The Phantom Tollbooth

Songs from the Penalty Box: Vol.3
Artist:  Various Artists
Label:  Tooth and Nail Records
Length:  17 tracks/46:53 minutes

Brandon Ebel has compiled another taste test of his record companies' finest, pulling from Tooth and Nail, BEC, Solid State, and local indie Boot to Head Records. The poor, beat up hockey player on the cover of both previous Penalty Box records returns with a CD promoting mostly new records, from a mix of old and new bands. Primarily punk music, the record is fat with fine picks to rock your little corner of the world.

The disc opens and closes with songs from the Huntingtons, a band that should be so much bigger than they are. They keep getting better and better. "American War Machine" is the first song on Vol. 3. It is about a veteran  coming home from combat set to a pounding punk beat. Next Dogwood then Squad Five-0 (with their "in concert" favorite "Apocalypse Now (demo version)") keep the punk going until Blindside clocks in with their new song "King of the Closet." Following Blindside's metal onslaught is new band Shorthanded with a loose garage rock song called "Imitation." Ninety Pound Wuss contributes their own brand of mania with "Outbreak." New band Fanmail featuring ex-Plankeye front man Scott Silletta delivers the power pop with "Let Down." A song about being more guarded with his feelings after being betrayed once or twice, talented Silletta continues in the musical direction he was going with Plankeye.

Frodus's "There Will Be No More Scum" is an effective, aggressive song; and is the most experimental and alternative rock song on the CD. The Undecided, the Dingees, and Slick Shoes, return to the punk side of things until For Love Not Lisa gets heavy with a song called, "Nothing But the Heavy." Craig's Brother does "Lonely Girl," a punk song that reminds her, and us, that we're not alone. One day all the hard things we go through will be made right.

Blenderhead, a group that is a little harder to categorize, weighs in with an old tune called "Haven," still a refreshing rock song from Muchacho Vivo. The fun guys of Ghoti Hook puts their interpretation of Stavesacre's masterful song "Acquiesce" to a fast punk drum beat from their rather successful Songs We Didn't Write. Of course, favorites MxPx is here with "Easier Said Than Done," from their At The Show CD. ...Penalty Box Vol.3 closes with Delaware's aforementioned Huntingtons, serving up a power punk song called "I'm Not Going Downtown."

I think you get the idea... this is basically a punk record with some rock and roll pop songs thrown in here and there. But with no clunkers, this is a pretty good party record; and has certainly whet my appetite for several of these new releases. So if that is what you're looking for, look no further.  If you're looking for something bracingly different, that you haven't heard before, keep looking, this is business as usual at Tooth and Nail. ...But of course, business as usual at Tooth and Nail spanks the socks off of any other business I can name right now.

Tony LaFianza