New York's Tiger Style Records began in 1999 as an outgrowth of the successful online indie music site Insound. Together with Mike Treff, Insound founders Ari Sass, Christian Anthony, and Matt Wishnow parlayed their experience and connections in the independent music community into a label that would emulate the D.I.Y. ethic and successful business model of legendary labels like Touch & Go and Dischord. Tiger Style was an immediate success, solidifying its indie cred (so important when competing against other labels for tastemaking releases) with an ever-growing stable of respected -- or at least buzzworthy -- artists. Arriving in January of 2003, Tiger Style Sampler includes 17 tracks tracing the disparity of the acts who record for the label. Things begin with the slashing disco of no wave veteran James Chance's "Contort Yourself," followed quickly by the hard-edged skronk of Rye Coalition's "ZZ Topless." But in a display of how eclectic Tiger Style really is, the next two songs on the compilation are stylistic right turns. Montreal's Dears contribute the pretty chamber pop of "Duexieme Partit," while the Faint's Joel Peterson crosses the circuits of new wave and Atari 2600s for "Connection in Progress," from his side project, Broken Spindles. The inclusion of Dead Low Tide's "Barrel Vault" is noteworthy, as it is the only recording the short-lived group ever made. The sampler continues with quiet moments from Ida and Mercury Program, and even ventures into IDM territory with the burbling electronics of London's Wauvenfold. The post-rock of Mercury Program's "Egypt" is augmented by two Tristeza-related songs. Jimmy LaValle, the band's guitarist, contributes the aptly named "Asleep" from his Album Leaf side project. LaValle later returns with Tristeza itself for the album-closing drone of "Marumari Remix." In between, there's an alternate take of Ida's "Blizzard of '78" and Tara Jane O'Neil contributes a previously unreleased mix of her song "The Ballroom." Together, the 17 songs on Tiger Style Sampler illustrate the depth, breadth, and street cred of the label, while introducing its artists to anyone who might be curious about what a band called Her Space Holiday or American Analog Set sounds like.
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AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus