Andrea Perry
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Andrea Perry

Band Alternative Pop


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"Andrea Perry - Two - PITCHFORK"

Since women are still in the overwhelming, overwhelmed minority of musicians, it's difficult to discuss female performers without making at least a discreet reference or two to their gender. The artists that seem to escape this curse are, sadly, the ones that conform to sexist stereotypes, depicted as weak, submissive, and desperate to subsume their identities in a romantic relationship. Those who've tried to slip this yoke would have been blasted in a less sensitive era with accusations of masculinity, but today, they're greeted with condescending girls-can-rock-too rhetoric from misguided critics. The whole situation is enough to make you throw your hands up in disgust, when along comes someone like Andrea Perry, offering a graceful escape from the gendered ghettos of pop music.
An darling, Perry follows up her debut, Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe, with the appropriately titled Two. She runs through a dozen songs in forty minutes, proving along the way that the attention she's garnered thus far is no accident. Despite her idiosyncrasies-- and there are many-- Perry remains easily accessible, never letting her unique artistic vision slip into insularity. This is surely due to the fact that, at heart, she's a pop songwriter, and a very fine one at that; though some tracks inevitably shine above others, all twelve display an assured sense of craft. The hooks are never repeated ad nauseam; the bridges always arrive in the nick of time. Perry is able to marry simple joys with depth and sophistication, as on the opener, "Bursting Through the Clouds", a potentially radio-friendly crossover hit, but its magnificent chord progressions signal the author is capable of sustaining whatever attention she grabs. An even more daring balancing act arrives with "I Think of Nothing", which chugs along in a disorienting 5/4 beat beneath an ethereal cloud of melody.

The degree to which Perry was responsible for these sonic details makes the album's accomplishments all the more striking; she plays everything except the drums, and sounds thoroughly comfortable on bass, guitar and keyboards. Perry earns added accolades for her production as well: the record feels crisp and clean without veering into sterility. Drummer Chris Searles, the only other musician on Two, is as sympathetic a partner as Perry could ask for, keeping busy without becoming intrusive. Together, they give the songs the thrust they need to keep from stalling.

With all due respect to Perry's talent, what makes Two a success is her attitude. While her liner notes reveal the album is dedicated to a deceased former bandmate, and a quick look at her lyrics reveals no shortage of somber subjects, the music itself is luminous and joyful, a rare thing in these irony-soaked days. If Perry has a weakness, it's that she occasionally works this happy-sad angle into the fey, but like Marc Bolan's records with T.Rex, Two has more than enough conviction and charm to make its overt songwriting forgivable. - Pitchfork

"Andrea Perry - Two - POP MATTERS"

Objectivity is a difficult task, made even more so when fondness for an artist might cloud one's perspective. Still, I am compelled to gush when speaking the praises of the chronically shy Andrea Perry, who might be one of the most pleasant musical surprises to come my way in many a moon.

Two is the aptly titled sophomore effort from the multi-talented Perry, who delivers again on the promise first heard on her debut Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe with a dozen newly intriguing musical gems. Perry's complex rhythms and deceptively spare arrangements fall a refreshingly far distance from the mainstream. Her soft voice lulls you with its sweetness, at times hiding the swirl of inner portent her lyrics convey.

This is smart, quirky pop with a difference that appeals even more because of that difference. In addition, Andrea Perry is a natural in adding just the right amount of nuance and musical texture - you get a voice slide here, an unexpected guitar fill there, even a xylophone when necessary.

Perry knows how to structure songs. She has wonderful middle bridges, and never overstays her welcome (the longest song here is 4:28). She gets to the point and marries the music, its rhythms and its words. Her songwriting talents are only half the story here - as a performer she excels, whether on guitar or keyboards or bass or vocals (and believe me, she uses vocals as another instrument). The only thing she doesn't play is drums, and those are ably handled by the masterful Chris Searles.

Spending her formative years in Austin, Texas as the daughter of two accomplished pianists, Perry grew up in a musical household (mostly classical, although the Beatles and some Danny Kaye children's albums also made the cut). Piano lessons didn't go well for her, the result of laziness and/or a learning disability. This, coupled with horrible stage fright and the rationale that the Beatles had had no formal piano training, led to quitting. Instead, she played the way she wanted to, deciding by age 10 that she wanted to write songs and make records.

As she grew older she went from a love of radio and its "top 40" music to a devotion to the album rock of The Clash, Talking Heads, David Bowie, Lou Reed, The Police, and The Pretenders and then onto classic rock radio through the remainder of high school. After graduation, Ms. Perry began to make her first four-track recordings, and solidified a conviction that this was what she wanted to do with her life.

Her college career was peppered with musical milestones (University of Southern California - gets first keyboard; Hampshire College - gets a Strat and eventually learns to play guitar). She joined a band (The Ice Weasels) as keyboardist, along with Paul Melancon, Aaron Tucker, Montgomery Knott, Peter Altman and the late Billy Greene (to whose memory this new CD is dedicated).

After college, Perry convinced Tucker, Knott and Altman to join her in testing Austin's thriving music scene. With new drummer Mike McElhaney rounding out the roster, the band Wax Elephant developed a strong following in the early '90s, but ultimately broke up. Since then, Ms. Perry found work writing for video games and CD-ROMs, and learned to play the bass, all of which has helped sharpen her creativity en route to this more recent solo career.

Two opens with the misleading cheery bounce of bass and piano that helms "Bursting Through the Clouds". It's really more a plea for better times in the midst of dreary weather, everlasting rain and repetitious lonely days. Perry's sunny voice and surprising counter-harmonies handles it with aplomb: "Blown about in darkness / Lost forevermore / I don't know what's behind me and I can't tell what's in store / I just long to see the sun bursting through the clouds."

Perry's use of unusual rhythms and complex song structure often conjures up understandable comparisons to XTC and Sugarplastic. Yet Perry at times runs even more contrary to expectations. For instance, strong bass propels the slightly jazzy funk of "Oh No! The Day Is Dawning", which at first seems more of a nightmare warning against some type of Armageddon, a call to watch one's back, slip out, protect one's self. Suddenly, near song's end, it's as if someone has let the air out of this balloon -- the song shifts gears as simple voice and organ declare the refrain "I've come to treat you well / now that we live in the same hotel".

Sometimes her rhythms dominate the songs, as if the feel of the words convey more than the words themselves. Such is the case with "Time to Say Hello", which is a primer in how bass lines can dominate a song effectively. The bass walks down as Perry says "I know that you're ready, I know that it's time" and the catchy chorus reiterates the title.

Similar is what Perry does with the short song "I Think of Nothing" -- complex rhythms and countering guitar serve as equal partners to the conflict of the words ("find me a way to turn far away from you / I think of nothing but you, there's nothing"). In both of these examples, what could be a simple song is not -- extra touches, voices, sounds all complement the whole in a very impressive way.

The stutter-step energy of "Make the World Go 'Round" is as close as Perry gets to a traditional love song, a lament about lost love and wanting it fixed: "Losing you by leaps and bounds / Your goo goo eyes are daggers now / And "I love you" is just a sound / Day upon day / Slow to anchor, quick to fly / Don't know what you're afflicted by / You close me off I don't know why / You turn away." Her vocal work is impressive here.

A most infectious melody is at the heart of the pretty yet bittersweet "You Broke the Spell", another farewell in the face of a failure, realizing "all the money in the world won't put it back together now".

Influences that were apparent on her first CD seem to have been joined by new ones (e.g., some Kate Bush in Perry's "Slide Out"). In particular, the song "Bye Bye" sounds as if it could have been sung years ago by the heralded pop chanteuse/songwriter Margo Guryan.

A snare drum leads the parade of sounds and different textures (including xylophone) that comprise the enjoyable treat of "Light Up the Underworld", a call for magical protection before major party time. "Getting' to Know You" is another unique Perry twist on conventional love songs.

Just when you think Perry is all about cleverness, she floors you with a gorgeous song of enormous emotional power. Such is the case with "All Alone", a quiet confession of being ripped apart inside and out that is perfectly captured: "I don't think I'm gonna sleep for awhile / I was thinking about the way you waved goodbye" and "I guess my skin will thicken, my heart will harden, the pain will soften, but now I can't imagine / All alone". Similarly, the piano-driven song "Higher" is another quiet reflective gem.

The closer "Across the Water" shows that Perry's lack of piano lessons hasn't hurt much in the long haul. This is a beautiful song of piano and organ (a la Procol Harum) and expressive vocals that starts slowly, but builds a head of steam as it closes out the proceedings.

I can't say enough about the inimitable Andrea Perry. Her songs have an honesty and confidence, her words are evocative, she is calculating and precise in her arrangements and production (Andy Sharp helped with the mixing), and she performs well on each instrument track after track.

There is not a bad song here (nor was there on her first CD) and the complexity of the songs demand repeated listens. While stage fright continues to prevent her from developing a following through live performances, this quirky perfectionist of a singer/songwriter deserves a larger audience.

My suggestion to you: go to her website and sample some of these wonderful tunes. She's different from most -- hear if you like that difference. I know I do. Andrea Perry's Two remains uniquely original at a time when legions of soundalikes seem to rule the media airwaves. And while my objectivity might be a little skewed, viva la difference!

— 29 October 2002 - Pop Matters

"Andrea Perry - Two - FUFKIN"

Witty and arty pop from the talented Perry, who does everything but play drums. Perry has a voice that sometimes betrays no emotion, sometimes is a bit girlish, and is sometimes sexy in an elusive way. Perry's songs are complex in how she puts together relatively simple instrumental passages into a denser whole. Her bass lines are wobbly and compelling and her modal guitar leads could have come off an ancient Sparks record or a more recent Sugarplastic platter. While she doesn't sound like The Sugarplastic or XTC, those artists are good reference points for the way she's able to blend some offbeat sounds with terrific melodies, using the inherent tension to make the melodies all the stronger.

She combines this with clever and whimsical lyrics that are concise and satisfying. Here's a litmus test – if you like this opening couplet, from the pretty piano rumination "Across the Water" (where she combines keyboard sounds that remind me of Elton John's piano and the majestic organ of Procol Harum), this may be for you: "playing a child's game/playing it like a child". This opening is a portent for a warm and beautiful song.
Some of her songs have a jaunty yet serene vibe that brings to mind a modern update on Margo Guryan's jazz-tinged pop. "Bye Bye" wisps in with the chorus which is varied by the brief verses – two melodies that counterpoint and intertwine, flowing into a middle eight that varies the melodic concepts previously heard. She juxtaposes the ascending and descending chord progressions – I'm (obviously!) not a musician, but it is so fascinating how Perry finds as many wrinkles as possible from a few series of notes. Brilliant.

Perry comes off like a Californian Nina Persson vocally, and combines chicken scratch funk guitar with oddball leads that are reminiscent of Adrian Belew on "Make the World Go Round". And that only describes in part all the stuff going on on this track. The song percolates behind drummer SearCh's beatkeeping (part shuffle, part aggressive jazz). In addition to Perry's compelling lead, she also provides weaving backing vocals and counterpart lead vocals during the punchy middle eight. Perry's melody sounds like it's just hanging on, managing to keep up with the numerous rhythmic twists and turns. Yet again, brilliant.

SearCh taps out a New Orleans jazz rhythm on "Light Up the Underworld" – boy, Perry should have multi-tracked this part, this could have sounded like Carla Bley rewriting Fleetwood Mac's "Tusk". Perry's bass playing is equally critical, so rubbery and playful, while she embellishes with anything she can – dissonant guitars, electronic keyboards whooshes and squeals, etc.

Perry's walking bassline and cooing vocals are accompanied by an appropriate melody in the verses of "Time to Say Hello". The verses lead into the clockwork rhythm of the chorus – this is one of the songs that reminded me of the Sugarplastic/XTC approach. If anything, this dissonant meets pretty approach works a bit better with a vocalist as pleasant as Perry. This song has stayed in my head since the first time I spun the disc.

Normally, this is the part of the review where I acknowledge flaws in the disc, or areas in which the artist could improve to make the disc better. Here, I'm at a loss as to what Perry should change. Oh yeah – next time, print the lyrics in the disc booklet. I can't think of much else I'd change. - Fufkin

"Andrea Perry - Two - ALL MUSIC GUIDE"

One of the primary reasons why the homogeneous state of mainstream pop/rock in 2002 proved so frustrating was because there still existed bona fide tunesmiths capable of writing the sort of gloriously memorable songs that, when you hear them years later, mark specific places or events in your life. Andrea Perry proved to be precisely that caliber of songwriter on her first album. Too bad, then, that so few people heard its overflow of pleasures. Those who were lucky enough to come across Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe were cast into a Spector-centric universe where girl group pop never, in fact, went away. And in a just world, Perry -- a Lesley Gore sound-alike with the decidedly mature compositional skills of Carole King -- would have Top Ten singles with three-fourths of the songs on her even more winning sophomore record. Two offers all the same pleasures as its predecessor but is an even more artful, confident, and distinctive outing. This is most immediately apparent in Perry's assured production, which, while still humble in its do-it-yourself conception, is considerably more detailed throughout, particularly by way of its overlay of keyboard-generated parts and a cornucopia of self-harmonies (perfectly illustrated on the chorus of "Make the World Go 'Round," which, cleverly, is a musical round). Two can be experienced to greatest effect, however, by letting the diversity of its songs pour over you, whether the swirling good cheer of "Bursting Through the Clouds," with its see-saw circus melody, the subtle funk touches (including a too-brief wah-wah solo) of "On No! The Day Is Dawning," or several enchanting lullabies: "You Broke the Spell" (which, contrary to its message, casts a spell), the hypnotically Baroque "Bye Bye," and "Higher," a gorgeously weary evocation of devotion. And in the culminating "Across the Water," Perry has conceived as stunning an epic, searching, Beatlesque piano ballad as has come down the line since Paul McCartney wrote a little tune called "Let It Be." Seriously. - All Music Guide

"Andrea Perry - SMSS - ALL MUSIC GUIDE"

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 its 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.
- All Music Guide

"Andrea Perry - SMSS - COMES WITH A SMILE"

Where do these things keep coming from? 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 its 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. - Comes With a Smile

"Andrea Perry - SMSS - SPLENDID"

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. - Splendid

"Andrea Perry - SMSS - TOAST"

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!" - Toast Magazine

"Andrea Perry - Two - babysue"

Absolutely lovely and creative pop music from Andrea Perry. Two was recorded "above Jeffrey's restaurant in Austin, Texas." She may be an obscure, self-produced artist...but Andrea Perry possesses a wide variety of skills and talent that make her music extremely entertaining and worthwhile. On this album, Andrea plays bass, guitar, keys, and handles all the vocals. In fact, the only instrument she doesn't play is the drum set (more than adequately handled by the mysteriously credited SearCH). We have rarely heard a female instrumentalist who matches the true creative spirit of this young lady. Her songs are wonderfully spirited...her playing tight and inventive...and her vocals are nothing short of astounding. While the influences present in her music are many...we are hard pressed to think of any single artist that Perry sounds like (?!?). A fine effort, featuring timeless tunes such as "Bursting Through the Clouds," "I Think of Nothing," "You Broke the Spell" (wow!), and "Across the Water." Outstanding. (Rating: 5 out of 6 stars) - babysue

"Andrea Perry - SMSS, TWO - BUHDGE"

Things that are quiet and seemingly content in their own space rarely make a splash in the world without a concerned push, so we're concerned and we're pushing and hoping for a place in the spotlight for this incredibly talented, honest and true singer, songwriter, player and soul, because, in the end, it's all about soul, this music, and each note communicates a piece of the puzzle, the one that when solved tells all.

Andrea Perry paints her musical masterpieces with brushes colored by honest emotion. They don't often follow conventional, obvious paths, opting to play the curve-ball as often as not. Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe's "Making Her Up" rolls out its story of the perfect girl made from imagination atop a galloping rhythm in the verses and a straight, practically-waltz-like pace in the choruses. Channeling Kate Bush in "Slide Out," Perry mixes piano centers with slight funky and rock fillings, wrapped in an Andy Partridge sheen.

"If I Lose You" juggles rhythms, mixing and matching and mixing again, as Perry imagines losing a love. In the company of the other songs on Sweet Shoppe, "I Rued the Day" is a relatively straightforward, guitar-dominated rumination on, I think, missed opportunity, or at least opportunity twisted into knots. The last minute and 45 seconds gives Perry an opportunity taken, the chance to show her lead guitar chops. She makes every note count, mining the song's emotion for all it is worth. Speaking of emotion, this song contains a supremely clever lyric, showing that Perry does indeed have a marvelous, insightful way with words: "He drove a stake through my heart/and I almost cried/I gave him a finger in part/'cause my tongue was tied."

Two, Perry's most recent, and equally wonderful, album, mines more of the fertile field of rhythmic mixing and matching Perry seems to prefer playing in. Case in point: "Oh No! The Day is Dawning," which throws rock, a sprinkle of funk, and circus music into her considerably powerful blender. The descending bass line of "Time to Say Hello" is one of the song's chief pleasures, but the chorus, consisting of just the title, is pure Partridge homage, although I have no idea if Perry is a Partridge devotee. "Bye Bye" comes off as sort-of a lullaby of sorts, directed at the person who goes away, promises to come back, but doesn't, and isn't that alright? There are some wonderfully-rich harmonies here, and another great lyric: "You said you'd send letters/and it's not so far away...You said see you soon/but I knew..."

There is much more to be savored on Two. What becomes clear at its outset, and what is clearly true upon listening to both of Perry's albums, is the level of the artist's talent. She will have a great effect on you, dear listeners. Her music will enrich your life. She's working on a third album, and we can all put a little of ourselves on the line for it, in advance of its realization, as she surely has for us.

- Buhdge


Saturday Morning Sweet Shoppe (2001)
Two (2002)
Rivers of Stars (2006)



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