Various Artists -- Quality Punk Rock (Bad Taste Records)

Quality Punk Rock
is one of the better samplers to emerge out of the mid-nineties pop-punk boom. Released by Sweden's Bad Taste Records (one of the country's best indie labels) in early 1996, the compilation does not rely too heavily on bands signed to the label, choosing to fashion a "quality" pop-punk record out of contributions from some of Sweden's brighter stars as well as from international acts such as Lagwagon and the Bollweevils instead of cobbling together a mediocre showcase of the label's back catalog. And, for whatever reason, I love the mock-seventies cover. The confused, headphone-wearing girl and the horrible font just feels totally right for the album's campy mood.

Track Listing:

Track 1. "Wind in Your Sail" (Lagwagon). I love this song. Seriously: "I live to watch you fail"? The compilation is worth buying for this one lyric alone. Oh, and the song is about as poppy as any Lagwagon track you'll have heard. It's a shame most people had to wait until 2000 when Lagwagon released Let's Talk About Leftovers to get ahold of this song.

Track 2. "Memories of You" (Pridebowl). Snotty-sounding vocals lamenting a poor father-son relationship. Fortunately, it lacks the syrup of emo.

Track 3. "7 Clicks" (Bollweevils). The Bollweevils rule. That's all you need to know.

Track 4. "Labios De Mierda" (Satanic Surfers). The Satanic Surfers never disappoint. Pop-punk about a "guy who's sure got a way with turds." Oh, the potty humor never stops.

Track 5. "Thought" (Turtlehead). Bass-driven Scottish punk. For some reason, this sounds as if it could be on the Mallrats soundtrack. Just don't ask me why.

Track 6. "Cardboard Boxes" (Loosegoats). Clearly recorded before the band became alt-country (thank God), "Cardboard Boxes" features a pretty impressive lead guitar and is an amusingly chaotic-sounding addition to an otherwise polished-sounding compilation.

Track 7. "Bubble Burst" (Adhesive). One of Adhesive's more intense songs, "Bubble Burst" really hits its stride when, towards the end of the track, after a pretty solid bridge, the lyrics collapse into the musings of a wounded, solipsistic loner and waves of frantic guitar riffs wash over the whole mess.

Track 8. "Killer" (Everyday Madness). Ah, crusty Swedish punk girls. Can it get any better?

Track 9. "Alone" (Astream). Pretty standard Astream fare.

Track 10. "Spearmint" (Slobsticks). Pop-punk occasionally interrupted by bursts of ska.

Track 11. "Somehow" (Passage 4). Although "Somehow" conforms to the relatively poppy sound of the compilation, it has a harder edge than most tracks on Quality Punk Rock.

Track 12. "Dare to Speak" (Scarecrow). If it weren't for the lame "be yourself" lyrics, "Dare to Speak" would be a pretty solid track. Unfortunately, the "don't take shit" and "work hard" messages throughout the song remind me a bit too much of the equally lame stuff I expect from, say, MxPx.

Track 13. "Corruption" (Sarcoblaster). Okay, now this is what most people expect to come out of Scandinavia: hard, loud speedcore.

Track 14. "No Way Out" (Home Grown). Another solid track, "No Way Out" is exactly what you'd expect from Home Grown: silly lyrics ("my dog's inbred"), loads of backing vocals, and fairly straight-forward pop-punk.

Track 15. "Days Like This" (Slobax). What starts out as a relatively average-sounding hardcore track soon becomes something quite different when decidedly un-hardcore vocals join what may be one of the catchiest guitar riffs ever to come out of Uppsalla. And the oohs and aahs are, as NOFX would say, "in just the right places."

Track 16. "Yesterday (When I Was Mad)" (Randy). Despite its occasional use of rapcore vocals, "Yesterday (When I Was Mad) is another delightfully poppy track.

Sobriquet Grade: 88 (B+).


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