From the classic guitar-rock of Alaska! to the au courant synth-pop of ’80s revivalists Metric, from the uplifting psychedelic chorales of the Polyphonic Spree to the somber balladry of Acetone, from the gentle folk of Patrick Park to the bombastic edge of And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, The Fold Compilation is a pretty wild ride. Though it’s essentially a rock collection, its eclectic wanderlust supersedes any genre fixation, transporting the listener from the Cambodian surf-lounge of Dengue Fever through the lush trip-hop of Maimou and into the self-deprecating old-school country of Mike Stinson. It’s truly an all-embracing aesthetic. Where else can you hear the bluesy swells of Devics, crying out for love on “You in the Glass,” alongside the upturned musical apple cart that is Gwendolyn singing “Insect Perspective,” her thoughtful ode to a bug?
The story of this unusual release began with fledgling record-label owner Chris Jerde asking Scott Sterling, promoter of rock theme nights at the Silverlake Lounge, the Derby and Tangier known collectively as the Fold, “What do you think about doing a record where you are the creative director, but not do a ‘live from the club’ thing, just get all the bands together that you love and create a
document of the scene?” Sterling had been trying to do just that on his own but “didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to see it through.” So the two formed a naturally symbiotic partnership to release songs Sterling thought were “hits . . . classics.”
The result is an astonishingly good double album — just released on Jerde’s Credit Records — that assembles a track each from 29 mostly local bands that have played Sterling’s stages over the last seven years. Perhaps most gratifying in an industry often dominated by male perspectives, female vocalists and performers are well represented on The Fold Compilation, which kicks off with the pounding drums of Midnight Movies’ Nico-esque chanteuse, Gena Olivier. Sterling says the gender equilibrium was not premeditated but simply reflects a musical community with “lots of strong rock women.”
It’s a fascinating aural snapshot of the Silver Lake music scene and really captures the untainted spirit of experimentation Sterling has encouraged there, from regularly engaging the totally anomalous Dengue Fever since they tickled the fancy of the gay retirees who make up the happy-hour crowd at the Silverlake Lounge, to booking the 25-member Polyphonic Spree before they’d garnered any notoriety, “just for a hoot.” Though the album features obvious local favorites like the 88 and Eleni Mandell and several acts that are already gaining international acclaim, such as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Warlocks, it showcases underground gems such as Bedroom Walls along with promising newcomers like Giant Drag. It’s a collection that, like Sterling himself, takes risks and embraces the unknown — sometimes even by accident.
“Devendra [Banhart’s first booking] was funny,” Sterling explains, “because he sent me this tape of himself with this girl Vedevere — on one side it said ‘Vedevere,’ and on the other it said ‘Devendra’ — and I listened to it and I liked what I heard on the side that said ‘Devendra,’ so I called him and I set up a show. I came down [for the performance], and when he started playing I realized that they had labeled the tape wrong . . . I’d booked the wrong one! But I ended up really liking Devendra . . . he reminded me of a weird combination of Vincent Gallo and Ed Grimley.”
Asked about future releases with Jerde or other plans for the Fold, the characteristically unassuming Sterling says his primary goal is “just to stay in business.” He takes no credit for cultivating the scene in Silver Lake, though his efforts to champion good music have not been lost on the neighborhood’s performers. Metric’s Emily Haines calls the Silverlake Lounge her favorite place to play, because “Some of the other venues in town seem geared more toward showcasing for record companies than playing for an actual audience.”
Now, with The Fold Compilation, Sterling has another way to show his ear for unusual artists, great music and exceptional performances. As Banhart says, “Man, it went down just right.”
Compilation contributors Bedroom Walls, the 88, Gliss, Eleni Mandell, Silversun Pickups, Patrick Park and Giant Drag perform at a record-release party at the Derby, Friday, November 21.
THE FOLD COMPILATION |(Credit Records)