So here we are, right at the cusp of 2005, entering a brand new year full of hopes and musical promise. There’s already a nice looking lineup of upcoming releases out there, as well as plenty of undiscovered talent just waiting to be heard. But I can’t imagine a better way to start the New Year than with a compilation consisting of mostly new and unheard music. So I embark upon 2005 with a listen to Preserve, Volume One, a compilation released by Fractured Discs to benefit the Carnivore Preservation Trust, a non-profit organization that provides sanctuary for animals and helps preserve the environment.
Now, as far as the talent goes, Preserve offers many familiar names: Decemberists, Denison Witmer, Ben Davis, The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up and M. Ward, to name a few. These bands, for many, will most likely be the selling point, as I don’t know of too many Decemberists fans that could pass up the chance to hear new and rare Meloy-penned gems. Their contribution to the comp., “Like a Lion,” is one of the most unusual contributions by the group, bearing little resemblance to the lush and whimsical compositions on Her Majesty or Castaways and Cutouts. Instead, the song is mainly a Colin Meloy solo effort, using a plethora of bizarre samples in place of extra instrumentation. Most of the other artists’ contributions, however, probably won’t surprise fans quite as much.
The album is largely quiet and subdued, as most of the artists stick with laid-back acoustic numbers, all of which are quite nice. Norfolk and Western’s “Ancient Cry” is soothing and breezy. Shearwater’s “Remember the Tiger” is pretty and spacious. M. Ward & Mike Coykendale’s “O Lazy Days” is mostly what the title suggests, a lazy, but folky tune that’s fun and carefree. And The Verna Cannon’s “Sunday Feels Like Goodbye” is so dreamy, it could lull you to sleep.
There are a few peppier moments, however, which help to break up the otherwise overwhelmingly lazy tone of the record. T.W. Walsh’s “Boxing Lesson” is one of the few tracks to use distortion. Work Clothes play it fast and poppy with “The Flying Bishop.” And Wow and Flutter’s eight-minute centerpiece is the most densely layered track on the entire compilation.
The familiar names will lure you into picking up Preserve, but the high level of talent throughout the record will reassure you in your decision to do so. With any luck, we’ll hear more great music from all of these artists, and in the meantime, we can feel good in our decision to support a good cause.
Various artists – Don’t Know When I’ll Be Back Home
Various artists – Some Songs
Various artists – Flag
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.