When the grittiest, most down-to-earth song on a CD is a Stevie Nicks composition, you know you're dealing with an album of unusual sappiness. Nicks's "Landslide" is the highlight of "Spin Art," the fifth album from Venice.
This soft-rock quartet from Los Angeles reduces the Southern California pop harmonies of the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and Crosby, Stills & Nash to a glee-club sweetness and marries them to confessional folk songs of the most narcissistic sort.
Pat and Kipp Lennon are the sons of the Lennon Brothers, the '40s swing group, and the brothers of the Lennon Sisters, stars of "The Lawrence Welk Show."
With their cousins, Michael and Mark Lennon, Pat and Kipp formed Venice in 1980, and the new group keeps alive the family tradition of precise harmonies, pleasant melodies, unobtrusive rhythms and inoffensive sentiments.
Eleven of the 13 songs on "Spin Art" were co-written by one or more of the four Lennons, and the final track, "The Family Tree," typifies the album's saccharine music and greeting-card lyrics. In an earnest, sensitive voice, Kipp Lennon sings, "May it always comfort us to know/ The family tree will always grow/ It's stronger than the wind can blow," as his brother and cousins add feathery harmonies. It's so precious that it makes Nicks sound like Chrissie Hynde by comparison.
Opening for Lowen & Navarro Saturday at the Birchmere and Sunday at the Rams Head Tavern.
* To hear a free Sound Bite from Venice, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8106. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)