Record Review - 4 January 30 2002

In the liner notes, Troubleman Unlimited founder Mike Simonetti cites a truckload of well-regarded punk comps — Kill Rock Stars, Flex Your Head, Let Them Eat Jellybeans and a dozen others — as inspiration for this absurdly ambitious four-years-in-the-making punk-etc. double CD. But Simonetti's undertaking is wider in scope than those of his models — which is both a strength and a weakness.

The good news: While Troubleman Mix-Tape might miss its target as a mass inventory of the indie-rock underground's best and brightest, it's more interesting, and more entertaining, than most narrower, more perfectly realized compilations. It may not be definitive, but it is adorable. The bad news: Too many of the songs are tossed-off style exposition and not-quite-together experiments.

Yet I keep putting it on. There's something heroic in Simonetti's act of faith. He doesn't just create the perfect mix tape, he actually wills it into being (though you'll still want to punch the next band whose lyrics go, "Ahhh! Waauuhh! AAAHHH! WAAAUUHHH!").

Troubleman's dynamic range allows the highlights to stand out even more, especially since much of the best stuff is the most anomalous. I'll take Pixeltan's "Itchy Cable" over any tune associated with New York's overrated Electroclash posse you can name. Petty Crime's pouting yelps segue fabulously into the chanking post-funk (think early-'80s New York outfits Pigbag and the Bush Tetras) of !!!, a name pronounced (as singer Nic Offer puts it on the group's "Freak the Funk") as "any three repetitive sounds you wanna make."??