VARIOUS Soundsite (EMI)

Soundsites are them obelisk-like CD player and headphone combinations you sometimes find in the more clued-up tune emporia, allowing you to sample the delights of any number of mediocre major label releases instead of wasting all your money by just buying one, and I found this freebie sampler stuck inside a bagful of stuff I bought from Diverse, still the finest record shop of my acquaintance.

This 19-track sampler dates from February 1997, and provided me (as somebody who avoids listening to Radio 1 with an almost religious determination) with my first chance to inspect the works of Mansun (good, noisy Britpop), White Town (excellent plastic soul, knocked up in his bedroom on a four-track, apparently), My Life Story (The Divine Comedy less the charm, wit and class), Kenickie (like Elastica, but good) and Murray Lachlan Young (whatever happened to all that "poetry is the new rock ‘n’ roll" stuff anyway?)

Honourable mentions also to relative unknowns such as Naimee Coleman (like a soulful Edie Brickell), Phil Campbell (sounds like a rootsy, gutsy American singer songwriter to me, but with more production polish that is normal for the genre) and the unjustly maligned Luscious Jackson. Extra points for the unpretentious charm of Kym Mazelle’s cover of "Young Hearts Run Free" (from the "Romeo + Juliet" film soundtrack, I think), but none for a gaggle of soul types who seem to think that strange gargling glissando yelping sound many of the genre’s exponents produce these days is a valid method of expressing emotion. But that’s all the carping you’ll hear from me: over 70 minutes of mostly fine new(ish) tunes for free - you can’t moan, can you?