Various Artists

Pop American Style

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March Records released this stellar 40-track double disc set in 1996, setting the benchmark for indie pop and twee pop compilations. Recruiting the rising stars in the genre, March assembled as startlingly diverse a collection as could be expected, offering songs from all over the indie pop map. Starting with the relaxed and peaceful "Summer Days" by Michigan's Shoestrings, California's Rocketship quickly picks up the pace with the organ-fueled "Hey, Hey Girl." The pace continues to rise and fall throughout, from the hushed beauty of Holiday's "It's Only Love" to the quirky "Bellman" by Sissy Bar. Other highlights from the first disc include My Favorite's rousing "Go Kid Go," the bare bones grace of "Soren Loved Regina" by the Receptionists, and Elf Power's spaced-out "Spectators." The first disc ends with the restrained ballad "Memphis" by Push Kings. Just as compelling as the first half, the second 20-song disc is more of the same: charming, graceful indie pop from a slew of bands from across the United States. From the melodic layers of San Francisco's #Poundsign#'s "Starry Night" to the upbeat cuddlecore on "Inanimate Objects" by St. Louis trio Bunnygrunt, Pop American Style retains its freshness throughout and after repeated listens. Vehicle Flips offer up the cerebral "O Tedium," while Michigan's Godzuki appear on the synth/space rock gem "Who's Gonna Hold the Rope." Quite possibly the catchiest track of the group is All About Chad's "Japanese Couple in Reverse," with its wildly giddy harmonies and relentless flare. Seattle's twee pop institution Tullycraft appear on "Piano Lessons for Beauty Queens," while "Secret Song" offers a taste of the impassioned synth pop of the Christines. Pop American Style reaches its end with the hypnotic "Ageism" by Flowchart. The compilation began a trend of independently released pop in the late '90s, resulting in a flourishing underground scene around the globe.

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