Various Artists: Punk-O-Rama 8

Adam Williams

Various Artists

Punk-O-Rama 8

Label: Epitaph
US Release Date: 2003-05-20
UK Release Date: Available as import

For those music aficionados who had lamented the gradual demise of punk rock, take heart, guardians of the flame remain among us and their name is Epitaph Records.

In the fine tradition quietly established over the past decade or so, Epitaph continues to give the finger to the musical establishment by releasing a brilliant twin CD compilation, Punk-O-Rama 8, comprised of 32 songs highlighting mostly the best of punk's new age.

Anchored by heavyweight Epitaph artists Rancid and Transplants, the two discs proceed at a brisk pace, restoring our collective faith that punk is not dead, but rather poised for a mass resurgence. The majority of tracks embody the sneer and rage of punk's aesthetic, while offering a polished musicality not present in much of the genre's past offerings.

Listen to the brilliantly hilarious NOFX; bask in the Flipperesque glow of Ikara Colt, Randy, Guttermouth, and Tiger Army; rejoice in the shrieking anger and disillusionment of Raised Fist and the Bouncing Souls; you will find yourself transported back to the heady days of the Repo Man soundtrack. Punk has not offered so much, nor looked so promising in nearly two decades. Even grizzled veterans Bad Religion stand tall with their trademark "R.E.M. on acid" ruckus.

Punk-O-Rama 8 is not merely a portal back in time, but also a sign of musical things to come. Tracks by the International Noise Conspiracy, Millencolin, Pulley, and Bombshell Rocks meld present day pop aggression, (perfected by Green Day and the Offspring), with equal parts certified punk attitude. These bands may not be ready to displace MTV darlings/poseurs Sum 41 or Good Charlotte on regular rotation, but listeners will know that what they're hearing is the real deal.

With so much quality material to showcase, are there any obvious standout moments on either disc? In addition to the fine contributions, (and uncanny resemblances to vintage Clash), of Rancid and US Bombs, the Distillers put forth an exemplary effort with "I Am a Revenant". Brody Armstrong is a dead on vocal ringer for Courtney Love, back when the former Mrs. Kurt Cobain was a pissed and hungry young artist. Even more impressive however are the tracks "Coup D'Etat" and "Gonna Be a Blackout Tonight" by Refused and Dropkick Murphys respectively. This pair could easily carry the album on their own if necessary. An added bonus for anyone feeling inclined to revisit the heyday of the wonderfully cartoonish Dead Milkmen, need only fire up Turbonegro's deliciously idiotic "Train of Flesh".

As solid as Punk-O-Rama 8's material is, there are the occasional and forgivable shortcomings. The Matchbook Romance song "The Greatest Fall (Of All Time) is weak and achy, despite its background screeching, and the spoken word rants of Sage Francis and Atmosphere are woefully out of place.

These minor failings aside, Epitaph has put together a tremendously satisfying package from its roster of acts. Not only does Punk-O-Rama 8 present an outstanding value for the album buying public, it renews our confidence that the bubblegum punk dreck foisted upon the world must still be measured against the genuine item. Remember when Henry Rollins, Darby Crash, and Jello Biafra were the main players on the scene, and feel good in knowing that a new punk dawn is upon us.

So get ready to hit the pit and pogo, and don't forget to salute Epitaph in the process.





'Everything's Gonna Be Okay' Is  Better Than Okay

The first season of Freeform's Everything's Gonna Be Okay is a funny, big-hearted love letter to family.


Jordan Rakei Breathes New Life Into Soul Music

Jordan Rakei is a restless artistic spirit who brings R&B, jazz, hip-hop, and pop craft into his sumptuous, warm music. Rakei discusses his latest album and new music he's working on that will sound completely different from everything he's done so far.


Country Music's John Anderson Counts the 'Years'

John Anderson, who continues to possess one of country music's all-time great voices, contemplates life, love, mortality, and resilience on Years.


Rory Block's 'Prove It on Me' Pays Tribute to Women's Blues

The songs on Rory Block's Prove It on Me express the strength of female artists despite their circumstances as second class citizens in both the musical world and larger American society.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 3, Echo & the Bunnymen to Lizzy Mercier Descloux

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part three with Echo & the Bunnymen, Cabaret Voltaire, Pere Ubu and more.


Wendy Carlos: Musical Pioneer, Reluctant Icon

Amanda Sewell's vastly informative new biography on musical trailblazer Wendy Carlos is both reverent and honest.


British Folk Duo Orpine Share Blissful New Song "Two Rivers" (premiere)

Orpine's "Two Rivers" is a gently undulating, understated folk song that provides a welcome reminder of the enduring majesty of nature.


Blesson Roy Gets "In Tune With the Moon" (premiere)

Terry Borden was a member of slowcore pioneers Idaho and a member of Pete Yorn's band. Now he readies the debut of Blesson Roy and shares "In Tune With the Moon".


In 'Wandering Dixie', Discovering the Jewish South Is Part of Discovering Self

Sue Eisenfeld's Wandering Dixie is not only a collection of dispatches from the lost Jewish South but also a journey of self-discovery.


Bill Withers and the Curse of the Black Genius

"Lean on Me" singer-songwriter Bill Withers was the voice of morality in an industry without honor. It's amazing he lasted this long.


Jeff Baena Explores the Intensity of Mental Illness in His Mystery, 'Horse Girl'

Co-writer and star Alison Brie's unreliable narrator in Jeff Baena's Horse Girl makes for a compelling story about spiraling into mental illness.


Pokey LaFarge Hits 'Rock Bottom' on His Way Up

Americana's Pokey LaFarge performs music in front of an audience as a way of conquering his personal demons on Rock Bottom.


Joni Mitchell's 'Shine' Is More Timely and Apt Than Ever

Joni Mitchell's 2007 eco-nightmare opus, Shine is more timely and apt than ever, and it's out on vinyl for the first time.


'Live at Carnegie Hall' Captures Bill Withers at His Grittiest and Most Introspective

Bill Withers' Live at Carnegie Hall manages to feel both exceptionally funky and like a new level of grown-up pop music for its time.


Dual Identities and the Iranian Diaspora: Sepehr Debuts 'Shaytoon'

Electronic producer Sepehr discusses his debut album releasing Friday, sparing no detail on life in the Iranian diaspora, the experiences of being raised by ABBA-loving Persian rug traders, and the illegal music stores that still litter modern Iran.


From the Enterprise to the Discovery: The Decline and Fall of Utopian Technology and the Liberal Dream

The technology and liberalism of recent series such as Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, and the latest Doctor Who series have more in common with Harry Potter's childish wand-waving than Gene Roddenberry's original techno-utopian dream.


The 50 Best Post-Punk Albums Ever: Part 2, The B-52's to Magazine

This week we are celebrating the best post-punk albums of all-time and today we have part two with the Cure, Mission of Burma, the B-52's and more.


Emily Keener's "Boats" Examines Our Most Treasured Relationships (premiere)

Folk artist Emily Keener's "Boats" offers a warm look back on the road traveled so far—a heartening reflection for our troubled times.


Paul Weller - "Earth Beat" (Singles Going Steady)

Paul Weller's singular modes as a soul man, guitar hero, and techno devotee converge into a blissful jam about hope for the earth on "Earth Beat".


On Point and Click Adventure Games with Creator Joel Staaf Hästö

Point and click adventure games, says Kathy Rain and Whispers of a Machine creator Joel Staaf Hästö, hit a "sweet spot" between puzzles that exercise logical thinking and stories that stimulate emotions.

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.