B-side, rarity-track albums and other such compilations released by bands can, at times, be somewhat of a risk to the music collector for the simple reason that one can never tell what quality material is contained within. In some cases, it becomes incredibly clear as to why the tracks were never released on a full album and had remained a hardly-heard rarity track left on the cutting room floor so to speak.
Other times, these albums are a simple collection of not-so-rare tracks that serve as a decent entry point for newcomers. Sometimes there is the absolute payoff with the album that is a testament to what the band truly has to offer.
With “Remains”, the latest release from Alkaline Trio, any type of fan, from the die-hard to the newcomer, will receive such a payoff. The 22-track set does a fairly good job of wrapping up the goth-punk band’s history of various singles, split-series, cover-songs and countless compilation tracks.
Encompassing all of the work from over the years onto one disc also serves as a solid statement of how Alkaline Trio has changed from the adrenaline-fueled band that started in ” ’97” (as their track of the same name will tell) to the widely-known outfit of today that takes their brand of pop-punk to the dark side.
In essence, a “compilation of compilations” album such as this is everything that an Alkaline Trio fan would die for. However, with this collection of leftovers saved from the Trio’s killing floors, there is a time and a song for any listener.
Throughout the band’s history, their lyrical content has always been something that has had a constant and familiar dark feel but the lyrics themselves have been ever changing.
The album opens with the track “Hell Yes,” a song sung by guitarist and lead vocalist Matt Skiba that wraps itself around losing an old faith, finding a new faith, and shows in a very simple way just how hellish the Trio can go. Following with the second track of the album, “My Standard Break from Life,” bassist Dan Andriano sings of life gone wrong and the need to take a break from such things. The remainder of the album consists of tracks of cover songs from bands such as Berlin (“Metro”) and Hot Water Music (“Rooftops”), as well as the original Alkaline Trio tracks containing the well-known, recurring dark themes coupled with catchy, poppy hooks that deal with everything from depression, heartbreak, boredom, death and redemption.
Bringing everything to a close are three live performances from 2006 of tracks that each serve as a time-stamp throughout the evolution of the band itself, with a track from their earliest years and ending with a track (“Deathbed”) that was released on their last album, “Crimson.”
As if “Remains” was not bonus material in itself, the album also includes a loaded DVD full of various extras. Live performances, a mini-documentary entitled Remains of 2004-2006 and a video catalog of music videos from their last three full-length albums all add to the overall quality of package as well as enable a deeper look into the makings of Alkaline Trio as a band.
Overall, “Remains” is the type of rarity collection that should be a part of any Alkaline Trio fan’s collection simply because it contains tracks and material that a fan from any time period can enjoy.
For those that have been unable to enjoy any of Alkaline Trio’s work throughout their dark decade of existence, “Remains” could be s chance to experience a different kind of pop-punk.
“Remains” was released Jan. 30, 2007 on Vagrant Records and is the band’s seventh release and second compliation album.