Various Artists
The World’s Lousy With Ideas Volume 8
Almost Ready

...Or what should be subtitled in emboldened capital letters, “The Twelve Inch,” as it’s the first time Almost Ready’s World’s Lousy franchise has expanded from a series of indispensible singles into a long-play platter. I’m usually not one for compilations, in respect to their continuity and lack of staying power, but anything stamped World’s Lousy has become the gold standard for this type of clusterfuck, and it’s hard to imagine a collector scum universe without them. Even their most recent installment, comprised of some unknown Aussie garage-rock (save for Eddy Current), has become more than worthy of multiple listens. In their brief existence, Almost Ready has provided the jump-off for a number of bands who have since become household names. Home Blitz, Nothing People, Wax Museums, Pink Noise, Nobunny, Fag Cop—all introduced to the world via their simple inclusion on these (now pretty much sold-out) priceless artifacts. All have been clad in multiple covers, and teem with the best material those groups can muster. More or less when you’re diving into compilations, it’s a safe assumption what you’re hearing is a toss-off, or a B-side, or god forbid a half-assed live version of something you already know. Not so with World’s Lousy; what you hear are usually exclusive, primo cuts tailor-made for Almost Ready’s CEO, who I can just imagine on a conference call with the Vivian Girls, scratching his chin until they played him something that was up to snuff.

This 12-inch is no exception to the rule, and if anything it might just represent the label’s coming out party, as in these grooves Almost Ready has collected what could be considered the “heavy hitters” of the current “movement” from the underground to the topsoil. Just peruse the first three songs: Vivian Girls, Blank Dogs, and Times New Viking. As previously stated, everything these three submitted are winners. The V-Girls’ “Lake House” finds them settling more into rhythm and texture, rather than ramshackle bouts in reverb. Yes, the reverb is still there by the shovelful, but it manages to not obscure the precious melody at its core. Instead, they’ve learned to tame the extraneous roughshod and use it to their advantage, creating a bigger, fuller, dream state. Likewise with Blank Dogs’ “Ages Ago.” Regardless of where this song falls on the timeline of Mike Sniper’s innumerable highlights, it’s been rewarding to follow along with his evolution, which has blossomed from a strict patois of heavily-modded Manchurian post-punk to heavily-veiled post-pop. “Ages Ago” could double as the Psychedelic Furs spinning disco-balls in a storage closet. One waits patiently for the dust to clear, the vocals to shine-up, and Blank Dogs to attempt a shimmering stab at Scritti Politti—it’s possible. As for the Vikings? “A Lot of Paintings” is, according to legend, from the Silt days, but as bouncy and immediate as anything from Rip It Off and confusingly one of the more hi-fi songs they’ve ever recorded. Amongst the meta-art-snobbery of the indiscernible lyrics lie one of the trio’s catchiest barbs and further proof the House of Clean is their permanent place of worship.

And that’s only the first side of this monster. From there the record descends into some standard issue garage-cock from the Intelligence with their track, “The Beetles.” Not the worst, but after the initial buzz provided by the top three, it somewhat jars the proceedings. Luckily, Columbus’ eternal dive house-band, Guinea Worms, churn out another stellar summer bummer with “Soiled Sender,” though I’m beginning to worry about Will Foster’s abject toilet humor. Between this and “C.H.U.D.” it’s sounding like he rarely leaves the bedroom and the bathroom. Sic Alps resuscitate the noisy nothingness of their Pleasures and Treasures–era grate to begin “Strepix,” but make a quick U-turn to the dry-well where the Troggs are hashing out how they’ll top U.S. Ez. The Sic Alps deal in time-machine anti-eugenics, adding extra arms and limbs and charming defects to already damaged goods, and it’s certainly a boon to the human race. Round two wouldn’t be complete with a track from both San Fran’s Thee Oh Sees and Detroit’s Tyvek, at times it seems these two are cut from the same cloth, but “Swag Rifles” and “Flowers” couldn’t be more different. Thee Oh Sees continue to offer amphetamine dragstrip nostalgia that never bores, and Tyvek have wavered away from the stuff, becoming off the groove and the esoterica that undoubtedly is swallowing up their city.

Last but certainly not least is Pink Reason’s “Going Home,” full-band Pink Reason mind you. So Volume 8 ends on a downer, then again it would be fruitless to expect anything less than an epic downer from Kevin Failure. On “Going Home,” he gets the hefty distortion propped up as a blustering snow-blind, avalanche riffs in the vein of Come’s grimy ejaculate junkie blues. Though I’m always one to prefer Pink Reason’s more intimate scrawls, “Going Home” powers through the argument that the guy should always be equipped with a gang in tow.

Exhausted? Me too. But it was worth it. The most striking aspect of World’s Lousy 8 is that as disparate as the band’s participating are in locale and aesthetic, they tend to represent a common ethical code: “Any kid that tells on another kid is a dead kid.” Or we’re all in the same gang. If anything we could bury this in a capsule so future generations knew exactly what 2009 sounded like. But what fun would that be? I hope one day your kid finds this and cries himself to sleep ’cause daddy scratched it all up playing it over and over through the last 20 years.
Kevin J. Elliott