In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Wilmington, Del.'s Jade Tree imprint has taken all the 7-inch singles it released from 1990 to 1995 with the exception of Swiz's "With Dave" single, which can be found on the band's discography reissue No Punches Pulled and compiled them into Jade Tree: First Five Years. Unfortunately, quantity heavily outweighs quality on this release, which includes two CDs featuring more than two hours of music.
Though Jade Tree enjoys one of the highest profiles in indie rock, Jade Tree: First Five Years confirms that the label is most deserving of praise for the records it's put out during its second five years (including exceptional albums by the Promise Ring, Joan of Arc and Pedro the Lion).
Disc one features uninspired stabs at punk, post-punk and pop by Gravel, Jones Very, Railhed and Pitchblende. In fact, the only two songs worth listening to all the way through are Jones Very's Hüsker Dü-influenced "Ideas New Tomorrow" (RealAudio excerpt) and Pitchblende's Slint-esque "Ursa Minor" (RealAudio excerpt). Disc two fares a bit better thanks to tracks by quirky popsters Eggs and the glamorous, Nathan Larson-led Leslie, as well as an interesting instrumental from Pitchblende. But everything else including songs by Universal Order of Armageddon, Walleye, Damnation and Edsel are downright tiring.
The silver lining? Judging from the leap in quality it made from year five to year 10, Jade Tree easily could be the best label on the planet by the time it turns 15.