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May 18, 2024

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Honest Don's Welcome Wagon (Honest Don's Hardly Rude Recordings/P.O. Box 192027/San Francisco, CA 94119)

By: Alex Steininger

Have you ever been curious about what sound you should "label" a label? Some are diverse, and some labels have bands that sound exactly the same throughout their catalog. Have you heard one band that you really like on a label, and want to know what the rest of their bands sound like? If your like me, and many others, compilations showcasing a label's bands are a very good idea.

With many artists recording full-length albums, 7" records, and various other stuff for Honest Don's Hardly Rude Records they thought it would be time to release an album showcasing everything involved with them. Honest Don's Welcome Wagon is that compilation. Kicking the CD off is their very own ska-pop/punk band, Mad Caddies. "No Se" is their contribution to this fourteen track recording. Skankable beats line the song, while the chorus rips through your mind with it's thick and chunky punk beats. The Riverdales contribute "Make Way," a very Ramones sounding punk anthem. The guitars scream all the way through the song, while the drums pound furiously into your mind. All the while the bass is thumping it's way furiously through the song. If you like the Ramones, you'll love this song! Another band to add to this album is Dance Hall Crashers with "Pick Up Lines." Dueling female vocals sound like a great idea on paper, but on this track it works against them. The vocals sound annoying, and the band doesn't make up for it with musical power. The song is very ordinary, and after a few listens it will still go right through your ear as "just another song from just another band." The one thing good about this song are the horns (which they have now dropped.) A damn shame too, because they add beauty and tranquillity to this annoying attempt pop-ska. Wanna be punk? Let Diesel Boy show you how with "Punk Rock 101." A fast assault of guitars, hammering bass, and lightning quick drum beats sure to make you move will teach you all about punk rock. The vocals are raw and rough, adding even more of a "punk rock" touch to the song. The song is catchy and powerful at the same time. They don't sacrifice anything, and still maintain a very infection edge to this song. J Church slows down the pace with "Alone When She Dies." Guitar beats that trade off from chunky to light give the song a strong edge, while the bass and drums play together to make you shake your legs and tap your toes along with every beat. The song itself is very emotional, about a boy living without his beloved grandmother. The music and emotional lyrics are combined in equal portion with the output being a song you can listen to and have lots of fun too, but also you can sit down and absorb the pain if your feeling into an emotional mood. A double purpose song, and they pull it off quite nice. Those funny guys from various influential punk bands across the U.S. finish off the album with a cover of "Rocket Man." Of course I'm talking about the best cover band in the land, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes. The thick bass lines give the song all the depth it needs, while the vocals add extra emotion and depth to the song. The guitars are able to direct your attention to them with their fuzzy strikes, and the drums keep time with precise accuracy. Other bands to appear on the compilation are: Limp, Chixdiggit, The Other, Teen Idols, and Submissives.

What a great compilation for a single label compilation. I've seen some great single label compilations, as well as some horrible ones. This one ranks up in the good category. With enough diversity in the songs to keep your attention, and enough familiarity to keep you singing along, it seems Honest Don's have created a nice mix of bands on their label. I'll give this CD a B-. Compilations are good for awhile, but lose their flavor after several listens. But the purpose of this album is served quite well. To generate interest in their label and bands, and that's exactly what it does.

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