Various Artists – Welcome To The Family Vol. III

  • Cole Faulkner posted
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Various Artists

Welcome To The Family Vol. III - Old Shoe Records

Old Shoe Records might be a relatively new name in the punk circuit, but that hasn’t stopped the Californian label from embracing the age-old tradition of the annual compilation record.  Over the past two years the series has introduced the world to a variety of new and upcoming sounds, and 2009’s rendition of the Welcome To The Family series (Vol. III) is no different.

For a general feel, think back to the Hellcat Records days of old, specifically the label’s seminal Give Them The Boot series.  Still being a rather marginal label in the grand scheme of things (although that is certainly changing), Old Shoe Records keeps close company with bands yet to hit even the underground’s radar, and to this end the compilation serves as a great tool for stumbling upon one’s next big fixation.

The comp starts with a selection from the label’s small but growing back catalogue, later branching out into upcoming released and other related labels and bands.  Those already part of the Old Shoe family include the gruff, pop-tinged punk rock of Salt Lake City quartet The Willkills, the Rancid-like street anthems defining Orange County punks Longway, the speedy, technical punk of Sederra, and the Celtic rally cries of their latest signing, Flatfoot 56.  If nothing else, these inclusions justify the label’s current direction and solidify them as a home for budding creative talents.

And then there are the other fifteen tracks, compiled from various other sources, the bulk of which fall somewhere along the punk spectrum.  Those like Lower Class Brats, The Darlings, and Broke Till Thursday blend right in with the rest of the Old Shoe family, while others give the compilation a well-traveled personae.  Take Disguster for instance, they’re an all out garage rock band with a punk’s enthusiasm, or the hard, rock’n anthems of Duane Peter’s Gunfight – both match the compilation’s vision and drive.  My favorite inclusion includes a track by Charlie And The Valentine Killers, which showcases a fantastic blend of folky dockside maritime celtic country.  I’m definitely hunting these guys down to delve into whatever else they have to offer.

Of course, there are also a few out of place, and forced tracks to be found as well.  The Gaslight Anthem’s inclusion from their Senor & The Queen EP is comparable to a celebrity showing up for a talent contest (the song is still as amazing as ever though), Death By Stereo and Ashers are a little more on the hardcore side of things, subsequently feeling like a calculated attempt at broadening appeal, and Far From Finished includes an embarrassing cover of “I Want You Back” – I avoid this one like I avoid A Loss For Words’ Motown Classics cover album (they have a ton of good existing stuff though, so don’t let that deter anyone from checking out their back catalogue).

All in all, Welcome To The Family Vol. III is both a solid intro to Old Shoe Records artists, as well as those fans should take note of.  However, in the day of the free label sampler it’s tough justifying the purchase when googling most of these tracks will undoubtedly yield sample streams for all these tracks on each band’s myspace.  Still, it’s nice to have all these tracks in one place, and the compilation is generally an obvious and easy listen.  I’m not sure how often I’ll find myself playing the compilation itself, but there’s little doubt that I’ll be listening to most of these bands because of their inclusion – and that’s got to be worth something.