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Marbles
Expo
spinART Records
www.spinartrecords.com


The geek shall inherit the Earth. That's the best synopsis I can come up with for this one. Robert Schneider is the founder of the Elephant 6 record label that was founded in Denver. Schneider attended CU Boulder at the same time that I was at CSU, and was one of the pioneers of "twee" pop. I don't even know if I should be amazed by the fact that I just discovered this five minutes prior to starting this review. I hadn't heard of his band The Apples In Stereo, either, but there are so many genres and sub-genres of music anymore that it seems damn-near impossible to even know how many actually exist; including the ones in your own backyard.

Anyway, twee pop is a syrupy-sweet, baby-talk kind of music that is unnaturally happy; its roots draw from '60s pop. Schneider claims to be most influenced by Brian Wilson and Phil Spector, two musicians whose off-track lives always seem to undermine any frivolity contained in their music. For Expo, the quote du jour is "Gary Numan crossed with ELO." Um, sure. I don't claim to be an expert on either of those bands, but I know enough that I scratch my pate as empty thought bubbles pop unresolvedly overhead. I'll at least grant that "Circuit" is sufficiently synthy enough to have its roots stuck squarely in the '80s. "Hello Sun," however, is like Sesame Street on Prozac; if it were any happier, I might have to kill myself just to restore some balance to the universe. But, it really does deserve some due: it is an absolutely brilliant children's song that should be released as a single and marketed as such, and probably under a different name since the oh-so-dreaded F-word is uttered in Expo. You don't want mothers buying the full-length for little Johnny just to - well, you know. "Expo" sounds like it belongs in the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, an instrumental mix of synthesizer and glockenspiel.

At only 25 minutes, one wonders whether this should be considered an album proper, or if it is merely an EP. Schneider claims he wrote it on his laptop while watching Cartoon Network, which seems to have been an appropriate method when considering that this work is such a whimsical assay. For such a stated lack of effort though, the results are fairly remarkable. Musically, it's as ephemeral as cotton candy, but such things may still be cherished nonetheless.

-JD

Track Listing:

1. Circuit
2. When You Open
3. Magic
4. Out of Zone
5. Jewel of India
6. Hello Sun
7. Expo
8. Cruel Sound
9. Blossoms
10. Move On


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