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Various - Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013

Various - Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013

by , 26 April 2013

It turns out it's really hard to review a compilation album. You can't compare tracks to where they fit in within a genre, or compare the album to previous output by a band; compilation albums aren't intended to be enjoyed in that way.

Arts & Crafts: 2003-2013 is 10 years of the best Canadian label around, and covers not just their better known acts, like Broken Social Scene and Feist, but also bands you might not have heard of, like Apostle of Hustle, and those from overseas that are released through the label, like New Buffalo and Los Campesinos!.

Over two CDs and 34 tracks, a history of Arts & Crafts is showcased, with Broken Social Scene's Kevin Drew and other alumni largely taking the forefront, especially in the first half. Amy Millan, Stars and Jason Collett all show up here, and the CD is bookended (CDended?) by Broken Social Scene's '7/4 (Shoreline)' and 'Lover's Spit'.

Better known classics like Feist's 'Mushaboom' and Los Campesinos!' 'You! Me! Dancing!' appear here as well, so if you're looking for hidden treasures the second CD is your best bet. Here is the Feist cover of 'Islands in the Stream' and the Dears' 'Raise the Dead', a bonus track from Gang of Losers.

Arts & Crafts have lovingly collated their anniversary compilation, but aside from the two CD divide, it does occasionally feel unorganised. There's not a clear chronological order, and songs jump from upbeat to softer sounds without much warning. And then there's the inherent problem with best of collections; people will disagree on what's best. And what should've been included. The absence of Metric is notable; sure, they're only released through Arts & Crafts in Mexico, but as another arm of the extended Broken Social Scene family, it's strange to not see Emily Haines included. And if we're including Wales' Los Campesinos!, why not chuck Bloc Party in there too?

It's the kind of debate that could go on forever; the truth is, Arts & Crafts could have done a 4-CD compilation and people would still be questioning if there's enough Feist (at three tracks, yes there is) and whether the other version of 'Lover's Spit' would have been better.

You can't please everyone. But over the last 10 years, Arts & Crafts have done a damn good job trying to.

Rating: 9/10

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