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Various Artists

Shake Yer Popboomerang Volume 2

(Popboomerang; US: 28 Apr 2004; UK: 28 Apr 2004)

Popboomerang announces its intention with its newest Australian pop music sampler from the first chords. Shake Yer Popboomerang Volume 2 opens with a couple of classic pop-guitar chords over a simple drum pattern before kicking into the album’s theme song, performed by Her Majesty’s Finest. The song has a catchy hook and sounds radio-ready, like much of this collection.


The simplistic and accessible nature of the music works as the sampler’s greatest strength and weakness. Many of the songs on this second volume are so catchy that they immediately stick in your head. Over the course of 23 tracks, however, the individual songs get lost in the mix, because they mostly give out a bland summer-fun sort of vibe. Each of the acts on Shake Yer Popboomerang sounds poised to be the next big star, but few of them show any true innovation or creativity. While there are few tracks that you’ll want to skip over, there are very few that you’ll need to come back to.


The Tranquilizers provide one of those standout tracks with “Stop, Go”, the group’s first commercially released song. Unlike most of the bands on the sampler, the Tranquilizers get more of their sound from keyboards than from guitars. It’s not just a nice change of pace, though, as “Stop, Go” is the disc’s third track; instead, it’s just an example of good songwriting marking its place. The Hovercrafts also make good use of keys with a bouncy piano line in “For the Love and the Sound”. The group matches the good-time piano bounce with some straightforward post-punk vocals. The song teeters between hip fun and grating teenbop, but it comes out ahead.


Many of the lyrics of Shake 2 are teenagerish, with a kind of emo slant. The album contains a fair amount of brooding, and concerns over lost or troubling love. The music never gets too dark, but some of these bands need to show some maturation before they’ll be ready to leave their mark. As it stands now, these tracks mostly just serve to keep the tone from being too happy amid all these pop songs.


It’s not always necessary to be innovative to be successful. The Mome Raths prove this point with “You Trip Me”. The song has a British-invasion feel to it, and has an especial reference to the Who’s “I Can See for Miles”. With its one-note guitar solo and crashing chords, the band shows that simple music can still rock hard. Vocally, the Mome Raths use basic harmony to complete the retro feel. “You Trip Me” has garage elements, but with updated production and a clean sound. The Mome Raths aren’t alone in their dependence on classic rock, or even on the British invasion in particular. The retro sound of these acts plays better than some of the more contemporary artists who end up sounding just a bit behind the times. Dollar Bar, for example, has a post-grunge sound that makes it feel out-of-date rather than retro.


The Popboomerang label deserves credit for the way it’s selected the songs for its sampler. Instead of merely providing a collection of singles or marketable tracks, the disc’s compilers have included otherwise unavailable tracks in almost every instance. Fans can obtain Shake Yer Popboomerang Volume 2 without duplicating songs already in their collections. Some of these bands are unknowns, and matching them with more established (if not famous) acts give them a better chance at exposure. While none of these tracks are mind-blowing, this CD serves as a good example on how to assemble a sampler by using a consistent tone, solid if unspectacular songs, and surprisingly good unknowns.

Justin Cober-Lake lives in Charlottesville, Virginia, with his wife, kids, and dog. His writing has appeared in a number of places, including Stylus, Paste, Chord, and Trouser Press. His work made its first appearance on CD with the release of Todd Goodman's first symphony, Fields of Crimson. He's recently co-founded the literary fly-fishing journal Rise Forms.


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