If you’re an A&R rep who lacks the ability to find new talent on your own, then don’t worry: Matchbox Recordings has done all the work for you. Available for free to industry types, Stay in the Box 2 is a double-disc compilation of largely U.K. acts that have yet to find any type of label distribution. Giving a home for tracks from over 30 different acts is admirable, but—as to be expected with compilations of this nature—there are some true gems thrown in here, a few major bombs, and other tracks that you’ll only need to hear once in your life. Kizz Mac’s jazz-pop-rap stylings would certainly sound cozy being played back-to-back with Marky Mark’s “Good Vibrations” in the early 90s, but here it sounds instantly dated (same goes for the equally terrible “Summer Love” by the Michael Jameson Band). In fact, a lot of the acts that Matchbox has compiled would have been primed for radio stardom if the year were 1994 and people still cared about Tom Cochrane’s “Life is a Highway” (and no, not the Rascal Flatts version). Triton Bloom’s “Faster Than the Speed of Light” would have done great as background music during Melrose Place, which is certainly more than you can say for Wish You Well’s “B-Movie” (which is terrible regardless of decade). There are some great moments though: Without Warrant’s “Superego” is an alt-rock hit in waiting, LightSource—despite the terrible name—actually pull of a totally legit imitation of Air with their vocoder-happy “Symphony of Stars”, Sound From Silence’s “Spinning Tops” is innocuous pop bliss, and best of all is Invert’s “Dejavu”, which somehow manages to blend the spiky energy of early Blink-182 with post-millennial alt-rock anthems. It’s treasures like these that make wading through these discs worthwhile—it’s the rehashed ‘90s pop numbers that elicit more raised eyebrows than satisfied smiles.
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