I remember back in my day when the internet was not readily available at your fingertips. Streaming music was unheard of. Kids were not sucked into their so-called smart phones looking like a bunch of goddamn zombies. People actually talked to one another. Hell, you had to actually leave your house and go to a record store to buy music.
I remember I could buy punk compilations left and right on cassette by tons of labels for the cheap. Like 8 bucks cheap. I had a plethora of said cassettes to play in my ’86 Dodge Shadow. Because of that, I have always had a soft spot for comp releases most likely because I relied on them to learn about new bands and just have a nice mix of tunes to get lost in.
Why I am I sitting here telling these tales of yesteryear you ask? I guess my question is why are you still reading this?
Truth is, it’s been a long time since a comp album hooked me in to the point I found myself listening to it on repeat. That’s exactly what Red Scare Industries: 15 Years of Tears and Beers, a 15 track compilation celebrating the iconic label’s 15 year anniversary, did.
To reach such a milestone as an independent label is just outstanding especially in this day and age. Most labels however are not credited with dropping so many amazing releases. Seriously, this label is responsible for so many of my favorite releases over the years.
It is almost as if Toby has a special gift for finding the best talent in the punk world knowing he one day may need to say goodbye in the nicest way possible with limited middle fingers. Some of the roster I speak of include no-name talent like The Menzingers, Teenage Bottlerocket, The Sidekicks, my fav dudes MakeWar, and even those dicks Masked Intruder. I could go on, but this is a review about a comp album, right?
The Copyrights, a band who released an excellent album with Kepi Ghoulie earlier this year (check it out!), started the comp off with the fast-paced “Maine or Oregon”.
Ol’ (rather, young) Sincere Engineer held back nothing with “Dragged Across the Finish Line”, a track clearly about putting up with other’s shit in a good way. Deanna Belos and crew really have a good thing going for them and, to me, are years ahead of their time musically.
Broadway Calls covering “Sunday Morning” by The Menzingers was actually a great idea. It’s probably the last cover I would have expected on this comp, but here is was and I admired their take.
Punk rock sweethearts The BombPops kept my attention with “East and West”. I hate to say it, but it won’t be much longer until this band is a mainstream wonder. They have been getting so much attention as of late and it is well deserved.
“Dead Body” was the track on this comp that totally won me over. In fact, for the last few days I have been sining this song to myself. Creepy, I know. Garrett Dale (Red City Radio) went all Stand By Me with this incredible track that even tossed out a sax-solo that just brought the whole song together. The best part was Garrett being out “this is the dumbest song” in the middle of it. Perhaps he is right, but it ruled.
Leave it to Brendan Kelly to do something completely out of the norm – actually no – these days I expect him to. He took a perfectly good Lillington’s song, “All I Hear Is Static”, and turned in into a synth-heavy cover that just totally worked. You can not hate this cover because it’s just brilliant.
“TJ” by MakeWar begged to be played over and over. This band is one of my favorites and seemingly has a way to make songs so catchy and likable but when you actually really listen to the words, the mood shifts to a more somber approach.
I was thrilled to see The Lippies on here. “Acid Head” was a killer song and a reminder on how much I love this band. I hope this means there is a new album to follow. I know they have been touring as of late.
I really could sit here and say something about every single song on the comp, but honestly I would rather you check it out for yourself. Personally, this is the best comp I have heard since the days of Survival of the Fattest Vol. 2 and Vagrant Records: 5 Years on the Streets. For those of you who grew up around me, you’ll now how bold of a statement that is.
I don’t know if Toby blackmailed the bands on this comp by threatening to exploit them with their collective photos of them at Staind meet-and-greets, but whatever he did worked.
Hats off to Sir Toby and the Red Scare Industries crew for 15 years of excellent releases. This comp is a celebration of an impressive accomplishment and deserves to be heard and purchased by all.