The hardest thing about reviewing a compilation is that the overall product is not the genius or fault of one particular band. I've had many compilations in my life that I would eventually only listen to a few songs off of because all the others didn't hold up under scrutiny. This compilation is no exception, so I reviewed it according to the bands:
Awestruck and Dumbfounded - Track #1: "Lyrebird" and Track #9: "Run of the Mill Boy"
"Run of the Mill Boy" has the distinction of being one of the only two songs on this album that isn't going to put someone to sleep. It's an interesting little study in self-deprecation in honor of a crush, backed by an anxious drum kit beat. Everyone knows the stereotype of the nerdy boy who followed around the prettiest girl thinking someday she might turn around and suddenly realize how funny and nice he was; I'm sure everyone had one in his or her school. This is their theme song. "Lyrebird," on the other hand, is just one of many tracks in this compilation that utilizes annoying and silly metaphors for love.
Tigerella - Track #2: "Stun Machine" and Track #14: "Winning Ticket"
"Stun Machine" has a nice little riff, and isn't as sleepy as most of these songs. It's cute, which is bad, up until the guy starts growling like he's been possessed. I think the premise of "Winning Ticket" is that these people got a ticket that won a contest in the 24th century but whoever she's singing to "tore it up/ voluntarily." There's something about ducks falling on their faces, too. I appreciate a good metaphor, but this one makes no sense.
Carte Blanche - Track #3: "I'll Take A Chance" and Track #12: "Don't Forget Love"
Wow. What diamonds. "I'll Take a Chance" is beautiful and broody. It encompasses perfectly the feeling you have when you have just met someone new and you're both anxious and nervous. The boy wants to hang out with you all the time, and you do too, but you both feel kind of like crazies for not wanting to be parted for even a second. "Don't Forget Love" is further into a relationship by several years. You still hang out as often as possible, though of course the urgency and trepidation are no longer so necessary. When you have been with someone for a while and experienced all their ups and downs, and put them through your own, you still have to be reassured sometimes that there is still love between you. Too many people fall into habit and forget to appreciate the person they're with, and that is what this tender song is about. These are the moments that a lot of people forget about when they write love songs, but Carte Blanche performs them perfectly.
The Awkward Age - Track #4: "Snowbound" and Track #11: "December"
I listened to the whole album first, and now I'm going back and listening to the particular bands in chunks so that I can compare them to their own songs as well as their company on this compilation. I had to be reminded of what The Awkward Age's songs sound like. In fact, you may not hear it if you listen to them in order, but "Snowbound" and "December" sound very similar. "December" is the better of the two because the singer actually rouses her voice beyond a restrictive octave, but it only happens occasionally. I get the feeling she could sing this stuff in her sleep; in fact, I wonder if she did.
Avoidance Theory - Track #5: "Summery Action Films" and Track #15: "Red and Whites"
Along with this compilation, we got an entire album of Avoidance Theory. I gave them a 4 out of 10, and this only confirmed that decision more. "Red and Whites" is a little catchier than "Summery Action Films," but they still sing like prepubescent boys.
Light Sleeper - Track #6: "Pop Song" and Track #10: "Fruitstripe Girl"
Light Sleeper is fresh from the Shmat Factory. A man, a woman, a guitar, and the most boring music I've had to listen to in quite a long time. I hated "Fruitstripe Girl." Remember Fruitstripe? The huge pack of gum that had flavor for about five minutes, and then you shoved another one in your mouth? Light Sleeper is the same way, and I couldn't wait to spit it out.
Hrududu Factory - Track #7: "Headfirst" and Track #13: "Garfield and Valley"
My first thought is that Hrududu Factory is Welsh or Finnish; nothing else can explain to me why they chose such a horrible name. Then, I hear "Headfirst", and I wonder why he's whispering while he sings. Is he trying not to wake up his mom? But I like the kazoo solo, believe it or not. It doesn't sound as silly as you might think it would. In "Garfield and Valley," I have to respect his overt politics, because no one is willing to sing about their politics this openly these days. But his ideas are as dreamy as his music. It becomes even harder to take Hrududu Factory seriously when the bridge starts talking about the different sizes available in drinks at convenience stores. The music is nice, but disturbed by his tortured cry of "Why is that?" pertaining to the drink sizes. Is that the most important thing Hrududu Factory has to worry about??
Ivan the Bear - Track #8: "Ivan the Bear"
It's kind of unfortunate there is only one Ivan the Bear song on this compilation, as I'm curious what some of their other music sounds like, though I suppose that's the purpose of a compilation in the first place. "Ivan the Bear" is a song you might expect to hear on a kid's c.d. that teaches kids how to talk, but I like it anyway. Maybe it's the glockenspiel, or the way the music implies a punch line with a "Wah wah wahhh" sound. Part of me hates it, but part of me likes it.
This album is too skewed towards cute, and there is nothing worse in my opinion. 4/10 -- Eden Hemming Rose (25 May, 2005)