Stranded In Stereo Vol. 06 is a free CD/DVD compilation of new music and film presented by Boston's Planetary Group. It is a somewhat diverse compilation of mostly up-and-coming indie talent, with a few more mainstream acts thrown in there for good measure. Visual artists are represented on every release as well, with Isaac Payne doing this disc's cover art.
Over 10,000 people have acquired this compilation and the five previous volumes to date. Most people who order the sixth installment will be familiar with such acts as Interpol, They Might Be Giants, Buffalo Tom, and Green Day. Others may have heard of Robbers On High Street (who performed on Last Call with Carson Daly a while ago), Gogol Bordello (who performed on Late Night with David Letterman recently), and west coast punk veterans Supersuckers. But there are plenty of new faces to get to know on both discs in this volume.
For the music portion of the compilation, a couple of dance-worthy numbers from the dark New York post-punkers Interpol ("The Heinrich Maneuver") and They Might Be Giants (the fat, buzz bass-driven "Take Out The Trash") gets things started on the right foot. The quieter (in the vein of Owen), acoustic-led "Instead" by Ola Podrida represents the lo-fi side of the indie spectrum.
Ghostly electronic effects stand out on the Midnight Movies track "Souvenirs," and Buffalo Tom's loud pop rocker "Three Easy Pieces" (title track to their 2007 CD) takes you back to the glory days of '90s alternative/college radio, in the vein of Velocity Girl. Elsewhere, there are decent poppier rock tracks from newer artists like Pictures of Then and The Mercies, more peppier romps, including Gogol Bordello's "Wonderlust King" and a couple rather stale inclusions like Law Low's "Magic Love" that bring the otherwise very listenable disc down a little.
Later highlights include Canadian reggae rock band Bedouin Soundclash's "Walls Fall Down" and the passionate acoustic stylings of Chuck Ragan. The last song on the CD, "All Our Memories" by Long Island emo-pop band Edison Glass is like a poppier At The Drive-In.
Speaking of musicians you may have heard of, one pleasant surprise and highlight from the DVD portion of the compilation was Bruce Springsteen's appearance in Jesse Malin's working class-themed video for "Broken Radio." This was a standout duet from the former D Generation front man's latest solo album Glitter In The Gutter, and I didn't expect Bruce to be in the video for it, but there he was with a guitar, singing his parts alongside Malin, a veteran singer/songwriter in his own right whose work has lately drawn comparisons to, you guessed it, Springsteen.
Green Day makes an appearance in the video portion with their cover of John Lennon's classic "Working Class Hero." Also, Midnight Movies and Edison Glass appear on both the CD and DVD, albeit with different songs. The desert-based video for the appropriately titled Supersuckers punk-rockin' "Rock n' Roll (Ain't Selling This Year") is my personal favorite music video from the DVD.
Another noteworthy feature of the compilation is that beneath each band and song name on both the CD and DVD track lists is the official website of all the bands on the compilation. You could probably find a Myspace page for most of them, but it's always best to learn about a band from a primary source.
The only problem with a compilation like this is the fact that it only comes out every three months, near the end of which time some of its contents may have become old hat and some of the new music may not be exactly "new" anymore. This can be especially true for the movie promos. For instance, it has been well over two months since Hairspray and The Simpsons movies came out, and the film trailers for them on this volume, though very entertaining, are probably useless at this point since theaters have a short time span for showing films. On the other hand, some bands may have taken off and become even more popular in three months time than they were when you first heard them on the compilation, and you can then be proud of yourself for being ahead of the game.
For those of you who want more than just a typical music sampler or don't care for
magazines with music samplers like CMJ and PASTE, Stranded In
Stereo Vol. 06 will serve as a very satisfying alternative or addition to your new music diet. To get yourself a copy of this fine compilation, visit the SIS website. They also have an MP3 blog.