on, and there's a neat spoken word bit in the middle of the song.

The bogus part comes with the tracks from The Bronx and Fall Out Boy, both of which are previously released. At least they picked my favorite Bronx song, that being "They Will Kill Us All." Not exactly a rarity to me, but to the average consumer, it is.

Island has really amassed quite the talent roster in recent years, and there's plenty more that isn't represented on this comp. I'm sure Volume Two will include tracks from Rival Schools, Elvis Costello, Sum 41 - who knows, maybe even an unreleased Johnny Cash song could turn up. This compilation isn't perfect, not by a longshot, but it's a neat little release for those who truly appreciate music, and the bands that make it.

Stream entire CD here