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Always a Pleasure

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Album Review

The fact that Compound Red were even able to make an album after the departure of longtime lead singer John Lyman is a testament to their durability; new singer Greg Steffke has an earnest, choir boy-ish voice that pushes the band even closer to the emo sound espoused by their Milwaukee contemporaries and friends the Promise Ring. Nearly all of the songs have a melodic, mildly catchy lilt with the occasional harder rock & roll breakdown. Herein lies the album's biggest drawback: nearly all of the songs sound the same; the yearning, pleading guitars repeat over and over, and Dave Henderleiter continues his marshal, almost militaristic drumming style throughout. None of this is inherently bad; it's just repetitive. They clearly have the over-earnest emo/math rock thing down, but one wishes they could grow beyond that song structure. As a stand-alone album, Always a Pleasure serves as a sort of background music emo record; the songs don't leap out at you, but are pleasant and accomplished enough to float by in the background. "Volcano Kisses" is the notable exception: with a hushed verse and exploding chorus, Compound Red use their strengths to make one standout song to break up the homogeneity.


Formed: Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s

Based out of the Mid-Western semi-metropolis of Milwaukee, Wisconsin -where cheese, beer and the Promise Ring being the three most popular exports- is where Compound Red got their start. Consisting of Andy Reis (bass), Mike Allen (guitar), Dave Henderleiter (drums) and John Lyman (vocals), the Red reinforced the sound of melodic guitars, complexed rhythms and screamy vocals -first brought on by the likes of Drive Like Jehu, Fugazi and Cap ‘n Jazz. Displayed on their 1995 full-length Mr. Microcosm,...
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Always a Pleasure, Compound Red
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