This 3-disc set may be so-so on quality, but it rocks when it comes to quantity. You get 2 CDs with 40+ songs and a DVD with 28 videos. The assemblage comes from Hopeless Records and the Take Action Tour, a charitable group which emphasizes teen suicide prevention. A number of labels like Epitaph and Eulogy Record supply artists, so the mix runs toward alt-punk, with bands like Red Jump Suit Apparatus, My Chemical Romance and Anti-Flag. The mixes are melodic for the most part with a well-practiced punk anger and careful calibrated distortion. The Casualties have a cool retro sound with a soccer hooligan chant chorus reminiscent of Stiff Little Fingers. Murder by Death adds an up-tempo rockabilly-influenced number with “Brother”, and I loved “Patent Pending” by Heaven, with its accompanying video bracketed by an amazingly large Japanese talk show host.
The disc of videos impressed me most. Last time I checked MTV, they had given up on the format, and what videos I’ve seen in the past decade have left me unimpressed. The Take Action compilation restores my faith in the art form; nearly every other cut was arty, cool, or surprising. Red Jumpsuit Apparatus drew on the film Poltergeist for “Face Down” with its attractive if abused female protagonist. Anti-Flag weighs in with “The End” which is part video, part PSA about anorexia and self mutilation. Their impressive array of piercing and tattoos make this seem a bit odd, but the song rocks. “Mutiny” by Set Your Goals reminds me of eight-year-olds playing pirate, and the visual pick is “The New Black” by Every Time I Die. The producer found a ’60s house complete with garish furniture and go-go dancers and dressed the band like an audition for Boogie Nights. I can’t remember a thing about the song, but it looks wonderful.
I have disc 2 playing in my computer as I type this, but disc 1 is one of those pain-in-the-butt CD extras with some pointless flash animation and the useless advice that I can “play this CD in [my] computer.” Not if you have Winamp and XP, and the digital content consist of a Shockwave ad and a PDF on suicide counseling. I’d rather hear the songs, but at least I got the videos, and that alone is worth wrestling with the shrink wrap.
Hopeless Records: http://www.hopelessrecords.com, Subcity: http://www.subcity.net, Take Action Tour: http://www.takeactiontour.com