Stranded: A Compilation Of Brisbane Music 2007-2008
Because I am from Sydney (and I am a jerk) I thought Brisbane music was pretty much just The Grates, Iron On, Violent Soho and I Heart Hiroshima. This mammoth 3-disc, 42 song box set not only makes me look like an ignorant fool for ignoring the bucketload of talent from the Queensland capital but also makes me think twice about how dramatically different my life would be if I picked up all of my worldly possessions (Vanilla Ice doll, Slick Rick vinyl, Reebok Pumps), packed up my lady (and my unborn children) and permanently relocated to the 'sunny north'.
The best thing about Stranded is that each disc doesn't follow any logical order. The tracks aren't grouped into genres and the way in which the compilation moves from grunge noise to bedroom 'cute pop' to dark hip-hop instrumental pieces in the space of ten minutes is highly enjoyable for those for us whose tastes aren't limited to just a single style of music. Sure, this makes the whole flow of the record slightly disjointed (that some might find a little frustrating) but I think it is one of the key factors that makes the compilation so interesting.
After a few laps through a handful of highlights start to jump out. The song that kicks off the whole thing, Boredoms by Yeow Meow, is a fantastic slice of carefree whatever-ness, built around the connecting line between catchy pop and nineties lo-fi garage rock. It's like L7 if they were all cutesy 'n shit. The track that follows this stellar opening is Tragic/Athletic's Three Months At Sea, which brilliantly takes the listener from lightweight fragility to grande explosive climax in just a touch over five minutes. If it was about 3 minutes shorter it would be my ideal fucking song.
The second disc is the standout, easily containing the most 'money shots' of the three. The mood shifts from punk angst on the head-smashing opener (Easy Choices For Bad People by Turnpike) into a free-wheeling spoken-word hip-hop vibe on Last Boy Band by Nova Scotia, before diving into a mildly 'epic rock' middle section with Unarmed by Nikko and Don't Interrupt Me While I'm Speaking by The Arrows.
An overdose of ol' fashioned riffs up to this point means that it's only logical to introduce a whole bunch of quick changes - with some light(ish) indie pop (Do The Robot's Six Dreams And Counting), a sprinkle of dark melodica (No Feature No Control by Feathers), a touch of math-punk (Harms Way by To The North) and to top it all off - a feedback driven ballad - You Said You'd Leave, But Our Houses Are Still Haunted by The Willows. Yep, disc two is definitely the meat in the sandwich. All killer. Zero filler. Sum 41, where art thou?
Oh yeah, did you see all that variety? Did your weak mind just frizzle a little bit with the number of switches, changes and genre zig-zags? Yeah, thought so.
Surprisingly, the least enjoyable moments are from the more 'established' artists. The John Steel Singers' Evolution and The Gin Club's On A Mountain are both far from being the most inventive tracks either group have committed to record and, especially alongside some of the more experimental tracks on the compilation, come across a little bit too predictable and straight-forward. Both of these songs are part of the slightly disappointed second half of the third disc, which doesn't really add too much weight to the overall enjoyment of the box set.
If the purpose of Stranded was to show outsiders just how much damn fine music Brisbane is turning out then it has more than been successful. While I think it wouldn't have hurt to be a little tougher in the editing process (maybe even getting it down to just two discs) this compilation contains plenty of fantastic little treasures and more than worth the $20 (including postage!!!) the compilers are asking for it.