Various Artists – Punk Academy Volume 1

Unlike most other sorts of music, our fondly fondled genre of punk comes with the one condition that all garage bred bands are thankful for: “No talent required.” Indeed, if it weren’t for punk all those power chord happy musicians would have no place to go. And as the years have gone on, there has been no better place to foster this DIY approach than the scorns of compilations that have showcased one terrible band after the other. While rarely has there been a punk-oriented compilation worth owning, it is not the actual product that continues to be meaningful in this day and age. Quite the opposite actually; the most important factor of punk compilations is not that the music is bad, but rather that the ethos of doing-it-yourself, camaraderie within a community and helping share exposure with the obscure is kept alive (although you could argue that compilations exist to keep bands like Midtown relevant). It would indeed feel rather empty if one were to exhibit top-dollar production and a wave of awe-inspiring musicianship; good reasons why those bigger label collections tend to be dull.

So much applaud should be given to the individuals and collectives who continue to put forth the effort for such endeavors – the countless backyard bands are forever grateful. And U.K. label You and Whose Army are another in the long line producing cheap samplers of mostly untested or previously unheard voices. Culling together twenty acts from around the globe (but mostly from their home region); Punk Academy Volume 1 treks across the many modes of the craft. Some material seemingly clunked off the SoCal/Sessions/EpiFat wagon while more rock influenced punk is handsomely represented (long serving group Douglas still knows how to rock – first heard on those early Fearless compilations). However, most of the collection is anything but academic, falling into the realm of the more emotionally conscious.

Amongst the better selections are Shuriken, Fallout 40, Captain Everything, Lovejunk and the weepy Jetplane Landing. The compilation is stronger for it – the decision to include more U.K. acts instead of relying on those tacky regulars; although Texas anomaly Recover do make their obligatory appearance (apparently Midtown were unavailable) which really is the collection’s only haphazard moment. Some songs, albeit expectedly, border on incredibly inane (the love paean to Britney Spears in Skirtbox’s “Speared Love”) and the really dumb (the “hot for your sister” Route 215 track), but with the volume and probable low price of admission, this outing is exactly what you are likely to pay for. Punk Academy… is like most other punk oriented compilations; not really any good in terms of musical craftsmanship or dexterity, but for the label and bands involved, contributing a piece to the good ol’ DIY pie is a triumph in itself.

(You and Whose Army? Records)