A midwestern answer to the Indigo Girls, the dynamic duo of Aim Me Smiley and Renee Ananda comes off like a pair of modern-day dharma bums. Kicking around the world, entertaining and uplifting spirits on street corners and in cafés and courtyards, the guitar-and-accordion combo harmonizes wonderfully. Recorded at the Winchester, the 2004 double-CD release Off the Cuff
captures the group's positive vibrations, from the old-fashioned gospel folk of "Do You Live What You Preach?" to the gypsy-klezmer bounce of "Shake the Devil." While sentiments such as "Life Is Sweet," "Be Brave," and "Brightside of Life" may seem cloying to the jaded, they sure beat the morose malingering of, say, Staind. We'd much rather hear a couple of pretty ladies sing of hope and possibility than a spoiled rocker bemoan his ex-girlfriend.