Various Artists: Location Is Everything Volume 1

Terry Sawyer

Various Artists

Location Is Everything Volume 1

Label: Jade Tree
US Release Date: 2002-04-16
UK Release Date: 2002-04-22

Most label compilations are simply doomed by format. It's almost inevitable that a mechanically churned out roster disc is going to contain the smudgy pork prints of marketing. Not that advertising is inherently evil, it's just that for most labels one can never shake the taint of being sold a product by some vaguely threatening force that wants to take your money and leave you sobbing in the wet spot. Not to mention the aesthetic abrasion that comes from trying to swerve through a compilation of bands that have little in common other than the same mid-priced dinner with a clammy handed A&R hobgoblin. But like every off-the-cuff generalization, there are incandescent exceptions. The Jade Tree compilation, Location Is Everything Vol. 1, is a lo-fi sermon to the value of keeping it real.

Born of straight-edge angst in the Reagan wasteland, Jade Tree began in the previous label ventures of co-founders Darren Walters and Tim Owen. After much success and failure, working their distributor pimp magic throughout the rise and fall of straight edge and into the badly monikered post-hardcore scene, the duo began the Jade Tree venture in 1990. With their passion for indie credibility and respect for music of many shades, these brothers in punk have built a label that houses some of the most undiluted and aggressively honest music you're likely to find. Of course this is the thumbnail version of their saga, I suggest that you check them out for the full on cockle warming rendition.

Prior to this compilation, my entire knowledge of Jade Tree came via the brooding, soft punch of Pedro the Lion. "Rapture", taken from the 2002 release, Control spins the agony and the ecstasy of forbidden fruit over rough but reaching guitar. The previously unreleased "Backwoods Nation" could give Noam Chomsky a run for his money with it's message that the basest forms of bigotry and power comprise the core of our country's propaganda. It's every truth and insult you've ever wanted to utter anchored in a voice both cutting and calm. With the sparse acoustic plucking and little drummer boy beats beneath, it sounds like a pied piper march into the dark woods. David Bazan is a fabulist with a tenderly unforgiving eye.

For a healthy dose of joyfully guttered rock 'n' roll, Girls Against Boys have all the swagger that you can stand. "Kicking the Lights" is the kind of song you'd expect a sleazy 30-year-old to play for the adolescent girl he's buying beer for. It dirty like nuts hanging out of tightey whites. Their unreleased track at the end, "Super Slow" is down and underneath with spoken vocals that sound uttered from the floor of messy room after a nasty bender. Atmospheric masochism at its finest.

Much of the music contained on this sampler ricochets through more genres and sounds than you can get your ear around. The Owl's "I want the quiet moments of a party girl" lays dissonant drums beneath Tim Kinsella's vocals that sound alternately inhaled and wonderfully off range. Not to mention that the lyrics are bitter and funny, like drunken indie filmmakers. I have to say that the line "let's play who here would have gone Nazi" ranks high in the category of all-time favorite lines. Despite its cheek, this is some seriously sexy shit. Milemarker, a band that prefers to be considered a "collective", sounds to me like the B-52s taking a shot at making Fall records. That isn't a bad thing. The song's message is vaguely political in the way that crazy street people make good points about life. It all makes some sort of sense but it's unlikely to be coming to a brochure near you. On their website, you can even read some critical theory accusing them of de-politicizing didacticism with their fire hose of irony. I said you could, not that you should.

Jets to Brazil bassist Jeremy Chatelain's side project, Cub Country, was, for my own slants the best track on the compilation. In the same vein of Wilco's Yankee Foxtrot Hotel, but with more country graze to it, "High Vinta High" got instantly lodged in my ribcage. Hearing Chatelain hum the chorus and wax homesick over handclaps brings to mind driving at night in the summer with the windows down. With lyrics like, "I miss the power lines above my head, against the shadow of a building," he's a drunken haiku without rules. I plan on bolting to the record store for the full length as soon as my wage masters dispense the next round of porridge.

I wish I could give props to almost every band on this disc, but with its 23-song length, you would quickly tire of me and we would no longer be friends. Suffice it is to say, you're unlikely to find such a thick swath of great music on any one disc anyplace else. Consider this the fan dance tempting you toward your wallet. Shut off the dry humping politics of the West Wing, buy vinyl and don't worry how you will listen to it on the commute, and run out and buy this compilation, before your heart's amnesia is complete and you're left with only soft rock radio's nipple to kill the life-giving pain.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.