Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe
REVIEWS ___ Descriptives can be frustrating here, but it suffices to say that few make music quite like Perry -- the combination of her dreamy voice with her often peculiar and always interesting arrangements and exhilarating musicianship (she plays everything with the exception of the drums, handled impressively by Chris Searles) make Perry a serious entry into the world of pop. 'Simple' has no problem catching the listener's attention, and from there are a number of twists and turns from the schoolyard chant of 'To Have a Heart' to the steady 'The Last Laugh,' to the highly danceable and exotic 'When I'm With You' (Perry's guitar solo here is wonderful). Perry's music seems to have an almost 'built-in' rhythmic quality, and it's taken advantage of in arrangements like that on the weird and wonderful 'Making Her Up.' Perhaps the greatest triumph here is 'Slide Out,' where Perry's backing vocal provides a rhythm that her lead vocal wraps around on the verses while the wonderful chorus finds Perry and Searles in perfect harmony musically. The whole package of Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe also reveals that Perry is already a skilled producer, and this CD has a strong enough signature sound that others may seek her services in this area. Andrea Perry is a real find -- one that I think we will be hearing more from in the future. A talent like this is too strong to be ignored.' (4 out of 5 stars) -Claudio Sossi, Shake It Up ___ 'One of the greatest rewards in reviewing records is when a unique talent suddenly emerges from the shadows and hits you like a ton of bricks. Such is the case with Andrea Perry, a one woman wrecking crew from Texas whose debut disc, Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe, is definitely an ear opener. Perry somehow manages to combine the spare, tortured eloquence of Elliott Smith with the beguiling cheeriness of Linus of Hollywood, nad her sweet, multi-tracked vocals, personal, image-filled lyrics, and quirky sneaky melodies round out the package. She shows her versatility by moving from disarming uptempo tunes like 'Simple' and the nursery-rhymey 'To Have a Heart' to more somber numbers like 'Wilderness' and the lovely 'Feed Me.' And she can write a very immediate hook line when she wants to, as she does on 'I Don't Need This,' and 'I Rued The Day.' A very distinctive, excellent record!' -David Bash, Toast Magazine ___ 'When a visionary album graces our humble presence, we feel awed and inspired by that kind of rare magic. This is such an album. With the sweet innocence of the 60s bubble gum era and the sultry undertones of mature reflection, this project is a delightful blend of contrasts. A satisfying hug for the eardrums' (5 out of 5 stars) -ISWM Indie Pick of the Month ___ 'Just when you're feeling either overwhelmed by the insurmountable quantity of music demanding your attention or as often underwhelmed by the frequently indifferent quality on offer, along comes something totally unexpected which rekindles your dwindling enthusiasm. 'Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe' by Andrea Perry is just such an album. Initially both self-promoted and self-released the album has recently been justifiably picked up by new label Trust Issue Records. Perry plays virtually everything on the album herself, bar the drums. Having also written, produced and arranged the material she couldn't possibly have had the energy to sit and hit things in rhythm as well! Born in Ohio just weeks after the release of Sgt. Pepper and subsequently raised in Texas by her classical pianist parents she has obviously inherited a keen ear for music albeit choosing to express her craft in a much less traditional manner than might have been expected. Distinguished by busy, eccentric arrangements that really engage the listener, Perry's whimsical often multi-tracked voice is at times reminiscent of Victoria Williams, but is equally unique at others. Drawing on a multitude of influences, many of which she acknowledges, such as the Beatles, XTC, Robyn Hitchcock and Sesame Street it's also possible to detect traces of Jellyfish, the Zombies and even the highlife rhythms of the Bhundu Boys on When I'm With You. Disparate, undoubtedly, but delightful throughout. There is so much going on here that even after several listens the arrangements continue to reveal ever more twists and turns. Amongst many highlights are the deceptively titled, piano-led opener Simple, the bubbling funky pop of Slide Out with it's charmingly brief guitar solo and the glistening harpsichord that underpins the crystalline If I Lose You. Andrea Perry is evidently a very talented musician, playing guitar, bass and keyboards with equal aplomb as well as displaying great technical creativity in the studio. Sadly she is also extremely shy and won't play live, but consolation is at hand with the news that she is already working on a follow-up. Appealingly packaged in manga-influenced sleeve art, the innovative baroque, psychedelic pop wares on offer in 'Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe' should prove to be a very difficult proposition to resist, even for the most discerning of palates.' -Geriant Jones, Comes With a Smile, UK ___ 'Armed with a voice that's almost too good to be true, Andrea Perry gives off a vibe so pleasant and cheerful that she could convince even the most down-on-his-luck chap that the sun is beaming in the middle of a torrential rainstorm. There's a strong Kate Bush quality to Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe; the album is full of lyrical oddities and quirky melodies which, coupled with Perry's Voice of the Beehive-style approach to girly pop, provides a perfect antidote for a day muddled with bad weather. The songs on Sweet Shoppe are generally so quirky that their brilliance goes unnoticed on the first few spins. The last twenty seconds of 'Simple' are filled with the kind of strange and playful sound effects you could find featured in Saturday morning cartoons -- and to Perry's credit, the song actually works. A few tracks later, on 'To Have A Heart', Perry sings a chorus that could easily work as a pre-school anthem. Thankfully, Perry isn't limited to kiddie fare. After a few more spins, the album's unique arrangements and pure originality begin to sink in, and you wonder why you didn't notice it earlier. Perry has an obvious fondness for Paul McCartney; it would be hard to deny that he has been an ongoing influence in her music, but Perry certainly isn't the first to strive for McCartneyesque songwriting. However, she differentiates herself from other Beatles/Wings enthusiasts by not using that influence as a crutch. You could drop plenty of names in an effort to describe Perry's music -- Tuscadero and Juliana Hatfield come to mind -- but she melds them into a unique approach. Perry suffers from pretty serious stage fright, so you won't hear her playing live at your corner bar (or Borders) any time soon, but in a way, her performance anxiety helps to make Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe so engaging. With all of the extra time she has from not touring, she's been able to perfect her multi-layered recording techniques and master a plenitude of instruments (with the exception of drums, Perry plays everything here). Though her music is unarguably bright and cheerful, Perry's lyrics aren't always optimistic. On 'Wilderness', perhaps her most downbeat song, Perry sings 'I'm burning out/and I can feel it/If I am lifeless/Revive me.' 'I Don't Need This' and 'If I Lose You' also point toward a less than cheerful outlook. Wait a few minutes, though, and the grooving bass lines and sing-along harmonies will return -- and with them, an undeniable urge to dance around the room. Perry is a welcome alternative to the predictable and the overly familiar. If you know what's good for you (and chances are, you don't), pick up Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe and be prepared to be won over.' -Amy Leach, Splendid Ezine ___ 'There is nothing radical about the dozen songs on Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe. Nothing, that is, unless you consider plump, delicious, melodically creamy pop pastries - of a variety that have managed to break through to mainstream radio only occasionally in the decades since Don Kirshner's bubblegum factory began to crumble - radical. By that criterion, Andrea Perry's debut album is radical indeed - and radically fantastic. In fact, it is on the order of, and quality-wise on a par with, the early-'70s one-man-band efforts by Paul McCartney and, especially, Emitt Rhodes. The comparison may sound like hyperbole, but once these irresistibly animated tunes - buoyant, euphonious, cherubic, ridiculously hummable - lay their pillowy kisses on you, they may end up playing in the background of all your pleasantest dreams. Perry's delivery - topped off with one of those titillating cotton-candy voices - is so shy and unassuming that the music at first seems much simpler than it really is. But as the cupcake-sized melodies and smiling ba-ba-bop harmonies cumulate, it sneaks up on you and gradually begins to alter the scenery, as if you were an Alice hurtling softly into a musical Wonderland. Mid-period Beatles unmistakably reign supreme here, especially evident on 'I Don't Need This,' which has some of the odd, kaleidoscopic turns of Magical Mystery Tour, on the haunted 'Wilderness' (uncharacteristically recalling Lennon more than McCartney), and in the odd flourish (the echo-laden piano of 'I Rued the Day,' for instance). Perry, however, proved equally adept at absorbing other inspirations: At times ('Simple,' the jolly 'To Have a Heart') Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe takes it's cues from the rousing choruses and jaunty melodic lines of classic Broadway, while 'Making Her Up' and 'If I Lose You' have the moonlit, magical, and quiescent qualities of midnight childhood hymns. Partake, confidently, in great gulps.' -Stanton Swihart, All Music Guide ___ 'Recorded above Jeffrey's Restaurant in Austin, Texas, and skillfully recorded at Austin's substitute for Abbey Road: Music Lane, Andrea Perry and crew have come up with a fantastic album that is as every bit deserving of a Grammy, and related rocketing international sales, as some of the most successful albums ever to have been produced during the past thirty odd years! Now I know that's a bold statement.. but let's see why all of the above makes perfect sense to any discerning listener and audience.. The album opens with 'Simple'-- a truly accomplished recording with Andrea's equally accomplished vocal arrangements set above some of the classiest musicianship ever to grace a little silver CD. What's particularly enthralling is the superb piano and bass playing, and Andrea's masterful songwriting bares those brilliant middle bits that we all aspire too but never quite manage to get near writing somehow. 'Making Her Up' is brain food for the masses who have been starved of such nutrients for far too long. Thought provoking lyrics and excellent gentle harmonies make your ears stand to attention in a way that would have made Star Trek's Mr Spock look a little out of place! The originality in both the composition itself as well as in the production is spellbinding, and if your gratitude to everyone involved in making this track possible could be weighed.. we'd end up with alot of cracked pavements! 'When I'm With You' opens with the line: 'I'll come over and see how you are..' and the second verse opens with 'I'll bring beer, we'll smoke by the fire' now these are frighteningly innovative openings in anyone's book of popular music verse and they're the dead giveaways to the realm of this expert songwriter. I'd love to know more about how she writes this stuff... it's very very clever for lots of reasons but perhaps the most important of these is that it is very uplifting music with an innate methodology that guarantees to lift your mood upwards from wherever it's been lying. 'To Have a Heart' does the same job in a similar lyrical fashion to 'When I'm With You' with a very bright melody that acts like a springboard that places the artist on an equal footing to some of the most prolific and innovative songwriters that would easily include: Kate Bush, John Lennon, Elvis Costello, Paul McCartney, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash. Yep.. it's true.. it's a fact! 'Wilderness' is one of the most beautiful love songs that would have settled quite nicely on 2004 versions of Sgt Pepper, the White Album, or Abbey Road if only that were possible! The musicianship and songwriting here is absolutely excellent and the rich balance between electric piano phrases and Andrea's vocals are remarkably well conceived. Had I produced this track, I would be involuntarily walking on air for such a long time that my shoes would appear to have never been walked in! I don't need this is one of the best tracks on the album for it's sheer originality and for the sheer skill in production techniques. Watch out for the little keyboard inserts that make the outstanding harmonies shine very brightly indeed. It's another classic Andrea tune that deserves much commendation for, at the very least, just existing! 'I Don't Need This' is followed by 'Slide Out' where the lyrics and vocal arrangement is so captivating that you end up wondering how Andrea could have got away with this and you couldn't! By now, the piano appearances throughout this album have triggered thoughts of WOW and perhaps more in this song than in any other so far. The combined bass runs are interestingly running similar paths and that can only have been made possible if either the same fingers did the work or if two separate minds became one in the composition. A truly outstanding track that I could listen to over and over again and still find something equally captivating in. 'Saturn Lights My Way' is quite possibly one of the 'cleverest' tunes I have ever heard. The expression in the vocal matches the meaning in the words in the same way that Lennon and McCartney managed to do with relative ease. The girl knows too much about how to write very very good commercially outstanding songs and as we go track by track, that one simple fact becomes more and more evident! How she gets away with it is completely and utterly beyond me! The last laugh is so beautifully sung that Andrea's detailed and often angelic vocal makes her a very very good 'marriage material' candidate simply because it's quite probably the best and most selfish thing I can think of doing with the girl apart from begging her to write more albums like this! The thing about 'If I lose You' is that, for me, it is one of he best love songs ever to have been written! It's one of the best pop songs ever to have been written, and for me, it's the best song on the album! The song has absolutely every success ingredient ever condensed into one single magical piece of intelligent pop. It's Grammy material Andrea.. whether you like it or not! Now... anyone reading this review might be led to think that I'm completely enamored by the girl... WELL OF COURSE I AM!!!! You can't produce a song like this with it's affluence in colourful lyrics, passionate vocals, and expert musical accomplishment without feeling anything less... unless of course... you are totally and irrepairably stupid! 'Feed Me' is the kind of song that would have pricked up many an ear when Kate bush first emerged on the popular music scene back in 1978. It's a very clever insight into what love is all about cos we all need to be fed in the way that Andrea espouses. Does the girl not know when enough is enough??? She passed the test at track one and she just seems to keep pushing the songwriting magic boundaries further and further with seemingly relative ease! Y'see, imagine running a record label where you cannot imagine having a more frustrating issue at hand where you'd like to give the girl a contract that states 'Advance: 2,000,000 dollars NON-RECOUPABLE in the legal jargon??? nah... I can't either! The final track on the album: 'I Rued the Day' does more wonders for the spirit, the soul, the emotions, the thoughts, and your audio delight, than any drug or vice could ever have achieved in a billion years! I love the bass playing and guitar work almost as much as I love the words and vocals... it's another true Andrea Perry classic pop tune that certifies her alliance with some of the greatest songwriters we know. I honestly don't know how she sleeps at night without having another couple of Andrea Perry albums in her head, in conception and composition all at the same time! A truly wonderful and accomplished piece of music that augurs well for Andrea's continued success as an absolutely outstanding artist. That's what this album is all about.. 'outstandingment, wonderment, and pure unadulterated class in a girl who hails from Austin, Texas, and who really should be recording at Abbey Road Studios this weekend... after her Grammy acceptances have been sorted out of course!' -Colin Lynch, International Online Music ___.