Pachyderm Studio celebrated the arrival of new owner Matt Mueller in fine fashion, releasing 2007’s knockout compilation So Large We Ran Out of Room. Worthwhile for exposing Meredith Fierke (“Train Song“) and Snakebeard Jackson (“Buzzin’”) alone, it also included new songs from four well-established, high-profile artists. There was Down Lo and Deploi doing “Work” and White Light Riot’s winning cover of the Doobie Brothers’ “What a Fool Believes.” Plus, listeners who’d been sitting on tacks awaiting fresh material from The New Congress had their appetites at least moderately sated by the steamrolling “1,000 Degrees”; and the gifted Alicia Wiley, who barely finishes one album before she’s recording another, contributed “Halfway Home,” the title cut, from what is about to be her fifth release. So Large We Ran Out of Room is a fine piece of work. Now, there’s So Large We Ran Out of Room…Again.
It isn’t rigged with ringers on the caliber of its precursor and, by and large, the acts aren’t quite as good, but holding that against it would be kind of like faulting Hank Williams, Jr. for not being Hank Williams. The highlights are brilliant. So Large We Ran Out of Room…Again leads with Northern Room’s hook-rich “Blacklight,” a poignant, hard-charging soft rocker that grabs you at first hearing. Stacking the deck is “Semi-Hitched” by Sunshine Behavior and, for the time being, anyway, you can only find it here. “Semi-Hitched” isn’t on Sunshine Behavior, and Sunny B is still too busy riding the crest of that album’s success to reasonably anticipate a new one anytime soon. The boys in this particular band bolted out of nowhere to establish a powerful presence on the Twin Cities scene. No small task, considering you can’t swing a dead cat in these parts without hitting a monster artist. All it’ll take is for the right set of strings to get pulled behind the scenes. Rightfully promoted, Sunshine Behavior will go national.
The baddest cut on the whole joint is vocalist-songsmith Steph Devine’s hypnotic R&B ballad “This Is What It’s Like.” Accompanied by smooth keyboardist Russ King (in turn, she backs King, singing with The New Congress), Devine delivers a sterling turn straight out of the Janet Jackson book of heartrending sensuality. Before those who have something against music that sells millions bend their noses out of joint, Jackson’s “Let’s Wait Awhile” didn’t dominate the singles chart for no reason—it was, bottom line, incredibly strong music. As is “This Is What It’s Like.” Trust me, soon as word of mouth about this song gets around and it hits the airwaves, terminally self-impressed divas are going to get nervous and will badger their managers to go find or hire someone to figure out a tune that competes. (FYI: That’s Steph Devine showcased with Down Lo and Deploi on So Large We Ran Out of Room).
No doubt, Mueller has a good idea and solid product on his hands, putting out these compilations. Maybe the next one’ll be called So Large We Ran Out of Room…Again…One More Time. Believe this: whatever the thing is called there’s likely to be fine talent on it, playing great music.
Dwight Hobbes is a writer based in the Twin Cities. He contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.