Hey kids, I want to let you in on a little secret. Before the internet and digital downloads were around, there used to be this thing called a CD compilation ( and before that they were called cassette compilations). It was a CD full of choice tracks that record labels would sell at a discounted price (usually) to help share the music of bands that appeared on their label. No, I am not talking about that never-ending Now That’s What I Call Music series (seriously, when the hell is that garbage going to end?). I’m talking about music that actually mattered: non-comercial goodness. More specifically I am talking about punk rock comps.
Today there still are comp CDs released out there, but they just are not the same and most are digital downloads in an effort to save money in this ever struggling business music. AMP Magazine did a good job for a while there releasing free comp CDs with their magazines, but after a while I just got bored with them. The 2cd Warped Tour comps are good and feature a ton of bands on them, but I can not stand most of them. It just seems like the comp CDs of my younger years always had quality songs from great artists that I could appreciate.
Back in my day, man I sound old, I used to eat up punk rock comps when they came out. Labels like Fat Wreck Chords, Nitro, Hopeless, Vagrant, and Recess (just to name a few) released some killer comps in the 90’s that helped supply new music to my ears. I did not have the luxury back then to sit at a computer and type in “new unheard of punk rock music I will enjoy” and get instant results. I actually had to go to a music store, many of which are extinct, and BUY an actual CD with money and not a debit card. Ok, I think you get it.
Whenever I think of punk rock comps I always think of the Fat Music series. Created by Fat Wreck Chords in 1994, the Fat Series were a series of comps featuring bands on their label that were sold for cheap. I loved the variety on each release and always found a new band on them to appreciate.
Keep in mind this was before you were able to burn CDs at the click of a mouse. You kids these days have no idea how easy you have it. I remember the days where I had to actually make mix-tapes because it was the only way… So yes, comp CDs were where it was at.
The Fat Music series stopped in 2002 with Uncontrollable Fatulence and soon moved on to digital downloads like everyone else as it was a new era of music and, let’s be honest, they needed to cut corners to keep the business alive thanks to illegal downloading.
I really thought that it was the end of a good thing, that is until Fat Wreck Chords dropped Harder, Fatter + Louder last November. After a 8 year break, the god people of Fat Wreck Chords decided to drop an all new comp featuring newer acts as well as older contenders. I felt like a kid all over again once I had the copy in my hands, I even used my teeth to rip the plastic off the CD.
On the 7th volume of the series, Fat Mike – owner of Fat Wreck Chords, took 22 songs from upcoming Fat releases as well as a couple older tracks that dropped around in ’09 and ’10. The result is once again a perfect mix of tracks by a bunch of talented bands.
I was stoked when the first song, “For Better, For Worse”, played on the CD by a band I was not familiar with. It was an instant reminder why I always loved comp CDs. The band called, Old Man Markley, is not like any band I have heard on the Fat Wreck label as they are more a folky friend jam that emulates both Flogging Molly and the Avett Brothers in a way. Coincidentally, their debut on Fat entitled Guts N’ Teeth just dropped this past Tuesday.
Throughout the comp, there were a lot of acts I was already aware of like The Flatliners, Mad Caddies, Tony Sly, and of course NOFX. Honestly, Old Man Markley was the only band I did not know of prior to listening to the comp but I was stoked to hear new stuff from Cobra Skulls and Chixdiggit!. Most of the tracks were from upcoming albums giving a taste of good things to come and the rest were obviously already released gems. Regardless if I had heard them before or not, the collection of songs brought together was good.
If Fat Mike asked me to make a mix I honestly think that: a.) That would be the absolute shit. b.) I would have a hell of a time taking the right songs and limiting them to just one CD – I’ll leave it to the pros.
If you are looking for a punk comp this year go out and grab yourself a copy of Harder, Fatter + Louder. At just $8 bucks for the CD, there really is no excuse not to get this if you like your rock punk. Come on, all the cool kids are doing it.