Monday, 29 April 2013

SOUVENIR STAND - EP REVIEW


Souvenir Stand - Days (Beautiful Strange) 
Souvenir Stand - Days

Stephanie Cupo is a New Jersey native with a penchant for the 60s and an aversion to looking directly at cameras. She is also the sole driving force behind the sublime Souvenir Stand, the latest offering from the absurdly talented Beautiful Strange label. Souvenir Stand's latest offering is a four track EP limited to 100 copies on an orange cassette tape, natch. From the opening lazy bass notes and subsequent perky guitar flicks of 'Wherever You Go', you know that Cupo is all about the authentic and that sunny 60s vibe just floats effortlessly through my speakers. 'All I Want To Know' could have been lifted straight from the Phil Spector stable and is adorable with its delightful mix of puppydog-eyed sadness and childlike melodies played out on the xylophone and Beach Boys-esque organs. Indeed, throw in the thundering timpani drum percussion and a fade out ending and, well, I'm pretty much hooked on this girl already. Cupo is part Dusty, part Sandie and is cute as a button but would be able to hold her own in a fight - she's a Jersey girl after all.

What with this coming out on cassette tape and all, I'm assuming that track three, 'Days I've Spent With You', is the start of side 2 and what a huge tune to start with. Motown pianos with punctuating tambourines underpin Cupo's sultry voice as she sings of the seasons passing in a song that, for some reason, reminds me of Michelle Pfeiffer singing 'A Girl For All Seasons' in Grease 2 - not necessarily a bad thing. The EP finishes up with 'We Will Have Our Day', perhaps the darkest song in this collection, suggesting that Souvenir Stand have a future as a songwriting operation with the breathy, Beatlesy organs adding a wistful tone to the layers of honky-tonk piano before the song ends up like a closing number from Annie or a really sad episode of Sesame Street. I'm genuinely dumfounded by this collection as the music, references and sentiment are so pure that it seems impossible to imagine that someone who has grown up in the modern era could have created it. The childlike qualities juxtaposed with the maturity of the songwriting make this an enthralling listen that, I fear, may go down as one of those underground hits that nobody ever hears about. Still, from New Jersey to Devon via London is not bad for reaching out to the world and that would've taken weeks and a year's wages in the 60s so I guess the modern world isn't all bad, eh?

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