VARIOUS ARTISTS: Tower 13: LP

Compilations are a harder and harder racket. On one side, you usually have to sell them for less than a regular album, you have to deal with the personalities, logistics, and maintain consistent recording environments of seventeen bands, but mostly, comps have been smeared by the assy sampler. (A sampler collects previously released tracks under the premise of introducing the listener to new bands by luring them in with the bigger name bands.) The fact that the tracks on Tower 13 were made specifically for this comp and aren’t just donky, cast-off mediocre covers should give you some idea how much faith is put in Hostage by bands that aren’t necessarily under its wing. Heap on top of that if you have the guile/cajones to release a comp only on LP, you’re almost committing financial suicide. That is, if no one cares a lick about any of the music on it. The power of Tower 13 is that not only are Hostage honchos Rick and Paul upright citizens and righteous defenders of both vinyl and the true OC punk sound, they have great taste in music that’s wide enough for the bands and songs to differ from one track to the next, but their tastes are contracted enough so it all sticks together with some dysfunctional, sandy glue. Say you lived in Croatia. If you listened to this fucker all the way through carefully, you’d have to shake the dirty water out from the sleeve and get a hepatitis shot after the needle returned to its cradle. The OC I know is fully representing, staring you right in the face, cracked stucco, stained teeth, neck tattoos and all. This comp is a little different from Cuts, the last blazing Hostage comp, in that there are few run-away favorites. It’s solid from tip to tail and I like best it as a whole unit, like an hour of the best radio show you can imagine. It’s rare that I’ll say a comp is essential. This one is. I, literally, bought five of these to give to friends. Here’s the band list: The Drips, The Fakes, Smogtown, Broken Bottles, The Pegs, The Main, The Decline, Ciril, Smut Peddlers, The Crowd, D-Cup, The Revlons, Discontent, The Negatives, Thee Indigents, and Cell Block 5.

 –todd (Hostage)