Various Artists

Hear Music, Vol. 9: Souvenirs

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An album purporting to bring you new artists and/or new tracks from established artists. The focus here is very clearly on the alt-rock/alt-pop scene, but there's a flair of Spanish music too. It's loaded with the singer/songwriter aesthetic, essentially with acoustic guitars holding the front lines instrumentally. The album opens with some thick, funk-infused tango from the Gotan Project. From there it moves into its main mission, with the an item from the radio-friendly Coldplay's latest album, followed by tracks from David Gray and Aimee Mann. A number of lesser-knowns are then introduced, as artists from Dublin, the Midwest, and the Canadian east coast are paraded through with their works. An item from Liz Phair's upcoming album is showcased as they move back towards the recognizable end of the name spectrum, followed soon after by songmaker Pete Krebs and new country icons Nickel Creek. Eventually, the Latin end comes back, as a track from the Ry Cooder/Manuel Galban collaboration Mambo Sinuendo comes through, sounding almost like a bit of old Esquivel, and the Spanish Harlem Orchestra provides some straightforward big band mambo. The album finishes with jazz pianist Brad Mehldau's stylings of an old Beatles' song. Overall, it's not a bad album, though the styles presented are heading in the direction of being too diverse to make a coherent whole. In large part, it holds together through the focus on alt-rock/alt-pop, but at the transition points it can be a little rough. The music is worth hearing if you're a fan of the genre though, and the non-pop/non-rock songs add a bit of distinction to the project.

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