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May 2, 2004

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Ironic name. Fifteen years ago, as punk repoliticised and got hard around the DC renaissance, two teenagers in Delaware got hooked on the kind of DIY ethos that flourished at Dischord records. Tim Owen and Darren Walters put out a handful of hardcore CDs as individuals, and then in 1990 hooked up and started putting out the brightest and bravest of the Northeast’s underground. Jade Tree made early ground with successes from New Jersey’s Lifetime and emo-forefathers The Promise Ring. From a teenage hobby, JT became a medium-to-big cheese across the 90s, and is now one of the most accomplished and consistent indie operations of its kind. And while they specialise in the punk ethos, Location... showcases the musical diversity that flourishes on the punk scene.

Of course like any sampler, this is destined to be a curate’s egg, and both musical style and quality vary somewhat. These Arms Are Snakes are allowed to open proceedings with their nasty, noisy nonsense. It’s misleading though, as such hardcore uniformity is often defied here. While Paint it Black are as tough as boots, Kid Dynamite offer some serious speedcore, and Jets to Brazil, sadly, peddle sub-Neds Atomic Dustbin indie angst, there are such gems as the arty ennui of Joan of Arc, whose Dead Together sounds like beautiful early Lou Reed, all drug-hangovers and mal du siècle. Pedro the Lion demonstrate, quite marvellously, the continuing legacy of Kurt Cobain, not by aping the much-missed singer, but by going back to the underground that fed his work. Denali sound like PJ Harvey, or possibly Patti Smith, which is no bad thing at all, and an honourable mention must also go to Onelinedrawing, whose We Had a Deal is a fine piece of emo.

You may already have the albums that some of the best tracks on this album come from (and if you’ve got vol 1, can you send me a copy please, ‘cos I don’t), but there’s enough here for fans of punk, emo and hardcore to be worth a delve. Jade Tree have demonstrated daring, integrity, and a little bit of musical perversion. Try it, you might like it. 7/10

No Ripcord

Ben Bollig