Various Artists

Damned For All Time: Volume 4

(National Dust)

Consumed in a single chunk, the previous three volumes of the Damned For All Time series rank as the most satisfying collection of late-century Portland punk/hardcore/etcetera served to date. This latest rodeo rounds up a walloping stampede of 35 bands who helped define the scene over the past decade and beyond: Sado-Nation, the Detonators, Defiance, Blackjack, Antiworld and so on. As with Volumes 1-3, a conscious attempt at stylistic variety is made. From surly hardcore (Bastard Children, Trophywife) and slurred '70s-revivals (the Riffs, Statch & the Rapes, Straitjacket) to melodically rich bursts of tuneful clamor (the Jimmies, Hellside Stranglers), DFAT4 rips. In contrast to earlier installments, however, Volume 4 also wallows in much more redneck rawk-'n'-roll sleaze. This is both a blessing and curse. Typical Pabst-blasts from Fireballs of Freedom, the Weaklings, Lopez, 8 Foot Tender and SK & the Punk Ass Bitches--heavy on frantic guitar leads and frenzied "yeah-yeah-yeahs"--show why they're the darlings of the party-hearty hellion set. But sometimes the white-trash guitar bashing sounds like a devolution to the days when Portland was overrun by lumberjacks and cowboys who'd rather run punks down with their pickups than share a beer with them at the Vern. It's the flipside result, I suppose, of intentionally shunning both the golden varnish of nu-skool mall-punk and the self-righteous shine of Portland's notorious political correctness. So even if Naked Violence's raunchy sex manifesto "Stick It In" is the most embarrassing example of misguided braggadocio since Black Flag's "Slip It In," at least you won't have to listen to emo. (John Graham)

Various Artists


Jus Family Records

After a two-year absence, Portland's Jus Family Records is back with another release of what owner Terrance Scott calls "Hood Hip-Hop." Scott, a.k.a. Cool Nutz, claims he is bridging the gap between positive hip-hop and gangsta rap, and that Collabos pushes that idea forward. But with its nearly subsonic beats and harmonic minor melodies, the label's latest collaborative effort resembles little more than a darker version of corporate rap radio. In the search for the "platinum plaques" that E-Dawg raps about on "It's all Hip-Hop" the effort falls short. Most of the songs, like "Done Deal" (featuring Maniac Lok, B-Legit & G-Ism) and "First Time I Seent Her" (Cool Nutz, Mac Dre & Phranchise), spend 20 seconds establishing beats that don't need more than a measure. While the beats are technically interesting, they plod along at a monotonous pace. There aren't enough layers in the music to keep it interesting outside of the catchy hooks, which are few and far between. The voices resonate, but the lyrics are trite. With 29 different MCs and producers involved, it's surprising that no one thought to put more work into the vision of the songs. Bosko, the main producer of the album and Scott's partner in Jus Family, succumbs to the album's pitfalls on "Done Deal" but is able to salvage a couple of good tracks, namely the lush and party-ready "One Time" and "Behind the Scenes." Despite these few songs that invite a larger audience ready to bob heads, Collabos finds Jus Family staying true to its name: making music that is just for its own family. These guys should focus more on the music, figure out what's working, what's not, and forget about that platinum plaque. (David Gerritsen)