Tuesday, February 12, 2008

CD Review: A New Hope by Minipop

San Francisco is one of my favorite places on Earth. Its busy streets are bathed in creativity from the countless artists and musicians that give the city its spark. Minipop calls the great SF home, and their music accurately captures one of the city's many faces-the one that's usually covered with the make-up of a more eccentric stereotype. Sometimes gentle and carefree like the dandelion featured on the cover of their latest release, while other times appropriately mellow and candied, Minipop offer a generally smooth brew of music. Possibly inspired by groups from the 90s, like The Sundays, Minipop create hummable tunes that are melodiously comfortable. Using simple instruments like keyboards and guitars, Minipop easily create the kind of glowing dreampop that's light on emotions and easy on the ears.

A New Hope offers perfect picnic music that's also worth listening to on a rainy day. "Precious" is beautifully sung in a mildly sad tone as instruments whisper-in the melancholy feeling that isn't aggressively conveyed in the lyrics. A little bit more on the upbeat side, "Someone to Love" comes to life as Nick Forte's bass guitar is effectively showcased alongside lead singer Tricia Kanne's mild and delicate voice. The last song on A New Hope shares its name and marks the end of the listening experience perfectly as it comes together like a sweetly composed farewell song.

In A New Hope, Minipop has created a complete album without any holes that could reveal a lack of talent. All in all, like cotton candy, Minipop's tunes will satisfy your musical sweet tooth, but they'll do so without leaving you sticky and covered in pink sugar.

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Birthday Massacre

Check out their MySpace page here

The Birthday Massacre give bland, computerized music a make-over by combining two different genres (electronica and rock, aka rocktronica) that would seem to clash if they weren't blended with just the right amount of color. Chibi, the lead singer, has a voice that takes plain old vanilla ice cream rock and gives it a good dose of purple sprinkles. A little less girlie than the color pink, Chibi's voice offers an unexpected but perfect amount of lightness that contrasts with the generally heavier notes created by airy synthesized sounds mixed with lower guitar tones. Borderlining goth rock while incorporating dreampop/electronica elements, The Birthday Massacre create an appealing, unmatched sound that's upbeat while, paradoxically, slightly macabre.

If you judged their album by it's cover, you'd get a good idea of what their music represents: Something dark and youthful, almost like a musical fairytale including goblins and a Peter pan-like hero. But you'd never guess they liked creating songs like "To Die For" with simple lyrics and a happy tune. Nonetheless, they do stay true to their image by covering heavier topics overshadowed by mysteriosly eerie sounds in songs like "Video Kid" and "Kill the Lights".

If you took all of the fun Halloween memories you had as a kid, collected them in a jar, then threw in a few sparkles, you'd end up with a snowglobe that resembles what The Birthday Massacre creates with music-something that's easy to grasp and hard to let go of, once you've seen and heard what it can do.


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