With debates raging about the impact of the digital revolution on the current/future music scene it's heartening to see an independent, not for profit project such as the 'Shaking Through' series being such a success. The aim of the scheme (a joint undertaking between Weathervane Music and Philadelphia's WXPN radio) is to further the careers of up and coming artists by filming the creation of an original song over the course of 3 days in the studio. The high definition video is then posted online with a link to download the finished track for free, with the system being funded by public donations. 2010's 'Shaking Through Volume 1' included tracks from Sharon Van Etten, Twin Sister, Reading Rainbow, Ben + Vesper and more, and now we get the full compendium of this year's labours.
A few of the bands here have already begun to make waves and most of the rest have the potential to follow suit. A Classic Education, Big Troubles and Family Band will be names known by a fair few people already and their contributions here are suitably top-notch (Big Troubles' reverberating 'Phantom' is particularly effective) but there are some lesser known acts providing real quality too. LA BIG VIC's eleven minute electronic dreamscape, 'Musica', is a work of towering beauty, marking them out for a possible breakthrough next year; Sweet Lights' CSNY-go-pop stylings on 'You Let Me Down' expertly reflect the sorrow of a fading relationship in the way that feels like the sun setting on the final days of summer; the icy guitar and wintry harmony of 'Curfews' by Snowmine is a lovely way to round things up.
The ethos behind 'Shaking Through Volume 2' is pretty difficult to fault, and the compilation itself also defies any real criticism; unlike many various artist compilations there's no need to pick and choose which tracks to keep and which to discard, they're all keepers and as a continuous listen they fit together tidily. The whole thing can be streamed or downloaded for free or for a donation. A worthy album from a worthy cause, we look forward to hearing what gems they uncover for us in 2012.