If you’ve ever desired a birds-eye microcosm, or for that matter a handy summation of the goings-on within the still-fertile Ohio indie rock circuit, the folks at Aqua Bear Legion have made it all to easy for you – over the course of a beautiful, double gatefold album no less, for their fifth installment in the various artists series of the same name. Yes, it’s everybody’s favorite swing state – the one that’s “HI” in the middle and round at both ends, home to such stalwarts as Guided By Voices, the New Bomb Turks…and Nine Inch Nails. You’ll find nothing that sounds like the latter of those here mind you. In fact, ABL 5.0 kicks things off with a jangly bang from Joseph Airport, loosely in the mold of the aforementioned GBV before they lost their coveted charm. One of only two participants here I’ve dedicated Wilfully Obscure text prior to today is Connections, whose “Everybody’s High” is exclusive to this wax, and is almost as much fun as the proceedings on their Private Airplane and Body Language platters. Their Pollard/Sprout fixation appears to be waning I might add, or perhaps this is just a quick respite. Elsewhere Herzog soak up seBADoh’s classic aplomb like they were a damn dry sponge, WV White keep the guitarsy slacker momentum going, the D-Rays serve up a surfy surprise and The Guitars split the diff between Brit Invasion acumen and power pop prowess. And we haven’t even gotten to disk two yet (but we’re fixin’ to right now).
The remaining half of ABL 5 trends in a more angular direction. There’s scuzzy punk, and oodles of it – Dead Hand of Man, Weird Science and Kid Tested. Cleveland’s Murderedman wallow in sludgy, Melvins-esque muck, while Hookers Made of Cocaine are the debauched barrel of monkeys their moniker capably suggests. Wry popmeisters the Kyle Sowaches are present with a commendable new song, and Dayton residents The 84 Draft close this affair out on a sobering, slow burning note with “Scarlet & Cream.” BTW, about half of the tunes on this comp are exclusive tracks. You can order this on handsome, clear blue vinyl, or go the digital route if a bargain is what you have in mind.