Worthy of A Place On Anyone's Shelf
Another year, another Warped Tour and another compilation album. Not that I'm apathetic though; the annual Warped Tour sampler is typically a top-notch, star-studded romp through the finest new material punk, rock, emo and ska has to offer – 2007s edition is no different. Featuring tracks from such alternative heavyweights as Alkaline Trio, Bad Religion and Paramore, this year's effort already tantalises the musical taste-buds – factor in the forty-seven other artists spread over two discs, the hefty running time of 153 minutes and the promise of more sub-genres than you can shake a stick at, 'Warped Tour Compilation 2007' becomes an instant must-have CD.
Rather than offer a blow-by-blow account of the record, I'll pick out my personal highlights to offer an insight into what's available. Making a brilliant statement of intent, opening track 'Fire Down Below' by Alkaline Trio kicks the double-album off with considerable style. Beginning with an ominously nautical sonar-sampling intro, the song quickly morphs into the typically stirring punk number that listeners have come to expect from the band. Though not quite another 'Private Eye' – this track doesn't have the same 'grab you by the balls' effect – 'Fire Down Below' is nevertheless a great song and certainly gets you in the mood for the rest of the CD.
Following Alkaline Trio is Bad Religion, the legendary so-called punk outfit that many credit with reviving the genre in the late 80s. Donated from their recently released fourteenth studio album 'New Maps Of Hell', 'Requiem For Dissent' sees the band return to their roots, creating a sublimely rousing punk track reminiscent of the acclaimed Suffer-era. Easily my favourite track on the record, 'Requiem For Dissent' features all the nuances that make Bad Religion the classic band they are; crashing rhythm, tight vocal harmonies, killer solos and intelligently-worded socially-conscious lyrics that may need some reflection to digest ("I brought Suffer, then I brought a thesaurus" as NOFX's Fat Mike once so aptly put it).
Next up on my whistle-stop tour of the best bits is 'Summer (in B)' by Seattle pop-punksters Amber Pacific. Attempting to construct a slick pop-punk track with a rapid street-punk/hardcore tempo is no mean feat, but this band manages to succeed with considerable aplomb. The emo-tinged sickly-sweet vocals blend effortlessly with the manically melodic guitars and the machine-gun drumming to create something undeniably unique. Okay, it is pop-punk after all so my use of 'unique' is a touch overstated, but there is no doubt that 'Summer (in B)' is infectiously catchy, supremely polished and it offers a sonic diversion from the standard formula to boot: that's good enough in my books!
Over on disc two are Illinois punk-trio 'Ryan's Hope', a band who apparently derive their name from a 1970s American soap opera. Quickly allaying any fears they might sound tacky, cheesy or overly grandiose as their heritage might suggest, the band launch into the amusingly named number 'Killing Through Song'. Sounding a bit like the bastard spawn of Guttermouth without the nasal toilet-humour vocals (just for the record; Guttermouth are awesome), the band succeed in making a catchy punk track that looses points for the odd inane shout but reclaims them shortly afterwards with some awesome bass guitar fills.
As for the other forty-six tracks; honourable mentions go to Tiger Army, Big D and the Kids Table, Buck-o-Nine, Aiden, The Casualties and Piebald – Cute Is What We Aim For, Street Dogs, Escape The Fate, Guff, Gogol Bordello and Smoke or Fire all merit a 'close but no cigar'. I was a touch disappointed with both Paramore and Killswitch Engage's efforts, but this doesn't dampen the quality that resonates from the other tracks.
As this is a compilation CD, it inevitably will cause you to skip the occasional song – but that's the nature of this type of album; with a mixed bag of music you are unlikely to enjoy every single track. However, with fifty songs on offer for the price of a regular album, 'Warped Tour Compilation 2007' promises sublime value for money in addition to a window into new music. This CD is worth a place on anyone's shelf, if only to offer the opportunity to discover their new favourite band for the summer. I've got my copy.