REVIEW: VARIOUS ARTISTS – VANS WARPED TOUR 2013 COMPILATION

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Reviewed by Mark Plummer
When the Warped Tour first started out it mainly showcased punk bands. Years on and it’s diversified to great effect – represented in abundance on a compilation CD spanning some 50 different artists of varying genres. From the dance vibes of GoldhouseNothing To Lose to the much harder hitting wallop of Bring Me The Horizon, it’s more than justified to assume that this is a mash-up of the best that this years Vans Warped Tour has to offer.

Starting off with the easy listening, pop-rock tones of Never Shout Never, The Summer Set and Go Radio, there’s soon a need for dance shoes with Goldhouse before rap rockers Itch lay down a catchy and blood pumping Sun Goes Down. Whilst MC LarsFlow Like Poe is a blasphemous attempt at sampling Pachelbel’ classic Cannon in D – along with some pretty mediocre lyrics – the advantage to having a compilation that supports this much versatility, means that rescue is never far away.  Set It Off seem to offer up a weird combination of a pop like I Am Ghost mixed with Fall Out Boy, it’s ever so slightly odd and needs time that most listeners may not have to become accustomed to.  For the most part, CD1 starts off with a balanced approach, before settling into a generic pop-punk/alternative and hardcore vibe.

Forever The Sickest Kids are solid in their deliverance and offer a welcome nostalgia to their former days, think Underdog Alma Mater.  The dance vibes in the final quarter of the first disc, do start to become overwhelming. Broken from Young London starts with what, to the unassuming listener may seem as a return to the less mainstream side of music, until the beat drops in and the realization that this club feel is still going strong.  Finally, Anarbor are the perfect fit to bring this menagerie back from the brink of monotony.  Their slick riffs through the chorus add something that’s been missing thus far, the sense of imagination within their genre. Whilst there are still a few tracks to run, it doesn’t get much better than this to bring the first side to a close.

CD 2 hits the ground running, or at least attempts to, it takes a couple of tracks to really unleash itself – with The Used and The Wonder Years living up to their reputation as bands to look out for, both on CD and on stage.  After this it’s pretty straight forward listening, nothing too testing or genre expanding. The Black Dahlia Murder hold the darkest edge and really push at the boundaries of what the Warped Tour can cater for, without turning into a full on metal fest. Into The Everblack solo is worth the wait, taking it’s time and offering up some exquisite harmonization between the two lead guitar parts.

One of the most anticipated bands of the year, The Early November own one of the biggest stand out tracks. Soft vocal melodies combining well with the darker instrumentation to result in an odd combination of a piece that is both laid back, yet requires movement.  If movement was ever lacking, then Man Overboard’s great punk-rock anthem, Heart Attack, is yet another example of a wide variety of tastes exhibited in over two hours of music and showcases a band to look out for.  Closing the Warped Tours’ compilation are the likes of Strawberry Blondes, The Exposed and Middle Finger Salute.  Whilst all similar in their punk-rock appeal, they help to show off what helped to kick-start the Warped Tour right back in the early days and should earn themselves more than a few new fans over the summer.

The way this compilation can be viewed is in two ways. There is the first CD that highlights some of the music that has more recently manifested its way onto the Warped Tour, showing the crossover talent that this mammoth event has given the punk-rock world. Then there is the second CD, offering up a more nostalgic reminder of how this tour across the US started out and where its roots lie.  Whilst compilations either bomb out or totally kick-ass, the hardest part of making a compilation CD is accepting that not everyone will dig every single track, so supplying enough material to compensate for this. There’s no worry of falling out of favor with this release, it more than holds itself steady over the course of 2 hours and 18 minutes and should provide the perfect driving playlist for your Warped Tour summer.

3½ out of 5

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