Various Artists

Parasol's Sweet Sixteen, Vol. 8

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Effectively serving as a promotional sampler of sorts, this gathers 20 tracks that appeared on releases on the Parasol, Hidden Agenda, Galaxy Gramophone, and Reaction labels, mostly prior to the 2005 release date of this CD. (There is one previously unreleased cut, the Like Young's "26 Friends," as well as one track from a compilation of the recordings of the Crippled Pilgrims, a mid-'80s band.) While it's not easy to generalize about a lengthy anthology of cuts from 20 different groups on a variety of labels, it could be said that many of them favor more traditionally song-oriented rock music, albeit from an indie pop angle, than much other rock of the early 2000s does. There's new wave-ish power pop (Angie Heaton), punkish power pop (the Like Young), neo-psychedelia (the Green Pajamas), pseudo-'60s mod (Mas Rapido!), acid folk with shades of Nick Drake and Ray Davies (Jose Gonzalez), and Unbunny, who sound like an innocuous Neil Young. Not all of it pays homage to expected '60s and '70s influences: David Fridlund is theatrical arty singer/songwriter material, AK-Momo is like a more psychedelic Kate Bush, and Poster Children do a cover of "Fascist Groove Thang." Whether many listeners' tastes are wide enough to enjoy this as a start-to-finish experience in one gulp is questionable, and the above-average stuff is mixed in with some pretty average items. There's a commendable level of variety here, though, for inquisitive indie pop-oriented listeners and adventurous radio programmers looking for something that might have previously passed under their radar.

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