Y'know, it's funny, but I hadn't realized just how long it'd been since somebody put out a comp of Houston (or at least Houston-area) bands. Back in The Day, when CD burners & whatnot were prohibitively expensive, that often seemed to be the only way a band would get on a CD, to go in with a dozen or so of their friends & try to share the cost -- that's how Broken Note Records' whole No Approval Needed and Noncompliance series came about, for one, and I suspect it was the basic idea behind the awesome Songs From the Icehouse (put together by badass recording guy Marco Saenz of Aztlan Recording & Production, brother of country artist Mando Saenz), the Static House studio comp full frequency package, and Pinche Flojo Records' good-but-uneven Scene? What Scene? comp (which deserves respect for trying to bridge the gap between pop, ska, and punk bands all on one disc).
Back then if you liked a band here in town, your options were generally to A) hit up a show and buy a cassette or 7" from the band then or B) hit Cactus, Sound Exchange, Vinal Edge, or (maybe) Soundwaves to see if they were on some compilation somewhere. Sure, you weren't going to like everybody on the disc, of course, but odds were good you'd like some of 'em, and a handful of 'em you might discover & love. It was both a cheap way for bands to put music out there and a sneaky/excellent attempt at cross-promotion that forced, say, Southern Backtones fans to listen to the Latch Key Kids and D.R.U.M.
These days, though, local comps seem to be few & far between; not sure why that is, really, although I'd guess it has to do with the lower cost of CD burners, printers, etc. (hell, you can't buy a computer now without a CD burner), and maybe a bit to do with the fact that you can now put together an "album" of MP3s up on a Website somewhere and never even need to mess with a physical release. Whatever the reasons, it feels a little weird to me that the last local compilation I can think of that wasn't explicitly a label sampler-type comp (no offense to the Mia Kat or Esotype crew!) was the Mustache Records I Hate It Here, I Never Want To Leave disc. (Okay, actually, there's also the Houston Band Coalition's Music for the Masses comp, from back in 2006 or so, but I haven't actually heard that one myself, so y'know...)
So, random rambling/reminiscing aside, I have to say that it makes me happy to see new comps coming down the pipe. I've heard of but not yet seen the KTRU Live Vol. 1 comp Ian Wells put together, which sounds very cool, and there've apparently been a couple more besides (Chris Gray chats a bit about 'em here, along with some more oldies, some of which predate yours truly by a few years), but this Saturday, May 16th, at The Mink marks the release of the most interesting-sounding I've heard of yet, ArtStorm Records' Summer Exposure.
(Sidebar on the ArtStorm thing, by the by: didn't the collective all come crashing down? I could've sworn I heard/read that someplace, but judging by this, it's not the case, and I'm damned glad for that...)
The release show promises to be off-the-wall badass, with everybody who's featured on the comp plus some special, extra-awesome guests playing, starting at 4PM or so. The list reads like a cross-section of the most exciting bands in town right now, folks that deserve giant piles of praise: Young Mammals, News on the March, The Mathletes, Buxton, B L A C K I E, Elaine Greer, Roky Moon & Bolt, Giant Princess, listenlisten, Alpaca, The Brood (Georgetown), & One Hundred Flowers (Austin). Not sure if that's the order, but however it's lined up, that's a damn good show.
Sadly, I will be in San Antonio watching penguins frolic this weekend and have yet to hear the comp -- supposedly engineer/NotM member Joe Weber's been working like a dog to get it all done -- but the lineup above makes it pretty promising. And hey, the $10 cover includes a copy of the CD, which is always cool. Maybe this'll mark the beginning of a new explosion of local everybody-in compilations? Got my fingers crossed.
Oh, and as a bonus, if you run across Joe Mathlete wandering through the crowd, hit him up for a copy of his own CD-R EP, which is apparently Joe grabbing hold of classic tunes by all your favorite H-town boys & girls -- Something Fierce, The Wild Moccasins, Giant Princess, etc. -- and revamps them in his inimitable style. Got no idea if he'll be charging anything for them, but if he's got copies left, trust me, it'll be worth it...
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