STA is now Ten Years Old

Artrocker Reviews 'Public Service Broadcast #4'

'The public needs a service like this'

"The making of a great compilation tape..."

So begins another John Cusack monologue delivered straight to camera in the film 'High Fidelity'. I can't remember the rest of the quote, or indeed the point of the scene, but i think it was essentially about it being hard to make compilation tapes. I remember spending hours sat in front of my parents hi-fi system using the tape to tape facility to painstakingly put together a compilation tape that I was never happy with two days later and would record over with a new compilation which inexorably suffered the same fate.

It's easier (some may say too easy) these days, as you can burn yourself a compilation on a CD in around 2 minutes if you have all the mp3s on your computer. Which raises questions of how good it will actually be if you don't have to listen to each song whilst putting it on the compilation, which always acted as a sort of 'final edit' for any compilation (i.e. songs you thought were classics beforehand turned out to actually be fairly average when faced with stiff competition).

Indeed in this day and age of the ubiquitous I-Pod, do we even need compilation CDS or tapes? Well, for bands we don't know and haven't heard, the compilation CD is the perfect way to be introduced to them. And the Smalltown America label is continuing the fine Public Service Broadcast compilations with the fourth in the series, cunningly titled 'Public Service Broadcast #4'.

That's rather a long preamble for what is, in essence, a review of a CD, isn't it? I thought I'd set the scene a little though, and i think it works, so i'll keep it in there.

So, what do you get for your fiver? Well, STA tell us that 'good music needs to be heard' which is not a bad way to start a selection policy. Exhibiting a wider variety of styles across the 23 tracks than the three previous cds in the series allows PSB #4 to work much better as a CD to listen to, which is the most marked difference.

Oxford Collapse kick off in fine frenetic style, with a jerky track that sounds like compulsively dancing on thumb tacks. Delearship weigh in with the electrotale of "Pure Of Heart", all driving drum machines and boy/girl vocals.

Hooker lay out their wares for all to see with the excellent Sleater-Kinneyish "You & I", and Penniless relive your childhood and mine with the schoolyard fables of "Story Of A Punk". Elsewhere, We Will Be Pilots demonstrate their commitment to their future careers by setting a furious rampage of a tune behind the proclamation that "We Are Not The Doctors". This is a shame as after the power exhibited over the 1m49s song, there will be people in need of medical assistance. Alice & The Enemies continue their invasion of my life (see last week's internet piece) with the fantastic "Touching Boys (In Supermarkets)", which just smells of sex & melody as if it were recorded naked.

All in all, top stuff, and it's the variety that keeps you hooked; there's three songs on here you'll love, three you'll hate, seven that'll grow on you and that still leaves nine to discover tomorrow. STA; keep broadcasting, the public needs a service like this.

- John V Willshire, Artrocker