Essex Green

A prominent member of the incestuous Brooklyn-based cooperative that includes like-minded combos Ladybug Transistor, the Sixth Great Lake, and the Finishing School, Essex Green creates a sunny retro sound rooted in the breezy sentiments of the mid to late Sixties. Pleasant and unobtrusive, the light and easy tunes on Cannibal Sea, the band's third long-player, are filled with quiet desire and wishful notions about escaping the city and embracing the joys of the great outdoors. In fact their innocent enthusiasm alone ensures the instant appeal of "This Isn't Farm Life," the album's buoyant opener; "Don't Know Why (You Stay)," its infectious followup; and "Cardinal Point," the set's catchiest entry. Singer Sasha Bell's seductive coo suggests an unlikely fusion of Natalie Merchant and the Go-Go's, while covocalists Chris Ziter and Jeff Baron follow a folksier route.

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Lee Zimmerman