Various Artists

Suicide Squeeze Records Presents Forever Singles

$ 7.99

Like many of the great independent record labels of the ‘90s, Suicide Squeeze started off as a hobby. And like so many other hobby labels, Suicide Squeeze’s first ventures were 7” singles. But whereas many upstarts plodded through a series of crudely assembled debut records by short-lived and long-forgotten friends’ bands, the Seattle label hit the ground running with a stream of well-packaged singles by beloved Northwest artists--764-Hero, Pedro The Lion, Elliot Smith, and Modest Mouse, to name a few. Not surprisingly, the quality of these early releases helped catapult the label into a full-time operation with a varied roster of artists like Minus The Bear, Hella, Cotton Jones, The Coathangers, and This Will Destroy You. Suicide Squeeze’s ascent coincided with the rise of mp3s and music blogs--a development which helped expand the indie rock’s sphere of influence, but which also relegated the 7” format to near obscurity in the early years of the new millennium. Yet even during the vinyl lull, Suicide Squeeze was cranking out 7”s by crucial artists like Black Keys, Melvins, Of Montreal, and Black Heart Procession. Many of these early singles wound up on the label’s 10-year-anniversary CD collection Slaying Since 1996.

Whether a testament to the enduring allure of vinyl or the quality of the artists on the roster, Suicide Squeeze continues to make 7”s. And in this era of renewed interest in vinyl, the label’s limited-run releases sell out quickly. Lucky collectors continue to enjoy the vinyl, and the dedicated fans always have the option to download the mp3s. But what’s the better plan for making these recordings endure for posterity? To add mp3s to the ever-expanding annals of the internet, or to create a new slab of wax capturing the best singles Suicide Squeeze has had to offer in recent years? Not content with limiting the songs to the former, the Seattle indie label is going for the latter, culling some of their finest tracks for the compilation album Suicide Squeeze Presents: Forever Singles.

The LP captures the rowdy garage rock of The Coathangers and Davilla 666, the scraggly dirt-ridden guitars of JEFF the Brotherhood and Heavy Cream, the nostalgic ‘60s girl-group melodies of Bleached and La Luz, the exuberant power pop of Audacity, King Tuff, Nobunny, and Meat Market, the hazy noir soundtrack of Dirty Beaches, the vitriolic basement-show noise-punk of Nu Sensae, the sinister post-punk of Wax Idols, and the West Texas-bred Twin Reverb rock of The Numerators. Bundled together onto one record, the collection perfectly captures the spirit of Suicide Squeeze in the current decade: rambunctious youthful urgency tempered with a hat tip to rock n’ roll’s gritty unsung heroes of the past.

In keeping with the limited-edition nature of the 7”s, Forever Singles will be released on 1000 hand-numbered colored vinyl. And while the compilation is a vital documentation of the Northwest label’s continuing commitment to bold and brash new artists, it’s also a solid reminder of rock music’s humble beginning on dusty old ‘45s.

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