Chris von Sneidern

Headful of Words: The Best of CvS, Volume One

Almost every major city has someone like Chris von Sneidern: a die-hard true believer carrying the torch of power pop. Alas, CvS, a fixture in the Bay Area since 1985, relocated to mythical Seattle in 2002, but perhaps that's the reason for this fine retrospective of his career spanning the years 1990 to '97. Not for him are the archetypal jangly guitars or Who-derived power chords. Von Sneidern favors an astutely layered, textured approach (he plays and sings almost everything) recalling the Beatles and the Hollies circa '67/'68 -- and the Polyphonic Spree today -- complete with comforting, diaphanous harmonies, melancholic melodies, and quasi-baroque ambience (think "Eleanor Rigby," "Walk Away Rene"). The elegantly yearning, acoustic-driven "One Side in Heaven" will elicit recollections of your first rain-on-the-windowpane heartbreak, and the rousing "Sight & Sound" is the best song the Monkees never did. Whereas a lot of retro pop is initially catchy but easy to tire of, Headful reveals new enchantments with successive listens.

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