Record Review 

A musical movement officially ends not when second-generation acts begin producing watered-down versions of an original sound, but when artists realize that they can cull those sounds, repackage them and introduce a seemingly original product to their audience. That said, Ben Kweller may be the first of an inevitable wave of musicians to pay homage to the mid-'90s indie rock coming-out party by presenting the filtered highlights of that era.

With a quivery voice reminiscent of Weezer's Rivers Cuomo and lyrics that could easily have been scribbled in a notebook of teenage poetry penned by Pavement's Stephen Malkmus, Kweller traverses familiar territory on Sha Sha. But the former leader of post-grunge baby band, Radish, does so with an eye for detail and a great deal of obvious ability. The Dallas native's first solo offering is a solid collection of hum-along tunes, very little of which could be construed as filler.

Some of Kweller's strongest work comes from behind the piano on "In Other Words" and "Falling," easily two of Sha Sha's most rewarding songs. But it's the crunchy guitar riffs in "Commerce, TX" and "Harriet's Got a Song" that are the album's true high points.

Kweller's career to this point has paralleled that of another early bloomer, sensitive indie-rocker Ben Lee. Lee scored minor musical success in the '90s, but went on to greater fame as Claire Danes' boyfriend. Such a fate shouldn't befall the extremely talented Kweller.

Ben Kweller plays EarthLink Live Sun., April 14.


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