VARIOUS ARTISTS: Experiments in Audio Rocketry: A Mostly Acoustic Compilation: CD

The title tells you what you’re getting into. Advisory warning: acoustic music, excluding Phil Ochs, the Kingston Trio and a few others, makes me want to smash, smash, smash. I’m straight up stealing Go Metric’s way of reviewing a comp. Averages. Eighteen tracks. Let’s see how it fares. Against Me!: Yes. They light more fires with acoustic guitars than most bands can with electricity. They started out acoustic, and that’s an unfair advantage, like a tank vs. Michael Dukakis. Justin Perkins: No. When I have to think, “Hippie? Does it sound like that ‘horse with no name’ song?” buttons with arrows get pushed. NOFX: Yes. “Whoops I OD’d” is a good song. I already have it. I think of it as a companion piece to “Linoleum.” Both are told from the perspective of the dead. Glenn’s Army: No. Imagine They Might Be Giants, but serious, without juice. It’s 50/50, not poo, but, still, no. Kevin Seconds: No. It’s peppy enough, but he sounds like if the Indigo Girls had sausages, not rugs. Pipsqueak: Yes. Let’s get pissed off and throw furniture in the fire to just watch it burn. Anxious folk I’m fine with. Billy Reese Peters: Yes. They win best song title awards with “Boner City Limits.” It’s got a beat you can tip a beer back to. Grabass Charlestons: Hell yeah. Some people just have music flying out of their fingertips. This proves that these guys could beat rocks together and I’d still get excited. Jesse Michaels: No. Operation Ivy: excellent. Common Rider: ehhh. Jesse by himself – “constructed a lean-to dream”? Todd – “Shhh, be quiet, I’m braiding a belt. I don’t want to mess up.” House On Fire: Yes. All the fight and anger of Panthro UK United 13 to a minimal voice and guitar. Distilled rage: “bring out your dead who fill your head.” Fuck, Alex is good. My favorite track. Gunmoll: Yes. Burlap voice. Steely eyes. Tension. Fifth Hour Hero: No. Although the lady has a very pretty voice, it cuts a little too close to Suzanne Vega. Hex Country: No. Although I doubt if I’ve seen Hex Country, I’ve seen their ilk, encouraging me to take my beer to the far side of the bar on many an open mic night and wish I’d brought ear plugs. Bad Astronaut: No. I have a strange, life-long aversion to xylophone (or “vibes” if you know the lingo) or anything that sounds like them. Ann Berretta: Yes, surprisingly. I haven’t liked anything by these guys since Bitter Tongues. Nice hooks. Lawrence Arms: No. The recording’s weird and hollow and sounds like it was done through a wall. The Arrivals: Yes. So strong. Isaac’s voice is amazing, full of simultaneous happiness and sorrow. This Bike Is A Pipebomb: No. Great band. Great, previously released song. Cruddy recording. Average: .500. Much better than most comps but not a “Woah, fuck, dude, got to get it.”

 –todd (1-2-3-4 Go!)