Various Artists

Slaying Since 1996

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Suicide Squeeze celebrated its ten years as a viable rock label with this double-disc collection of hard to find tunes, rarities, and previously unreleased material. Ranging from artists like Modest Mouse and the late Elliott Smith to groups like the Aislers Set, Minus the Bear and Black Mountain, the album is an interesting compilation, to say the least. Beginning with the pre-screamo indie rock of "Now You're Swimming" by 764-Hero and the quirky, winding alt rock of "A Life of Arctic Sounds" by Modest Mouse, Slaying Since 1996 takes on an invigorating life of its own. Most of the early material has a hushed tone, including the pretty duet of Scenic Vermont on "Elementary," initially resembling a cover by Sonic Youth of a Kathleen Edwards song. Smith's "Division Day" is characteristically poppy and terribly catchy, as is the alt country-leaning "Cycle Suitor" by Penny's Electric Workhorses Songs. The first disc picks up with the deliberate midtempo groove oozing out of Pedro the Lion's "June 18, 1976" and the Bowie-esque "Bird's Fly" by Aspera. Artistically, the album veers from indie rock into garage rock and beyond, led by the frantic, primal spunk of the Constantines on "Dirty Business" and later moving into the quirky dance rock of We Ragazzi's "Making You Queens Tonight" or "We'll Make a Lover of You" by les Savy Fav. And if that's not right up your alley, then the soul rock of the Black Keys during "Yearnin'" would definitely suffice. Another pretty gem has to be S performing a light, almost folksy "5 Dollars." The second disc contains primarily unreleased songs from 2005 and 2006 and a few demos to boot, including the airy, flighty pop of the Aislers Set performing "What Fades" and Crystal Skulls' "Baby Boy," which sounds like a keyboard-inspired XTC. One particular keeper is, without question, "Voltaic Crusher/Undrum to Muted Da" by Of Montreal that has a great bouncy quality to it. There's a thread of quality from start to finish, with only a few slight hiccups along the way, one of which is the rather odd "Jean Baptiste" by Metal Hearts, but the lullaby-tinged morphing to the roots-oriented "Caruthers Boy" by Earlimart more than atones for it. As does the crisp, polished Black Mountain contribution titled "Voices." Perhaps the hardest, most brooding tune is the winding and challenging instrumental "Upper Ninety" that Russian Circles nails.

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