On Epitaph Records’ 10th installment of the ever-evolving, always eclectic bargain-priced Punk-o-Rama series, the label offers up a CD/DVD combo featuring a smashed up collection of artists in a variety of genres. With new pop friendly emo artists tracked side by side with veteran punks and hip hop visionaries, this compilation promises to piss off just as many as it satisfies — and that seems to have always been the goal of Epitaph Records.
Going all the way back to 1994, when the first Punk-o-Rama hit independent record store shelves everywhere, you’ll find a few bands who have been staples of every volume since. Bad Religion, NOFX, Rancid, Pennywise — the veterans of the second wave of California punk are still standing out as the highlights of Volume 10. The kids in Motion City Soundtrack and Matchbook Romance try to keep pop punk fresh, and succeed where most have failed. Fresher still are the younger psychobilly artists Horrorpops and Tiger Army, who aren’t afraid to take Epitaph in a new direction.
It’s good that hardcore acts like The Unseen, Hot Water Music and Converge keep the aggression in check, because once again the emo kids (and you know who you are) drag the pit down into the soggy fields of complaint rock. And I know that hip-hop is the hot new trend — and at least Sage Francis is a forward thinking, vegetarian, politically charged MC — but I’ll just never like it. Three rap tracks on Punk-o-Rama… but at least The Transplants have called it quits. Tim Armstrong has seen the light, maybe others will follow.
The DVD features videos of mostly the same artists, with a few surprises tossed in (The Black Keys!). The Dropkick Murphy’s video for “Tessie” is as fun as a day at the ballpark, and former Agnostic Front singer, Roger Miret, is back with his new band The Disasters.
For under $10, it’s a good buy for those who want a quick taste of the Epitaph catalog. For those who really want to sink their teeth into something good, go for the latest full lengths from Tiger Army, Horrorpops, or Dropkick Murphys.