Various - Rough Trade Shop: Counter Culture 08 (4 stars)

Vivian Girls

(Cooperative Music/V2)


In today’s, blog-a-minute, ‘download my free songs!’, digital overload age, there is such a thing as too much information. Therefore, it takes people like those at Rough Trade Shop (and of course the discerning critic types at The List) to assist in a route through the musical mire. Every year the staff at Rough Trade gather up the most intriguing tracks released in the previous 12 months and assemble them into a meaty two-disc compilation.

Disc one is a keen reflection of a the breathtaking, stylised songcraft around with the likes of Bon Iver, The Heart Strings and Vivian Girls, with their respective atmospheric, woody folk, garrulous, twee pop and rumbling, introspector garage rock being a real recipe for success. Adding to this, the spectral post-post-MBV buzz of Atlas Sound or the phasers on stun electrodrama of Telepathe might suggest wilful oddness on the part of the compilers, but isn’t that kind of the point? You know what Keane and Coldplay sound like, do you actually need reminding here?

The second disc ups the ante in the most unsubtle of ways, kicking off with local hero Chris Corsano’s solo free drumming clash and throwing us into the path of Japanese psych rock gurus Boris. The load is lightened however, by a clutch of cunning stunts illustrating the versatility of guitar rock fuzz in all its hazy hues. The finest of which: The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Shitty Limits and Glasgow’s Correcto share a wit, dynamic and garrulous energy. The proceedings quickly descend into an electric storm, malcontent beats and bleeps flying at will before closing with an eccentric sampladelic cut’n’paste job from the mysterious Pablo.

Previous year’s comps have included early recordings by the likes of Franz Ferdinand and Glasvegas, and while this certainly isn’t any kind of tips for the top mix, there’s plenty to show there’s life beyond the sale racks at HMV. Chances are you won’t like everything here. You might not even like very much of it, but what you will like, you’ll love dearly.

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