Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Various Artists - Run For Cover Records presents Mixed Signals

As many would probably know, Run For Cover Records and Topshelf Records are probably the two most quintessential labels in today's indie punk/pop-punk/emo scene. With lineups involving greats of the underground such as Tigers Jaw and The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die, a great majority of the great indie punk music that makes the scene so flourishing is administered by either of those labels. Mixed Signals, the latest compilation released under Run For Cover which also features friends from Topshelf (and is exclusively available from the country's greatest music retailer, Hot Topic), brings together all of the great bands, hailing mostly from the general New England area, that consist of today's ever-growing punk scene.

Polar Bear Club introduces the compilation with a take off of their most recent album Clash Battle Guilt Pride, "Killin' It", which blends the pop-punkiness of Jimmy Eat World with the hardcore mannerisms of Thrice, and really kicks off the release to a great start. Quite possibly one of the most well known bands on Run For Cover, Tigers Jaw, contributes a previously unreleased track "Distress Signal". After the sophomore slump that was Two Worlds, "Distress Signal" is probably the best track that the band has put out since their 2008 self-titled debut. For me, it is a great relief to hear such a good song coming from the band after losing faith in them after a very unappealing live show.

My personal favorite band on the release, Castevet (also referred to as CSTVT to avoid confusion invovling the black metal band with the same name), contributes "Bassett St.", dedicated to Mitch Dubey, a friend of the band and many others in the scene, in the wake of his murder. As evident from most of Castevet's recent releases such as their recently released Ghost Boat/Rogers Alexandra 7", the band seems to have left behind the gruff screams that have made their twinkly music so lovable and distinguishable. Although it is probably a less desirable turn for the band's sound, it gives the listener a better chance to listen to the song's lyrics (obviously written about Mitch), which without the music reads like a meterless poem, written like a eulogy to a good friend. Hardcore/punk/post-rock mouthfuls The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die have the last track on the compilation, "To The Janitor, To The King", a song which I previously had known as the gorgeous, mysterious, and nameless song that closed the poorly recorded B-side of the cassette release of the band's EP Formlessness. The song is essentially an acoustic ballad, and is unlike anything that the band has released before, although retaining some qualities of their usual post-rocky sound such as the messy, droning guitar that moans throughout the track's closing. But after a few minutes of silence, Run For Cover throws on a track from their one anomaly, the New Jersey hip-hop act GDP. It's good, I guess, and stuff.

Along with the music on the compilation, Mixed Signals includes a 28 page booklet, featuring lyrics of all of the tracks and monochromatic photography of all of the featured bands, which adds a nice touch to the compilation after you risk ripping the whole thing to pieces trying to pry apart the pages that seem glued together. Although I did not mention them, Mixed Signals contains tracks from many great rising artists, such as Daytrader and The Tower and The Fool, that contribute great songs that really show how fertile and diverse the modern New england punk scene has become. And after Mixed Signals, it is definitely apparent that there is much more to come.

01. Polar Bear Club – Killin’ It
02. Balance and Composure – Seahorses
03. Tigers Jaw – Distress Signals
04. Hostage Calm – The “M” Word
05. The Menzingers – Irish Goodbyes
06. CSTVT – Bassett St.
07. Daylight – Cursed
08. End of a Year Self Defense Family – I’ve Got an Idea…
09. Daytrader – Texts and Tomes
10. Make do and Mend – Coats
11. The Tower and the Fool – Die Alone
12. The World is a Beautiful Place – To the Janitor the King

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