Various Artists

Parasol's Sweet Sixteen, Vol. 6

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The sixth volume of Parasol's Sweet Sixteen series collects 21 tracks that, with one exception, were released on the Parasol, Hidden Agenda, Mud, and Reaction labels. The problem with this approach is one that afflicts many label samplers: although there's a lot of variety, there's not much of a consistent sound or approach, other than generally falling under the umbrella of early 21st century indie pop. So it's kind of baffling as to what general consumer would want to purchase this if full albums by the individual artists are available, though it might be useful for college radio stations looking to sample unfamiliar acts that they might want to follow up on. Given all those limitations, this is still a fair CD, though only Bettie Serveert, Scenic, and the Action (represented by an anachronistic late-'60s cut, "Brain") are reasonably well-known. Generally, Parasol's Sweet Sixteen, Vol. 6 is pleasant, mildly quirky, guitar-oriented indie pop, often with echoes of vintage greats like the Kinks and the Beach Boys. It doesn't always follow that path: Scenic do their acclaimed cinematic desert instrumental rock, and there's some influence from electro-pop and new wave. It's largely American, but also a little international in scope, with several cuts from Swedish acts, and a few from France (represented by Orwell, whose orchestral pop "Toutes les Nouvelles Parlent d'Hier" is a highlight) and England. There's just one otherwise unreleased song, Club 8's "Saturday Night Engine."