REVIEW: V/A – “Maximum Wage”

By Christopher Eissing

Chain Border

Maximum WageThe Bureau of Dissonant Culture is at it again with their latest compilation, Maximum Wage. With packaging evoking the great workers struggle of Russia’s Red October 1917, the Bureau plants their eagle-perched seal on another gathering of new and established counter-pop. But this is hardly your average Bolshevik Party.

Simpler Machine’s Killed by Soap kicks it off with old-school punk stylings and mayhem. Stalin didn’t get as much thump out of mass-gulags in Siberia. E-Rex follows up with soothing counterpoint. Snug Harbor Bones is a sweet understatement that doesn’t overstay its welcome like spring in the port of Archangel. Translucent Songs follows up with Somehow I Knew It Was You. A cool and warm tune, it floats more than Tolstoy on Stolichnaya. The Swirlies offer up a solid sub-pop tune more pre-Reagan than shoegazer, less post-Kruschev than punk.

Mutant Strain by Remote Control Yeti starts to pull the compilation out of transcendental sounds with far more subtlety than Mao’s Great Leap Forward. A great mix of light sounds, driving beat and pop aplomb. Dandelionaid strips down with Caveat Emptor. Minimalism without the pretentiousness, sample-mixing without the predictability. Buzzkill’s Unbearable Cremation brings it all back to metal focus. With all the steel resolve of a T-17 cruising through Prague in that glorious spring, it has a far more relaxing refrain.

Grab your axe and head to Trotsky’s when you hear the wonderful thrash-core tune The Whole World Envies Us. The Brazen Hussies live up to their billing. Braze away. If Lenin was right that revolution came from the barrel of a gun, then watch out for the crossfire from Much Battle by Irish Crème vs. E-Rex. The counterpoints in Kruschev’s Kitchen debate didn’t blend so well.

If you ever wondered why people were hopping the Berlin Wall, it might have been to enjoy the Benefit of Escape. Nautical Themes’s noise-art piece is memorable for its grating dissonance. Duchamp’s Blunted Sound System by Freak Ghost cleanses the palate more gently them a healthy dose of Glasnost. A gentle sleepy tune that sweetly excites.

The Bureau of Dissonant Culture has compiled a tight CD of counter-pop. Be prepared to be more surprised than a Romanov. It’ll creep up on you in the guise of another punk/alternative grouping of tunes, and take you through musical highs and lows that are no accident.

Contact Information:
Post: Bureau of Dissonant Culture, PO Box 423617, San Francisco, CA, 94142, USA
Phone: (415) 255-4680

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