Fools Gold Comp 7” (Banter Records, 1993): I love Chicago area punk from the early/mid 1990’s. This 7” compilation is a pretty cool sampling of just that. All the songs were recorded in the same place, in Hoffman Estates, which I really enjoy when it comes to comps. I feel like the continuity in recording quality and production gives you a better idea of each band since you don’t have to take differences in recording into account.
Anyway, this slab kicks off with Tommyrot, a band that didn’t have a ton of releases, but were a very solid example of what you get when Midwestern emo is still firmly rooted in punk. It’s dynamic, catchy, and a little melancholy while maintaining an underlying aggression. I think it’s the standout track of the 7”. I think I heard somewhere that Glenn Porter of Alkaline Trio/88 Fingers Louie was in this band (fun fact: he also helped do the artwork for this record).
That’s not to say the rest of the record has nothing to offer. On the contrary! Behold, Slugbug! A band that predates such area greats as Slapstick, Tuesday, and The Broadways, among many other notables. This band’s brand of pop punk is absolutely time-stamped, but that doesn’t take away from its overall catchiness. I could see this song being featured in the soundtrack to Clueless or maybe, if the lyrics involved sex less explicitly, the Disney channel original movie Brink.
The first song on side B, courtesy of Flowers, is so 90’s it hurts. There are so many things about this song that make no sense – the random inclusion of acoustic guitar parts, the near constant flanger on the guitar. But, for some reason, I think this song is great when it’s all put together. I can’t get this song out of my head. One thing this comp definitely got right is starting each side off with a hit.
The final song is courtesy of a band called Groovy Love Vibes that if not for their location and timing would have no business being on a 7″ with these other bands, but I appreciate the diversity. This isn’t quite hardcore, but it’s not poppy at all. It’s just sort of straight forward rocking punk with distorted vocals. A weird fit, but a cool song nonetheless. The vaguely stoner-rock break at the end is worth the listen alone.