Sell Out with the In Crowd is a collection of tracks by up and coming San Francisco artists, as chosen by local musicians and journalists. The compilation is the first in a planned series in which Pinch Hit Records will present a sampling of the best “underground” bands from various cities across America. Of course, any project so broad in scope is bound to ruffle a few feathers because of who was included, who was not, and what types of music are featured.
While it does touch upon a number of styles, the first disc has a decidedly alternative flavor, mixing power pop, grrl rock, glam revivalists, and jam bands. It’s not always a comfortable fit, but the album has its high points, and even at its worst is simply mediocre.
Among the highlights is “Radio” by Vegas DeMilo, a pure pop song structured around a Cars-like keyboard line straight out of the early ‘80s. The lyrics, too, hearken back to that era, mirroring both the Ramones’ “Rock and Roll Radio” and Elvis Costello’s “Radio, Radio” in the way they lament the passing of radio’s glory days.
Petrol puts in a fun, but stylistically quite different, appearance. Judging from its “Canvas Tongue”, this group owes a large debt to classic British glam acts like T. Rex, The Sweet, and Gary Glitter. While Petrol’s sound certainly isn’t original, it’s at least entertaining.
The title of Adam Elk’s “Maybe You Faked It” refers to not an orgasm, but a death. A mid-tempo rocker heavy on guitar and drums, the song’s lyrics are surprisingly more lighthearted than the music suggests, speculating on how a rock star’s troubles might have led him to fake his own drowning.
It is little surprise that “Parallel” by Them There was, at one point, the most frequently downloaded song on Riffage.com. The band makes the same sort of earnest, down-to-earth, guitar rock that makes groups like Matchbox 20 so popular. Fans of Top-40 jock rock will also like Munkafust’s “Feel My Pulse”, a jam-band-style track that brings to mind Phish and Blues Traveler.
The Brodys contribute hard-edged pop on “Religious Girls”, while Red Planet would make Weezer proud with its mixture of goofiness and guitars on “I Am Zas”, a tale of drunken revelry and aliens.
None of the songs comprising Sell Out with the In Crowd are particularly revolutionary, despite their proclaimed “underground” status. They do, however, display that the San Francisco music scene is alive and well and, thankfully, quite musically diverse.