It’s interesting to come across a good compilation these days. You see plenty of collections of older recordings put together, but you don’t see that many label or regional compilations put together for the sake of promoting a scene. The only one that comes to mind is Casual Victim Pile, the Austin punk/garage compilation put out by Matador Records. I’m sure there are others, but it seems like more of a dying piece of record collecting and promoting. When in I was in high school, mixtapes and compilations were key components in the discovery of new bands. Now I think that everyone just assumes that with the readily available stream of information of the Internet, tools like this are unnecessary. For those who share this opinion, I present Night Owls 5: Bid Flu.

If a compilation is done well, it will achieve a few goals. First, it will expose you to new music. Thanks to Night Owls, I now have an interest in artists like Rhema Soul, Citizen Aim, Kaboose, and Cookbook, amongst others. At first I thought these were going to all be San Diego-based artists, since Syntax is based there, but I have since learned that the artists are from places such as Florida, Arizona, and Minnesota. Secondly, it should work as an album, with nice variation and flow. Night Owls definitely works in this fashion as well. There is plenty of different sounding hip hop going on here, but everyone seems to complement each other well, and no one sound out of place. There are no obvious weak links in the course of listening. For the sake of the album, I might have trimmed a couple of tracks to make a more coherent record that is easier to digest, but I realize that the number one purpose here is to expose you to new artists, so I can’t fault anyone for making this an 18-track collection.

I’m really impressed that so many varied artists can work so well together. On “Back When,” Rhema Soul comes in with a song featuring a sped-up soul sample and big snare and kick drum beat, with a couple of (male and female) emcees trading verses about distancing yourself from a troubled past. This is followed up by Citizen Aim, who I am sad to learn just passed away in August after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis. He brings us a slow, haunting guitar line over a down tempo beat while he meditates on crime and the justice system in a rapid fire delivery. Cookbook brings us the best party jam in the collection with “Insomniac,”” with a killer funky bass line. The lyrical wordplay is on point, and the hook of “Don’t sleep!” really works well. It had me cranking the volume up every time the song came on.

Night Owls 5 accomplished its mission in my book. I’ve got plenty of new artists to learn about, and a current album that I really enjoy.