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Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture '05

Rough Trade Shops, Counter Culture 05

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

SINCE 2002, the Rough Trade Shops Counter Culture series has been among the first to champion artists that have since gone on to wider and much-deserved success.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills, The Earlies, Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party are but a few of the names who have impressed.

The latest 2-disc CD offers avid listeners the chance to hear some of the bands of tomorrow for the first time and is a mixed bag of promising new acts and head-scratching experimentation.

CD1 is packed with excellent moments from bands on the cusp of breaking through (such as New York’s Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and The Spinto Band), but CD2 is largely devoid of anything decent at all, save for a rare remix of Franz Ferdinand’s recent Do You Want To and a couple of raw wonders such as Brakes’ Heard About Your Band and Sleater Kinney’s Modern Girl.

So for the purposes of this review, we’ll concentrate on CD1, especially since the retail price of £9.99 is money well spent even if you only listen to the first CD.

Highlights here most definitely include the opening track by Boards of Canada, Constants Are Changing, which is a delightful piece of sonic ambience that straight away puts you in a good mood.

Mellow, too, is Six Organs of Admittance’s acoustic Words For Two, which recalls the feelgood vibe attached to Jose Gonzalez’s Heartbeats.

Phily trio Espers provide a similarly laidback track in the form of Meadow, which is best described as elemental acid folk shot through with baroque ‘60s chamber rock.

The Boy Least Likely To cheers things up with the delightfully breezy Paper Cuts, which is a folk pop gem featuring banjos, glockenspiels, acoustic guitars and fiddles.

Lush melodies combine with Strokes-style vocals on The Spinto Band’s Direct To Helmet, which also veers into sublime Flaming Lips territory.

While hotly-tipped Clap Your Hands Say Yeah provide a teasing taster of what they can do with the aching ballad, Details of the War, one of the choice picks from their debut album.

The lush sound of the American West Coast and long highways basked in sunshine are evident in Low’s magnificent California, which provides an excellent companion to the track of the same name by Phantom Planet.

Modlang’s Slaughtered By The Sun is a quality piece of psychedelia based around a beat that’s part krautrock and part soul. It’s also well-served by a groovy bassline and layers upon layers of vocals and harmonies.

Similarly upbeat is King Creosote’s Klutz, with its lively beats and soft vocals.

Smoosh’s Rad offers a fascinating insight into the 10 and 12-year-old Seattle-based sisters who make exceedingly endearing piano-based indie-pop. The attitude belies their age.

While Katzenjammers provide an incredibly funky steel-band interpretation of Gary Numan classic Cars, which sounds a great deal better than the concept sounds.

Last but by no means least is Daniel Johnston’s utterly compelling The Beatles, which showcases the raw but vibrant talents of Johnston (soon to be the subject of an excellent, award-winning documentary, The Devil and Daniel Johnston). If you like The Beatles, then chances are you’ll like this ode to their success, which recalls their psychedelic era.

As with most Counter Culture releases, there’s a lot here that will probably turn you off – but for those keen to keep an eye on outstanding new music this does offer a veritable treasure trove of names to look out for (as well as some to avoid!).

Track listing:
Disc: 1
1. Boards Of Canada – Constants Are Changing
2. Jandek – Nancy Sings
3. Six Organs Of Admittance – Words For Two
4. Espers – Meadow
5. Boy Least Likely To – Paper Cuts
6. Spinto Band – Direct To The Helmet
7. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Details Of The War
8. Matson Jones – Fuck Off New York
9. Scout Niblett – Valvoline
10. Low – California
11. Serena Maneesh – Drive Me Home The Lonely Nights
12. Modlang – Slaughtered By The Sun
13. King Creosote – Klutz
14. Pippettes – It Hurts To See You Dance So Well
15. Ana da Silva – Disco Ball
16. Asja Auf Capri – Contre Temps
17. Gang Gang Dance – God’s Money V
18. Matthew Herbert – Celebrity
19. Princess Superstar – My Machine (edit)
20. Smoosh – Rad
21. Street Gangland Rhythms Band 1 – Gang Fight
22. Konono No.1 – Lufuala Ndonga edit
23. Brodsky Quartet – Mood Swings ft. Elvis Costello
24. Daniel Johnston – The Beatles
25. Katzenjammers – Cars
26. David Shrigley – Don’ts

Disc: 2
1. Nurse With Wound – June 15 edit
2. Albert Kuvezin and Yat-Kha – The Wild Mountain Thyme
3. Lindstrom – I Feel Space (M.A.N.D.Y. Remix edit)
4. Green Velvet – No Sex
5. No Bra – Munchausen
6. Franz Ferdinand – Do You Want To (Erol Alkan’s Glam Racket)
7. Data Panik – Cubis (I Love You)
8. Good Shoes – Small Town Girl
9. Test Icicles – Circle
10. Milburn – Showroom
11. CDOASS – Speak To Me
12. The Fall – Clasp Hands
13. Brakes – Heard About Your Band
14. The Long Blondes – Lust In The Movies
15. 10lec6 (Dislecsics) – Counter Stroke
16. Death Sentence – Panda A+ Cannibal
17. The Thing – Have Love Will Travel
18. Jack Too Jack – The March Of The White Barbarians EDIT
19. Attack Formation – Station id/Pearl Snaps
20. Snow White – Attack Form
21. Lightning Bolt – Riff Wraiths
22. 50ft Wave – Clara Bow
23. Sleater Kinney – Modern Girl
24. Harry Walker-Wright – Untitled