If someone announced that the best punk rock album of the year was a 50-track compilation released in the heat the summer, most people would assume it was just a box set of past punk legends. But no, this isn't a box set and the artists are all modern. Warped Tour 2007 Compilation is the latest step in the annual series put out by Side One Dummy Records.
To say this is a healthy serving of punk is an understatement. Warped Tour 2007 covers the complete gamut of punk rock genres, from hardcore to pop-punk, ska to emo, and everything in between. Rather than conservatively apply the "something for everyone" approach and end up with a ho-hum collection of songs, Side One Dummy made sure the pair of 25-track discs was loaded with good stuff.
Easily the most heavily represented group comes from Epitaph Records. Bad Religion, The Higher, Parkway Drive, The Matches, Escape the Fate, Gallows, I Am Ghost, and Vanna each have a track, and each is up to the high standards set by the trailblazing punk label. Bad Religion is automatic, so it's no surprise that "Requiem For Dissent" finds the band in peak form. But Epitaph supplies a few unsuspecting goodies, such as the garage-influenced "Rolling With The Punches" by Gallows and "Insurance?," The Higher's song that mixes punk attitude with funk.
Hardcore fans will find a big fix. Killswitch Engage's "The Arms of Sorrow" carries all the darkness of their typical material, though the arrangement is not as heavy as usual. Ferret Records' Poison The Well and As I Lay Dying stand out on "Letter Thing" and "Confined," respectively; both convey the tortured angst and aggression the bands are known for.
To those wondering who is the guy wildin' out on the album cover while screaming at the crowd, it's Wil Francis of Aiden. Their song, "We Sleep Forever," is arguably one of the best the band has put out to date, more restrained than their usual intense emo, but still effective. Aiden's label mates Bayside are also among the top of the emo roster, along with Tokyo Rose and Amber Pacific.
Though they are few in numbers, the ska acts are some of the most fun. Buck-O-Nine's "I'm Not Dead" brings in the big horns early and rocks out from there. The Toasters strike a funky groove and "You're Gonna Pay" and Mad Caddies do a fantastic job with a relaxed instrumental on "State Of Mind."
The end of 1997 was when the first in the series, Vans Warped Tour '98, was released. Ten years later, the series is still going strong. The big names, like Paramore, The Used, Tiger Army and Alkaline Trio, all live up to their reputations, while the lesser known acts like Escape The Fate and Mayday Parade all show their skills. It's hard to believe that 50 great songs could end up in the same place on purpose (and not in a boxed set), but Side One Dummy Records has become an expert in constructing this annual compilation. Warped Tour 2007 is not just a deal for the quantity of songs, but also quality.