Various Artists

Unsound, Vol. 2: Guitars!

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Part two of the compilation series devoted to home recordings, mostly in quality that's about equal to what you get on most "real" studio releases. Part one of the Unsound series was devoted to pop, and guitar-oriented pop/rock with heavy streaks of '60s British Invasion and '70s power pop remains a favorite line of attack on this installment. It is more diverse than its predecessor, however, with some countryish roots rock, country novelty, lo-fi alt-pop, the Buddy Holly girl-groupish sound of the Mastications, wizened folk-rock (Lenny Molotov's "Frame 313" sounds like a tribute/satire imitation of Barry McGuire), and clean folk-rock (Todd Shuster's "An Expiration Date" is a remarkably close approximation, or parody, of early Simon & Garfunkel). The compilers obviously have a fondness for melody above all else, and the straightforward (if usually derivative) pop/rockers work better than the selections that are trying to be lyrically clever and funny. Few of these names will be known to most listeners, even indie-oriented ones, except for one-shot British Invasion hitmaker Ian Whitcomb, who has a couple of ukulele ditties. This anthology might became a collectable since Johnny Dowd, who became a critical favorite at the end of the '90s with his brand of twisted country-alt-rock, does a song, "Divorce, American Style," that didn't appear on either of his late-'90s albums. It's not such a great cut, though, lumbered by a plodding lo-fi drum track.

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