Putting together a good comp is tricky business. In an attempt to both age myself and wax nostalgic for a moment, my old ass used to love the label comps from the late 90’s/early aughts. Vagrant, Equal Vision, Hellcat, Epitaph, Drive-Thru, even Victory Records - as much as they were used to showcase bands from their respective labels, they usually had some certified bangers and, every now and then, some solid rarities that would become kind of legendary in their own right (Another Year On the Streets, anyone?).
It’s a bit of a lost art that’s making a comeback now, though, with never-ending and always welcome Ska Revival bringing back Ska Against Racism, for one. And, every now and then, indie labels like Topshelf or Skeletal Lightning will toss in a CD (remember those?) with a vinyl order.
For Lo Fi City, Cincinnati’s own alt/indie/lofi/fuzzrock label, the art is most certainly not lost. It’s thriving. It’s fascinating. And most importantly, it’s fun.
Compilation 8 lays out it’s thesis on track one, “Everybody Loves Rock ‘n Roll Until They Gotta Live It” - but tongue, I think, is planted firmly in cheek. From there, the drumsticks click, the fuzz reigns supreme, and as it winds its way through 35 tracks of hazy rock tunes, sludgy metal, dreamy pop and ambient numbers, and hip-hop, it’s a profoundly moving mission statement from a label that very much wears its heart on its sleeve.
The comp features Cincinnati-centric bands and artists pretty heavily, with appearances by Sleepy Drums, National Barks, Tooth Lures a Fang, Sarah Asher, and Siren Suit running the indie gamut. Perhaps my favorite bit of sequencing comes fairly late, though, with tracks 23, 24, and 25 getting progressively fascinating. A syncopated and entertaining track from PLUG, “Krautrock ii” gives way to the sludgy drone of stoner metal of Six Foot Robot’s “Temp,” gives way to the blissful and misty ambient-esque “Stillwater 1” from Bailey Miller. It’s honestly one of the best 1-2-3 punches I’ve heard on a comp like this in a while, and it’s genuinely appreciated.
Of course, 35 tracks is a lot to absorb, so Compilation 8 takes a bit to get through - but it’s well worth both the effort and attention. The care and respect for each band and track shown by Lo Fi City’s main dude, Jonathan Stout, is evident from start to finish, and is a testament to the great, weird, wonderful spectrum of sound we have available to us - so long as we take the time to listen.
Snag a digital version of Lo Fi City’s Compilation 8 on Bandcamp right now. You can thank me later.