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Take Time To Listen Volume 5
Artist: Various
Label: 5 Minute Walk Music
Tracks/Time: 17 Tracks/54:54

I usually make it a point not to review these sampler CDs, but this one is for a good cause. 5 Minute Walk usually sends the money made on their compilations to some kind of missionary, and Take Time To Listen Volume 5 is no exception. The liner notes claim, "Profits from this sampler will be split between the 5 Minute Walk House (a program feeding 150+ children each day in Valle Verde, Mexico) and EL Casa Hogar, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico." So you can help out the poor and listen to some great music, including unreleased tracks from The Ws and Five Iron Frenzy, all at the same time.

Take Time To Listen Volume 5 is set apart from the other Take Time To Listen albums in that, for the first time, bands from other labels besides 5 Minute Walk are included on it. Labels represented include the obvious 5MW (Soul-Junk, Philmore, Brave Saint Saturn, Model Engine, Rivulets and Violets, The Ws, Justin McRoberts and Five Iron Frenzy), ForeFront Records (Pax 217), Gotee Records (Reliant K, John Reuben), and Sparrow Records (Earthsuit, The Elms, Luna Halo). Most of the bands are represented by their radio singles, so for the most part, the songs are very catchy and listenable. Highlights include Soul-Junk’s "Ill-M-I" (the best white boy rap ever!), Model Engine’s "Hang You Upside Down," and Philmore’s "Our Finest Hour," which seems to herald the return of glam metal.

Also included as an incentive to buy the album are two previously unreleased tracks-­The Ws’ "Somewhere Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and a special "one voice" mix of Five Iron Frenzy’s "Solidarity." The former is brand-new and somewhat of a departure for the band-­"Somewhere" is a surf  song that would have sounded at home on 1998’s Surfonic Water Revival. The latter is essentially the same song as the one on the band’s most recent album, All the Hype That Money Can Buy, but features lead singer Reese Roper singing both verses, rather than Randy Stonehill chiming in on the second one. Fans of the band will definitely want to pick it up.

5 Minute Walk is offering a fairly unique opportunity here: that is, to support world missions and hear some good music, all for $5.99. It can’t be beat.

Michial Farmer 8/29/2000

5 Minute Walk's sampler, Take Time to Listen Vol. 5, is unique to the other volumes, because bands from other labels are included.  Forefront Records' Pax 217, Gotee Records' Relient K and John Reuben, Sparrow Records' Earthsuit, The Elms and Luna Halo join 5 Minute Walk's Philmore, Brave Saint Saturn, The W's, Five Iron Frenzy, Justin McRoberts, Model Engine, Rivulets & Violets, and Soul-Junk on the compilation.  The songs are all very catchy, and worth repeated listening sessions.  Some of the songs that stand out include The W's "Somewhere Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" (a new one for them), Earthsuit's "One Time," which has a reggae/rap/rock sound that they can call their own, and Rivulets & Violets' "I Hate You."

The profits received from the sale of the album will go to the "5 Minute Walk House (a program feeding 150+ children each day in Valle Verde, Mexico) and El Casa Hogar, an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico." 5 Minute Walk's sampler is definitely something to pick up.  Buying this album not only means supporting a good cause, but getting some great music, featuring new songs and bands, all at the low price of $5.99.

Chelsea Lewis 9/28/2000

Compilation recordings are usually a mixed blessing.  By virtue of their collecting multiple artists on a single disc, they can significantly streamline the tedious task of finding first-rate new music.  But, by virtue of that same eclecticism, they usually wind up being highly uneven, mostly hit-and-miss affairs.  The fifth installment from 5 Minute Walk Records' Take Time to Listen series bills itself as a study in rock.  Not surprisingly, given that the definition of rock music at this date is open to as much interpretation as debate, the collection covers a sweeping cross section of musical styles, all fitting loosely under the rock music banner. But, regardless of whether the collection fits the classic definition of rock & roll or not, it nonetheless sports a remarkably impressive array of well-written songs whose diversity, oddly enough, ends up strengthening rather than weakening the album's cohesiveness.  Relient K's delightfully infectious punk-pop ditty "Hello McFly," with tongue-in-cheek statements like "I wish I was Michael J. Fox," is a first cousin to Rivulets & Violets' "I Hate You," which exhibits skillful irony by couching the song's disdainful sentiment inside a '60s-era girl group styled love song. Likewise, the surf-party-meets-'60s-spy-thriller sound of the W's' excellent "Somewhere Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" contributes much the same retro quality as John Reuben's acoustic/hip-hop hybrid "No Regrets" which meshes an old school story-telling rap style with psychedelic trappings on the chorus to fine effect.  And, the swooping vocals, humorous chorus and semi-trip-hop vibe of Soul Junk's "Ill-M-I" is the perfect foil to Philmore's "Our Finest Hour," a glorious classic rock anthem whose driving drum lines, blistering dual lead guitar riffs and rousing lyrics (We will fight, we will be strong/ Together, we're marching on/ Our finest hour has just begun) sound as if someone resurrected Bad Company, Night Ranger and Stryper and formed a group with their collective members. 

Because of their tendency towards unevenness, choosing best-of-album tracks for most compilations is usually fairly straightforward.  But, with the unusually consistent line-up of songs on the Volume 5 release, the task becomes a bit more daunting.  Even so, certain tracks still stand out from the rest.  "Hang You Upside Down," Model Engine's treatise on the mechanics of salvation  (underneath the weight of everything we're turning black coals into diamonds/ sifting through remains and picking out the pearls when we find them) continues the group's tradition for writing engagingly dissonant melodies and semi-oblique, but still thought-provoking, lyrical statements. And "Lifeboat" by the Elms is a solid slice of modern power pop replete with tight harmonies, lilting choruses and an ever-mindful eye to tunefulness, that times in, not surprisingly, at just under three and a half minutes. "Space Robot Five" by Brave Saint Saturn, an offshoot of the group Five Iron Frenzy, weaves an infectious combination of folk, rock and even country into a delightful piece of melancholy science fiction that stands in unexpectedly stark contrast to the light-hearted ska-core of the members' work with Five Iron.  And Earthsuit pulls off such a seamless fusion of rapcore, reggae and classic big band on "One Time" that the song's unlikely combination of divergent styles seems oddly matter of fact, almost natural, even at first listen. Not all of the album's tracks are as first-rate as those mentioned above.  The protracted intro piece of Luna Halo's "Aliens" adds to its already awkwardly constructed lyrical idea of evil thoughts as extra-terrestrials (Contact in my head/ With these Aliens/ Pursuing my control/ How did I Let in/These poison thoughts again).  And Five Iron Frenzy's "Solidarity," another perky, horn-filled slice of the band's now familiar ska-core sound, is pleasant enough but mostly undistinguished.  In all fairness, these songs are not necessarily bad, per se.  But, when compared to the Volume 5 release as a whole, they lack a certain quality that makes the rest of the songs on the work so memorable.  Nonetheless, the quality of the compilation overall is surprisingly high.  Indeed, Take Time to Listen Volume 5 is a refreshingly different compilation that seems destined to impart a positive first impression and inspire well-rewarded repeat listens.

Bert Gangl 10/07/2000


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