Various Artists | Echoes from the Valley | Heck Records


Local Music Reviews

Various Artists

Heck Records
Street: 04.28

Heck Records Presents: ECHOES FROM THE VALLEY is an archeological find from a lost time of post-hardcore, post Y2K, and post 911. The songs on this compilation are a reflection of that time: enhanced existential crisis with raw nerve insecurities trying to shock a brave new world already in shock. 

It was definitely a new era and these bands let everything in: metal riffs, ska jumpiness, down stroke aggression, prog experimentation and math rock. Most vocals on this record range from an emotional Deafheaven growl, Tom DeLonge whine and Geddy Lee wail. 

I think it’s fair and necessary to name all the bands involved: Incamera, Form Of Rocket, Kyros, Lost Cause, Mr. Fusion and the Flux Capacitor, Abby Normal, Set In Motion, Alsoran, Blind The Fold, Instant Winner, Nimh, The Madman Chronicles (TMMC), Jacket Weather, Strickland, One Cent Stamp and The World Waits. Each band contributes amazing songs.

The best jump-in point for this review is The Madman Chronicles’ “The Baxter Aliens.” It’s mostly an all-guitar instrumental piece with intense drums and blistering vocals slipped in at the end. The track is a recipe for all the other tracks: start/stop, fast/slow, metal/math. It’s absolutely delicious and addictive.

The greatest dichotomy on the compilation comes from the difference in tone from the band Kyros and Instant Winner. Kyros delivers a slab of angst and anxiety with lyrics such as, “All the frustrations that this brings / So here I am standing alone in the ring.” Instant Winner turns around and delivers a ska-punk treasure with “Kate.” “Kate, she’s looking great / And she’s always open late.” The track is a straight up charmer with (dare I say it?) some synths, I believe. “She’s my pretty little angel / With the dust of the stars in her eyes / And she has a really nice tan / Cause she’s always out in the sun.” Good times!

Peter Makowski (guitar, vocals), Ben Dodds (bass, vocals), Curtis Jensen (guitar, vocals) and Tyler Smith (drums) make up Form Of Rocket, and the track “My Name is a Killing Word” is a math rock/hardcore head spinner. “The Indie Rockers and Hardcore Kids Are Gonna Team up & Kivk our Pop Punk Asses” by Abby Normal is my favorite track on the record, a somewhat slow roll that reads like a song Stephen Malkmus wrote for early Pavement. “And I dig that my‘ 80s nostalgia is more obscure than yours / What’s my prize? / How about a Transformer.” Schmidt sings, “And I think your ’90s nostalgia is a tad bit premature / But I’m not trying to be a social reformer.”

The only misstep on the entire record is not because of the song—the song is great. It just plays out uncomfortably in a new mass-shooting-week world. The band is Alsoran with a silly little song called “Wednesday”. “Last night I went to the bar to see the crocodile / Took out my gun, not feeling well / Want to see you smile.” Ugh. “Mom says it’s ok now / She forgives you for that thing you did.” The song is saved by a little Ella Fitzgerald skat at the end.

The record ends with some hope. Greg Wilson (guitar, vocals), Davey Danielson (guitar), Dave Clark (bass) and Chris Clark (percussion) of Jacket Weather contribute the beautifully trippy “Bluegaze” a lovely, Flaming Lips–like ditty. “The bluest night / With the moon on my mind /  I can rewrite everything.”

ECHOES FROM THE VALLEY compilation is equal part lost aughts treasures and equal part fresh bangers for 2023. This is a local scene that should not fade into history. I’m glad that Heck Records has given these bands and songs the respect and second look they deserve. –Russ Holsten

Read more on bands featured on ECHOES FROM THE VALLEY:
Just Don’t Give a Fuck So Much: Form of Rocket’s Tape Release