Sunday, April 25, 2021

File Under: A Mutant Pop Tribute

Well if I went ahead and reviewed one Mutant Pop Records tribute, I suppose it would have been really bad form to not review the other one too! File Under: A Mutant Pop Tribute was released by Ramonescore Radio Records April 7 -- the very same day that 44 Golden Greats came out on Worst Idea Records. Adding the 19 songs on File Under to the 44 golden greats yielded 63 tracks of Mutant Pop celebration in one day. And I'm all for that!

File Under, compared to 44 Golden Greats, is definitely a little bit "pop-punkier". It also includes a Loblaws cover, which was the only omission from 44 Golden Greats that I considered complaining about. All in all, File Under is a really fantastic tribute to Mutant Pop's legacy and should not be overshadowed by 44 Golden Greats. The lineup represents some of the very best players from the current generation of pop-punk. Included are heavy hitters like J Prozac, Billy Putz, Grim Deeds, and Black Russians -- as well as my favorite present-day pop-punk band Vista Blue. As expected, there's lots of love here for Dirt Bike Annie, The Proms, and Kung Fu Monkeys -- who are each covered twice. But I also appreciate that this collection tackles some of the deep cut gems of the Mutant Pop roster (The Wallys, The Loblaws, The Catalogs, Somethingtons). While I'm ordinarily wary of pop-punk bands doing pop-punk versions of pop-punk songs, several bands pull that very thing off quite successfully here. Classic Pat covering The Loblaws' "Tossing and Turning" does not disappoint! Vista Blue's take on The Wannabes' "Saturday Night" draws a direct line of influence between those two bands. The Pembrokes (covering The Klopecs' "Alyson Hannigan"), Wild Sandals (The Catalogs' "Scrunchy"), and Rip Taylors (Spodie's "Brenda's Got A Devilock") all remain faithful to the original versions while adding plenty of their own flair. There are also a few tracks that surprised me a little. I love Atomic Treehouse's fully punked-up version of the Kung Fu Monkeys' "Luau All Night". Lesser Creatures somehow manage to make The Proms' "Spike A Da Punch" sound like a Sloppy Seconds song. Black Russians rock out Dirt Bike Annie's "Capable of Anything" with full-scale nuclear power. Parasite Diet's inspired rendition of After School Special's "Kitty Corner" makes me feel like I never fully appreciated how good that song was. 

As I look at great labels today like Monster Zero, Mom's Basement, OUTLOUD, Eccentric Pop, etc., it's clear that the legacy of Mutant Pop Records is the enduring community of pop-punk. Mutant Pop was (arguably) the first record label devoted entirely to promoting pop-punk as a musical aesthetic. A couple of decades later, there are enough excellent bands floating around to easily justify the existence of several labels specializing in pop-punk. Quite a few of those bands are represented on File Under. I could be a nitpicker and demand a third tribute to ensure that my homeboys Jake and the Stiffs and Explosive Kate are not overlooked. But I think I'll just leave well enough alone and commend both labels on a job well done. File Under, like 44 Golden Greats, is a swell deal for just a $5 download. You can also grab a CD for 8 bucks. All proceeds go directly to The American Association of Suicidology.

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