Various Artists

Songs from the Penalty Box, Vol. 5

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This Seattle-based label compilation is a mix of punk rock with alternative or nu-metal hardcore rock. It starts off with the tight and bubbly "Amanda" by Ace Troubleshooter, which is a great track full of punk rock melodies. Bleach slows things down a bit but still maintains a hard rock slant on "Baseline." Slick Shoes have a more polished and over-produced sound on "Alone," which has a touch of orchestral strings to it. Some songs have a Christian angle or theme to them, including "Modern Day Prayer" by Two Thirty Eight. But they usually don't fare as well as the punk rock songs, sounding far more mellow and down-tempo. An early highlight is the power pop of "Wearing Thin" by Further Seems Forever. Unfortunately, there are also some early lowlights, particularly the bland and uninspired "The Fragile" by Element 101. A few elements of industrial music are also presented, such as "Fl0ranclaude" by Mortal. They resemble Orgy in their style more than Nine Inch Nails. MXPX energizes the record with another great performance on "Let It Happen." A track which screams classic garage rock is the pulsating and infectious "Make You a Star" by Squad Five-O. The album isn't entirely power pop and punk rock, though, as "The Right Amount" by Bon Voyage gives the record a refreshing dose of melodic alternative pop. A previously unreleased track is the Undecided performing a nu-metal-cum-punk rock arrangement in "Beautiful" with mixed results. The biggest surprise comes from Calibretto 13, as they do a song in the style of the Violent Femmes. "Cruisin' the Strip" is a rollicking track that is equal parts rockabilly and Celtic in its feel. "Flowersoonde" by Dogwood closely resembles an Offspring outtake. Another shining moment is Fine China's "Don't Say Nothing," which has all the benefits of '80s Brit-pop in the vein of the Smiths.

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