Quirky alt-rockers Fatigo sound very much like a mixture of XTC and They Might Be Giants on "Harps and Sandals" -- during certain phrases, singer Mike Montoya is definitely channeling XTC's "Generals and Majors." World Class Thugs create moody swing with "Rats Dream of Mazes," which calls on the rockabilly tradition, and After Any Accident is perhaps the most traditional-sounding outfit on the disc, borrowing from classic, bass-driven punk rock.
One thing shared by almost all the bands on This is their rejection of the traditional three-minute pop song -- tracks such as After Any Accident's "Fire in the Hall" have extended intros that are quickly abandoned and serve no other purpose than as distractions. The last track, the Minibosses' "Castlevania III," seems like an eight-minute homage to Frankenstein director James Whale -- an unusual, instrumental narrative seemingly complete with plot and action sequences, even though the listener has no idea what exactly the story is, an uncanny effect.
The outfit with the best name and best song on the disc is the Budget Sinatra. "Fish in a Barrel" is a seething rock song that sounds like a jacked-up schoolyard taunt -- "Nanny, nanny, boo, boo" -- packaged in leather and a venomous delivery. Lulu in Hollywood is also notable for its Portishead-like, moody groove "Gravity."
Besides the disc's generous helping of independent rock, the compilation also suggests that there are local bands defining a new sound in the Valley, an imaginative sound that depends more on mood and tempo than intensity and ostentation.