Various Saddle Creek 50

One of the hottest indie labels around, Omaha, Nebraska’s Saddle Creek has released its 50th album, a fitting two-CD compilation featuring two tracks from each act, one previously released and one exclusive (the vinyl version contains only the exclusive songs). Last year was a successful year for the label, with Bright Eyes, the Faint, Desaparecidos and Rilo Kiley all releasing critically cherished albums, and the same happening with Cursive this year. Though those bands are well publicised, it’s the discovery of other Saddle Creek bands that make this comp such a useful tool. Now It’s Overheard, Azure Ray and Mayday all chip in their different strokes furthering the diverse flair of the label. For those who are familiar with the label, the real sweetness lies within the exclusive tracks. Desaparecidos deliver "Popn’ Off At The F,” another slice of fuzzed-out, furious rock, while Conor Oberst’s other venture, Bright Eyes, visits the other end of the spectrum with an adventurous and beautiful, tear-stained country ballad. Rilo Kiley’s "Jenny, You’re Barely Alive” and Cursive’s "Nonsense” defy misplacement and offer some of their most compelling moments to date. And if two CDs isn’t enough, there are 45 short films on the first disc that get as hairy as Todd Baechle from the Faint defecating in the parking lot after a No Doubt show and Oberst dancing to "YMCA” with some neighbourhood kids. With all of that in one package, it’s hard not to call this essential. (Saddle Creek)