In the 1950s when pop music was in it’s infancy, recording labels utilized the marketing strategy of compilation albums to spread the word of artist on their rosters. Taking a song from each act, placing it on one album and selling it at a discount price, was a win for everyone involved. Bands got free press, labels had a platform to showcase what they were all about, and the listeners were treated to a full length LP featuring songs from many of their favorite bands, all at a reasonable price.
This technique continued throughout the 60s and the early 70s until the industry shift went from single driven to album driven. By the time the 80s came around, the only compilations being released were from underground punk labels. While those releases were important to that particular genre, the format was all but dead. A brief resurgence in the 1990s came in the way of soundtrack albums to major Hollywood movies. Albums compiling music from different artists, all sold as promotion to the film they were featured in. Later in the scene, these albums featured songs that weren’t even in the movie, so in spirit, these soundtrack albums were merely Hollywood sponsored compilation albums.
Today in the age of downloads and streams, major recording labels releasing compilations, is completely heard of. In someways,compilations could backfire in terms of sales. Why buy an album from an artist when you only like one song? Buying a compilation album made up of your label’s “hits” instead of the respective albums, could mean the difference of profiting twelve hundred dollars and twelve million dollars.
However with the battle of the format raging on, indie labels have found their groove (no pun intended) in the way of vinyl releases. Not only are these labels capitalizing on the nation’s recent infatuation with the format, but they also cater to the collector in all of us, offering multiple color variants and limited runs. Collecting music has become fun again!
One indie label, Mystical Records, has decided to revive the long dead, compilation format, with their very own sampler series. Now in their fifteen year of operation, Mystical Records is home to over 20 indie artists, so putting together a collection of songs is not a big problem.
With their second edition of their sampler series, 2015 saw the release of Mystical Records: Sampler Series Vol. 2. and what blows me away about the release, is the diversity in the collection. Instead of focusing on one certain genre or general flavor, Mystical has taken it upon themselves to take a page out of history and release a legitimate compilation that plays as a best of the best from the label just like the early days of these particular releases.
Rock, punk, avant-garde, soul, and even a hint of hip-hop all make appearances across the 12 tracks on the album making it an extremely diverse collection. Not one band sounds like the next, and each song houses it’s own skill set of surprise and excitement. If you are into synth driven chill tracks, there’s something here for you in Michael & The Wild Roses’ “Baby Doll Face”. If you are into the punk-esque swagger of gritty garage rock, you will dig “Munster” by The Bay Gulls. If mysterious avant-garde-folk is your think, Solomon West’s track “Honey Honey Honey Honey” will be just what the doctor ordered. That’s just to name a few!
Mystical Records are a fantastic indie label and this compilation celebrates not only their artists, but diversity in indie music in general. There is a reason why many artists prefer to be part of smaller labels opposed to the Big Three that run the mainstream radio monopoly, and that’s the freedom to express themselves how they see fit instead of following a trend. If you are looking for something exciting, wholesome, and maybe even a bit daring, I highly recommend Mystical Records: Sampler Series Vol. 2., It’s available in a couple different variants in a very limited number. After that purchase, I promise you will be buying music from one of the featured artists!
For more info on the label, it’s artists, and to purchase the sampler, please visit the official site of Mystical Records