Various Artists

Patient Zero

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While history will record that Sub Pop's name, image, and legacy are inextricable from the Seattle grunge explosion it midwifed during the early 1990s, a quick scan of the 2004 label sampler Patient Zero reaffirms that its status among the most vital and eclectic indie labels in pop music history extends well beyond its flannel-draped, Rainier-soaked legacy. The Sub Pop of the early 21st century was home to perhaps a stronger top-to-bottom roster of artists than in its Nirvana-era heyday -- Patient Zero's 15 tracks embrace the vast entirety of underground music culture from the ingenious guitar pop of the Shins ("Kissing the Lipless" from Chutes Too Narrow, an album as good if not better than anything in the Sub Pop catalog) to the humane electro-pop of the Postal Service ("The District Sleeps Alone Tonight") to the blistering psych-metal of Comets On Fire ("Antlers of the Midnight Sun"), with nary a bum track in sight.