Various Artists

Piccadilly Sunshine, Vol. 5

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The Piccadilly Sunshine compilation series is to British psych-pop what collections like Pebbles are to U.S. garage rock, dipping into the deepest realms of ‘60s sonic esoterica, frequently focusing on acts that never released more than one or two singles. When you're unearthing this many obscure records, though -- especially over the course of numerous volumes -- the pickings are bound to start getting thin at some point. On the fifth installment of Piccadilly Sunshine, there are a number of tracks that aren't strictly psych-pop, presumably falling under the latter part of the series' "British pop psych and other flavours" subtitle. Some of the cuts here are more in the straightforward ‘60s sunshine pop vein, while a couple lean in a bit of a freakbeat direction. These distinctions might seem niggling, but within the context of hardcore record geekdom -- and make no mistake, that's the audience being courted here -- such distinctions can be crucial. Nevertheless, all is ultimately well on Piccadilly Sunshine, Vol. 5, because not only is there still no shortage of sweet psych-pop surprises to be found, even the slight stylistic detours make for a fun ride. So while Samurai's "Temple of Gold" is a deliciously sitar-laden, paisley-patterned treasure, and "Sunshine Thursday" is a sneaky, sultry, slightly Kinks-like gem that could have fallen off of that band's classic Something Else album, "Empty Highway" by Oedipus Complex is perky harmony pop, and the Running Jumping Standing Still Band's "Aye-O" mixes bubblegum with gritty rock guitar tones. If you're expecting wall-to-wall harpsichords, tremolo-soaked vocals, and wah-wah guitar licks, you might not be satisfied by the fifth Piccadilly Sunshine's picks, but if you're simply a true-blue aficionado of the period's pop in its varied permutations, you'll have no cause to complain.

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