Various Artists

All Tomorrow's Parties: 3.1: Matt Groening Curated

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It was perhaps a bit inevitable that the Matt Groening-curated ATP would feature not only some typically great cover art from the man himself, but also Sonic Youth's cover of the Simpsons theme song from a few years back. Released somewhat after the fact but no less enjoyable for it, this entry in the compilation series is a by-definition incomplete sampler (only 12 bands total appear) of the overall event. A logical question to ask would be why live tracks from the performances themselves aren't featured, but such is the mystery of record releasing. Groening's favored roots in classic underground rock music show strong -- besides Sonic Youth, there's the peerless kick and skronk of the Stooges' "Fun House" and the Captain Beefheart vets of the Magic Band going nuts with "Dropout Boogie." After that, Groening's selections tend toward the more recent, with familiar names like Modest Mouse (themselves fellow ATP curators) and Elliott Smith taking pleasant enough bows. Sometimes the sequencing can provide bemusing surprises -- Spoon's "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine" shifts so effortlessly into the Shins' "Young Pilgrims" that it's almost like a coda. Everything sparks up more toward the end, with Electrelane's excellent choral-arranged slinker "The Valleys" and Deerhoof's playful "Desaparecere" leading into the concluding song from Jackie-O Motherfucker. Apparently recorded live and otherwise unavailable, "Drake Hotel" is mysterious, drone-heavy, and more than a little unnerving, with what sounds like an endlessly retuning TV or radio reducing to barely intelligible bleeps. The slow, relentless buildup of the guitars, though never overpoweringly loud, adds a sharp tension while still somehow being anthemic, a gentle salute to the future.

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