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Third Atticus compilation worth a look

Mike Tennant | Thursday, March 3, 2005

Atticus is back again with its third installment of the “Dragging the Lake” compilation. The album contains some newer and somewhat harder to find tracks from well-established and popular bands, such as Blink 182 and Taking Back Sunday. And just like its predecessors, Atticus submits a number of unfamiliar sounds for the listener’s approval. While the previous Atticus discs are easier to classify under the punk or emo categories, the third chapter contains much more of a mishmash of genres and styles. While this is great for the musically-cultured listener, it is a tough listen for single-genre-minded folk. On the whole, the tracks from the more popular acts are good – but not great. Many Taking Back Sunday and MxPx fans might find their bands’ cuts slightly disappointing. While Taking Back’s “Number Five with a Bullet” gets extra credit for its “High Fidelity” reference, the track is not up to the band’s usual standards. The song is a good emotionally driven rock song, no doubt, but it is not up to the group’s standards set by its breakout album “Tell All Your Friends.” The Motion City Soundtrack cut “1000 Paper Cranes” also falls along the same lines. While not as well known as Taking Back or Blink, the band does have a loyal following. And the majority of them know it has better songs. Again, the song is not bad by any means. It offers a jumpy style of post-punk complete with a well-incorporated moog. The drums rock the listener along, and by the end you very well could be jumping up and down. But they have even better songs that are not on display here.However, Blink’s cut “Not Now” proves the exception to the rule, as the veteran punk trio puts forth a quality tune. Musically, the song demonstrates the maturation of the band’s style. This is also demonstrated in the lyrics, as Mark Hoppus and Tom Delonge sing as though they are laying on their deathbeds coming to grips with the ever-approaching end. While the majority of the lesser-known acts on the album tend to blend together in a big mesh cloak of Taking Back Sunday / Thursday / Further Seems Forever-type music, there are a few diamonds in the rough that stand out.Lucero takes a big swing at originality, as it is essentially a punk-country band that somehow manages to cross Rancid with Johnny Cash. “Bike Riders” casually and almost perfectly blends these styles as lead singer Ben Nichols narrates a sad story of a biker romance from bar-room beginnings to sad bedroom endings.Also stepping up to the plate is the band Gratitude whose song, “This is the Part,” could very well be the best of the bunch. This San Francisco group starts the album off on the right foot with a nice big hook and a sound similar to Jimmy Eat World. Do not be surprised if you find yourself nodding your head and singing along before the end of the song.Other bands also try a little originality, but its members end up falling on their faces. VCR’s “Bratcore” is nothing more than a cheap attempt at dance-punk that ends up sounding a lot like a weird European night club where only the extremely weird venture out to the dance floor. Overall, the album has a depressing feel to it. Taking Back Sunday sings about dying miserable and alone, while Blink singers lament on their deathbeds. Death Cab for Cutie then sees nothing hopeful about New Year’s. This is mostly a product of the emotionally-driven style of music that flows through the majority of the bands on display, but it proves to be a downer anyway. While some of the song selections might be subpar, the diamonds in the rough make “Dragging the Lake Vol. 3” worth the listen.