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Don't Underestimate Wimp-pop

So, I've just been listening to songs by the Ballroom, one of the many projects masterminded by Curt Boettcher and Gary Usher. The Ballroom, along with other Boettcher “Sunshine Pop” bands Millenium and Sagittarius, have been collected on a very comprehensive 3CD set of what I'd call soft 1960s psychedelia, with lots of breezy melodies and gentle vocal harmonies. Think a baroque-pop Beatles gone to California, a lusher mid-period Beach Boys, or Love without the unease.

But although Boettcher also produced the Association, whose “Along Comes Mary” is probably the frothiest example of sunshine pop, the material on the Millenium/Ballroom Sessions set is trippier and more layered than that. I've been listening to most of this stuff while commuting, and while the pop craft and experimentation with arrangements, rhythm, and ambience are evident even with casual listening, the subtlety of Boettcher's production really needs to be heard over speakers with close listening. There are songs that sound really straightforward if you're not paying 100% attention, but will reveal more details, sometimes the tiniest of additional guitar lines, at others darker parts that seem to contradict the sunny nature of most the of the rest of the recording, but end up enriching it even more. As much of my favorite music tends to reveal more details with repeated listening, I have to say I've got more respect for these guys than ever before.

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