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From Bubblegum to Sky, Me and Amy and the Two French Boys (Eenie Meenie Records)

by Dave heaton

As far as I'm concerned, there's a pretty simple criteria for judging how good an album is: How often do I want to listen to it? Most of my favorite CDs that I rant and rave about are the ones I just can't stop listening to, the ones where as soon as it's over I play it again...and again...and again. Sometimes analysis of lyrics and the significance of the album in the world of music, blah blah blah really do NOT matter. All that matters is if the songs are good enough that they can withstand repeated listens.

From Bubblegum to Sky's debut CD, Me and Amy and the Two French Boys, is one of those albums that I can not stop listening to. It's a quick fix of pop/rock candy that is a complete joy to listen to. Honestly, this CD is just so much fun to listen to that nothing else about it really matters that much. The "band" here is pretty much one guy, Mario Hernandez, formerly of Ciao Bella (with "additional instruments" contributed by Jamie McCormick, also of the now-defunct duo Ciao Bella). Basically this album is filled from start to finish with a ton of catchy melodies and "do-do-do" singalong harmonies, accompanied by a sparse but varied musical grab-bag of keyboards, drums, guitars and lots of hand claps.

The songs are all catchy-as-hell pop, but musically the sounds come from a dizzying mix of rock/pop styles; it lies somewhere between power pop, glam rock, new wave and bubblegum, with a dash of funk. Hernandez has a really sweet, high voice, but he sings with this rock star swagger that gives the songs a nice rebellious factor. A few of the songs, especially "Major" dips majorly into classic, 70's-style rock in a way fairly reminiscent of other fine "indie" bands with similar influences, like Sloan, for example, while "I Wanna Be an American Boy" is a total Cars tune. "Shaboom They Said" shifts from sugar pop into guitar-heavy rock via a really odd structure that's hard to get my head around; musically it's the oddest song here, almost jarring at times, but it's still 100% catchy and I love it.

The lyrics are at times hard to understand (but it doesn't really matter because the tunes are so great), but other times display a mix of oddball creativity and a snappy sort of wit, with memorable lines like "Are you a boy or a girl? Are you something new?" and "Get lost, get started...better to just fade away, like birthdays and funny names." The lyrics to "She Floats" are pretty representative of what the album does for me musically, with Hernandez singing about how everyone from the trust fund kids to the office girls are singing "sha do ra ray."

I don't want to overclassify or simplify what's going on in music these days, but in general I'm finding a ton of musicians lately that have a great sense for memorable pop hooks accompanied by uniquely creative sounds, groups working with pop music but for the sheer love of sounds and songs, not out of superficial dreams for top 40 success (though Hernandez does sarcastically indicate in one song that he'll be making his first million by July).

Me and Amy... is one of the main examples I put forth for anyone saying that music today has lost its vitality, that it's either all about the dough or all about repeating what worked in yesteryear. Any quick tour through the world of independent pop/rock music today ("indie pop" or whatever), as seen through labels/distributors like Darla and Parasol (and the ton of great smaller labels that they distribute)indicates that music today is filled with life, too much, in fact, for one person to keep track of.

Two of the catchiest songs on this CD, "Hello Hello Hi" and "My Thousand Years With Robots" can be listened to on the web at Check them out and see how long you can it takes til you're itching to hear the songs again.

Issue 1, April 2000 | next article

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