How does one review several hours of music by various artists in a manner suitable for today’s brevity-obsessed social media generation? To be honest I don’t think I’m up to the task, but here’s my best attempt: I can’t think of a compilation that’s as good – in every sense of the word – as this one. What we have here is 40 exclusive tracks by a fine selection of (mostly) British independent musicians, pulled together by Audioscope in aid of the enormously important work of Shelter.
It only seems right to start by looking at what might, in some respects, be considered the beginning of this particular musical melee. I don’t mean track one, rather the bands on here who have been doing this, on-and-off, for decades. Wire and The Telescopes, take a bow. The former sees our post-punk protagonists blast through a flawless live rendition of Red Barked Tree cut ‘Moreover’. The latter offering is a more subdued but no less satisfying mix of rumbling synths and sinister, droning vocals. Both tracks prove there are plenty of new tricks in these old dogs yet.
Audioscope has always championed unique and local talent and neither is in short supply here. Oxford’s sorely missed ute bring ‘Dissolve’ to the table, wherein now Grinding Young frontman Ollie Thomas’s voice soars over sparkling guitars and rolling drums. On the peculiar front, Laura Moody does unholy things to the cello on ‘Oh Mother’, but somehow manages to create something melodically satisfying enough to stick itself inside your minds-ear whether you like it or not. At the altogether more evil end of the spectrum, The Cellar Family tick both the ‘odd’ and ‘local’ boxes, and skulk and whisper their way through a couple of minutes of ‘Someone New’ before finally putting the whole thing to bed with a truly wretched bout of guitar wrangling.
Make no mistake, though my own clumsy attempts at categorisation might not do it justice, there really is something here for everyone. You want to dance? Let the likes of Four Tet, Boxcutter and Coloureds do the hard work while you simply move your feet. You want to swoon? Between them, the tender delivery of Richard Walters and strange sadness of Felix will tip you over. Perhaps you’re looking for a dose of nineties nostalgia – no problem, a Portishead-remixed ‘Moonlight Medicine’ from local shoegaze legends Ride should be just what the doctor ordered. If it’s simply the sweet hum of tinnitus you crave, look no further than Action Beat’s characteristically raucous ‘Toad’ and Dethscalator’s totally pitiless ‘Aids Atlas’. Whatever your whim, Music For A Good Home 2 has you covered.
Forty tracks of new music might seem to some listeners a rather daunting prospect, but after spending a little time with it I have a few words of advice: think of this less as an album and more as a treasure trove, a wealth of musical riches to explore, to enjoy, to be proud of. If, for reasons unfathomable, you’re still in two minds about this one, ask yourself two questions. Do you care about independent music? Do you care about other people? If the answer to at least one of these questions is ‘yes’, then you’ll just have to trust me here: you need this.
Audioscope will be hosting an all day music event at the Jericho Tavern in Oxford this Saturday (10 November). The show is from 1.30pm to midnight, tickets are £12 and all profits go to Shelter – tickets and more information are available from http://www.audioscope.co.uk.