VARIOUS ARTISTS: The Necessary Effect:: Screamers Songs Interpreted: 2X CD

Let me begin by saying I hate tribute albums. Nearly all of them serve no purpose other than to embarrass the recorded legacy and insult the good name of the band being paid tribute. Most importantly, they’re a waste of good money that could go toward much more worthy causes, like feeding the homeless, or washing the car. That said, this isn’t too shabby a set here: twenty-nine covers of songs either written or covered by L.A. legends the Screamers, courtesy of Bloodhag, the Cripples, the Miss, the Phantom Surfers, Canned Hamm and oodles of others. Heck, there’s even a couple of tracks here done by former Screamers KK Barrett and Paul Roessler. The thing that makes so many of the covers here work are the Screamers themselves. The original versions of these songs were often so off the wall that they are left open for wide interpretation, ranging from the synth-driven punk the Screamers pioneered (Point Line Plane’s version of “Give the Future a Break”) to the, umm, more ambient end of the spectrum, (Spider Compass Good Crime Band’s take on “Punish or Be Damned”) as well as more “normal” guitar/bass/drums interpretations (Bloodhag’s “If I Can’t Have What I Want,” the Phantom Surfers’ “Eva Braun”). As a tribute, the wide range of styles mined, from new wave to crunchy hardcore punk, is actually more complimentary than detrimental, and it all gels rather nicely instead of collapsing into a pretentious pile of bands trying to outdo each other on the “cool” meter. At worst, you’ll be getting a very eclectic compilation crossing wide swaths of underground music.

 –jimmy (www.extravertigo.com)