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Review: Various Artists 'Honk If You're Already Dead' (Subatomic)

Full article at Subatomic.

"Generations of music lovers and stumblers have romanticized the compilation, the distilled view of a particular symbiotic scene and its participants, however divergent. The stuff that leads to new genre names being created by people who off-the-cuff take a journo’s (perhaps dismissive) description and place it on a record bin divider.

You won’t find that bit o’ trouble with Honk if You’re Already Dead, which is a mish-mash of sounds that cannot be contained by any singular descriptive save for appearing together on a compilation from the titular Already Dead.

Which is good. Uniformity in vision and sound even kills off the most forward-thinking bands and labels eventually. Division, diversion, and the rise toward artistic compromise that pushes ideas and waves forward is what listeners desire (don’t let a Top 40 list tell you otherwise). And it’s quite the compromise to ingest these 20 tracks, even from a label I’ve been following from the sidelines for some years. My kids get a kick out of Urine Hell’s “Dream Return” didactic reticulation of a metallic Spiderland. It could also be the band’s name causing a snicker or two as well. We won’t even touch the punkish punch-up of “Everything Gives Me Diarrhea” from Rat Punch.

I assume this made its way under my nose due to the German Army affiliation: both with spaciously eerie “selective memories of your time” from GeAr, but also the romantic tremolo of “Smoke Signals” from offshoot Kris & Tavi. But I keep returning because of bands like Itch Princess, whose sound is akin to Hausu Mountain being founded in the thralls of Bauhaus ecstasy. Similarly, Mezzanine Swimmers and “Switch” feels like Imagine Dragons cutting their teeth on Stunned tapes.

That each song seems to represent the breadth of Already Dead’s sonic canon is in and of itself refreshing. That Honk… isn’t beholden to one style, one theme, or one idea is even better. Yes, there are always [personal] misses on any compilation, but the true beauty of collections of this ilk is returning to it and mining it for future rediscovery because you missed something the first time around."


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