[GUILTY PLEASURES] Grown Zone
—the third of States Rights' “Zone” compilations—is positively overwhelming. Topping out at 150 minutes, the two-disc comp features 36 artists who've come together to musically confront their “shameful” influences. (The comp is alternately called “Groan Zone.”) Some of the artists showcased are significant Portland underground names: Valet, White Rainbow, YACHT (who finally shows us his true grunge aptitude), Bobby Birdman (a Portland export). Others—Jason Anderson Presents the Weather Channel or The Mouth & The Bone, for instance—are contributors you may never hear from again.
For the most part, the better-known artists on the comp use their tracks to get even weirder than their usual work would portend. Valet's “Lover Come Home” hardly contains the haunting drones of her debut, Blood Is Clean
; rather, it has the sound of a Northwest teenager recording elementary grunge music in her bedroom. As she explains in the liner notes (which describe the impetus for each artist's contribution): “I set out to make a hardcore song to sort of relive high school.” Bobby Birdman's track, on the other hand, is a droning, sad, totally earnest cover of Sublime's “Hope” that could singlehandedly make Sublime cool, or at least interesting, again. And White Rainbow's Adam Forkner—who contributed one track to each disc—uses his offerings to pay homage to Ween and Primus, his two favorite high-school bands.
Amid notables and one-offs, there are plenty of relatively unexposed, up-and-coming folks on the comp as well: The Blow-y World Court contributes a nice electro-pop cover of antiwar standard “Freedom” (hardly shameful). And Grown Zone
includes the first-ever released Atole track (finally!), a giddy play of stuttering, chopped-'n'-screwed samples titled “Nightvision.”
Of course, there are bound to be a few duds on something this massive, too: An attempt at Girl Talk mash-up greatness by Jib Kidder is downright abrasive (mucho
intentional skipping). And the Do'n Dudes track, an '80s dance throwback that may rouse a basement party, is unremarkable on record. Both fail to fully escape the “groan zones” of their origin, but they also embody the promise of growth—which, in the end, is the central idea of the comp: To make “what was loathsome...vital.”
Grown Zone is available at statesrightsrecords.com.