The Phantom Tollbooth
March 1999 Pick of the Month

We the Living Vol. 1
Artist: Various
Label: True Tunes Online/Etcetera Records
Length: 18 tracks / 63:03 minutes

Kudos to Todd Brown and True Tunes for the first in what looks to be the best series of independent Spirit-driven music compilations ever. By track two I was convinced this was the best underground rock compilation I'd ever heard. The unbeknownst-before-to-me Daniel French was henceforth declared to be an emo/grunge/alternative deity. By track five I was ready to proclaim to the world that this was the most amazing assemblage of music ever. Within's chaotic hardcore, while nothing new, exploded with authority in the midst of mellower fare. A new track by Mack, the Coffee Man showed their melodic indie rock web of superbly intertwined bass, drum, and guitar lines to be better than ever, and The Violet Burning's track was my first taste of their new album. Yummy.

By track eight, disillusionment and disappointment subdued my brash statement-making to the ground. Some unappealing songs joined the party, mostly bland indie popsters like Pony Express and Jetenderpaul, but those guys are considered brilliant by many an indie scenester, so what do I know? By track fifteen, my faith was restored, timid but wiser, by some familiarly strong songs from albums I own. Track eighteen had me smiling and thinking I'd like to share this very cool compilation with a few friends. Tess Wiley saved the day.

Like all collections, this had a few stinkers and yawners, but the lovely tunes were numerous and inspired enough to take up the slack, and then some. You have veterans gone underground (Aunt Bettys, The Violet Burning, Tribe of Dan), brave indie masters (Mack, the Coffee Man; Blaster the Rocket Boy; Steamboat), new and improved (Crux), upstart ruffians (Within, xDisciplex), new to CD (Never Enough, Tess Wiley and Her Orchestra), and more!

It was all done to raise money for industry insider David Bunker's overwhelming cancer surgery bills. If you consider yourself one of the living, fork over some cash for your brother in need...and get some groovy rock, pop, alternative, emo, and hardcore in return.

Go to for ordering info, and to find out about the other three upcoming compilations showcasing quality independent music from different genres.

Track listing:
1) Aunt Bettys--Motor Queen
2) Daniel French--Cardigan and Corduroy
3) Within--Doubt
4) Mack, the Coffee Man--The Bomb
5) The Violet Burning--Sugarlight USA
6) Pony Express--Together We're Electric
7) Crux--Ingrown
8) Jetenderpaul--The Maracas of Suspicion
9) xDisciplex--Eyewitness
10) Pink Daffodils--Listlessness
11) Somerset--Gloria
12) Tribe of Dan--Steely Mob
13) The Danes--K. West
14) Steamboat--Enoch's Reprise
15) Blaster the Rocket Boy--King of the Beach
16) Never Enough--Upon You
17) Officer Down--A Potemic on Consumption
18) Tess Wiley and Her Orchestra--Idle

By Josh Spencer   (3/1/99)