Various Artists: SHOUT! The Revolution Rave-Up Alive 1997-2003
Down in New York City's East Village, at a club called Bar 13, a weekly party has been held every Sunday night, featuring a selection of the best new and obscure records currently out there, be it rock, dance, or what have you, and every so often, an incredibly cool band playing as well. The weekly get-togethers, simply called SHOUT!, have now been going strong for six years. Its creators, the self-dubbed "Notorious Shout! DJs", Miami natives Steve Pestana and Pedro Mena, have been there to witness not only the remarkable musical rebirth that bloomed in the New York City area over the past few years, but also some of the best American independent rock acts that have come around recently. In celebration of their ongoing run as one of the coolest meeting places in indie rock, Pestana and Mena have put together a very good commemorative CD, as both a tribute to themselves, and as a tribute to the superb bands who graced their tiny stage over the last six years.
SHOUT! The Revolution Rave-Up Alive 1997-2003 (how's that for a title?) could have taken the easy way out and focused on recent It bands who have emerged from the New York scene, such as the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol, but instead, it looks largely beyond New York, all the way to the West Coast, even, and features 13 bands, whose songs are either album cuts, rarities or previously unreleased material. The end result, while just happening to serve as a good little companion piece to the great recent Yes New York compilation (which does have the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Interpol on it), works brilliantly on its own, a straight party album, a sample of some of the most vital American rock music you may not have heard.
San Francisco's Vue kicks things off in that '70s Stones thing they do so well on their 2001 song "Pictures of You"; of all the new garage bands in America, Vue are one of the most unimaginative, but when they play with conviction (which is pretty much always), they're on fire, and this track scorches. Cincinnati's the Greenhornes supply "Good Times", a straight-ahead garage rocker in the style of the Mooney Suzuki, while Holmes's demo version of "Sour Cream Dream" combines the enigmatic goofiness of Frank Zappa with that garage sound. The Witnesses come close to stealing the show with "(Walkin') Steppin' Pneumonia" a fabulously skanky ode to the New York Dolls, from their 2002 debut EP, while the Bay Area's Mover crank the country-fried rock on "Courthouse Blues", a song that niftily steals the riff from Foghat's "Slow Ride".
The short-lived indie supergroup Knoxville Girls, consisting of former members of Sonic Youth, Pussy Galore, and the Cramps, among others, kick off the album's second half, with their raunchy cover of Ray Charles's "I Had a Dream". Atlanta's the Hiss are a straight rip-off of Humble Pie and Molly Hatchet, but their distorted assault on "Riverbed" more than makes up for their deficiencies. New York's own Calla contribute the art-rock title track from their 2003 album Televise, and Elefant, New York's Next Big Thing, supply a real highlight in the melancholy '80s pop of "Annie". Neo-psychedelic gods the Warlocks blow the roof off with "Hurricane Heart Attack", a standout from their excellent recent The Phoenix Album, while Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, arguably the most famous band out of all the artists on the CD, close things in fine fashion with the shimmering, drowsy pop of "Screaming Gun", which previously appeared on the Japanese release of the band's debut album.
If you ever find yourself looking for a simple, fun mix CD for a house party or a backyard barbecue, then SHOUT! The Revolution Rave-Up Alive 1997-2003 is just what you need. Even the album's weak moments, such as the Boggs' old-time folk "How Long?" and Dead Meadow's Sabbath-by-numbers "Dusty Nothing (remix)" are simple, harmless fun. It's enough to make you hope that Pestana and Mena keep things going long enough to warrant putting out a sequel disc, because this one is 50 minutes of unabashed rock 'n' roll fun.