Sometimes the best criteria for judging a CD is: How often do I want to listen to it? From Bubblegum to Sky’s debut CD, Me and Amy and the Two French Boys, is an album that I can not stop playing. It’s a quick fix of pop/rock candy that is such a complete joy that I really wish I could forgo writing about it and just glue the thing into your CD player and force you to listen to it.
From Bubblegum to Sky is pretty much one guy, Mario Hernandez, formerly of Ciao Bella (with “additional instruments” contributed by Jamie McCormick, also of the now-defunct Ciao Bella). This album is filled with a ton of catchy melodies and “do-do-do” singalong harmonies, accompanied by a sparse but varied musical grabbag 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 rebel factor. A few of the songs, especially “Major,” dip majorly into classic, ‘70s-style rock in a way reminiscent of other “indie” bands with similar influences, like Sloan or Lilys, while “I Wanna Be an American Boy” is the best Cars song I’ve ever heard. “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% fun.
The lyrics throughout the record 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.” 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 and accompany them with uniquely creative sounds, groups that make 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 a great tool for contradicting anyone who thinks that music today has lost its vitality or newness.
// Notes from the Road
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