Various Artists

Indie Choice 2001

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Indie Choice 2001 from Mod Music Records is one of the best sampler collections listeners may have the opportunity to hear. The quality of the production, songwriting, and musicianship is excellent across the board. In the 1980s, Warner Bros. released a couple of compilations that were exciting because of the inclusion of rarities -- Jonathan Richman's appearance on Troublemakers made that double disc memorable, Revenge of the Killer B's had the Pretenders to spice things up, but this indie-label release has no such star power to attract attention to it. That it works so well is commendable. Along with the aforementioned major-label compilations was a release produced by A&R man Steven Leeds, a very interesting Declaration of Independents project featuring Pylon and Robin Lane. Declaration consisted of music that had proven itself via the indie route and found new life on Leeds' label. CMJ also releases collections of current music, but the feeling while spinning Indie Choice 2001 is that this is one of the best collections of music that should be on the radio. "Disappear" by Miss Fortune is a hit. "Out of Sight" by Emily Curtis is a hit. "Disposable" by the Churchills is a mega-hit. This stuff is great. "Disposable" has sparkling power pop guitars, commanding vocals, and hooks galore. This is the song that Fotomaker needed to break out big time. This is the song that Crowded House could have used to follow up "Don't Dream It's Over." The Live at CBGB's and Live at the Rat compilations were vital and important because they documented two scenes as they were bursting at the seams, and many of the players went on to fame or infamy, but this collection, co-sponsored by BMI, Guitar Center, Gibson, and other companies involved in music, is perfect. The only flaw is the packaging -- it looks like it could be a CMJ monthly sampler or generic contest disc, and musically it is much more. You can't tell a book by its cover, and the music is so substantial that the people involved with this release should be hired to run A&R departments. Greta Gertler's "Everyone Wants to Adore You" is chic and melodic, with a totally elegant production. The pacing and song placement get high marks as well. The contribution of Morgan Taylor's Rock Group is called "I'm Lucky" inside the disc and "You're Lucky" on the cover but, regardless, it's an excellent song with lots of heart. What this music deserves is a major label to pick up the 15 songs here, re-release the disc with a better cover and more informative liner notes, and get some of these tunes on the radio. Meme's "Polynesian Aphrodisiac" is stranger than the more accessible songs by some of the other artists, but it has its charm on an album that lives up to its brash declaration of "the best of independent music."

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