Compilations are a bane for music reviewers. Not that every album released by every band is a “concept,” but they usually at least have enough overarching themes to flesh out some good discussion. Scattershot comps usually only lend themselves only to talk of why they came into being and then random observations about the acts presented. So here come those two elements, in that order.
As the name suggests, Slaying Since 1996 is a celebration of Suicide Squeeze’s decade of existence, a two-disc set of rarities and hard-to-find and previously unreleased tracks. The label is based in Seattle, a little brother to Sub Pop and peer of Up and Pacifico. Founder David Dickenson began with a devotion to releasing seven-inch vinyl singles of homegrown acts, from there maturing into full-lengths from artists all over the States, including Chin Up Chin Up and Page France.
· Modest Mouse is all over this comp. Literally. The single “A Life of Arctic Sounds” is a perfect summation of the band’s obsession with life on the open road, and Modest Mouse’s joint effort with 764-Hero, “Whenever You See Fit,” is presented here remixed by DJ Dynomite D. And other acts show how influential Modest Mouse’s raw, angry, and divergent sound is becoming. See 764-Hero’s “Now You’re Swimming” (beautifully covered by Damien Jurado on his Holding His Breath EP) and the Scenic Vermont’s “Elementary.”
· To my mind, the world needs deejay remixes of indie rock like it needs more Middle East conflict. The aforementioned work of Dynomite D and Dalek‘s remix of Minus the Bear‘s “The Game Needed Me” are utterly unnecessary.
· Other standouts abound. The dearly departed Elliott Smith is represented by “Division Day,” a ’50s sock-hopper similar to “Stupidity Tries.” David Bazan does the scary Christian storytelling thing twice, once as Pedro the Lion on “June 18, 1976” and then in his newer Headphones incarnation on “Gas and Matches.” And the Black Heart Procession, the Black Keys, Les Savy Fav, the Unicorns, and Of Montreal put in expectedly great turns.
Scattershot or no, fans of the Northwest indie sound will find plenty to admire on this two-CD set.