Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Album Review: Various Artists - The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore

In 1988, Lookout Records released a compilation called The Thing That Ate Floyd. It featured some of the best bands from the Gilman music scene of the late 80's. It was a massive collection- 36 songs by 36 different bands, some of which seemed to exist solely for contributing to the compilation. If Lookout had just waited a little bit longer, maybe they could've included Green Day somewhere on the tracklist.

But I digress. I bring up The Thing That Ate Floyd because now here we are, 24 years later, and Adeline Records has just released The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore, a spiritual successor, if you will, to the old Lookout compilation. (I assume that Lookout would have released this, but they closed earlier this year.) This new compilation collects 16 modern bands from all around North America that were handpicked by Lookout-founder Larry Livermore. It may not sound as impressive at first with only 16 bands, but the shorter tracklist works in its favor as it cuts down on the joke tracks by bands that may not have been real bands that were on Floyd, emphasizing the songwriting by the bands included. It should be noted that each song is brand new, written specifically for the compilation (kind of like some songs on Short Music for Short People). That makes it a pretty special collection already, and the fact that every band on here rocks only helps make it better.

Fans of pop punk bands like Dear Landlord, the Copyrights, the Dopamines, House Boat, Mean Jeans, and the Hextalls are sure to be pleased because ALL OF THOSE BANDS ARE ON THIS COMP. Other scene favorites like Mixtapes, the Max Levine Ensemble, Night Birds, and Vacation also make appearances. All of the new songs by them sound right at home in each of their respective discographies, showcasing exactly why Livermore picked them in the first place.

Even the bands that I had never heard of before this compilation are awesome: Lipstick Homicide (who remind me of the Unlovables if the Unlovables sounded more like Green Day), the 70's rock and roll sounding City Mouse, the snotty and vicious Weekend Dads, the Copyrights-esque Be My Doppelganger, and the Visitors, who apparently sing about traveling all over the place (which is pretty cool). Having only heard of these bands from this collection, I can't say how their new songs hold up to their previous output, but I assume that their songs are right at home with the rest of their respective catalogs.

The only band I was on the fence about before listening to this comp was Emily's Army. I'm familiar with them enough to know that most people refer to them as the band with Billie Joe's kid and I was really hoping that their inclusion wasn't just because of the relationship between Livermore and Armstrong. I know that's kind of a mean thing to say, but I really wasn't impressed with Don't Be a Dick, the band's debut album from last year. I am glad to say that I was wrong about it though, because the song that Emily's Army included might be their best song yet. It's still kind of got a Green Day Jr. vibe to it, but I can definitely see what Livermore saw in these guys when picking them. Perhaps I need to give their album another shot.

Maybe it's just because I wasn't alive at the time to witness The Thing That Aye Floyd during the peak of its relevance, or maybe it's not just me and it really does just run on for too long, but I find that The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore to be a fantastic "sequel" collection, and I think its superior to the original in many ways. It's probably just because it represents my generation. Either way, I think it rocks and you might too. Definitely one of my favorite releases of the year so far... I fully expect it to make its way on to my end of the year list.

You can check it out on Spotify here: Various Artists – The Thing That Ate Larry Livermore
Or if you want, you can read the other review that I wrote for DyingScene here.

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