New York's Deep Elm Records is home to a crop of scruffy indie bands, many of whom are characterized with the tag of "emo," due to their lyrically confessional take on post-hardcore rhythms. True to its name, Deep Elm Unreleased No. 2 features ten exclusive tracks from current and former Deep Elm artists. While not very diverse stylistically, many of the bands represented here are mostly adept at their particular angle on indie rock. The White Octave is led by Stephen Pedersen, formerly of the noisy Omaha band Cursive. Octave's "A Chinese Character" is lurching, breast-beating emo. Baltimore band Cross My Heart sounds similar on "Complications," though their flair for a melody helps the song stand out. The Appleseed Cast is another group of guys who think too much and write songs about it; "The Spider Wall" isn't their best work, but that might be why it didn't make an album. The late, lamented Walt Mink lightens things up a bit with "Downright Presidential," while Chicago's David Singer delivers a slightly out of place slice of dream pop pie called "A Mercenary Love Song." Then it's back to passionate boys with guitars; Race Car Riot and Slowdive's contributions are adequate stabs at off-kilter emo, even if they are derivative of the genre's early-'90s heavyweights Jawbreaker and Quicksand. Overall, Deep Elm Unreleased No. 2 is most effective for completists as a collection of unreleased material; other Deep Elm compilations (like Hearts Bleed Blue or Emo Is Awesome: Evil) are better documents of the talent represented on the label.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus