The Phantom Tollbooth

The Rage Volume 1
Artist: Various Artists
Label: Worthless Records
Length: 15 tracks

A collection of artists local to Phoenix, Arizona, have contributed to this compilation designed to encourage young musicians and promote local talent. The acts range from the modern rock of the area's best-known group, Michelangelo and the Difference, to the dance sounds of Darryl Cottier's "It's Not The Beats." Musically and lyrically this album is a diverse collection, the only unifying factors being location and faith.

Michelangelo and the Difference's track, "I Won't," does not sound as good as the material on their Under Rower album. The deep vocals are more pressed, and while the fluid guitar solo is a nice touch, this downbeat track does not showcase the band at their best. Wish continue in similar style with "Down The Road" before the next band, Broken, cuts in with probably the best of the rock-oriented tracks on offer. The driving acoustic guitars and distorted vocals do not break far from the mold but are unique enough to gain some attention. The Sprigz give a very strong Cranberries feel to their track, but do not have quite the same strength as that act. A touch of ska is brought in by Under Five Nine and is pulled off fairly well. Darryl Cottier's breakbeats are something of a relief when they come in, sounding more polished than some of their company. With the sampled voice of a preacher on top it is slightly reminiscent of Raving Loonatics and keeps up the variety through its four and a half minutes even though the sound is slightly dated.

This album may be useful for encouraging some local young musicians, and maybe some people will enjoy hearing local bands on a sampler. It has become all too easy to sound generic these days when the latest sound is played over and over. Unfortunately this album suffers from that in a fair number of places. However, there are a couple of tracks that go some way to redeeming this collection. The title suggests further releases in the pipeline. Good luck to them, but hopefully there will be a tighter lineup next time.

By James Stewart (11/18/1998)