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Various-A Peek From the Unknown

Band Name: Various
Album Name: A Peek From the Unknown
Best Element: “Candy Hearts” by Tragic Miracle.
Genre: Pop-punk
Label Name: Olinger Records (formerly Oldhouse Records)
Band E-mail:oldhouse_records’

Many fledgling labels like to start out by releasing a compilation album. Some labels see it as a chance to state their mission statement, while others see it as an easier proposition than releasing an album or an EP from a specific band. [u]A Peek from the Unknown[/u] is Olinger Records’ debut release, and it seems that this compilation was set up with label mission statement in mind.

I’m not going to beat around the bush: this is a pop-punk comp. It’s got 20 bands, and nearly all of them would list pop-punk either first or second on a list of their genres. While that does make this album an extremely tiresome cover-to-cover listen (especially if you’re not a fan of high-pitched pop-punk vocals, which are in abundance here), there are some nuggets of goodness in the mix.

It would be a crime to not mention Tragic Miracle’s “Candy Hearts”, a blistering firecracker of a song that calls up comparisons to early Offspring work (always a good thing). The cool guitar work, sincerely unique lead vocals, and passionate group yells make this the hands-down best track on the comp.

Another highlight is the very not-pop-punk “Prince of Thieves” by J’espere. Featuring an excellent female vocalist over an indie-rock barn-burner, it barely fits on the comp. Also contributing some good tracks are Flashlight Arcade with the dreamy, indie-tinged “Last Call for Demerol”, the Awkward Romance with “All You Non-Conformists are Alike” (much improved since the last time I heard them), and 5 Stars for Failure’s half-hardcore, half-pop-punk “Death Won’t Take Me”.

If you’re a fan of pop-punk, this CD delivers a wide variety of acts for you to check out, and should compel you keep an eye on Olinger Records. If you’re not a fan, then there’s really not enough here to justify the purchase.

-Stephen Carradini