[28 December 2004]
Independent artists and record labels have started playing by the same rules as the major labels. Now it’s not unheard of for a band to incorporate web marketing, magazine advertising, and street teams as part of the process for getting their name out there. And as the video music stations become increasingly specialized (in Canada alone, MuchMusic has splintered into separate stations such as MuchVibe, MuchLoud, and MuchMore) it has become more important for artists to target their niche and grab it. Thus it’s no surprise that more and more independent artists are creating music videos, hoping that something will grab mainstream play. Spazz rockers Alexisonfire literally blew up in Canada after MuchMusic put their first video into regular rotation, and I never thought I would see metal maniacs Converge on MTV2, but that too has happened. As video stations become more specific, there has been more opportunity for even the most obscure bands to reach a larger audience.
Homesick Vol. 1 brings together 13 videos from across the pop-punk and hardcore spectrum into one collection. From the hype-laden Thursday, to legends Sick of It All, to smaller acts like Fall Out Boy, Homesick Vol.1 is good cross-section of the punk scene. Unfortunately, the videos presented here are so devoid of original ideas or memorable music that there’s little to no doubt that they will get lost in video shuffle.
The videos contained on the disc generally fall into one of these two standard video categories: The touring/playing a local show video, or the playing in an empty room/rooftop video. Rufio and Copeland, whose videos are for “White Lights” and “Walking Downtown” respectively, have the exact same rooftop concept, except Rufio are playing during the day, while Copeland perform at night. That these videos run back to back is unintentionally hilarious. The All-American Rejects offer the standard tour footage, though my brother, who was watching the DVD with me, failed to believe that the band was really touring in a van given the size of the venue they are shown playing. Fall Out Boy offer a similar, if smaller sized take on the same concept, but featuring the same standard shots (The van license plate! The crowd rocking out! The band rocking out!). Even the bands working with slightly larger production budgets don’t bring anything visually or narratively exciting to the table. Thursday have a moody, scary forest backdrop to their otherwise dull empty-room video. Every Time I Die offer the most interesting idea, performing in a roller rink, but the tech metal music against a backdrop of a few people idly circling the rink is weirdly disconcerting. Playing the controversy card, Eighteen Visions’ video for “You Broke Like Glass” unashamedly and nonsensically features two women making out in their underwear for the majority of the running time. It’s pointless, and for a band that showed so much creativity in the packaging of their latest CD, Obsesssion, it’s disappointing. Only veterans Sick of It All contribute something worth remembering, with a beautifully animated, politically charged video for “Relentless” that is reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s “Do the Evolution”.
The people at the Militia Group and Two Pop Productions have gone the extra mile, adding some extra features such as director and artist commentary on all the videos and interviews with Murder By Death and Number One Fan. They even include a parody of Cribs with the Anadivine called Punk Rock Pads, and a making-of featurette for the aforementioned Sick of It All video. However, as with most compilations of this nature, if you’re not a fan of the music, there is little to recommend. But the dedication that went into producing this disc, and the well-thought out features, make this a must-have for fans.