Various - Strong Island: The Best of Long Island Hardcore/Punk (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Strong Island: The Best of Long Island Hardcore/Punk (2009)


Strong Island: The Best of Long Island Hardcore/Punk. While I would politely disagree with that assessment considering certain tracks here, this compilation bears very few glaring omissions with its title (off the top of my head, only bands that seem to be missing here are the Agent and Myriad, maybe [edit: maybe Capital, Iron Chic, et. al too]). It's a pretty strong collection of songs and ranges from the "stars" current LIHC to the promising acts milling about solely basements and dive bars.

Quarter Life Crisis open the compilation with "Fuck It All," a pretty so-so street punk/hardcore song that shouts out a bunch of stereotypes. But Bastard Cut redeem things quickly; formerly known as Nautical Mile, "They Ate Our Freedom" is gruff '90s skatepunk revival with hints of Silent Majority.

Shukira include Taking Back Sunday's Mark O'Connell and ex-Movielife member Alex Amiruddin, but unfortunately, "The Sound of an Empty Promise"'s title is all too fitting; it's really just super watered-down Glassjaw fare. But after that, the compilation almost kills it for the next 10 songs or so.

Crime in Stereo turn it around with "Everywhere and All the Time," taken from last year's collections disc, Selective Wreckage; you've probably heard it already, but it's a wonderful, fast-paced logical continuation of 2007's Crime in Stereo Is Dead. You Are Who You Fuck, who I think are already broken up, give forth a solid, angry and somewhat brooding hardcore track. Incendiary's seriously excellent, pissed and heavy mid-'90s hardcore nod "Sinking" follows Kills and Thrills' meh-tastic, post-hardcore-by-way-of-metalcore "Code Blue."

The other highlights among this section? Everything Sucks offer a new song, "WW3"; while their older stuff sounded quite a bit like an uptempo Moss Icon, this is more original, albeit really raw. Backtrack's "Paused Progress" comes from their solid 2008 demo, and while I'd normally be less than inclined to enjoy a band who enthusiastically depend on NYHC influences like Madball and Breakdown, there's a thoughtfulness, choppiness and youthful vigor to their songs that make them sound scrappy and alive. Halfway to Hell Club have a new one on here too, "The Saint of Winston Drive," and it's cool, sounding a bit like Hot Water Music's "A Jack of All Trades" (not nearly as good, but certainly trying) during a few moments and throwing in a sure Jawbreaker riff towards the end. Barnaby Jones ("Hips n Nips [Otherwise I'm Not Eating]") do some decent, gravelly melodic hardcore.

Elsewhere, All Grown Up's "Undertow" is a nice surprise. This is one of those perennial local bands who have been around for what seems like forever and haven't toured out much, and whom, for whatever reason, I've largely ignored, but this song is super good. It's like Polar Bear Club covering the Taking Back Sunday demo -- gruff, passionate post-hardcore with an awesome progressive slant. Way recommended.

Towards te end, Spectators' "Clink" is a cool, metallic hardcore builder, like a less heavy take on early Cave In; Southpaw's "Cooler Heads Prevail" is a slightly comical but mostly neat Leeway tribute type hardcore track; This Is Hell's "Infected" comes from their 2007 7", Cripplers, but it still rages quite well.

There's at least a half-dozen songs on here that do nothing for me, but another strong handful -- albeit many of which are previously released -- I'm enjoying. Definitely the best LIHC/punk comp in at least a half-dozen years.

Strong Island: The Best of Long Island Hardcore/Punk