By: Hunter Funk
The October 1 release of the Dillo Milk 2 compilation marked the culmination of several months’ hard work by Austin’s DIY scene to present a comprehensive glimpse of its many artists in a single volume. 18 acts participated in the recording, and the result is a vibrant array of tracks from across the punk, post-punk and rock spectrum.
Leche kicks things off with raucous "cow-punk" bracer “Talley’s Final Stand,” full of non sequitur lyrical nods to Jamba Juice and pipe bombs. Night Court’s “Robert Dixon” coasts on a churning tempo and a memorable breakdown. Popper Burns offers longtime live staple “Sometimes,” now fully matured and imbued with newfound ferocity. Patty Melt’s edgy vocal showing rips at the seams just enough on the hook to let you know this band is really feeling it. US Weekly have made quite a splash in the local scene over the last year or so, and their entry “Outside, Relaxing” shows why, with a drunken guitar line underscoring its near-pop structure, complete with a shoutalong chorus: “I DON’T WANT TO EXPLAIN MYSELF TO ANYONE!”
The compilation’s middle third keeps the momentum rolling. On the alternately brooding and bruising “The Soil,” threesome Xetas gives every member room to shine. Kana Harris’ slinky bass, David Lee Petro’s high-pitched guitar and Jay Dilick’s precise drums each add equal buzz to the song’s magnetic energy. The fact that it soon dives into a cuttingly sarcastic call-and-response section is mere icing on the cake. New China runs its typical gauntlet of deranged and uncategorizable math-punk over the course of “Baby Babbitt”’s psychotic two minutes. Perennially noisy trios Borzoi and Carl Sagan’s Skate Shoes provide consecutive helpings of propulsive drums and rumbling bass, but there’s poppy sensibilities at play here as well. White Bronco’s chill “Exo” has all the double-tracked melodies and warm fuzz of a vintage Thee Oh Sees track. And Basketball Shorts’ purebred pop-punk “Tommy” almost seems like an outlier among Dillo Milk 2’s more down-and-dirty tracks until its brilliant chorus hits, and we learn that not only is the narrator “pretty sure Tommy’s a cop,” but he’s also just been arrested.
Several players make multiple appearances on the tracklist with different bands. Super Thief guitarist Ted Curry, who recorded the entirety of the cassette in his bedroom almost single handedly and deserves no small credit for his tireless effort, also shows up playing in brand-new act R!ot Punch. Dilick reappears with “pop side project” Uncle Jesus, whose breakneck “What Happens When You Drink Bleach?” is a late highlight. SXSW (the band) and Critical Dad both feature drummer Milo Royal, adding a backdrop of sizzling cymbals to the sullen “Temple”.
But perhaps the best moment of Dillo Milk 2 belongs to Vampyre, quickly establishing themselves as one of our city’s finest rising punk acts with their vicious drums and overdriven bass combo; here heard pummeling through “The Rats in the Walls” with reckless abandon. Frontman Brandon Brooker’s frenetic, yet poetic lyrics reinforce the music’s maddening tone – “Did the fever bring on the dreams? / Or is the fever what the dreams inspire?” Zach Ingram’s bass gets thrown in a blender as the band rear-ends into the final track in a transition so seamless you’d think Oozer had suddenly time-stretched Vampyre’s ragged rage into slow motion.
Overall, this compilation rarely, if ever, disappoints, once more displaying the great breadth of talent contained within Austin’s deceptively large DIY community. With luck, this won’t be the last such collaborative release, and even more nascent bands will be able to flex their abilities in the future. Until then, you can snag a copy of the comp at Waterloo Records, or any of the bands’ upcoming shows.
Dillo Milk 2 forever… or whatever.