Free samplers are interesting little things to review. Firstly, as with all compilations, you have to try and judge a number of bands (in this case, 21) in the space of a few paragraphs and with just a single song from each to aid you. On top of that, your opinion is somewhat irrelevant when every reader could download the whole thing (legally!) and make their own mind up in roughly the same amount of time it would take them to read your review.
Anyway, I’ll have to do what I can. Here we have Giantly Rad: Volume One, a sampler put together by Giant MKT and featuring the label’s bands alongside a host of their friends and acquaintances. The list has a couple of somewhat bigger names (Man Overboard and Pentimento), but it is filled largely with bands I’d never heard of before. Great, that’s what samplers are for, right?
After the first listen through, perhaps the most striking thing is the variety of genres represented. Almost the entire spectrum of rock music is featured and there is even a hip hop track thrown in for good measure. As a result of the alphabetical track listing, the sampler feels very disjointed when you listen to the whole thing – as you jerk from one genre to the next. That’s not particularly surprising for a sampler though and the variety means that everyone should be able to find at least one band that tickles their fancy.
Aside from the bigger names, You Blew It! and Crash Island are two of the stand-out acts from the poppier end of the spectrum and, although some of the heavier stuff on here isn’t to my tastes, it’s difficult to deny the epic feel of the contribution from Monotheist. There isn’t a whole lot in the middle ground between catchy and brutal, but Old Ivy throw in a decent track of post-hardcore that will remind many of La Dispute. The sole hip hop track from Stranger Day is also thoroughly enjoyable and has a laid-back feel that allows some respite from the more angry and angsty offerings.
Apart from going through each band one by one, there isn’t a whole lot more that can be said about a release that does exactly what you’d expect of a sampler. And there’s really no good reason not to download it and see for yourself. You won’t listen to it in full more than maybe a couple of times, but it’ll give you a few bands to check out more closely.