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Playing Around: Sunset Valley

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Sunset Valley is a distinct kind of annoying: Imagine you're driving a ridiculously long distance for a really stupid reason, interstate all the way, and you seriously underestimated your CD supply needs. So the same discs get played over and over again, over and over again, over and over -- again.

Know that point where just can't stomach hearing "Brown Sugar" one more time, but you let it play anyway because, after all, it is the Stones, and it could be worse? Yeah. Welcome to Sunset Valley, pop. 3. Their motto: Annoyance Through Ambivalence.

The trio from the northwest is going through the pop-rock motions, but that's alright, because the motions are your woobie. They're familiar. It only takes a half-hearted effort to wrap an ear around them. You know the jaded slocore laments, the edgy blues implications of seven years past, the Birki sandal melodies of an earthen phase, the worn V-neck sweater refrains. Name the genre, name the style -- as long as Generation X dug it up, the influence has a home in Sunset Valley.

Turn-off, right? Not if you were part of the magical generation that spawned Mazzy Star and Nirvana, Weezer and Francis Dunnery. One of the bitter truths of the '90s was that while we talked big about anger and injustice, ageism and sexism, as a coordinated youth movement, we really didn't do that much about it at the time. Instead, we relied on the music to express our insecurities. The common thread of frustration at our own timidity weaves itself throughout that first period of "alternative" music -- and accordingly, through Sunset Valley.

Then, we were annoyed with ourselves on just about every level, but our remarkable level of apathy allowed us to deal with it, let it play. It was our distinctive badge, one that Sunset Valley has proudly affixed to their compositions. The damn-near-throwback band plays at Acoustic Coffee Lounge Wednesday; admission is $5.

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