Shimmer Kids Underpop Association Prairie Prayers

As soon as the Shimmer Kids Underpop Association CD started spinning, I got excited. That's because I was greeted with one of the most convincing and engaging Beach Boys impressions I've ever heard - "We're All Chiefs And No Indians" is a wonderful song with complex, rich vocal harmonies and it set the scene for what to expect. Or so I thought, but Prairie Prayers takes a slight diversion from its initial dalliance with the Beach Boys and reveals its true schizophrenic nature. There's nods to Phil Spector, classic country, '60s pop and the majority of the Elephant 6 bands - a strange mix, but somehow it is all held together by this San Francisco collective, which manages to conjure up images of American days gone by, particularly with their Western-obsessed lyrics. I suppose that at its most basic, Prairie Prayers is a strange kind of concept album about the Old West - the cover is adorned with pictures of cowboys, Indians and even a good old-fashioned lynching, too. But if you look beyond the cover, you'll be rewarded by one of the more unique and unusual records you'll hear this year. (UnderPop)