Emergency Room Compilation Vol. 1

This could have been the best show review ever, but somebody blew it bigtime and forgot about the release party that happened last Saturday for the first ER Compilation. Gah! And exactly how rad was the show? Brie from Scratch Records posted THIS on my message board the next day: “[The album is] totally out! The release party was last night and I didn’t get home until 7am!” Seven in the morning, babies. That’s a party and a half! C’est la vie, I suppose. So on to the next best thing…the record review!

I was more excited about the release of this album that an expectant father could have ever been in a delivery room. Why? Because I knew for a fact that I would love this LP more than I could love a human child. How could I not? Brand spankin’ new tracks from all of my favourite local bands…rumours of killer packaging…not to mention the fact that it’s a limited edition pressing of 924… So yeah, I was pretty stoked. And the verdict? It’s amazing! The kids at Nominal Records and Grotesque Modern must have access to a fairly nice studio because the music sounds professionally recorded and while the album as a whole still has that indie-punk feel, it’s a far cry from the Fisher-Price-sound-recorder-in-the-garage garble that I was maybe expecting. Especially considering that, with the exception of two tracks, the whole thing was recorded in ONE DAY. Anyone who has heard The Ramones live knows that they played fast and vicious in front of an audience, but in the studio everything was very slick and for some reason the band slowed right down to the point where they became almost radio friendly. That is not the case with this recording and these bands, which is a very good thing.

Back in ‘79 (when I was two and most of the kids on the ER Compilation weren’t even born) a similar project was undertaken in this city and the resulting LP, entitled Vancouver Complication, featured local superhero punks like D.O.A., The Subhumans, The Dishrags, and The Pointed Sticks. What that release effectively accomplished was to capture Canadian punk rock at punk rock’s most explosive and exciting. As per the do-it-yourself ethos of the time, the bands recorded at Sabre Sound, an 8-track studio in the basement of a CBC employee’s Mom’s house (read: Best Mom Ever!) As such, it remained outside the grasp of unwanted corporate influence, and in doing so Vancouver Complication became an album truly for the scene and most importantly by the scene. What would you call that? FUBU? FTSBTS? Ah, nevermind…

Now fast forward almost thirty years and see how history repeats itself. Nominal Records, a relatively new upstart label in Vancouver, has assembled a group of eight new bands which include Defektors, Mutators, Nu Sensae, Petroleum By-Products, Sick Buildings, Twin Crystals, VAPID and White Lung. And the finished product is, I believe, every bit as vital as the effort that came out of Mrs. Cutress’ wreck room back in the day. It’s a perfect time capsule that will no doubt come to be known as one of the defining documents of this amazing and exciting scene.

Notable Tracks:

Defektors – Burning Light
An excellent opening track for the compilation, reminiscent of the period just before punk went experimental and (disastrously, I would argue) turned into New Wave. This song gives a glimpse of what could have happened if punk had evolved in a direction that didn’t suck. B. Phillips plays one rowdy apocalyptic surf guitar. I can not WAIT to hear this track live.

Petroleum By-Products – Ratface
“I was walking down the street one time and this girl came up to me and says: You’ve got a real RAT FACE.” Any song that kicks off with that statement is destined for high rotation on my turntable. The rest of the song is as amazing as the opening. Expect a show review from these kids soon. They’re awesome!

Mutators – Instinct
I don’t know anything about Mutators as a group really (not even their names). But here’s what I do know. If you have a neighbour who plays shitty Brian Adams albums way too loud and you want sweet, sweet revenge, this is your band. Seriously, do what Rod Stewart said; put those speakers in the window and then go on the roof and listen to the mayhem playing in the alley down below. Honestly, Mutators have a lead singer whose ability to scream borders on terrifying.

Nu Sensae – Graceland and Don’t Panic
For those wondering, no these are not Paul Simon and Coldplay covers. Um, I guess they would be the total opposite really. Sure, they’re fun and evil, but I would not recommend that you put tracks twelve and thirteen on when your Grey’s Anatomy loving family members are visiting. Unless you want them to go away. In which case, Nu Sensae are your new best friends.

- photograph by Venus