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Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

Various Artists

Launchpad 2010

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Despite cutbacks in funding on such "luxuries" as school music programs, kids still want to rock—or play any other type of music they like. The Wisconsin School Music Association's Launchpad contest for high-school bands continues to give teens a wider forum in which to be heard.

If the latest compilation album to emerge from the competition says anything about what students like nowadays, it's that they don't stray too far from the offerings of commercial hard- and alt-rock radio. Amid the pop-punk and jam-band leanings reside funk (even with brass!), rawer rock, folkier sounds and that genre that continues to give new uses to selected marching band instruments, ska. The latest winners, Mequon/Glendale's Little Saint Anything, arguably come closer to an original sound than any of the other 12 bands included here as they rejigger Jane's Addiction scuzz with dub and ’60s spy-movie music. A redheaded, dreadlocked singer and matching black suits make them more memorable as well. The Unconventional Forces, the lone finalist from Milwaukee proper, took a more pastoral, stripped-down approach, but the singer with an acoustic guitar in his hands and a Mohawk on his noggin makes an impression, too.