Compilations have their pros and cons. If you like a certain genre, a compilation offers the opportunity to experience a variety of works relatively risk-free. Don't like a certain group on the comp? Hey, just skip over them. Of course, too many times, the listener ends up liking only one or two songs on a certain compilation, and ends up royally pissed that they didn't just buy the full-length by the artist they really like. The reason this happens is simple: The individual songs are taken out of context and frequently put together simply because all the bands happen to share the same record label or the same geographic home, or because they're all interpreting the work of some other, larger group.
The same fate could easily have befallen Pop Till You Drop. The bands all share the same genre (pop music), the same geographic area (most are from the Southeast and many are from North Carolina), and many are affiliated somehow with S'more parent Yep Roc Records or its sister company Redeye Distribution. But the difference here is in the knowledge of Melissa Adams, the longtime local music fan/scribe and Yep Roc publicist who put this CD together. Adams doesn't just know local music, she is genuinely captivated by its every aspect and is a tireless cheerleader for any local band she truly likes, regardless of whether they're on her label (though if she really likes them, they're likely to show up on Yep Roc). Adams has an impeccable ear, and a willingness to be open to all shades of the pop hue--from Joe Jackson-inspired piano rock to Cheap Trick pop-punk to Beach Boys-ish neopsychedelia.
The song order here was obviously put together with great care, so that rather than being a mishmash of styles, the songs flow together. Adams also, apparently, has the trust of these bands: They gave her their best songs rather than the throwaways you frequently find on CDs like this. Pop Till You Drop is a mixture of luminaries such as Mitch Easter, Superdrag, Superchunk and The Mayflies USA, and relative unknowns, of which Pawn Rook Four and The Possibilities are the standouts. Most of the included bands have full-length CDs available, many of which the local pop-music fan is likely to already own. Even so, Pop Till You Drop is a necessary release in local pop.