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Thursday, March 7, 2013

'Land of Nod: An Atlanta Punk and Hardcore Omnibus'

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Local and regional compilations used to connect listeners with obscure punk tunes long before the Internet furthered the reach of fledgling bands. Compilations such as the recently released Land of Nod: Atlanta Punk and Hardcore Omnibus still have a purpose in the digital age, serving as timestamps that capture the state of underground rock music at a certain time and place. Land of Nod showcases 13 different bands, 11 from Atlanta and two based in nearby Athens, compiled by G.G. King and COPS band mates and Scavenger of Death label bosses Ryan Bell and Greg King. It's a pretty cohesive list of local punk acts, as only Resons is conspicuous by its absence.

Album opener "Born Dead Generation" by Bukkake Boys captures the now-defunct hardcore band in all its brutal glory and sets the tone for the rest of the album. Punk compilations often contain both bands that have called it quits and the first officially released track by newer acts. Land of Nod is no exception, as it includes what are likely the last two officially released Bukkake Boys songs and the vinyl debuts of Athens-based American Cheeseburger offshoot Shaved Christ, local grind standard-bearers God's Balls and Predator spin-offs Acid Freaks and G.H.B.

Speaking of Predator, their two offerings show the group coming off a lengthy hiatus sounding stronger sonically and lyrically. Whether this is the intention or not, these songs should sway several listeners to pick up a copy of another new Scavenger of Death release: a Predator cassette featuring new songs and unreleased demos. Other punk and hardcore highlights include G.G. King's dim yet catchy "Eternal Feeling," which stacks up well against both sides of the band's stellar "Joyless Masturbation" seven-inch, and Ralph's hilarious, eponymously titled slice of 1980s hardcore that cements that the band's name is a reference to puking.

Not every band on the compilation can be considered hardcore or, depending on whom you ask, punk. Still, everything from bands on the noisier end of the spectrum (Vincas and Wymyn's Prysyn) fits the flow of the album. This is probably less of a surprise than the seamless inclusion of a song by power-pop songsmith Gentleman Jesse Smith. The track in question, "Fence Yourself In," owes more to catchier Killed By Death deep cuts than Stiff Records power-pop.

Overall, this is a solid collection of modern local punk songs. Like 1980's Standard Deviations, which captured the aftermath of the Sex Pistols making their U.S. debut two years earlier in a Buckhead shopping mall, and The View: An Atlanta Compilation, 1984-1990, a Lunchbox Records cassette that showed a local shift from early American hardcore to the sounds associated with more visible acts on SST and Dischord Records, this will someday serve as a history lesson to young Atlanta punks. Until that day comes, Land of Nod will be an exciting listen for the bands' peers and, if we're lucky, will let outsiders know that more goes on in Atlanta than a now slim garage-rock scene.

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