[5 September 2006]
Portland, Oregon, indie imprint Paisley Pop released this collection of 24 songs by 24 artists, all of whom you’ve probably never heard of. The trouble with these kind of things is, when all you have to judge an artist by is a single song, and when each of the 24 artists shares an indie pop sensibility that’s not so unique, even after a number of listens I’d be hard pressed to tell you what the precise character of the work of Robert Crenshaw is, or what makes Tim Lee’s song great. The unfortunate result of bringing together all those young male singer-songwriters is that their essential conformity is highlighted. Call it the Northwest legacy of the Shins, an obvious touchstone for many of Paisley Pop’s artists. I personally preferred the Whitlams’ interpretation of “Beautiful as You”, but James Cooper, who co-wrote the track with Tim Freedman, gives the sweet ballad his own country flavour. Joe Mannix’s “Silver Girl”, another highlight, is soft, slow, and sweet—a welcome respite from the upbeat, DIY-soaked acoustic guitars. Like an over-enthusiastic friend’s mixtape, it’s about 10 songs too long, but at least it tells us that, yes, there is an abundance of musicians with the chops to deliver the sweetest melodies.