Those most enthralled with Tucson's—or any city, for that matter—underground homegrown music community usually fall into two camps: Young musicians discovering their own voice or people who just moved here. Topaz—both the record label and recently-deceased venue—has had both going for it. The first two editions of its Dune Drift compilations were prime documents of fresh, hungry talent in the confines of artful presentation, and both highlighted the difference between a contemporary gallery and a museum relic, and both were decidedly the former.
Dune Drift III, released less than two years after the first, despite a wealth of very strong material shows hints of stagnation and homogeneity creeping in. That's far from the harshest criticism that could be leveled at a niche collection—you'd be hard-pressed to find 15 new acts with 15 brand new sounds every six months in any city.
Standout tracks include the Dinosaur Jr.-esque recorded debut of J.R.M., a side project of Jess Matsen and Michael Fay and Ryan Chavira of Prom Body; "Cuddle Up," a typically great Algae & Tentacles song; the previously released "Successful" by Best Dog Award, which is one of the finest songs by any artist this year. Lenguas Largas' "Psychic Eye/In This World" is the most radical work they've yet recorded, while Chavira's solo effort "Monsoon Swooning" is all lovely langornous. Secret Highway Secrets' "New Car" embodies the compilation's contradictions best: eight minutes of angles and drones that reinterpret the underlying theme of Chuck Berry's "No Particular Place to Go"—the destination isn't always the purpose.
—Joshua Levine, email@example.com