Music

Andrew: A Beautiful Story [reissue]

Zeth Lundy

Andrew

A Beautiful Story [reissue]

Label: Vibro-Phonic
US Release Date: 2004-05-04
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

[The following is a transcript of an internal conversation between the author and himself.]

"Ok, so what do we have here? It's A Beautiful Story, Vibro-Phonic's reissue of the debut album by Andrew (Sandoval, a singer/songwriter hailing from Los Angeles, California). The back of the disc promises 'an adventure in sound with accompaniment from the Orchestral Sounds'. If that wasn't enough, some A-list musicians make guest appearances, most notably Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, Calexico's John Convertino, Jon Brion, and Peter Holsapple of the dB's and R.E.M. fame. It's a veritable who's who of power pop -- and then some!"

"Yes, and according to the press release, Alternative Press exclaimed that the album is easily confused as 'an unreleased follow-up to Pet Sounds'. Comparisons to that album aren't tossed around lightly! I'm curious, though: why would an album that came out only four years ago get the reissue treatment?"

"Hey, Modest Mouse did it -- Andrew can too. This first song is showing some promise: the piano and bass sure do bop along like Brian Wilson. Andrew's voice is a bit timid, but that can work to his advantage on a song like 'Unrequited Life'. It makes him seem vulnerable and plays up the recurring motifs of loneliness and heartache. You just want to give him a hug, you know?"

"I don't know ... I think he's pandering for that hug! I can tell his voice is going to be a huge problem for me. For one thing, it's anemic; close your eyes and put some oomph into it! And doesn't it seem like he's learning these melodies for the first time as they're being sung? Almost like he's afraid to sing the next part for fear that he'll screw it up?"

"Perhaps you have a point, but didn't Bob Dylan already prove that a great voice doesn't equal impeccable pitch and delivery? Listen to the production instead, it's immaculate! The guitars ring with clarity, the drum tones are nearly perfect, and the subtle embellishments of handclaps and tambourines are well-placed. Without a doubt, Andrew graduated with honors from the School of Pop History. 'Wondering' borrows a drum pattern from 'Ticket to Ride'; 'Dream About You' draws its influence from Elvis Costello's Imperial Bedroom; 'What I Need' is vintage R.E.M. to the core; and 'Carousel' alludes to a Hollies tune, if only in title alone."

"Granted, the man knows his pop music. If only he could take those influences and craft something wholly unique. A Beautiful Story is chock full of musical references, but they're carbon copy blueprints, not a basis for something distinctly different."

"That's not entirely true; a song like 'Can't Go on This Way' transcends its influences. It has a complex, yet contagious, chord progression and some clever lyrics. 'No one could stop my train of thought / Or slow it down' is a good line."

"You want to talk about lyrics? Don't get me started. I sincerely believe that if Andrew were a stronger lyricist, many of my other reservations could be overlooked. An unhealthy majority of his lyrics are so unforgivably predictable that you can fill in the upcoming blanks on the first listen! Take, for example, some lines from the song 'Here Hear': 'Let's not say goodbye just yet / Let's stick around and feel the emotions that lay ahead / From the fantastic to the sublime / All the things on your own you won't find'."

"Hmm. That is unfortunate."

"If ever there was a lyric in dire need of the Magical Editing Fairy, this is it."

"Well, I'll admit that a line like 'In the night I can't sleep for all my dreamin' / Heaven knows just what I'm schemin' is about you' isn't exactly the stuff of legend."

"Sure isn't. Kinda makes Matthew Sweet look like Paul McCartney, doesn't it?"

"This is all quite disappointing, as I had such high expectations for this record. Andrew has a knack for '60s pop song structure, and a flawless team of supporting players, but in the end it doesn't seem to matter. A Beautiful Story is merely an exercise in style over substance. Its impact is so slight that the songs evaporate from memory within minutes of its end."

"I hate to agree with you, but you're absolutely right. This is not to say that every album released in the whole wide world has to be profound, but it is more rewarding to listen to music that is both sonically proficient and creatively accomplished. If you can't be discriminating, then what's the point?"

"Well, there you have it. Though I wonder: what album was Alternative Press listening to?"

Music


Books


Film


Recent
Reading Pandemics

Pandemic, Hope, Defiance, and Protest in 'Romeo and Juliet'

Shakespeare's well known romantic tale Romeo and Juliet, written during a pandemic, has a surprisingly hopeful message about defiance and protest.

Film

A Family Visit Turns to Guerrilla Warfare in 'The Truth'

Catherine Deneuve plays an imperious but fading actress who can't stop being cruel to the people around her in Hirokazu Koreeda's secrets- and betrayal-packed melodrama, The Truth.

Music

The Top 20 Punk Protest Songs for July 4th

As punk music history verifies, American citizenry are not all shiny, happy people. These 20 songs reflect the other side of patriotism -- free speech brandished by the brave and uncouth.

Books

90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.

Music

Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'The Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Music

Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.

Music

Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.

Books

First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?

Reviews

HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.

Music

Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.