Various Artists

Shipwreck Day

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Operating out of Anacortes, WA, the Knw-Yr-Own label made some pretty interesting indie rock releases in the late '90s and early '00s, usually falling to the quirky indie pop side of the equation. Some of the 21 artists on this compilation, such as Karl Blau and Nate Ashley, have made modest reputations through worthwhile full-length releases of their own. Still, when the most well-known artist on an anthology is Calvin Johnson (whose "I Can't Believe It's True" sounds like a deathbed Lee Hazlewood), you know it's not exactly going to be the kind of event written up in the major music monthlies. Speaking of Johnson, though, the aesthetic is rather like that of Johnson's own K label, of rather homemade, friendly, oddball, sometimes whimsical indie rock that falls outside of even indie trends. In fact, several of the artists have connections to K, the result sounding something like a sampler of sounds from K North (Anacortes being just two or three hours north of K's base in Olympia, WA). The music on Shipwreck Day is somewhat more pop-inclined and rootsy than the typical K output, though, with virtually none of the in-your-face aggression or polish that even many indie labels would feel obligated to throw at you in a conscious or subconscious attempt to impress. It's an engaging if a bit subdued and low-key listen, one of best tracks including the tuneful melancholy folk-rock of the Crabs' "Patch It Up." That's rather indicative of the intelligent, un-smug coffeehouse folk and folk-rock vibe that informs much of the album, though artists like Blau, Ashley, and the Gift Machine use quite a bit more standard rock rhythms and punch without getting overbearing. This, incidentally, is not a label sampler: None of the tracks are available anywhere else.

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