Rough Trade Shops had a few years of practice under their belts with regard to making excellent compilations - both genre comps and yearly round-ups - by the time this came out, and it shows. This compilation eclipses all others - even Rough Trade's own - in terms of breadth, scope and quality.
For those not familiar with the Counter Culture series, this is what to expect: two discs - vaguely split, since the 03 installment, into the 'quiet' one and the 'loud' one - of the best of the year, culled largely from the more obscure ends of the market. Listening to one is akin to entering a magical world of unfamiliar music with which you are destined to fall deeply in love.
The variety of musical styles on show will mean that it is unlikely that every tune will be to your personal taste, but there will doubtless be something tucked away that will catch your interest. Highlights here include a profoundly gorgeous folk strum from Various Productions, cheeky electro from Uffie, instantly loveable indiepop from Camera Obscura, sleazy riffing from Metronomy, a kitch advertising jingle from Mike Sammes, tribal drums and shrieking from OOIOO, and far too many others to list in one review. Some more familiar names - such as Gossip and Lily Allen - sit alongside the obscurities, and it is a testament to RTS's compiling skills that the transition from popular to unknown is imperceptible.
If you feel an urge to broaden your musical horizons, this is a perfect springboard into a wider world. Combine it with the other Counter Cultures and the possibilities are endless.