Another year, another comp. But wait, this one is significant! Other reviews have covered the significance of the release quite well, so I won't go into it that much. It is still amazing to see how far Epitaph has come since the days of needing to put more than one song by their popular bands to move units. They truly have grown up a lot over the past decade (just talking about the comps, not the years they've been around) and it's greatly appreciated. I don't think I would buy Punk-O-Rama Vol. 1 if it came out in 2005, and this is exactly why Epitaph is so strong. They've committed to adapting to the broadening scope of the independent music scene and have even helped create some innovations of their own with bringing so many diverse groups under the same umbrella. Even if they're still releasing music by bands way past their prime or era of relevance, they have brought enough new ideas to the table that we can accept one more Pennywise album.
In an effort to break down a bit of review structure, I'm going to be very informal (that means swearing!) on this review and segment the disc into the good tracks, the bad tracks, and the awesome tracks. One thing to get out of the way: There are a lot of filler tracks on the album and a huge number of boring songs that if you've already heard the band then you know exactly what the song sounds like.
Here we go: Motion City Soundtrack, Matchbook Romance, Sage Francis, Scatter The Ashes, Millencolin, Dropkick Murphys, Rancid (it's an old track from that time that they sucked), Pulley, the Special Goodness, and Roger Miret & The Disasters. Obviously, some people are going to try and murder my dog for saying that their favorite band is boring and not worth recognition. The truth of it is I listened to the comp several times and while I can remember what each band sounds like, they were just so mediocre that I can't be bothered to separate them into bad or awesome, they were just sort of there.
There were a few truly awful songs on this compilation and some that just weren't very good. Let's find out what they were.
- The Matches - I just don't get this band at all; it's all way too polished-pop-punk for me. Notice that I said the sound is polished, not the recording (I can read). It's not that I hate fun (I love Andrew WK), but this song just sounds juvenile. Probably would've been awesome when I was a freshman in high school but alack.
- From First To Last - Not only is this bunch of emo-gone-metalcore douche-bags the worst thing about Epitaph, but I'm pretty sure they're the worst thing about modern music. Completely fucking terrible. The only good thing I can say about this song is that it gives my skip forward button some rare exercise. UGH.
- This Is Me Smiling - This is me not giving a shit about some dude freaking out on a keyboard in the middle of an already terrible, emolicious track.
- Pennywise - Shit, even Millencolin was able to muster some change in their sound after as many years. This is as fresh as your grandmother's (ahem).
- Some Girls - This band probably isn't that bad, but the placement and tracking makes this thing really hard to listen to. Very jarring and not in a good way. Didn't Zeke do a song called "Let's Get Drugs" anyways? That song ruled.
- The Offspring - If you liked Smash you'll probably dig this. I didn't dig Smash.
- The Unseen - This band looks like the Casualties but their music is almost decent. Almost.
Only a handful of these, but there are actually some surprises and some rare tracks that make it worth the $8.
- NOFX - I think this track is off one of their 7" Of The Month Club things. In any case, it's classic NOFX and you can take that as you will. I like it.
- Tiger Army - One of the better tracks off their latest album, which was fairly awesome all around. Hard to get tired of the song.
- The Coup - This song's pretty sweet, even if the chorus gets annoying. Hope the album is full of tracks at least this good (and even more hopefully, better). Political hip-hop fits better on Epitaph than stuff like Eyedea and Atmosphere. I mean actual political hip-hop, not Sage Francis.
- Hot Water Music - Yeehaw! Who doesn't love this band? Maybe their last song ever.
- Dangerdoom - I bought this comp specifically for this song and it delivers on all levels. It's really interesting to see Doom be paired with a more straight-forward, albeit very good straight-forward producer like Dangermouse. What's even more interesting is that Epitaph had the sense to get the best emcee in rap to be on their label.
- Youth Group - Where the hell did this band come from? Epitaph sure didn't promote them very well, but it's a good thing they got the best song from their album AND a video on this release. People better go out and start buying this shit. You'll dig it if you like the Weakerthans, but that also begs the question: Where's my unreleased Weakerthans?!
- Converge - In my opinion, Converge is the best modern hardcore group. This song's got some shouting instead of some screaming, maybe kids will start to dig it.
- Bad Religion - Damn, this song is old. Damn, this band is old. Daaaaamn, it doesn't even matter. Rockin'.
Now, this is the real reason to go out and buy the compilation. This thing has twenty-one music videos pulling from all corners of the Epitaph map so there's got to be something for everyone. The From First To Last video puts a stamp and steal on their official title of world's douchiest band. The video is probably one of the most hilarious things I've seen, just because of all the douchedociery going on, from the douches playing music and being all douchetastically dramatic to the doucheular stupid imagery. Thankfully, the Youth Group video not long later is pretty awesome, plus it's a different awesome song than what's on the CD, so that's a grand total of awesome from the band. Tiger Army finally puts together a good music video and it turns out fantastic; probably convinced more than a few kids to sign up with Suicide Girls. The Weakerthans video for their awesome song "The Reasons" is by far the best vid on here; going to prison never seemed so fun. Some other awesome videos come from Bad Religion, the Coup, the Matches (this song is a lot better than the one on the comp, plus the vid is sweet), and the Black Keys. The rest may just be filler depending on your taste, but overall the DVD is worth the cost alone considering what a DVD like this would cost from any other company. Epitaph also has boatloads of other music videos in the archives, so they could just grow rich by throwing thirty of them on each volume and release a dozen or so.
So I glossed over most of the DVD and sampler, true, but there is an incredible amount of material contained on both. Each person will have their own new favorites, old favorites, and songs that they skip. I can't imagine anyone actually enjoying all of the songs on here, but likewise I can't really see anyone hating them all either. That's what makes this worth the little money.
- When "You're" Around - Motion City Soundtrack
- Lovers & Liars - Matchbook Romance
- Shoot Me in the Smile - the Matches
- Failure By Designer Jeans - From First To Last
- Sun vs. Moon - Sage Francis
- News from the Front - Bad Religion
- Mixin' Up Adjectives - This Is Me Smiling
- Shadowland - Youth Group
- From the Tops of Trees - Scatter the Ashes
- I Need Drugs - Some Girls
- Mince Meat - Dangerdoom
- Mission from God - The Offspring
- Black Cloud - Converge
- Last Goodbyes - Hot Water Music
- Anchors Aweigh [Live] - Bouncing Souls
- Farewell My Hell - Millencolin
- Warrior's Code - Dropkick Murphys
- Dead Weight Falls - the Unseen
- White Knuckle Ride - Rancid
- Falling Down - Pennywise
- No Fun in Fundamentalism - NOFX
- Bloodstain - Pulley
- Not the Way - Special Goodness
- Ghostfire - Tiger Army
- Riot, Riot, Riot - Roger Miret & The Disasters
- Laugh/Love/F*** - the Coup
- Ride the Wings of Pestilence - From First To Last
- My Eyes Burn - Matchbook Romance
- Ray - Millencolin
- Skeleton Jar - Youth Group
- Eagles Become Vultures - Converge
- Tu Puta Mi Casa - C. Aarme
- Rose of the Devil's Garden - Tiger Army
- Chain Me Free - the Matches
- Los Angeles Is Burning - Bad Religion
- Ride the Fence - The Coup
- Caesura - Scatter the Ashes
- Reasons - The Weakerthans
- 10 AM Automatic - Black Keys
- National Disgrace - Atmosphere
- Miss Take - Horrorpops
- Tessie - Dropkick Murphys
- Anchors Aweigh - Bouncing Souls
- Insects Destroy - Pulley
- Riot Riot Riot - The Disasters
- Glass - Eyedea & Abilities
- NFA - Special Goodness