Rough Trade Shops - Counter Culture 07
In this new dawn of flagging record sales and mass closures of your favorite music shops it seemed a strange time for Rough Trade to expand its empire and open the impressive uber-shop that is Rough Trade East, but I guess if anyone can do it thy can and now that it has its own cafe at the front this new Counter Culture compilation is what you'd likely endure if you closed your office for a day and set up camp in the Rough Trade cafe. Needless to say it wouldn't all be what you were looking for. Having ditched the assistance of some of the major labels that aided the release of the previous Counter Culture series this one has been put together independently by the Rough Trade shops themselves. This is quite evident from the tracklist as some of the selections you just know are the choices of a minority nerd group that really doesn't give a monkeys if the customers don't like it, they're ignorant so why should they be trusted? But then there are some really big hitters that never fail to deliver.
Over the years I have often used these Rough Trade compilations as a way of discovering new musical territory previously untrodden by my delicate and sheltered ears. I first came across Sufjan Stevens on a Counter Culture CD and have looked forward to similar discoveries ever since. Though expertly compiled and a darn good listen throughout this outing unfortunately serves up little in the way of surprises. A quick glance at the tracklist will hint at some immediate stand out moments of last year like Battles' unrivaled and mighty Atlas or Of Montreal's avant-pop gem Gronlandic Edit. Pete And The Pirates provide some ramshackled indie-punk magic from their album Little Death with Come On Feet and Dan Deacon's d.i.y roadrunner-rave is perfectly expressed in The Crystal Cat. But at a glance I would have expected these to be some obvious high points and was slightly disappointed not to be proved wrong. There were exceptions however with Julian Cope and the dirty rock tornado of No Age pricking up my ears but the prize would have to go to Dan Le Sac Versus Scroobius Pip for Thou Shalt Always Kill. This is a razor-sharp pop-culture critique that providing you can keep up is a lesson to us all. Lessons like never to question Steven Fry or watch Hollyoaks are of course a given but the line, "Thou shalt not judge a book by its cover, thou shalt not judge Lethal Weapon by Danny Glover," is really something else.
So as the stand out song on this exceedingly mixed bag its wisdom casts a new light on the compilation itself. After being told repeatedly not set up bands as false idols and to think for yourselves you do start to look over these choices as just someone's opinion. But on a brighter note the whole thing comes impeccably presented in a 2 CD set with 20 page colour fold-out booklet and full sleeve notes and just serves to prove that the supposedly lifeless corpse of the record shop has some breath left in it after all.Read more 2.5 star reviews