Various Artists

Take Action!, Vol. 5

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Sub City Records -- the charitable extension of California's Hopeless Records -- picks up right where it left off in the battle against suicide. Since 2001, Take Action! has been the vehicle through which a wide, ever-changing assortment of punk and indie bands annually team up for a well-stocked compilation and subsequent tour. The goal of Take Action! is to raise awareness about teen suicide, including recognition of warning signs and resources available for prevention, most notably the National Hopeline Network and, most recently, the Youth America Hotline. That said, the fifth installment of this compilation series brings over 40 bands together on two discs that span the indie/punk scene of today, and is therefore a great way to finally hear bands you've heard of but not actually heard. From hardcore to emo pop to indie rock to scrappy punk to -- well, let's stop there before the extreme genre mashing begins. Some exceptions aside, disc one is definitely the more pop-oriented of the two disks. Highlights include Boys Night Out's "Medicating" from their darkly conceptual Trainwreck, the emo bopping of Amber Pacific's "Poetically Pathetic," and the sugarcoated smoothness of "Take Me Away" and "The Only Difference..." courtesy of the Plain White T's and Panic! At the Disco, respectively. The dizzying contributions of the Fall of Troy and Horse the Band also stand strong among their more melodic peers. Disc two is all over the place, and thus the more fun listen; here you'll find gritty punk rock from A Wilhelm Scream and the Riverboat Gamblers, a stylish number from the Briefs, the dirty country intimacy of Lucero's "Sixteen," and a quirky, enjoyable cut from the Hockey Night. Teenage Bottlerocket's "Pull the Plug" is a terrific, rousing rocker, and tracks from the Loved Ones and Solea will cause sudden and impromptu head bouncing and foot tapping. Oh, and just so the cause at heart isn't forgotten amidst all this dancing and singing, each disc begins with a PSA from a musically inclined spokesman; disc two also comes enhanced with mental health information, prevention resources, and ways to get involved. The only real downside is that albums like this usually boast a plethora of previously unreleased or demo tracks, but this time there are only five -- from Lagwagon (who recently lost a founding member to suicide), Saosin, Teenage Bottlerocket, the Riverboat Gamblers, and the A.K.A.s. But hey -- there are 43 bands together benefiting a worthy cause, so what difference does it really make?

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