Making February more bearable for the ninth year running, Counter Culture 10 arrives with a little twist on the established format. Since Rough Trade Shops: Counter Culture 03: Best Of 2003
the two discs have been split roughly into one 'quiet' and one 'loud'. This time around, the styles are mixed together, but not quite in the same way as the original Counter Culture: Rough Trade Shops (2002)
On this occasion, the entries into this year's roundup are listed alphabetically. Pedants and librarians will doubtless be lining up to point out that artists should never be filed by forename, and nothing should be placed under 'The' (with the possible exception of The The), but quibbles aside, it is an interesting experiment that leads to some intriguing stylistic shifts.
Moving from the booty-shakin' beats of Big Boi to Brian Eno's peerlessly unsettling ambience and onward to Caitlin Rose's luscious harmonies is an experience that probably should not work, but certainly does. Over on disc two, the heart-swelling Icelandic folk of Ólöf Arnalds and the dizzying electronica of Oneohtrix Point Never make unusual, but enjoyable, bedfellows. Once or twice the mismatch of styles jars a little - such as when Hannah Peel's cover of 'Sugar Hiccup' (even more swoonsome than the Cocteaus' original) collides with Human Skab (two kids kicking bottles under a flyover, by the sound of it) - but mostly it all sweeps and soars along beautifully.
As ever with this series, the variety and quality of the selected songs is astonishing. You probably won't like every single track on here, but you'll have a great time finding out which ones you do, and the ones you like may well become favourites for years to come.