Various Artists – Topo-O-Rama Volume One (El Topo Records)

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When COVID became a pandemic and went global, everything changed. Shops, bars, pubs and clubs the world over closed and bands were left with nowhere to play, and even if they could have fired up their amps, in the wake of the lockdown, there was no-one to play for.  Live music was wiped out overnight, and bands, labels and venues frantically began rallying around to make sure that shows didn’t become a thing of the past, forgotten, lamented and consigned to history. And that’s when El Topo Records stepped up and released their first compilation as a way to support, raise money for and awareness of, all the artists who contributed to Topo-O-Rama.

Focusing on mainly Californian and Mexican bands, like all compilations Top-O-Rama has a whole bunch of highlights and the odd middle ground tune, but unlike most comps, there isn’t a single duff or filler track on here. Sure, I don’t dig all of the bands, but I can appreciate what they do.That’s the beauty of a compilation though  – you’re not meant to like everything on, but if it helps you to discover even one new band that you love, then it’s done its job and then some. Topo-O-Rama is head and shoulder above most the of the competition and its contemporaries as it features at least five bands that I’m going to rabidly and weirdly obsess over and about (namely The Midnight Block, Corporate Citizen, Reptilianos, No Potable and Frantic Romantic) forever and a day and with odds like that in its favour, you just know it’s a winner.  Dig deep, support the scene and maybe you’ll discover you newest, most favouritist band…  Tim Cundle

Head on over El Topo Records and get Top-O-Rama here

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