I’m guessing this was a fundraising item during WFMU’s pledge drive in 2004. Compiled by John Allen, it collects a veritable who’s who of indie rock circa 1989. However, most of this compilation veers towards the punk end of the spectrum. It is great to hear some old favorites and get the chance to listen to some great songs that never made it onto their respective albums. It does an excellent job of summing of the the cream of the crop. It is even more impressive due to the fact that it focuses on a single year and catches many of these bands in their prime. I haven’t heard some of these songs in over a decade it brings back memories of bands that lost me with later efforts, but this comp is forcing me to reevaluate some of my opinions. Extra points for emulating the design and approach of Chuck Warner’s Messthetics comps that have lovingly collected forgotten punk and new wave gems.

Various Artists

Killed by Murder Volume One



16 Tons-Lauren(No Blow)

Action Swingers-Kicked in the head(Noiseville)

Bricks-Girl with the Carrot Skin(merge)

Dead Moon-Black september (Tombstone)

Death of Samantha-Rosenberg Summer (Homestead)

Die Kreuzen-Gone Away (Touch and Go)

Drunks With Guns-Drug Problem (Noiseville)

Dwarves-Drug Store (Sub Pop)

Gibson Brothers-Emusified (Siltbreeze)

Go Team-Ribeye (K)

Halo of Flies-There Aint No Hell (Amrep)

HP Zinker-The Know it All(Matador)

Ickey Joey-Ill Love You There (C/Z)

Jesus Lizard-Chrome (Touch and Go)

Lee Harvey Oswald Band-Ligtning Strikes (Touch and Go)

Lonely Moans-Rockinerd (amrep)

Love Child-Know its Alright (Sympathy)

Melvins-Anal Satan (Sympathy)

Monster Magnet-Lizard Johnny (Circuit)

Mudhoney-Hate the police (Subpop)

Seaweed-Inside (Leopard gecko)

Surgery-Not Going Down(Amrep)

Tar-Same (Amrep)

Treepeople-Important Things(Silence)

Unsane-This Town (Treehouse)

Vomit launch-Every Pretty Girl (teenbeat)

Small Factory

For if You Cannot Fly


When I teach my struggling students how to write a descriptive essay, I ask them to pick a single adjective to describe the object or being that will be highlighted. Then, I request that they provide three points or arguments that prove this quality can be justified in their essay. If I was split down the middle, and my sterner half asked my floundering half to write an essay about For If You Cannot Fly, I would quickly pick “bittersweet” as my magic word.

My reasoning lies in the fact that this band seemed to epitomize the creative and emotional hangover that can happen when the “sunshine and lollipops” ethos of twee no longer fits and a major label knocks on your door and demands more than this. Their debut I Do Not Love You wasn’t exactly packed with “Kumbaya” moments, but tracks like “Keep on Smiling” and “I’m Not Giving Up” as well as their earlier singles pointed towards the sanguine sounds associated with their contemporaries. However, it seems like band seemed stressed, depressed and somewhat bitter by the time of its follow-up.

For if You Cannot Fly begins with the refrain “The Last Time I spoke to you, I said some really mean things/ It didn’t feel good but I felt better” and goes on to state “i’m not done, I’m having too much fun.” There is a bitterness to the lyrics on this album that points towards the reasons behind the dissolution of the band and the sad, self-destructive undertones to many songs. The chorus to “Hi, Howard I’m Back” includes the chorsu “I’m going to drink until I fall down” and describes a drunken soul who dreams about holding a lost lover. If you listen closely, this is a really depressing album.

It isn’t all razorblades and Draino. I always naively bonded with the song “Versus Tape” as it proclaims the joys of listening to a beat-up Versus cassette tape and how “that tape is the world spinning round.” Yes, it is equally naive to believe the truthfulness of this verse, but it resonated with how I would wander the streets of Western PA with a walkman and get so passionate about the albums that whirred in my pocket. It is idealistic, but it perfectly distills how a love of music can empower you for a moment or a lifetime.

Overall, For If You Cannot Fly is a subtle bummer, but includes enough glimmers of hope to open your eyes to the bittersweet qualities of our lives. Just dig beneath the surface and listen for the deeper meaning behind this album.