VARIOUS ARTISTS – Under the Radar
(2006 Cancer Records)
If you buy one local rock CD this year (and curse you if that’s all you can manage) it should be this one. Definitely the best rock compilation of the year thus far, Under the Radar takes the best and most interesting acts to pass through the Slipper Club, blends them together, and the result is as satisfying as a peyote milkshake. All the bands are Madison-based apart from Chicago’s This is Me Smiling and Bang! Bang!
The album is a co-op effort between Smart Studios and the Slipper Club’s Jeanette Dainty:Dunscombe, Jack Williams and Kristi Genna. These folks deserve praise for their allegiance and for such a monumental effort to promote area talent, not just with this compilation but with their ongoing dedication to live local music. Cancer Records is equally deserving of praise in picking up the CD, which means it’s getting distribution through Redeye. Best of all, many of these songs are only available on this collection.
Each of the album’s twelve performers had one day to record their track at Smart Studios. Just about everyone at Smart gets a crack at engineering and producing on the disc.
What better way to kick the thing off than some punk-ass funsters being tormented and turned into “Brand New Zombies.” Awesome Car Funmaker is the hottest thing in the city and they set the tone effectively and frenetically. Every bit as charging is the Suit’s “Double Crossed on Planet Love,” with their wailing bass guitars and Lee Harvey Osmund howling like a hoarse Bon Scott. Another big surprise is MaeRae and their track “Match,” a slow burner with more heft than the band has sported previously. Solid Gold’s “Come On” is catchy piece of power pop with a Cure-ish guitar hook played to the relentless push of their mechanized drummer. The Super Eights’ “South of Alaska” also nods to the eighties with a completely bleepy organ sound that’s so ridiculous it has to be hip. Reason for Leaving is one of the city’s most underrated bands and they really funk it up with the politically charged “Freedom.” Nothing says Madison rock like the New Recruits and “Previously Android” rocks ferociously with Shinky stating “We’re gonna make up a song for this fuckin’ thing,” as the band kicks in. Charlemagne blasts into the past with the psychedelic “Crushes,” which is worth the price of admission alone.
When you do hear Under the Radar, do yourself the service of buying the releases from all of these artists. While you’re at it, get down to the Slipper Club and thank Jack, Kristi and Jeanette for being the type of people that make Madison a cool place. Then hoist a beer, dance along with them and live a little.