Various Artists

Dirtnap Across the Northwest

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Dirtnap Across the Northwest is a rock solid compilation of previously unreleased tracks from a Seattle-based independent label that began to make serious waves in 2003. Most of the bands are exclusive to the label, like the Epoxies and the Spits; a few others, like the Hunches and the Midnight Thunder Express, are on loan from fellow indies. With short but winning selections like the Buzzcocks- sounding "Sniffin' Glue," from Portland's the Exploding Hearts (one of two covers), the Cripples' bouncy "The Itch," and the Briefs' pogo-rific "Piss on the Youth," it's not hard to understand the acclaim Dirtnap has been generating. Collectively, these 31 punk rock nuggets are upbeat, energetic, and studded with catchy pop hooks and the occasional new wave flourish. The Intelligence's "The Universe," for instance, sounds -- in a good way -- as if it were recorded underwater, somewhat akin to early Gary Numan or Tones on Tail, while Vancouver's the Cinch evoke the laid-back cool of the Au Pairs on "Take Your Time." The ghosts of AC/DC (yes, AC/DC) and the Ramones haunt some of the other tracks. With such an abundance of material, it's inevitable that a few songs leave less of an impression than others, but there are no outright duds. Nor is there anything that could be described as "soft" or "mellow," but for the true punk connoisseur -- there truly is something for everybody on Dirtnap Across the Northwest.

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