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[Off The Record]
Stars graphics
Various Artists

This Boston-based labelís third compilation expands beyond local bands to include artists from the West Coast, Edmonton, Georgia, Brooklyn, New Jersey, and even the Netherlands. Too bad the scope of its imagination isnít as broad. Most outfits here play it strictly by the numbers, drawing on the time-faded colors of pedantic garage rock, metal, and punk.

Sometimes thatís not such a bad thing. Atlantaís Catfight bring zest, ring íní rip guitars, and a solid vocal performance to "Heís Bad," coming off like an all-girl Ramones. And Jerseyís the Bobfields summon a jittery kinetic energy for "Road Map," nodding toward smart-punk outfits like Gang of Four and Pere Ubu while retaining a tuneful edge. The flip side is tracks like "I Like Her (Band)" from Bostonís Modifiers ó a cliché from lyrics to leads to its lifeless chord progression, and with a vocalist who struggles desperately to get somewhere close to in-tune.

LAís Shut Up Marie and Elaine Summers offer less predictable numbers. The latterís "Ice Thru My Fingers" is a sharply arranged chunk of country pop ready for AAA radio; itís powered by Summersís steely voice. And Shut Up Marieís Annette Marie shakes her break-up ballad as if she were a caffeinated Hope Sandoval. Local favorites Quintaine Americana and Chilly Kurtz are also featured, as are Kurtzís arty, dark-yet-playful first band, Ashera.


Issue Date: November 1 - 8, 2001

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