Album: Various artists

Decade: ten years of Fierce Panda, Fierce Panda
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The Independent Culture

By rights, Fierce Panda should be a major record label by now, judged on its back-catalogue. It has in effect served as an unpaid talent-spotter for larger companies such as Parlophone, Sony and especially Hut. This 20-track compilation celebrating its first 10 years contains early recordings - in many cases, debut releases - from the likes of Ash, Supergrass, Placebo, The Bluetones, Kenickie, Embrace, Idlewild, Lo-Fidelity Allstars, Coldplay, Polyphonic Spree and, most recent, the hotly tipped piano balladeers Keane. Those bands are captured in the first flush of ambition, ripe with potential and ready for plucking. Alongside the early buzz-saw punk-pop of Ash's "Punkboy" and Supergrass's "Caught by the Fuzz", Placebo's "Bruise Pristine" finds them feverishly colonising the territory between glam, Goth and grunge, while the anthemic, horn-and-string-drenched "All You Good Good People" remains the most memorable thing Embrace ever did. The main sales impetus for this anthology is the early Coldplay tr

By rights, Fierce Panda should be a major record label by now, judged on its back-catalogue. It has in effect served as an unpaid talent-spotter for larger companies such as Parlophone, Sony and especially Hut. This 20-track compilation celebrating its first 10 years contains early recordings - in many cases, debut releases - from the likes of Ash, Supergrass, Placebo, The Bluetones, Kenickie, Embrace, Idlewild, Lo-Fidelity Allstars, Coldplay, Polyphonic Spree and, most recent, the hotly tipped piano balladeers Keane. Those bands are captured in the first flush of ambition, ripe with potential and ready for plucking. Alongside the early buzz-saw punk-pop of Ash's "Punkboy" and Supergrass's "Caught by the Fuzz", Placebo's "Bruise Pristine" finds them feverishly colonising the territory between glam, Goth and grunge, while the anthemic, horn-and-string-drenched "All You Good Good People" remains the most memorable thing Embrace ever did. The main sales impetus for this anthology is the early Coldplay track "Brothers and Sisters", a familiar piece of wan falsetto melancholy unavailable elsewhere; but for my money, the best tracks are both American: Death Cab for Cutie's ingenuous "Tiny Vessels" and Bright Eyes' "Arienette", whose Sparklehorse-like sadcore style has a passion bordering on the distraught.

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