Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Various Artists - Neon Maniacs

I'm usually not nuts about various artist compilations. Too often you wind up with bands' crap songs that they didn't like enough to put on a real record. Or you get a ton of previously released stuff - which seems pointless. That's why the annual Girlsville comps are something I look forward to. They are always filler-free and comprised almost entirely of exclusive tracks. Neon Maniacs, like its predecessors Stupid Punk Boy and The Wild Angels, was released in conjunction with Cassette Day. Neon Maniacs is a co-release with Nerve Centre Records - another one of my favorite labels. Given that these two labels have similar musical visions, fans of the two previous Girlsville comps should not fear any drastic changes. Again you can expect a whole lot of primo garage cuts along with plenty of punk, indie pop, post-punk, and power pop goodness. Girlsville regulars Purple Wizard, The Prissteens, Coachwhips, and Mr. Airplane Man all make appearances along with Nerve Centre's own Red Cords, Murph and the Gazorpos, and The Hipshakes. From outside of these two labels' rosters, you also have the likes of The Darling Buds, honeychain, Germ House, Zig Zags, Virvon Varvon, The BV's, and many more. All in all, you get 18 tracks from 16 different bands.

I've been fired up for Neon Maniacs for months because I knew it was going to include honeychain's cover of Material Issue's "Going Through Your Purse". Considering that the original is my favorite song by one of my favorite bands of all-time, I knew that nothing less than a knockout version would impress me. But I've got to say: honeychain really nailed this song! I was not disappointed. Similarly, the legendary Darling Buds have a go at "Our Lips Are Sealed" and do an amazing job of it. Inspired by Sonic Youth's cover of The Carpenters' "Superstar", this is a creative and fully unique interpretation of the Go-Go's/Fun Boy Three classic (probably more similar to the latter's version). Other highly interesting covers on this comp include Zig Zags tearing into M.O.T.O.'s "Choking On Your Insides" and the mysterious Nuclear Brown tackling Devo's "Mongoloid".

As for the original songs on this release, there are several really good ones. Murph and The Gazorpos again light it up with some red-hot power poppin' rock n' roll. Virvon Varvon's "Trouble" reminds me how much I like post-punk when it's done really well. The BV's hit the shoegaze/dream pop sweet spot with "The Sheep Look Up". Stix Champion & His Trophy Band deliver some budget proto-punk on "Be A Kid When You're a Kid". "Stormy Weather" is a gem of a demo from The Prissteens' later years. And The Red Cords' "Supermarket Horror" is an absolute crackler from one of the U.K.'s best current garage/punk bands.

At just $7 for a download, Neon Maniacs is a great way to discover a lot of cool bands for not a lot of money. If you're into cassettes, Girlsville and Nerve Centre have just 75 copies each for sale in the U.S. and U.K. respectively. I also recommend digging deeper into both of these labels' catalogs. So click the links below and discover some great music!


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