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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Album Review: Off The Board - A Studio 4 Family Compilation

Album Rating: A-
Will Yip has a major hand in producing the sounds of the punk scene's most beloved, up-and-coming underground artists. Bands such as Title Fight, Pity Sex and Circa Survive have all procured amazing records under his guidance and it's only inevitable that a compilation featuring these great musicians would come to fruition. Off The Board: A Studio 4 Family Compilation is a mini-retrospective of Will Yip's contributions, gathering unreleased and new songs from his production roster. Featuring some of the best songs that these artists have ever wrote, it's a must-have for fans of the bands on which Will Yip has spent his career.

Compilations sometimes feel disjointed and meandering, but this is not the case here. Will Yip's touch compliments both buzzy guitars and esoteric atmospheres, creating a continuous segue that begins with the hardcore Title Fight and ends with the hard rock Balance & Composure. Title Fight's "Another One" is a short burst of pure emotive hardcore, recalling the sound of their second record Shed. Daylight's "Siblings" pushes vocals up front with a style and tune reminiscent of Nirvana's "Drain You." Light Year's "I Couldn't Change" is one of the best of their career, alternating between breakneck snare rolls and a catchy chorus that feels inspired by Blink 182's Enema of the State. Sainthood Reps "Gloom" is a grungy anthem with a captivating chorus, while Citizen's "Cicuta" adds another hit to their mellow pop punk catalog. "Euclid" by Pity Sex is one of the strongest on the record. The blend of emo and shoe gaze come together, weaving +44's "No, It Isn't" with a dreamy fuzz sprinkle.  Man Overboard's "I Hate Her" is a noticeable stand out . It's fast and unapologetic, more akin to a melodic hardcore band like Such Gold. Closing out the album, Balance & Composure rock through 4 minutes in "Why Do You Leave Us?" What seems like an unused track from The Things We Think We're Missing could have been one of the catchiest on the band's newest release if it had been included, though it serves as a perfect bookend to this fantastic compilation.

Some of the songs on the album are good, although nothing special in the shadow of their past work. Polar Bear Club's "New Hollywood" is a catchy, engaging tune, though it's a bit repetitive. Koji's contribution in the form of "Breaking & Broken" is good too, though it gets lost among most of the tracks on his newest LP Crooked In My Mind. Most disappointing is the Tigers Jaw track "Carry You Over." The newest song since the band announced a huge lineup change and a not-so-certain hiatus, "Carry You Over" sounds like a weaker "Distress Signal." It's not bad, though it may not be the track die-hard fans were waiting for.  Regardless, the whole album is considerably strong -  even stronger  after each band is lined up to create a damn near flawless compilation like this one.

It's unsurprising that Will Yip has become an icon amongst the punk community. Labels such as Run For Cover and No Sleep blossom with the young and talented artists that fit hand-in-hand with his presence at the boards. When all is said and done, Off The Board isn't just a compilation but an album full of top-notch musicians brought together under the umbrella of one man's fine tuned oversight. Will Yip will continue to inspire and produce great records, and those records will continue to inspire listeners well into the future. It's a compilation worth owning, considering it's already a mixtape of your favorite bands, so go buy it and don't think twice about it.

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Track List:
1. Title Fight - “Another One”
2. Daylight - “Siblings”
3. Circa Survive - “Nobody Can Change”
4. Polar Bear Club - “New Hollywood”
5. Citizen - “Cicuta”
6. Light Years - “I Couldn’t Change”
7. Sainthood Reps - “Gloom”
8. Koji - “Breaking and Broken”
9. None More Black - “That Thing That Separates Em”
10. Tigers Jaw - “Carry You Over”
11. Turnover - “Flicker and Fade” (FULL BAND)
12. Pity Sex - “Euclid”
13. Man Overboard - “I Hate Her”
14. Anthony Green - “The More You Get, The Less You Are”
15. Balance and Composure - “Why Do You Leave Us?”

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