Punk-O-Rama Vol. 10 Various Artists
CD Review by Mike D'Ariano



Track listing
When "You're" Around - Motion City Soundtrack
Lovers & Liars - Matchbook Romance
Shoot Me in the Smile - The Matches
Failure By Designer Jeans - From First To Last
Sun vs. Moon -
Sage Francis
News from the Front - Bad Religion
Mixin' Up Adjectives - This Is Me Smiling
Shadowland -
Youth Group
  From the Tops of Trees - Scatter the Ashes
  I Need Drugs -
Some Girls
  Mince Meat - Dangerdoom
  Mission from God -
The Offspring
  Black Cloud -
  Last Goodbyes -
Hot Water Music
  Anchors Aweigh - Bouncing Souls
  Farewell My Hell - Millencolin
  Warrior's Code - Dropkick Murphys
  Dead Weight Falls -
The Unseen
  White Knuckle Ride - Rancid
  Falling Down - Pennywise
  No Fun in Funda-mentalism - NOFX
  Bloodstain -
  Not the Way -
Special Goodness
  Ghostfire -
Tiger Army
  Riot, Riot, Riot -
The Disasters
  Laugh/Love/Fuck -
The Coup

Label: Epitaph
Release Date:
June 7, 2005



Eleven years ago, I bought the first Punk-O-Rama CD with a gift certificate to The Wiz that I had gotten for Christmas. A few months earlier, someone had mentioned that the new bands I was really starting to get into mainly Green Day and The Offspring were punk rock bands. As a result, I began to explore the genre. I got a Ramones compilation with something like eighty songs on it, and I got the album Stranger than Fiction by Bad Religion. Band by band, I was realizing that punk rock, was exactly the music I wanted to be listening to, and I wanted more.

The problem was, it was really fucking hard for a fifteen-year-old kid living in the suburbs to discover this music which was pretty much an underground scene. Today, if some kid was in the same position they could just do a Google search, land on some asshole's independent music website, and learn all about The Clash, and The Sex Pistols, Black Flag and Rancid, all of whom are featured in THIS independent music website's Best of the Best section. But it was 1994, and I didn't have a computer yet, let alone the internet, and none of my friends did either. Other than the two bands I mentioned above(Green Day and the Offspring, not The Ramones and Bad Religion), punk wasn't on the radio or MTV, and there was no way in hell my parents were going to let me head down to St. Marks Place - aka Heroinland - to discover the bands on my own. I was screwed.

Back to Punk-O-Rama Volume 1. When I saw the disc on the shelf, I pounced on it. On the back, I found that it contained exactly what I wanted. Two songs by The Offspring that I had never heard, one by Bad Religion plus thirteen other tunes by ten other bands that I didn't know anything about.

Listening to Punk-O-Rama 1 for the first time was like getting struck by lightning. It was a roadmap. It single-handedly increased my knowledge of punk rock four times over (I went from knowing 4 bands to knowing 16) and it clued me in to the fact that Epitaph Records, the label who released the CD was the source for all things punk. Two of the bands that were new to me were Rancid and NOFX. To this day, Rancid is my favorite band of all time, and NOFX are in my top ten. You older guys can try imagining going from never having even heard of The Beatles or The Stones, to hearing them both out of the blue, back to back, in about six minutes. Incredible.

Over the five years or so that followed, I began photographing and interviewing Epitaph's bands for a small zine I was doing, trying to inform interested parties about this music. I ended up meeting or photographing every act on Punk-O-Rama 1 save two of them. Through that experience, I decided I wanted to be a photographer/writer, went to college for it, and just recently signed a contract with the largest music photography agency in the world. As cliché as it sounds, Punk-O-Rama Vol. 1, really did change my life.

Now, eleven years later, I'm sitting here listening to Punk-O-Rama Volume 10 and pondering how different my life would have turned out if this was the CD that I bought that night in 1994.

I listened to the album for the first time on my iPod. The iPod has a feature where you can rate songs from one to five stars while they're playing; I did this for each song, and the results weren't all that great:

1 Star - Two Tracks
2 Stars - Seven Tracks
3 Stars - Ten Tracks
4 Stars - Four Tracks
5 Stars - Zero Tracks

That's nineteen tracks that were average or below average and only four that were above average, with none ranking excellent. Uhg. If I had bought this record in 1994, not only would I have not wanted to hear more of these bands, or want to go see and meet them, but there's a really good chance that I would have given up on punk rock all together. Again, ugh.

Part of the problem, is that this installment of Punk-O-Rama features a lot of music that simply is not PUNK. I'm not talking about the old debate about whether a band like The Offspring is punk because "punk bands don't go multi-platinum." I'm talking about a song by The Coup, called "Laugh/Love/Fuck" and a song by Sage Francis called "Sun Vs. Moon" which are both, plain and simple, RAP songs. I like the songs. The Coup song is actually one of the few songs I gave four stars, but they are not punk songs and probably don't belong on a CD called Punk-O-Rama.

Then there's an awful lot of MTV friendly, whiney emo rock on here that sounds like The Killers or The Bravery. Again, not necessarily crap, but not punk rock either, and unlike the first installment of the series, not the music I want to be listening to. Adding insult to injury are the less than stellar tracks by bands that I actually really do like. The Bouncing Souls, The Dropkick Murphys and Pennywise all fall into this category. Anyone familiar with these bands will know that the tracks included on this disc are just not up to snuff.

The better stuff on the disc comes from . . . surprise . . . acts that were also on the original, like Rancid, The Offspring, NOFX and Bad Religion. By the way, just for the record, the Bad Religion song, "News From The Front" which talks about how screwed up our leadership is in this country and how we're all doomed, is an outtake from the Stranger than Fiction album, which means it was written and recorded when Bill Clinton was President and controlled the Congress (just wanted to get that out there for those that don't have their propaganda goggles on).

Also good, actually really good, was the track by The Unseen; a band I know nothing about, but am definetly going to check out in more detail.

In the end, while the CD isn't as good as versions past, it's still worth the six dollars it cost, and it still serves as a great way to check out a bunch of new bands all at once. It also includes a DVD with a bunch of music videos you'll probably never see anywhere else, including "10 A.M. Automatic" by The Black Keys which would have easily garnered five stars had it been on the CD.

Check it out, or don't. That's all.


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