V/A "If It Plays..."

Background information :
Peoria, Illinois is a moderately sized city in central-Illinois.  Its largest employer is Caterpillar, Inc., a financial and manufacturing business (largely known for its earthmoving equipment) whose world headquarters is based there.  Peoria, Illinois is also home to Thinker Thought Records, The Forecast, Scouts Honor, Minsk, and The Amazing Kill-O-Watts, along with being the original home of Richard Pryor, Planes Mistaken for Stars, and (some would say unfortunately) Mudvayne.

Fittingly, the underground music scene in Peoria is consistently moderate, never disappearing and never quite thriving.  However, this scene does exist, which is why “If It Plays…” has come about.  “If It Plays…” (Referring to the old entertainment phrase, “If It Plays In Peoria, It Will Play Anywhere”) is a compilation CD of 19 unreleased and rare tracks by bands that either have toured through Peoria, live in Peoria, or claim origins in Peoria.

Warning: This CD crosses over genres repeatedly, as Thinker Thought Records and the Peoria music scene both strive to be supportive of good music and not a style of music.  Keep that in mind when folk moves into hardcore moves into pop moves into rock.  Also, note that the inside of the CD’s booklet contains 80 photographs of 80 different bands playing in Peoria.  These photographs are only the smallest sampling of the music scene, but it’s a start

THI 008 - V/A "If It Plays..."

THI 008 - Various Artists "If It Plays... " 19-song CD
RELEASE DATE: June 29, 2004
PDF Press Kit
BUY IT NOW: Interpunk & iTunes

Track Listing:
1. Sorest of Eyes (William Elliott Whitmore)
2. White Wings of Death Scatter Our Days (Minsk)
3. No One Will Ever Love You (The Velvet Teen)
4. Nevermind the Amputees, Let’s Have Sex (The Great Redneck Hope)
5. There Wasn’t a Cloud in the Sky (The Lesser Birds of Paradise)
6. You Are The Paper (Rescue)
7. Counted Miles - Alternate Version (Lewis & Clarke)
8. Better Than Last Time - Featuring Elizabeth Elmore of The Reputation (The Red Hot Valentines)
9. Perspectively (Steven)
10. Somebody Call an Ambulance (The Forecast)
11. I Accept L. Ron Hubbard as My Personal Savior (Dead Like Dallas)
12. Every Night (Scouts Honor)
13. You’ll Never Learn (1090 Club)
14. If I Never Ever See You Again (The Amazing Kill-o-watts)
15. To the Person Who Finds Meaning in Everything, I Scream (Fed By Fiction)
16. Seventy-Seven (Planes Mistaken for Stars)
17. Under the Rust (Paint Out the Light)
18. Don’t Even Get Me Started on Jebus - Alternate Version (The New Trust)
19. Silt City (Victim of Modern Age)

“If it plays…in Peoria, it will play anywhere”—so goes the old cliché, which lends its name to this compilation and can be traced back to the days of vaudeville. As life is a bundle of ironies, it just so happens that besides being a Peoria-area native, I also promoted shows and ran a small record label there for several years in the mid-nineties; surely it is no accident that I was assigned this CD to review. In the end, my fledgling label only managed to produce two releases: a 1995 compilation of twelve Peoria bands called, appropriately enough, Now Playing in Peoria, and a 7” by my pop-punk band of brothers Dismiss. Some of the Dismiss guys would later get hairier, form the band Planes Mistaken for Stars, and move to Denver, but they would never forget ol' P-town. Their inclusion on If It Plays, then, nine years after Dismiss’ appearance on Now Playing, brings the lineage of this obscure, underappreciated Midwest scene full-circle. Unlike its predecessor, however, If It Plays does not limit itself to Peoria-based bands but rather to any bands that have recently played there, which, in the end, makes for a far stronger collection of songs. It allows William Elliott Whitmore’s raspy folk primitivism to lead right into the pummeling stoner metal of Minsk and sandwiches the Converge-like math-metal of The Great Redneck Hope between the indie pop of The Velvet Teen and The Lesser Birds of Paradise. Polyvinyl’s The Red Hot Valentines make an appearance, and of course, there is the exclusive, unreleased track from Planes Mistaken for Stars. In a just world, this outstanding, eclectic collection would lift the veil of obscurity from this overshadowed central Illinois town." - Jon Wright/Skyscraper Magazine

"Compilations from small indie labels (such as If it Plays ... from Illinois's Thinker Thought Records) tend to offer a variety - in this case country (William Elliott Whitmore), metal (Minsk, Paint Out The Light), punk (The Great Redneck Hope), acoustic rock (Steven) and more - hoping that there will something for each listener who comes across it. And If It Plays ... makes good on that attempt. Highlights include The Velvet Teen's earnest cover of Magnetic Fields' No One Will Ever Love You, the playful quirkiness of There Wasn't a Playful Cloud in the Sky from The Lesser Birds of Paradise, the moody Counted Miles (Alternate) by Lewis & Clarke, the power pop of Better Than Last Time from The Red Hot Valentines, the grandiose guitar rock of The Forecast on Somebody Call An Ambulance, the lovely frailty of the 1090 Club's You'll Never Learn, and the Slint-esque epic Silt City from Victims of a Modern Age. Something for everyone."- Ben Kreider/The Star Press

"Upon putting the CD into my player, I was greeted by a light, acoustic-country song by William Elliot Whitmore. I thought, "Hey... rad!" The next song was a complete opposite of it's predecessor. This song's dark atmosphere was flawlessly created by a band called Minsk.
Honestly, the CD is amazing. It focuses on the Peoria, Illinois scene and is jam-packed with unreleased & rare tracks from bands such as Planes Mistaken for Stars, the Velvet Teen, the Red Hot Valentines, and so much more. It's got a plethora of genres... everything from "circle takes the square" sound-alikes to synth-driven power pop. It's one of the best comps. I've heard in awhile and it's well worth your $$$. Grade: A-" - Ryan/Wake Magazine

"Thinker Thought Records serves up an eclectic mix of sounds and styles on this 19-song compilation. There's a little something here for everyone: the sparse country of William Elliott Whitmore, the full-on sonic bludgeoning from Minsk, the Great Redneck Hope, and Paint Out the Light, the unadulterated indie pop of the Lesser Birds of Paradise, and a cool cover of the Magnetic Fields' "No One Will Ever Love You" by the Velvet Teen. Try it, you'll like it." - CL/Impact Press

"...If It Plays' multiple personalities appear immediately; a good-natured folk/country cut by William Elliott Whitmore is followed by a significantly more evil contribution from metal band Minsk. The mood changes again with the Velvet Teen, who give an uncharacteristically simplistic performance with their cover of The Magnetic Fields' "No One Will Ever Love You". That's not to say it's bad, though; Judah Nagler's vocals are in top form, and the band's version of the song is put together quite well. Rescue's "You are the Paper" is something like an odd marriage of recent Cursive to varied punk and math-rock influences. Lead singer Al Scheurman sounds vaguely Kasher-esque, and the guitars and drums seem to never stop changing. If you can make it to the end without getting a headache, it's an interesting listen. Other highlights include the Great Redneck Hope's one-minute exercise in violent spazz (which pretty much describes their live show, as well), the sunny, old-fashioned pop of the Lesser Birds of Paradise and Lewis and Clarke's slow-burning, harmonica-laced melancholy." - Chris Skillern/Splendid