Wouldn’t It Be Beautiful?

Wouldn’t It Be Beautiful?

Various Artists

Messenger

There’s a weird pop scene, one that defies the traditional meaning and origin of the word “pop” as it’s neither popular (though it deserves to be) nor easily digestible by the general public. Kenny Siegal participates in the Hand and Johny Society, two bands that illustrate the attractively uncomfortable disarray of melody and sound that distinguishes the genre. Sitars and orchestral stabs punctuate the title track of the compilation. Other distinguished guests include Bobby Sichran, Chris Whitley, Daniel Lanois, and Richard Buckner. Adam Elk provides a beautiful turn of voice in “No One Gives A Damn (About Your Band).” Swedish pop master Ray Wonder had me singing “Homemade Movie Queen” for days on end, with its catchy hook of a chorus and wonderfully quirky arrangement of melody, bass and organ — Paul McCartney would be proud of this one. Their other track, “General Hugging Center,” could have been a collaboration between McCartney and Ben Folds. “Fallen Arrow” by Church of Betty features the impressive talents of Carla Schikele (also of Beekeeper and ex of Ida) in a burbling mixture of Indian instruments and soaring chorus.

Wouldn’t It Be Beautiful? is a magnificently unaligned compilation — it doesn’t try to center itself around a place, time, cause or scene, or combination thereof. As much as the music here ranges in time and origin, it’s overwhelmingly good, a collection of music that is united by the fact that it’s immediately recognizable and likable without resorting to the lowest common denominator. An excellend roadmap for further exploration.

Messenger Records, P.O. Box 1607, New York, NY 10113

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