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Various Artists – It Came From Beneath L.A.

December 21, 2009 Leave a comment

Triple X Records, 1995

A combination of factors makes one pick up a cheap record, never mind a cheap compilation.  In this case, zombies with briefcases wandering around in an apocalyptic city setting got me thinking that this must be mine.  Plus, it’s from Triple X records which has been known to release records from little known L.A. bands that rock as hard as they can given their lack of exposure.  Bizarre album cover, record label, zombies … this disc had some potential!

Only six bands are included on this compilation as the people at Triple X figured that each of them needed two songs each.   Either that, or there weren’t enough good bands on the label at the time that they had to double up just to fill the record.  As each song unfolds, it is quickly apparent that those people were terribly mistaken in releasing a compilation, period.  It doesn’t help that this compilation was conceived in the mid-nineties when music tended to be grunge or bust.  When a band tried a different direction in those days they were either named Yo La Tengo or they usually failed in their mission to entertain.  As it turns out, of the six bands on this compilation, about four and a half spewed absolute garbage.

Lifter is the designated rote rock band that sounds like a bar grunge band impression with their plain, local sound.  The first track on the record is Lifter’s “Shutout,” which is just a terrible way to begin the compilation since it has zero appeal and virtually no originality.  Their later song of “Nova” at least gives the group a fair chance at roping in standardrock fans, but it’s still a headshaker of a tune.  The Penny Dreadfuls are a female-led rock group that channel a bit of the Throwing Muses without the aggressive Tanya Donnelly vocals.  They’re just another hohum act.  A band called Nameless tries much too hard to be noisily different that one can’t help but quickly skip past them.  E.Coli actually mix a bit of punk in their streamlined rock and, in truth, prove that they might have been alright enough given time.  The songs they contributed are listenable and so I must give them some credit for sorta succeeding.

Congo Norvell … I don’t even know what to make of this duo.  They want to sound artsy with sensual female vocals and disjointed musicianship, but it all comes across as very tedious to listen to.  I guess one member of the group, Kid Congo, used to be involved with the Cramps.  Could’ve fooled me with this pretentious crap.  Snap-Her is a another female-led band on the compilation, but they go with a promising punk vibe.  Unfortunately, they opted to include a tune entitled “I Want to Beavis You”.  Huh huh, uh, yeah.  They do, however, resemble a band that I thought was going to encapsulate this compilation and do turn out to have at least one song on here (“Name Brand Society”) that sparks a bit of energy.

There aren’t any mp3s I could find online, but I did find this Beavis tune on Youtube.  The song begins about one minute in.

The text inside the booklet claims that there are “plenty of terrific up-coming groups in Los Angeles”.  Unfortunately, none of those bands were included on this compilation.  Sure, E.Coli and Snap-Her had some potential but they’re nothing one couldn’t have easily heard elsewhere.  Overall, this compilation is a real disappointment and certainly fails in delivering any kind of inspiration to follow up with any of these now-defunct groups.  Bad bands, the nineties, and a mostly unsuccessful song list qualifies as a dead ringer for the Golden Garbage Can.

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