Compilation Champs
[SXSW 02]

Nico - These Days (1967, from Chelsea Girl): I first heard this song on the soundtrack for "The Royal Tenenbaums" and immediately loved it. Nico was an actress, muse, singer, and junkie who hung around with Warhol and sang with the Velvet Underground. Her uneven singing and strange accent just heighten the vulnerability she's singing about in this sad song.

Velvet Underground - Who Loves The Sun (1970, from Loaded): Compared to some of Lou Reed's later work, this song sounds positively catchy, despite its sad lyric. This is from Loaded, an album that was all but overlooked as the band was on the verge of breaking up. Despite that, it's "Loaded" with great songs, including "Rock & Roll," "Sweet Jane," and this one.

Suede - My Insatiable One (1992, from the single The Drowners): Suede are a band that are capable of writing better B-sides than most bands' A-sides. Case in point: this song from their earliest recordings. In my opinion, the band was irreparably diminished when guitarist Bernard Butler left after the release of the band's second CD "Dog Man Star" in 1994, but they continue to record.

Rheostatics - These Days Are Good for the Canadian Conservative Youth Party Alliance (2001, from Night of the Shooting Stars): It wouldn't be a Compilation Champs CD without a dose of Canada's own art-rockers. Three of the four band members write and sing songs, but my favourite is guitarist Martin Tielli, whom you will hear on this loopily-titled track. Underappreciated even at home, the Rheostatics are an amazing live band, and I've seen them perhaps a dozen times, so far...I'm lucky that way.

The Promise Ring - Why Did Ever We Meet (1997, from Nothing Feels Good): I'm a fairly recent fan of this band, but I think they have a totally unique sound. And that's all I have to say...

Boards of Canada - roygbiv (1998, from Music Has the Right to Children): This duo are actually from Scotland, but apparently one or both lived in Canada at some time, and were influenced by the short films shown in most Canadian schools produced by the National Film Board of Canada.

The The - Song Without An Ending (1981, from Burning Blue Soul): I've been slipping this one onto compilations for about ten years. Matt Johnson, the core of The The, recorded this in his home studio aged 17. It shows the promise that he would fulfill on 1983's Soul Mining.

Elastica - Blue (1995, from Elastica): Boy, I remember the hype surrounding this band. Singer Justine Frischmann was romantically linked to Suede's Brett Anderson and for a while, they were the It Couple of the British music scene. Elastica's self-titled first release was energetic and very catchy, despite the charges they'd pilfered hooks from The Stranglers and Wire (later paid off in royalties). Their long-overdue second CD The Menace (2000) was a huge letdown.

Wire - 12XU/Dot Dash (1977/1978, from Pink Flag): Ah, right to the source of Elastica's thievery. Wire were fairly unknown to me until about ten years ago. They were sort of thinking-man's punk, and their short songs are filled with hooks galore. Dot Dash is especially included for Anil (remember this quote: "putting the dot in"?).

The Flashing Lights - High School (1999, from Where The Change Is): Now, here's a band that sound a lot like Sloan. There's good reason. Head Light (ooh, forgive me...) Matt Murphy is part of the same Halifax scene from which Sloan sprung.

The Wedding Present - This Boy Can Wait (1988, from Tommy): The combination of David Gedge's strangled voice, his usually pessimistic lyrics, and the unbelievably fizzy guitars gets me every time. The Wedding Present formed in Leeds, England in the mid-80s and Gedge went on to front Cinerama, but for me, the band really shone from 1986 to 1991. Essential CDs include George Best (1987), Bizarro (1989) and the Steve Albini-produced Seamonsters (1991).

Pixies - Manta Ray (1989, from the single Monkey Gone To Heaven): The Pixies were another band whose throwaway songs were better than many band's best ones. Black Francis' loopy lyrics and the one-note guitar solo are my favourite parts of this b-side.

Adam and the Ants - Goody Two Shoes (1982, from Friend or Foe)/Antmusic (1980, from Kings of the Wild Frontier): In light of Adam's recent troubles with mental illness and the law, it's good to be reminded how much fun his music was. Right from the start, he let you know how he felt about other people's music: "Unplug the jukebox, and do us all a favour. That music's lost its taste, so try another flavour."

The Cure - Siamese Twins (1982, from Pornography): This might be my favourite Cure album, from a period when they still sounded sort of dark, and before they became too radio-friendly. Robert Smith sounds positively miserable.

Luxuria - Pound (1988, from Unanswerable Lust): Luxuria was a project of former Buzzcock and Magazine frontman Howard DeVoto. His whipsmart lyrics and snide singing never deserted him, even though Luxuria were not particularly successful. I picked up this CD for about $6, and it's one I enjoy a lot.

The Clash - Guns of Brixton/I'm Not Down (1979, from London Calling): London Calling is an album that has been growing on me for more than twenty years. I was an early punk, and my first impression of this album was that The Clash had gone soft, playing reggae and getting themselves on the radio. Over the years, I've come to appreciate the way this band could play almost any kind of music. On this album, they did.

Belle and Sebastian - A Century of Fakers (1997, from 3..6..9 Seconds of Light EP): "There are people going hungry, far away, with nothing on their plates, and you're filling your fat face with every different kind of cake." What can I add to that?

The Breeders - Do You Love Me Now?/Don't Call Home (1992, from Safari EP): Released between Pod (1990) and their radio-friendly Last Splash (1993), this EP was a nice little slice of a band in transition from a side project to a full-time gig for former Pixies bassist Kim Deal. After imploding in the mid-90s, it looks like the Breeders are on their way back.

more consolation champs