The Compound - Say It Again NowSelf-Released, 2012
Say It Again Now is a hard record to pin down precisely because of the plethora of influences on display, resulting in a collection that, while only eight songs and 25 minutes in length, is far more diverse thank your average modern rock rock album. The aggressive guitar lines of the first two songs (the propulsive title track and the aforementioned "When I'm Away") morph into the southern rock drawl of "Memories," a song with a riff so sweepingly familiar that I swore I'd heard it before. "Memories" is the immediate stand-out on the record, a song that is at once both classic and remarkably fresh, and that it builds to a remarkable showcase for guitarist Simon Talevski (who also fills piano and synth duties, among others) doesn't hurt either.
Lowe gets his own shining moment on "Turning the Tables," laying down some impressive bass licks, in addition to sounding his most innately Buckley-ish on vocals, a compliment in and of itself for those familar with the late singer. Album highlight "Blues (Has Got Me By the Balls)" sounds like a Paul McCartney outtake, with a thumping piano line, dreamy back-up vocals, and some bluesy guitar accents straight out of the '70s. The Beatles influence is felt just as strongly on "Feels So Good," which builds from a softly ambient intro to a brilliantly soulful bridge, while "Holiday Heartache" lands somewhere between "I Want You/She's So Heavy" from Abbey Road (my favorite Beatles record) and the Red Hot Chili Peppers: believe me when I say that the combination is more successful than it sounds on paper.
The only problem with The Compound's shape-shifting sound is that Say It Again Now ends up feeling like a record distinctly lacking in any semblance of flow. That the album closes with "Enjoy Your Summer," an entirely instrumental track, proves this point perfectly. While they write terrific songs and have undeniable chops (nothing proves this more than the closer, which gives all three members showcases for their talents), The Compound seem like a band more tailor made for the live concert experience than for the album listening one. But ultimately, despite the fact that Say It Again Now does not equal more than the sum of its parts as a record, it's still a stellar collection of songs without a discernable weak point, and it still represents the work of three musicians with talents that should absolutely not be ignored. And since the entire record is available for free download, in high quality, directly from the band, I can see no argument for not checking it out and spending a half hour with these three gentlemen and their bevy of influences: there couldn't possibly be a better price to discover one of the best unsigned bands I've heard in ages.