Whatzup
Live From Bloomington 2008
Various Artists

by D.M. Jones
Live From Bloomington 2008

Various Artists

Live From Bloomington 2008

Here’s a disc that serves two purposes, one noble and one practical. The latest installment of a 15-year tradition, Live From Bloomington 2008 showcases some of the best talent Bloomington has to offer while helping the Hoosier Hill Food Bank provide food and services to the needy. According to the literature, the HHFB makes over 30,000 pounds of food available per week to over 80 non-profit organizations. That takes some serious volunteer work, plus a fair amount of resources. Right there is one good reason to go out and snag this disc. The other 21 reasons range from the plaintive folk of Eric Radoux (“Violent Life”) to the fractured, simmering “Goodbye to the Bat” by The Impossible Shapes, to the ska/reggae-tinged, organ drive of The Green Room Rockers’ “Hoosier Homegrown.” And without resorting to 3-word capsule descriptors for every artist on this compilation, suffice it to say the range of styles, genres, and approaches makes for a dizzying yet very satisfying ride — as befits Indiana’s answer to Athens, Chapel Hill/Durham, Omaha et al. 

That the bubbling indie pop and smiley vocals of the Giggles (“Alarm Clock”) can coexist with chord-pummeling from The Bradleys on “Question Everything,” as well as “The New Chapter” from The Method to My Medium, is proof enough that the downstate scene is alive and well. The inventive spirit and palpable enthusiasm that makes indie rock great is evident in the work of bands like Metal In The Microwave (“I Am NOT a Pleasure Unit”) and especially The Alarmists (Calm Down), who veer from prog bass poppin’ to unhinged chaos to Pavement melody to Tool-like precision in the first minute-and-a-half of “Hot Noise, Bright Lights.” It’s quite a stirring way to open the disc. 

Alt-Americana-New-Country-No-Depression, or whatever it’s called now, is represented via the rollicking “Up and Down” from The Country Death, complete with Tweedy-meets-Bright Eyes vocals. Stella + Jane offers up the more traditional acoustic-based “I’ll No More Alone.” You can get your Death Cab for Cutie fix (fixed?) from Husband&Wife’s charming “Class War,” while the speedy, chirpy, synth-y “In Her Diary” from Totally Michael provides a high-RPM, low-impact lift to the latter half of the collection. 

Live From Bloomington 2008 isn’t just packed with absolutely great performances; it’s all done in the service of a worthwhile cause. Pick up a copy now and you’ll feel good about yourself … and Bloomington music. Contact myspace.com/livefrombloomington for info. (D.M. Jones)

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