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Various - The Sensitive Guy's Guide To Groovy Music

  by Malcolm Carter

published: 4 / 8 / 2004

Various - The Sensitive Guy's Guide To Groovy Music
Label: Paisley Pop
Format: CD


Enjoyable budget-priced sampler which compiles together 22 tracks from recent releases on Portland, Oregon-based power pop label, Paisley Pop

Jangle pop, power pop, indie pop, call it what you will, but along with Not Lame and Rainbow Quartz independent label Paisley Pop are keeping the flag flying with release after release of quality albums chock full of chiming guitars, harmonies and killer hooks. 'The Sensitive Guy’s Guide To Groovy Music' (with a cover recalling those great Crusin’ compilation albums of years back) offers 21 little gems and one which doesn’t shine quite as brightly as expected. After the outstanding Wondermints produced Christmas themed album ‘Lost Winter’s Dream’ any song associated with Lisa Mychols was sure to be a winner. But Mychols' cover of Chris Stamey’s ‘Cycles Per Second’ from a forthcoming dBs tribute album titled ‘Like Them’ disappoints. Not that there’s anything actually wrong with Mychol’s vocals , any performance which brings to mind Kirsty MacColl can’t be all bad, and the production is good. It’s just that the song is not one of Stamey’s best to begin with. In fact with its skewed musical backdrop it can be annoying at times. Let’s hope Mychols forthcoming album on RPM records meets with our expectations. But with this album being sold at such a low price maybe criticising one song is simply nit-picking. Especially when the other 21 songs contain some real mini classics. Starting the album with one of the strongest tracks from the album of the summer, ‘Paparazzi’, by those masters of power pop Jamie Hoover and Bill Lloyd was a good move. Those chiming guitars, harmonies and Costello-ish vocals set the scene for much of what is to follow. The following song, ‘In Crowd’ by Happiness Factor follows the same musical path so much that it could have come straight off that Hoover/Lloyd album. It’s a fair match for any song that graces ‘Paparazzi’, which is high praise indeed. Taking in artists from labels other than Paisley Pop (BongoBeat, 1-2-5, Gadfly and Groove Disques all make a good showing) there are many artists here who, I confess, are making their first sonic attack on these jangle loving ears. Apart from the better known names like Kimberly Rew, who contributes the song ‘English Road’ from his album ‘Great Central Revisited’; a superb slice of power pop paying tribute to our little island ; the aforementioned Jamie Hoover and Bill Lloyd and Jill Olson (who quite possibly takes the honour of best song on the album with her self-penned ‘Other Voices, Other Rooms’, a kind of country take on jangle pop if there was such a thing which makes the listener want to rush out and buy the album it comes from within seconds of hearing the song), there are lesser known artists such as Joe Mannix and Sex and Reverb to name but two. And it’s these undiscovered artists which make this collection so special. The Sex and Reverb song, ‘Where Have All The Good Things Gone’ is a gorgeous string laden track, taken at a much slower pace than one would expect on a compilation such as this and without a jangling guitar in sight, some unusual gruff vocals and a certain sense of loss hanging over the whole thing. It shows another side to what the Paisley Pop label offers and again makes one want to dig deep and buy the album it comes from. For lovers of melodic pop music this has to be a compilation made in heaven. Forget Tom Petty’s ‘American Girl’ ! The Windbreakers ‘Girl From Washington’ (another group I’m ashamed to admit it seems I’ve missed out on, the album this song is lifted from is titled ‘Time Machine, 1982-2002) is without a doubt the best song Roger McGuinn never wrote. If I didn’t know them so well I’d swear it was lifted from one of the Byrds first two albums. One of the best love lost/chances missed songs ever? Without a doubt. Chiming guitars, harmonies and a lead vocal sounding so much like McGuinn it’s uncanny. One can only hope Teenage Fanclub never hear this track. It sounds like the song they’ve been striving to write for years. There are songs like Joe Mannix’s ‘Silver Girl’ and Huw Gower’s ‘A Childhood In Merthyr’ which are a long way from being classified as jangle pop, having more of a new day folk sound to them, but somehow they all fit in effortlessly on this collection. The down side to a collection this strong is, of course, that there are now a dozen or so albums I never even knew existed that I’m going to have to buy. So a treat for the ears then but a sad day for the bank balance.

Track Listing:-
1 Jamie Hoover & Bill Lloyd- Show And Tell The World
2 The Happiness Factor- In Crowd
3 Kimberley Rew- English Road
4 Lisa Mychols- Cycles Per Second
5 Jill Olson- Other Voices, Other Rooms
6 Sex And Reverb- Where Have All The Good Things Gone
7 Trolleyvox- Le Fleur De Lys
8 Robert Crenshaw- I Done Wtong
9 Windbreakers- Girl From Washington
10 The Rite- Flyers Ex-wife Birthday Card
11 The Quags- Send In The Clouds
12 Joe Mannix- Silver Girl
13 Salim Nourallah- Overwhelmed
14 Stephen Lawrenson- Town
15 Jason Byrd- I Know You Are
16 Huw Gower- A Childhood In Merthyr
17 Brown Mountain Lights- Take My Eyes
18 Crack City Rockers- Yr Rotten Luck
19 The Swivel Chairs- Slow Night
20 Tim Lee- Keep It True
21 Milkshake Jones- Between The Lines
22 Saving Graces- Idiot Proof

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