Various - This Is Indie Rock: Vol. 3 (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


This Is Indie Rock: Vol. 3 (2005)

Deep Elm

The Emo Diaries series was a long-running staple of Deep Elm Records, giving people their first listen to bands such as Further Seems Forever, Benton Falls, and Brandtson. At the beginning they all had the very same thing in common: They were unknown. It was that series that brought them into the homes and ears of many, and now Deep Elm is attempting to do the very same thing with This Is Indie Rock. Now on Volume III, the label aims to give some exposure to twelve artists they deem fitting of success.

And as with any compilation, there's some hits, and there's some misses. One of the latter is what starts out the record, as Free Diamonds' "Blind Boy" offers nothing more than some nerve-grating vocals and quirky chord progressions; ultimately it's a shallow and vapid effort that falls flat on the one thing it's trying to be: fun. The compilation is quickly redeemed however by the pure pop-rock goodness of Encyclopedia. "Let's Be Friends" might have sophomoric lyrics and basic instrumentation, but the vocal harmonies are top notch, and you can't help but picture a gorgeous summer scene and have a smile on your face.

The smile doesn't last long, however as the canned beats and weak flow of Konrad fall completely flat. The rhymes are extremely weak to start with, and that's only half the track, as the latter half is simply him speaking some sort of nonsense over very minimal noise. Luckily, this is the real low point of the album, a perfect instance of attempted creativity lacking actual substance. That's not to say too many of these songs do have substance, as many are much more pop than indie rock, but in the least of instances they're at least catchy or somewhat memorable.

Popmonster's slow, sprawling, gorgeous display in "Salty" and Element's penchant for intense rock‘n'roll on "Wake from This" show that there is a decent amount to offer, not just lackluster efforts by artists who don't deserved the exposure. In fact, almost every song on the second half of the compilation is worth noting. Reed Kid's Elliott Smith-esque "Seventeen" possesses a lot of beauty in the haunting vocals, and Softer's six-minute closer "Confessions of an Ardent Heart" is a terrific listen all the way through, weaving in and out of various styles or tempos, but always managing to keep the song on one general, coherent plane.

This Is Indie Rock has a lot to live up to after the Emo Diaries series. While largely inconsistent, there's some acts on this installment that truly do have a lot of potential, and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest to be hearing about a Reed Kid or Softer record in the very near future.