A label’s 50th release is a big deal. There are a fair amount of independent labels that don’t make it to this milestone. Luckily, Run For Cover records did make it to this point, and they certainly are celebrating it with a stellar release. A preview of the golden years of their first release was covered in one of Music Critic‘s reviews. Remembering the tracks that did well and out shined the others, it has been a perfect combination of expressions. For their 50th release, the label decided to put together a compilation of 12 artists, who all contributed new or unreleased material, that represent and help shape the label.
The compilation opens up with a track off of the latest Polar Bear Club release, Clash Battle Guilt Pride. The track, entitled “Killin’ It” is way above anything off the group’s 2009 record, Chasing Hamburg. Led by vocalist Jimmy Stadt’s gruff vocals, the song truly set’s the release up properly.
Following “Killin’ It” is a contribution from Balance & Composure, who deliver one of their best offerings to date, “Seahorses”. While the song is not a departure from the sound created on their debut record, Separation, it certainly shows progression. Although the song would have fit into the tracklisting of Separation perfectly, it works to much better standing on its own. If anything, “Seahorses” shows that Balance & Composure will be able to write the appropriate follow up to Separation, when the time comes.
Tigers Jaw delivers quite the punch with “Distress Signal”. The song features a great balance between the male and female dynamic, which has not been showcased this much on past releases. Their style of indie punk proves their spot on the label’s roster is well deserved. Following Tigers Jaw is another one of RFC’s current artists, Hostage Calm. The group furthers their indie-pop-punk-Beach Boys sound that was shown on their 7” from August of this year. The song doesn’t do anything different from the 7” tracks, but is much more enjoyable.
Daylight display a sound similar to Polar Bear Club and Make Do and Mend on “Cursed”, rather than the more Title Fight influence displayed on their Dispirit EP from last year. The song is a very strong track, but with the fantastic tracks from their sound-a-likes on the compilation, it might easily get overlooked.
After the impressive EP Daytrader released earlier this year, it is no surprise they contributed one of the strongest tracks on Mixed Signals. “Texts and Tomes” shows the same style as Last Days of Rome displayed just on metaphorical steroids. The vocals, the musicianship, everything is better. If the band can keep up with all the great music they have released this year, there is no doubt they will soon be on the front lines of the genre.
Following “Texts and Tomes” comes the strongest track on the record. Make Do and Mend follow up their incredible 2010 release, End Measured Mile, with “Coats”. This band is truly doing the current wave of punk rock justice. The music is aggressive, the vocals are passionate, there really are no complaints with this band, this track in particular. It may be a bold statement, but Make Do and Mend have released their best song to date on this compilation.
As the album comes to a close, the listener gets treated to a new track from one of RFC’s newest signees. The Tower and The Fool’s addition to the album, entitled “Die Alone” is the progression one would have expected, and wished for, after listening to their debut EP. Though the demise of vocalist Alex Correia’s band Therefore I Am let many upset, his current folk rock stylings with The Tower and The Fool are much more suited for his voice.
Although there is so much good on Mixed Signals, there is a fair amount of boring. Though the unmentioned tracks are by no means terrible, their placement on the album causes them to be outshined by all the stellar contributions throughout Mixed Signals.
If you are a fan of any band on their release, or even the label itself, there is no reason not to check Mixed Signals out. Many bands have contributed some of their best material to date. Plus, there is a hidden track that is to die for. There is really no downfall to checking this compilation out, you may even find your new favourite band.
Polar Bear Club – Killin’ It
Balance & Composure – Seahorses
Tigers Jaw – Distress Signal
Hostage Calm – The M Word
The Menzingers – Irish Goodbyes
CSTVT – Bassett St.
Daylight – Cursed
End Of A Year Defense Family – I’ve Got An Idea…
Daytrader – Texts and Tomes
Make Do and Mend – Coats
The Tower and The Fool – Die Alone
The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – To The Janitor, to The King