Thirteen: Boston Compilation – Review


Boston Compilation (Young American)
by Rich Romaine

Young American Records, Newbury Sound Studio, producer Drew Townson, and 13 Boston bands get together to bring us a wide-ranging compilation of Sounds from Underground. The styles of music fluctuate so greatly, the only thread of continuity (besides being from Boston) is Drew’s attraction to loud, big guitar sounds. Whether it’s in the format of powerpop, punky pop, heavy and/or alternative, Goth or surf, each band has the Boston guitar rock stamp-of-approval from the producer.

All as-of-yet unsigned bands, this collection of non-bandwagon bands recorded “live, dirty, and analog,” according to Drew. The well-mixed rawness in the production of bands such as Serum, Ether, and Resinsect make them sound both ethereal and human at the same time. This was not artsy psychedelia, but good, solid songs played by musicians that know how to work their instruments.

Even the punky Underball and Ten Star General make usage of the quality recording. While sounding more like powerpop than anything resembling punk in the final mixdown, this ought to get them some radio play, at least. Cobalt 60 shifts their gears and release a rock ballad that gets much better by the end. I was afraid they were turning classic rock, but I guess it just has to build up its dramatic steam.

Scratch, on the other hand, doesn’t dicker with intros. They rock from opening bass line to closing wind-down without pausing for breath or dramatic effect. The production neatly packages their raw sound in the loud “Wayside,” losing only a bit of their intensity. Tidal Wave, Digger, Delta Clutch and Jehovah Starbelly were pop to begin with, so the clean production of their songs only enhances their listenability. The most outstanding tracks come from Derangers and the bonus track by Race Hearse. Surf instrumental madness, drenched in reverb and skipping along at quite the peppy pace, this is ideal for feel-good background music. Race Hearse’s “Formcore” combines various pop melodies in a semi-distorted Goth song. The drums sound too pop for the overall effect, but this is quite an odd little song.

The Boston underground produces a variety of bands and a variety of styles which Thirteen quite adeptly brings into your home. For a taste of unsigned Boston rock, purchase Thirteen. No assembly is required.