Various Artists

There are two reasons to buy Saddle Creek 50: First off, it's good. With two tracks from each of the eleven bands on Nebraska's independent Saddle Creek label, this double disc covers electroclash, emo-pop, and soft Southern folk with the understanding that things go unwell for everyone, but they go beautifully unwell for the Faint, Now It's Overhead, Rilo Kiley, Cursive, Son, Ambulance, Desaparecidos, the Good Life, Azure Ray, Sorry About Dresden, Mayday, and Bright Eyes. Their sounds are so diverse, anyone can find at least one band to nuzzle.

The second reason any serious music fan should want this album is that it's an abbreviated canon from one of the heftiest musical collectives to surface in recent years. As "alternative rock" has been digested by popular culture, many listeners looking for a rarified sound have turned to this Omaha-based label as their signified and significant "other." From the Faint's red-hot "Worked Up So Sexual" to a Bright Eyes orgy of introspection ("Something Vague," "One Foot in Front of the Other"), the Saddle Creek 50 "passes away like a slow parade," a procession of proletariat musicians relaunching the slings and arrows of everyday misfortune from their guitar strings. -- Marli Guzzetta

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