Various Artists – Natural Selections Vol. 1

January 01, 1970

(Umbrella Tree)


Regional music compilations are as inevitable as they tend
to be hit-and-miss, their overall reach additionally restricted, for the most
part, to a specific geographic (and demographic, if genre-based). But as
suggested, that doesn’t stop compilers from, er, compiling – I Am, Therefore I
Document – and truth be told, every now and then a local comp does yield the Next
Big Thing, or at least an up-and-comer destined to ping the national radar.


The ironic beauty, of course, is that there’s no equivalent
foresight to match subsequent hindsight, so in theory every single artist on
such an assemblage of tunes has an equal shot at Nirvana-dom. Yours truly isn’t
about to go out on a limb and predict the best-odds and the longshots on this
15-track collection of western North Carolina underground bands (six from
Asheville, one from Bryson City, one from Dillsboro), but it is worth noting
that for fans of punk and left-field indie rock, Natural Selections Vol. 1 is bursting with young potential. The
tunes tend to reveal their budget-conscious origins, but the vim ‘n’ vigor
quotient remains high. You gotta start somewhere, y’know?


In order of appearance:


Pallas Cats:
ground zero-styled punk, with a tuneful edge, of a Heartbreakers-Buzzcocks


Grammer School:
wiggly, wiry pop torn from the back pages of the New Wave (check the
Magazine-like keyboards).


Forty Furies: post-post-hardcore
spiked with declamatory vox and the occasional math-y (bordering on prog)
rhythmic or fretboard twist.


Solito: angular
and edgy, equal parts ‘70s punk, ‘80s hardcore and ‘90s thug-rock.


not only do they have best band name here, they also are singular in how they
hoist the battered-but-proud flag of vintage Flying Nun wigged-out pop (hello,
The Clean!).


Balloon Wars: moody but catchy indiepop with a subtly heavy edge, plus guy-gal vocals for
extra spice.


whatever a “spandrel” is remains anybody’s guess, but the combination of
violin, viola and acoustic guitar and lyrics that are alternately rapped and
sing-songy makes for an avant-good time.


Muckrakers: the
sole group here with just one cut, but that track – a jittery shot of garage
and chaotic riffing, is guaranteed to leave your ears ringing and your limbs


Keeper” (Muckrakers); “Mike Clair Theme Song” (Grammer
School); “Dog Park”
(Pallas Cats); “Tirades Injustice” (Machiavillains). FRED MILLS


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