Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Happiness is a Warm Fuzz

Here's another record that failed to make our best of the year only by virtue of the fact that it was released too close to the end of 2008 for us to place it in our catchment. Certainly, it would have featured in our top 5 EP's of the year as it's as solid a pink piece of prime modern bubblegum as one could ever wish to find.

The great thing for 'Gum aficionados like me, is that each generation brings something fresh to the genre without taking something important away, unlike the Heavy Metal genre for example which seems intent on removing essential elements piece by piece, dimension by dimension to end up with some ghastly one dimensional shadow of its original reference. By contrast, this fine EP has pedigree which reaches all the way back to Kasenetz Katz & The Archies, thru Chinn & Chapman, Fizzy 80's Electronica, Betty Boo, Hanson, right up to today's Ting Tings.

The Warm Fuzzies hail from the rich musical heritage that is Athens, Georgia, but apart from maybe the odd minor nod to Pylon, buck the lineage completely and serve up their very own slab of delicious dessert.

Their 6-song EP specially packaged in an eco-friendly "arigato pak" comes complete with a comic-style liner (like Bazooka Joe's did) and topped with a scratch-n-sniff (ala Raspberries 1st) that smells just like bubblegum!

As soon as your player hits binary you're up and grooving to the Warm Fuzzies infectious concoctions. References abound, Weezer and The Rentals are obvious pointers, but I hear reaches back to 'Gums' mid 60's inception, plus the idiosyncratic influence of Devo, Cheap Trick, TMBG & that nerdy cool of The Feelies, Presidents of the USA, Wheatus and Bowling For Soup.

So what do you get for the price of your Chewy Chewy few dollars:

  • 'Hey Milunka' opens with a 'Pictures of Matchstick Men' incessant high pitch guitar crochet riff, followed by a run on something which sounds like a resident arcade one arm bandit, then a flutey Casio picks up the gauntlet and gives in to off-the-wall lyrics with a nursery rhyme melody in the classic 'Gum tradition. 'Hey Milunka' is a great opener sitting exactly where the strongest track should - be at the helm.
  • Gotta mention that the Casio sounds like the classic VL1 Tone model (circa 1980) - the same synth as used famously on Trio's 'Da Da Da' and the Human League's 'Dare'. This tiny hand held instument was an innovative little beast which doubled as a calculator - I used mine at school back in those early electro days.
  • 'Space Invaders' opens with fizzy Moog and toy fuzz guitar and addresses that very serious issue of encroaching on your colleagues space in the office. In fact, this could have been the soundtrack to Ricky Gervais' "The Office", later personified by Steve Carell in the US version of the same. "Disorder, ...border, ...space invader".
  • 'Your Dairy King' - employs the band's knack of including great puns in both their song titles and lyrics, plus (in fine 'Gum tradition again) the all important confectionery link. 'Your Dairy King' features brand loyalty in a song which raises the ad jingle way above its usual disposable status.
  • 'Why Do Girls Wear Big Sunglasses' - is perhaps the bands best song other than the hit starter. This manages the stupendous feat of recalling for this writer, both XTC's 'I'm Bugged': "You're all look like insects, in your brand new sun specs" and John Fred/Playboy band 'Judy in Disguise' - all top notch 'Gum references.
  • There's an infectious cheesiness that pervades the whole Warm Fuzzies experience. A fact not overlooked by the band themselves as they celebrate with their collective tongues in their cheeks, when they promote their love for cheese in their sign-off 'Queso Love'.
The band may not have intended it, but for this writer, this is not a million miles away, in concept, from another grand trash aesthetic & artistic project: 'Groovy Neighborhood' by Pianosaurus, produced by the dBs/REM/Continental Drifters shaker Peter Holsapple, where all the songs were performed with vigor and enthusiasm on toy instruments with wonderful aplomb.

The Warm Fuzzies hook-laden guitars, cheesy cheapo synths, grunge pop and magnetic melodies are 'bob-on' fantabulous. However don't go to your local record stores (not that there are any left anymore, anyway) - take a magic swirling trip to your local candy store (although in the UK we call them sweets and we would buy them at Tuck Shops). Anyhow, it's in the Tuck Shop where you'd find the Warm Fuzzies, right next to Swizzlers Love hearts, Penny Arrow Bars and Chocolate Firemen in the box labeled 'Happiness is a Warm Fuzz' - indeedy! Buy, buy, buy.

We've secured a fine interview with the band to accompany this review, which we'll feature very shortly.

Buy Bubblegum at CD Baby
Hear them from our link (above) or at their MySpace site