V/A - Magnetic Curses
Thick Records

By releasing Magnetic Curses, Thick Records hopes to follow in the
footsteps of Underdog Records' Acthung Chicago! series. If this CD is any
indication, it looks like we should be in for a couple volumes of excellent
Chicago punk rock.

For the uninitiated, Underdog Records put out a series of compilations called Achtung Chicago in the early 90s. The comps exposed people to everyone from Slapstick, Oblivion, and Lynnard's Innards to Cap'n Jazz, Los Crudos, Smoking Popes, and Screeching Weasel.
There are 26 songs by 26 bands on this compilation, and I'm going to divide them up into three sections for review -- bands I have seen, bands I have heard, and bands I have never seen nor heard.
(By the way, if you just want to know if the comp is good and whether or not you should buy it, the answer to both questions is yes.)

Alkaline Trio - This song is the same as pretty much all the other Alkaline Trio songs, and that by no means is a slag. Emotional pop-punk that the kids (around here, anyways) eat up. Much better than the song on their recent 7" with the Blue Meanies.
Blue Meanies - The punk/ska/insanity fusion works well here in this small blast. They recently signed to MCA and I hope that they become big superstars, if for nothing else so that I can sell the original pressings of their old CDs on eBay. But seriously, this song rocks.
Mary Tyler Morphine - I've seen these two girls and a guy twice, and I remember hearing this song both times. Aggressive punk rock best experienced drunk, but just as good every time I've listened to this comp sober.
Traitors - I just saw these guys a week or two ago, and I think it was their last show ever. Drunk lo-fi punk that reminds me a lot of Scared of Chaka.
Apocalypse Hoboken - Usually these guys play drunk punk stuff, but on this, the singer sounds a lot more like Jello Biafra for some reason. I can't really get into them anymore, but this is definitely better than their last album.
Oblivion - One of the bands on here that is old enough to have been on an Acthung compilation, Oblivion is still churning out pop-punk.
The Nerves - These guys were fucking crazy live. Garage rock that is played skillfully and done well.
The Honor System - They didn't impress me much live, and it seems like here they're just trying to copy Alkaline Trio's formula.
Lynnard's Innards - I saw them a few weeks back, too, and just wished they would get off the stage. However, if they'd played more songs like this, I would've liked them to stay on for a bit longer.

Pegboy - Another ex-Naked Raygun band. They play oldschool punkrock too...The Raygun legacy lives on, and this rocks.
Deals Gone Bad - Very mellow ska stuff. I'm not too into ska anymore, but this stuff is just so danceable and catchy, I might even pay my five bucks to catch them live sometime. If there was any justice in the world, this song would be a radio hit.
Hot Stove Jimmy - They remind me a TON of Blue Meanies. Unfortunately, this is just an alternate version of an album track, and not a new track.
Tom Daily - This is Tom Counihan of Not Rebecca and the Smoking Popes, and the song is a pretty good heavy indie rock song. I seem to remember his other stuff being more poppy and Guided By Voices-ish, but I have a bad memory.
Sidekick Kato - A lot of my friends are or were really into this band, but I never got into them. This is kind of mathrock-y with weird, screeched vocals.

Bitchy - Composed of members of the Blue Meanies and NIL8, Bitchy sounds like neither. Their offering here reminds me more of F.Y.P. than either of the bands that compose this.
Muchacha - A pretty decent punk song, but rather unmemorable.
The Bomb - One of two ex-Naked Raygun bands on here, their song is a great old-schoolish punkrock song, complete with "woah-oh"s in all the right places.
The Tossers - Believe it or not, this song just got done playing, and I have no idea what it sounded like.
Mekons - They sound British and kind of annoy me.
The Strike - Pop-punk that reminds me lots of Beatnik Termites.
Landos 45 - These guys keep asking me for a show, and after hearing this, I think I'd hook it up for them. Speedy punk rock that is kind of fun.
Gaza Strippers - The only things I knew about these guys were: Their album artwork looked like Sloppy Seconds' "Why Don't Lesbians Love Me?" 7" and that they are ex-Didjits. I don't like this much. Bah.
The Arrivals - Fairly standard punk with a kind of lazy vocal.
Lawrence Arms - I didn't like their album very much, and this song doesn't do much to change that opinion.
Allister - Very slick pop punk. I hear they're big with the kids these days, and well, if they play their cards right they could be all over MTV.
Lustre King - Bringing up the rear of the CD with a song appropriately titled, "Last Song," which seems to be a live recording. It's all instrumental, and nothing too impressive here.
All in all, this comp is a little much for one listen, but it's a great look at what's going on in Chicago right now. And for 6 bucks, it's the perfect price.
...john heisel...

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