I claim to be a music nerd – but not in the sense of "I think I know everything about music,” because I certainly don’t. I consider myself a music nerd in that I like to research the bands I am really in to; learn their history, see how and where they started and follow their trail through the years and see how they’ve developed and grown or haven’t. See what’s changed, and reflect on musical trends at the moment to see if that influenced or inspired them to try certain things, or to see how changing band members affected the music and the band. Is it really nerdy to be so inquisitive? I guess so.
So, for the ever truth-seeking mind, a compilation documenting a bands progression over the years is perfect. I'm also big into being a label-nerd, asking similar questions stated above, but applying them to an overall output of one company and their impact on the music world. Many people turn to certain labels when they expect a certain sound. If one is looking for metal-core, you might turn to Ferret. If you are looking for poppy-hardcore, you may turn to Victory. If you are yearning for ska, you might turn to Asian Man records, or the defunct Moon Ska label. If you want pop-punk, you turn to Fat Wreck Chords. If you want grittier punk, you might look for the Hell Cat logo — and if you want indie/emo, you look for that DIE logo on the back of Deep Elm releases.
One label that has been making waves over the past 10 years is Suicide Squeeze, and they have done all my research work for me! The Squeeze have recently released a double-disc compilation featuring the label’s staple bands, and have filled it with out of print, demo, live, or previously unreleased tracks by some of our favorite bands. Some of these staple bands include Elliot Smith, Modest Mouse, Pedro The Lion, Iron and Wine, Les Savy Fav, Minus The Bear, and The Black Heart Procession. This compilation features many of their up-and-coming acts worthy of mention as well, such as Chin Up Chin Up, The Crystal Skulls, Russian Circles, Hint Hint, and These Arms Are Snakes.
As with most compilations, you are getting more than you pay for. There are a few disposable tracks sprinkled here and there across the two-discs, but what you gain is so worth it. If it wasn’t for this compilation I wouldn’t have heard my new obsession band Hint Hint, whose song “Natural Collegiate” (track 16) sounds like a combination of the bands it is sandwiched between – Les Savy Fav (track 15) and We Regazzi (track 17). If any tracks are worth the sticker price of Slaying Since 1996, they are the out of print tracks by the Constantines and Les Savy Fav, and the previously unreleased tracks from Metal Hearts, Chin Up Chin Up, Russian Circles, and These Arms Are Snakes.
Also, as with most compilations that are not genre specific, keep an open mind to enjoy it. That is maybe the only bad thing I have to say about this release and this label, is that it doesn’t really have a particular sound. But that isn’t all that bad. This is a label not out to make the most money or be the biggest, it exists to put out music it believes in, and sometimes that has to involve crossing genre boundaries and forming new ones. On no other compilation this year will you hear the 5 minute rock instrumental a-la Russian Circles, and the self-describing, trippy electronic “Rock Weird (Weird Rock)” from Goon Moon, or the straight-forward rocking of the Constantines (circa Shine A Light) and the depressingly emo “Now You’re Swimming” from 764-Hero.
For more information, please visit the Suicide Squeeze records homepage.