VARIOUS ARTISTS: Acne And Machine Guns: A Chicago Punk Rock Compilation Vol. 1: Cassette

May 04, 2010

This is a sampling of Chicago punk rock scene that includes ten bands and nineteen songs. The biggest highlight here was the two songs by The Blue Waves: “Closer” and “Time and Tension.” These are some pretty cool dance punk tunes that have some undercurrent stylings of The Faint’s sound minus any of the electronica. It’s like The Blue Waves throw jazz, old blues, and ‘60s rock up against a wall and what sticks sounds one hundred percent organic and original. But this band is also the biggest disappointment because, according to their MySpace, they are on indefinite hiatus. Side A of this tape is the stronger side in just pure variety and quality. The band I Hate People offers two tracks that have the whole old school punk vibe of Minor Threat going for them. The Unnecessary Buttons have two tracks that sound like they were recorded by two different bands. I could see their tune “Pygmy” being written by the Velvet Underground and being sung by Nico, while their track “King Cole” is a guitar-rich instrumental with lots of distortion and a heavy sound. The B-side of this compilation had a lot more humorous pop punk, but my favorite tracks were the ones by Shortstop from Tokyo. These guys and gal are an all-out ska band that had me all nostalgic for my ska-core skankin’ days. Their tunes seemed inspired by Reel Big Fish for the crooner vocals and flashy guitar solos. This tape is worth getting, just for posterity in having a snap shot of the underground Chicago punk rock scene. This tape has great clip art cover design, all the bands and songs are concisely listed, and the tape itself is blue and professionally labeled. You can’t go wrong getting your hands on one of these three hundred tapes.

 –N.L. Dewart (Nervous Laughter,