Various Artists

Maximum Wage: A Bureau of Dissonant Culture Compilation

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The members of the Bureau of Dissonant Culture would either find it hilarious or infuriating that, before this review existed, a search for the phrase "Maximum Wage" on www.allmusic.com returned an album titled Maximum Will Smith. Either way, it's all ammo. Based out of San Francisco, the Bureau of Dissonant Culture distributes mostly punk and hardcore acts from across the country -- though, if this compilation is any judge, mostly from the East Coast and the West Coast. This is fairly indicative of the politics at the core of this release, which are fairly radical (and usually find easier homes in bustling seaboard metropolises than they do in the Heartland). The music cuts a pretty wide swath through a certain part of the rock underground, capturing a variety of bands, from the heavy metal-sounding Remote Control Yeti to the gentle and mysterious E-Rex. The album starts better than it finishes, with some good contributions by Simpler Machines and Translucent Songs. By the disc's mid-point, unfortunately, the distortion-bolstered tracks tend to blend into one another, revealing unique members of the so-called underground whose reverence to certain musical ideals seems to lead them down all-too-similar sonic paths.