Dusted Reviews

V/A - All Tomorrow's Parties 2.0

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: V/A

Album: All Tomorrow's Parties 2.0

Label: ATP

Review date: May. 1, 2002

As a producer, Steve Albini has a unique ability to eek out every bit of sonic energy that a band has to offer. While his record is not entirely flawless (ahem, Bush), his producees are of fairly consistent high quality. Although this year's UK incarnation of the All Tomorrow's Parties festival was technically curated by Albini's entire band, Shellac, the lineup consists heavily of Albini-produced alumni, as does the festival's companion compilation, All Tomorrow's Parties 2.0. The album, the third of the ATP series, surprisingly finds most of the artists contributing songs that are not merely above average, but in fact many that are career highlights. Even while not behind the boards Albini manages to extract work of top quality and this third ATP compilation is easily the best of the three ATP compilations.

Bonnie Prince Billy's cover of Kate Wolf's "Early Morning Melody" is uncharacteristically bouncy and poppy for the chronically morose Oldham. Fluttering bass and "ooooh"ing backup vocals contrast terrifically with Oldham's fragile lead vocals, offering proof beyond last year's More Revery EP that he is as fantastically talented at covering others' songs as he is at creating his own. Even if the other ten songs on ATP 2.0 were to fall short, "Early Morning Melody" alone justifies the entire album.

Shellac's contribution "Watch Song," is fairly standard fare -- screaming treble-kicked guitars, galloping bass, and maniacal drumming -- but is still comically exciting as Steve "fucking kill 'em" Albini grunts in with a typically charming "Hey man! I wanna have a fight with you!" If ever there were a forum for Shellac to present listeners with a sentimental ballad, this ATP comp would've been a good one, but in spite of the honor of curation, Albini is still pretty pissed. Still, the only complaints are petty ones, and Shellac manage to rock plenty hard.

The album's most pleasant surprise comes from Touch and Go forget-me-nots Arcwelder, whose "Do Something Right" rocks like it was 1995 and then some. Bill Graber's nasal vocals clash coolly with his quasi-metal guitar licks as the song slyly runs from its statically disjointed verses into its heavily catchy chorus. The song was strong enough to momentarily fool me into thinking that perhaps I had misjudged Arcwelder all along, but a quick unearthing of 1997's Entropy verified that "Do Something Right" is indeed an Arcwelder anomoly, albeit a very good one.

The Fall's "Two Librans" captures Mark E. Smith at his top live form, as he carefully adds a rudely snappy characteristic "'chta!" to the end of every sentence. Meanwhile, Mission of Burma's "Term Two" is fairly sedate, but is by no means tame. Both bands date back to the days of Albini's earliest ventures in music, and both songs exemplify nicely where he himself might be coming from (and perhaps where he's going).

Vocalless tracks are slightly weaker as the louder (High Dependency Unit, Do Make Say Think) and the quieter (Threnody Ensemble, Rachel's) all contribute new and nice, but generally unremarkable songs. Jeff Mueller's Shipping News builds up "Quiet Victories" lazily, but Mueller's soft-spoken vocals towards the end bring the tune together nicely. Meanwhile, the ever-remarkable Nina Nastasia's addition, "Stormy Weather" comes from her all but impossible to find first album, Dogs, and is as much of a highlight here as it was when it was originally released.

Even as All Tomorrow's Parties continues to grow and expand (2 festivals and 2 cds in 1 year), it still manages to rarely misstep. While the 1.1 compilation reeked slightly of artistic laziness, this latest volume shows nothing of the sort. Instead it provides more than adequate compensation to the unfortunate masses that were unable to attend the festival itself, as well as nice congratulations to the career of Steve Albini and Shellac.

By Sam Hunt

Read More

View all articles by Sam Hunt

Find out more about ATP

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.