Various Artists

Warm & Scratchy Comp

(Adult Swim Internet-Only; 2007)

By Dom Sinacola | 16 June 2007

First question: Where are the Flaming Lips? No “Meatwad Hemorrhages Plastic Stardust Before the Feet of His Robot Forefathers”? Good. Check. That’s like ten percent up right there.

Turns out that Warm & Scratchy, yet another Adult Swim compilation of semi-obscure indie darlings, is free. It doesn’t even have an actual jewel case, or actual jewel case design, just a .jpg for a cover that doesn’t exist, appropriately warm and nebulously scratchy. Plus, each track can be downloaded individually, listened to indiscriminately (as the case would undoubtedly be), and distributed flagrantly to other mediums devoid of previously stipulated tracklisting — these shameless B-sides or demos or EP cuts, whatever they pretend to be. Frankly, I’m a bit offended by the superfluousness of this release. Really, I’m ashamed for Adult Swim and for their piecemeal, vulgar programming that strives to elevate junk to poignant chunks of backwards Dada gold cresting the mighty wings of the Zeitgeist Bird spelunking and soaring through Billy Corgan’s bountiful intestines only to emerge soon from his cute gaping mouth spouting sweet-ass rainbows and spewing fuzzy detritus all over our heads. Our heads! Gah! Surely, Warm & Scratchy is the Beelzebub of our Generation Z, the bloated Metatron of ultimate chaos, the manifested opposite of God’s Pure Order. Thus, we must criticize it unmercifully, trapping it in a steel cage made up of the foul bars that limn the flailing ecosystem between “Good; serious problems” and “Good; detracting problems.” Which is totally crazy.

Still, Warm & Scratchy is only Warm & Scratchy, nothing more, a tautological list devoid of biographical or promotional information, existing purely to exist or to exist because it can. Why include a TV On The Radio song from OK Calculator (2001) that’s equal parts funky and obnoxious, too much harmonica (or melodeon) and too little beat, if it’s only a lame presage to the band’s later worth? Why give Damon Albarn any more publicity, even if his song is all pretty? Why include the Raveonettes—whose B-sides or extraneous tracks sound exactly like their A-sides and incidental songs—or the Rapture, when both can simultaneously break new boundaries of blandness and inspire greasy feelings in the listeners’ bowels? Why the Liars (the song is a mess but so is your face)? Because, simply, these songs exist. Because they exist and can be freely distributed. Because we need to be reminded that Angus Andrew’s voice has only slightly improved and that at one point he aspired to sound like Doug Martsch. Go fig, amiright?

But “Winter” is a lucid, hyperventilating Fennesz; “Canada vs. America,” from EP To Be You and Me (2005), is Broken Social Scene being awesome amorphous Broken Social Scene; and “The Equestrian” intones that a misspelled Les Savy Fav is undoubtedly a functionally bloated tract for the ever-engaging wiles of Tim Harrington. I say: go download these tracks. If you dislike, delete.

Granted, Warm & Scratchy is something of an independent ideal, a fan’s helpful tiny dream with politics and intentions as overt (albeit oppositely) as a beer commercial. It helps that in full Voltron form the album is sequenced well, descending in speed and increasing in production clarity, not offering much in the way of tension or arc but consistently providing a blueprint to something that never really had to maintain stability in the first place. That is, if that matters to you and you have GBs to spare. I don’t. So, here I make my plea to Adult Swim, stand my self-righteous ground. Here I say, “Bump us. Advertise with us. Festivalize us. Just as ‘Adult Swim’ adorns Warm & Scratchy in name and icon only, so will our friendship be a financial investment, free but shallow, a way for us CMG writers to score with skinny-pants hipsters, namedropping all the way to the genital bank.” And then I fart.