VARIOUS ARTISTS: To Live and Die in Tampa Bay: CD

Let’s face facts. The day that bigger record companies fucked with the lexicon and crossed the wires of “label sampler” and “compilation,” the land of comps has been a dicey affair of aural piss, not-so-exclusive songs, and cast-offs from larger name bands to pad the roster. The three gleaming examples that buck that trend in recent years are the invaluable Hostage, Dirtnap, and Geykido comps. Remember the time of yore when you were looking to find a handful of good bands to check out all in one convenient package? ADD delivers. Like purgatory, there are many levels on which to judge a comp. The first, and lowest, is if it was on the radio, would you even to listen to it or would you rather just sit in silence? (These are called samplers. They are free or cheap for a reason.) The second level is like listening to the radio played by a DJ with their head up their ass, but lucks into one or two good songs an hour. You still have to suffer through commercials and musical moodswings that cover deathmetal, ska, and emo. The third level is going to an unfamiliar bar and a jukebox is playing. There aren’t blatant commercials, but you still run into Jimmy Buffet and The Steve Miller Band, although there might be a Clash or Ramones CD to chose from and squeak in when the locals let you. The fourth level is going into a bar you like, are familiar with, and a friend who knows the songs by heart has already fed the jukebox for an hour’s worth of music and you’re digging it eighty to ninety percent of the time. Songs you didn’t know grow on you. Bands you’ve never heard of kick some major ass. Bands you like submit A+ material. And this is where this Tampa comp resides. Excellent bands that I already like (The Tim Version, Vagina Sore Jr., Clairmel) provide exclusive tracks, bands I’ve never heard (Super Power Abuse, Flat Stanley, and The Rogue Set) don’t slack, and bands I haven’t been too up on the past (The Dukes of Hillsborough) sound right on track. If you’re in the mood for gruff, melodic, powerful punk that’s as sweaty as it is earnest and don’t know where to turn, give this one a listen. Oh, and there is a fifth level to comps, one that’ll never be topped: the one you make yourself and give to a friend. That’s how this idea started.

 –todd (ADD)