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Strike: A Counter Records Sampler

Strike, A Counter Records Sampler

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

BACK in 2006, the good old people at Ninja Tune decided they wanted to start a rock label. But not any old boring, run-of-the-mill rock label.

Rather, one that took the same irreverent, iconoclastic and vaguely psychedelic attitude towards that type of music as its parent label had to various aspects of dance music.

Hence, Counter Records was formed and the likes of The Heavy, Pop Levi and John Matthias flourished.

Strike: A Counter Records Sampler is a “pay-no-more-than-£2.99” collection of 12 songs showcasing the premiere acts on the new label. As such, it’s good value and a good introduction.

Unfortuntately, it doesn’t always showcase the best of what those top acts have to offer.

In The Heavy’s case, for instance, the inclusion of Oh No! Not You Again!, from The House That Dirt Built is one of the weaker tracks, while That Kind of Man – while still gloriously funky and evocative of their best material – is an old track from the debut album. A useful reminder, yes, but not of the moment.

The same can be said for Pop Levi’s Police Sign, which is among the more noisy, messy songs that he’s produced. Tracks like Never Never Love or Dita Dimone would have made far more better and representative selections.

Grumbles aside, what Strike does well is open listeners up to Counter Records favourites as well as emerging acts worth following.

Spokes stand out with their epic Torn Up In Praise, while Cougar’s Stay Famous and Rhinelander demostrate a pleasing diversity that’s worth investigating further.

And John Matthias’ Stockwell Road is a moody closer that should point people in the right direction of his excellent debut LP, Stories From The Watercooler. What’s more, it points to the fact that Counter do mellow and moody, as well as loud and funky.

For a penny under £3 you could do a lot, lot worse! Or, flip-side, your life could become enriched by the discovery of artists such as The Heavy, Pop Levi and co.

Track listing:

  1. Oh No Not You Again – Heavy (The)
  2. Police £ign – Pop Levi
  3. Around The World – Death Set (The)
  4. Stay Famous – Cougar
  5. Torn Up In Praise – Spokes
  6. Blue Honey – Pop
  7. That Kind Of Man – Heavy (The)
  8. Paranoia – Death Set (The)
  9. Wail To God – Ape School
  10. Rhinelander – Cougar
  11. We Like To Dance And Steal Things – Spokes
  12. Stockwell Road – John Matthias