Though the music industry is still currently in a state of general instability, it seems the anxious cries of “A dying industry!” have been replaced with inventive (yet still anxious) whispers: “How can we monetize that?” While I’d much rather listen to intelligent conversations about making money rather than irrational doomsday prophesies, we’ve gone from one extreme to another. A vast majority of up-and-coming bands are now so concerned with the idea of instant monetization that the concept of making music simply for the sake of creative expression has all but gone by the wayside. 

Subsequently, when I was presented with the opportunity to write a feature on a charity complication featuring a variety of rising indie bands, I immediately agreed. It’s a welcome -- and well-needed -- reminder that for some artists making music and making money do not have to be mutually exclusive. Musician Ralph Gonzalez created Ready for the Sunshine to benefit Smile Train, an international charity that provides cleft palate surgery to children in developing countries. 

“I started this project after changing jobs in 2009 and realizing that I could no longer afford to make a significant annual cash contribution to the Smile Train,” Gonzalez told me. “After speaking with local musicians and [Smile Train] we concluded that a compilation album could have a great impact," by donating all proceeds to Smile Train. Gonazalez began approaching bands he thought would provide excellent hopeful, accessible indie songs.

And fit that theme they certainly did. The resulting album is a dazzling collection of indie talent presented in a surprisingly unified way. Though comprised of 15 artists from a wide array of countries (including Germany, Japan, Sweden, and the UK), Ready for the Sunshine creates a cohesive musical atmosphere that is unequivocally inviting. 

Running the gamut of the indie sound palate, the album bears many highlights, including the velvety and beguiling Matt Pond PA tune “Sparrows in the Rafters”, as well as the equally mesmeric ambient soul of Camera Obscura’s contribution “Country Mile.” For the more electronically inclined, Luminet’s “Pieces of the Puzzle” and Au Revoir Simone’s “Stars” may trigger your player’s repeat function. No matter your preference, Ready for the Sunshine is truly an indie indulgence from start to finish that is sure to perpetually leave your ears perked and toes tapping. 

Beyond the array of musical merits housed on this disc -- and believe me, there are a lot -- let’s not forget the principle focus. This is a charity compilation going to an undeniably admirable cause, put together by a group of undeniably admirable musicians who, if only for a moment, made the conscious decision to choose morality over monetization.  

Support Smile Train
. Support indie music. Check it out.

(Editors note: The attached playlist features artists on the album, not necessarily songs that are on the album.)