Fascinations Grand Chorus: Presentations of Electrical Confectionary (Silent Stereo) - Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019  

Fascinations Grand Chorus

Presentations of Electrical Confectionary

Silent Stereo

Nov 01, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


If the name Steve Binder doesn't mean anything to you that's understandable. In the early days of television, he brought many top musical acts magically into living rooms across America. His crowning achievement though was a documentary film called the T.A.M.I. Show—a 1964 two-day free concert that was forever preserved in the hi-def format of the day, Electronovision. If that's not cool sounding enough, he assembled Marvin Gaye, Chuck Berry, The Beach Boys, The Supremes, James Brown, The Rolling Stones, and many others to perform and they can even be intermittently heard over the throng of screaming teenage girls that were in attendance.

Sticking out from the crowd a bit was 19-year-old Lesley Gore and her monstrous bouffant. Gore was one of only two acts (the Stones were the other) that performed six songs in the movie. More than half a century later Jersey City's Fascinations Grand Chorus bring a sound that harkens back to those simpler times. For such an ostentatious name, the group boils down to the duo of Stephanie Cupo (vocals, keyboards) and Andrew Pierce (drums, bass). Cupo sounds like a smokier voiced Gore, while Pierce rolls and tumbles on the drums like The Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson. (Historical side note: Wilson drowned almost 20 years on just a few blocks from where the T.A.M.I. Show was filmed.)

On their debut album, the not so understatedly titled Presentations of Electrical Confectionary, the duo brings the treats early. Opening track "Can't Let Go" races forward in a swirl of girl group harmonies, roller rink keyboards, and "Wipeout" styled drum fills. As bracing a beginning as it is, the album struggles a bit to find its footing, but firmly catches midway through the fourth song, "Electrical Delight." A song that revels in cheesy organ notes from an era when if your instrument could bleep, blip, and bloop, you might as well use all effects in the same song. From the bridge onwards, the album bursts forth in unabashedly sunny pop mixed with a sprinkling of garage attitude and studio trickery.

The middle of the album is packed with the duo's strongest songs. The hard charging "Future World" is chock full of wonky keyboards, horn charts, handclaps and Cupo's sassiest singing.  For a group that refuses to dial the clock past the mid-'60s her declaration that "we can innovate" comes with something of a wink, while teenaged revolution of the day gets as bold as "we don't have to change." The following "Until I Found You," while simpler, has Pierce tapping the hi-hat, his brother Dennis showcasing a bit of tremolo guitar, and Cupo supporting herself with bright backing vocals. The sweetly sung bridges of "Would It Be" make for the nearest they get to a ballad, but the song's mini-choruses make for a monster hook hammered home by Pierce gamely bashing away. 

Whether accenting a song with a George Harrison-styled intro ("Together, You & I") or the darker garage sound that points to early Blondie (the closing "Back Again"), Fascinations Grand Chorus cover the sunny pop waterfront well. The fact that no one else out there is mining these more innocent musical times so directly not only makes them something of an oddity, but also doing so with only a trace of irony makes them nearly as rebellious as the parent horrifying acts whose altar they worship at. When you find yourself jonesing for a sugary rush, Presentations of Electrical Confectionary serves up two scoops straight from the studio. (www.fascinationsgrandchorus.bandcamp.com

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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