Various - Sort Of Records 2006 (Cover Artwork)


Sort Of Records 2006 (2006)

Sort Of

Compilations seem to have lost their worth to me in recent years. When first approaching punk and indie they served as a gateway, offering me a taste so I wouldn't have to buy the entire entrée just to see if I would enjoy it. But with the rise in internet use and music sharing technology, buying a CD to hear one song from a band almost seems pointless. Sure, there is still the lure of unreleased tracks, covers, etc., but many times they aren't even worth hearing for anyone but completists. So, it was with this mindset that I found Sort Of Records' 2006 sampler in my hands, a disc that just wouldn't fit into my stereotype of compilations.

The first thing that made the disc stand out from its multi-artist peers was its inventive packaging. See the piece of paper sticking out of the typewriter on the cover? It can be removed, resulting in what looks like a small bookmark that displays both the bands on the disc and a bit of artwork. The second stereotype-shattering characteristic of the CD was that, for the first time in a long time, I was introduced to new and interesting music via compilation.

Sort Of Records is a relatively new label (this comp is only its fifth release) based in Pittsburgh that deals with mostly folk and Americana-based music [Ed.'s Note: Justin is stoked!]. Their 2006 sampler dabbles in everything from jazzy soul (KG Fields' "Joeline and the Bottlecap Curtain"), to Mountain Goats-styled storytelling [more stokage!] (Pairdown's "Outa Work Sailor"), and Owen-like bedroom ditties (the Legendary Jack Young's "The Accidental Groupie").

The comp is almost exclusively an acoustic affair, a batch of songs that flow well thanks to their relaxed nature, but there are two moments where the rock rears its ugly head. The Shrinking Islands' "Bad Company" manages not to disturb the overall hushed aesthetic of the disc thanks to its jangle pop feel, but Paper Thin Stages' "Wire Another Slow" stands out like the problem child who sticks his tongue out in a family photo while everyone else smiles pristinely. The song's Dischord-influenced rock isn't necessarily bad; it just comes as an awkward and distracting shift in mood.

The nine songs on Sort Of Records 2006 provide an appropriate introduction to the fledgling label, one that makes clear its acoustic and folk-leaning tendencies. At the same time, the disc is not merely a set of previews for larger works, but also an enjoyable listen on its own.