"Everything" really IS nice
E. A Solinas | MD USA | 04/17/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I owe a debt to Matador Records' "Everything Is Nice" compilation,. It was through these three discs that I was originally introduced to many of my now-favorite bands, including Solex, Nightmares on Wax, Pizzicato Five, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, and many others.
But enough of reminiscing. "Everything Is Nice" was a tenth anniversary collection of many of their best bands, originally released in 1999. (They've since released a fifteenth anniversary collection. Only four more years til we get a twentieth). It's not only a good cross-section of the best and most timeless work here, but also a fun listen, and a good introduction to some good music.
Several indie-rock staples were signed onto Matador over the years, and they are given places of honor: the gone-but-never-forgotten Pavement, excellent Guided by Voices and Modest Mouse, as well as other outstanding bands like Mogwai, Cat Power, Sleator-Kinney and Yo La Tengo. Often these bands get more than one song.
But Matador also gives the spotlight to lesser known bands and artists. For example, the ultra-creative Cornelius and Japanese pop band Pizzicato Five, the swipping beats of Jega, fuzzed-out chords of Bardo Pond, and chilled-out grooves of Nightmares on Wax. There's also the quirkiness of Solex, electronic tsunami of VOID, sped-up hip-hop of the Arsonists and Non Phixion, the mellow keyboard of Mary Timony, and the danceable beats of Khan.
Okay, sprinkled here and there are a few duds. I have to admit that Chavez is not my favorite -- I can only take a few explosive chords at a time, unless Billy Corgan is playing them. However, those few songs are overshadowed by the excellent -- sometimes ingenious -- music that surrounds them on all sides. Pop, electronica, rock, hard-rock, experimental -- it's all here.
While Matador plays it safe to some degree, with a little of everything (as well as their best bands) that has been most popular for them, they also include some less conventional songs, such as Cornelius's dizzying "Count Five or Six," or the grimy, bare rock of Unwound's "NO TECH!" Neither is really pretty or catchy, but they are definitely compelling.
I'll admit it -- I have a soft spot for this tenth-anniversary collection, since it kicked me into my present love of music. And for those investigating the best bands never (or at least rarely) seen on MTV, this is an ideal springboard."