|MH-260 Her Space Holiday - XOXO, Panda And The New Kid Revival
Putting some space between himself and the computer that has provided the basis for so much of his recent work, Marc Bianchi has taken the last two years to focus on what got him into music in the first place, writing connective songs and working out the layers of sound he hears in his head. The results are a new persona, XOXO, Panda, and the reinforcement of the feelings of personal and artistic freedom that drive his music. Loose and carefree arrangements of guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, shakers, glockenspiel, and drums lay the foundation for vocal storytelling sing-a-longs. XOXO, Panda And The New Kid Revival is a brilliant calling card for Her Space Holiday’s newly awakened alter-ego, and a watershed moment in his growth as a songwriter and performer.
|Guitar pop songs that are as charming as they are simple - Rolling Stone / That he can switch up styles so frequently and make solid records says something special about Bianchi - Pop Matters / Melodies have that wonderful undefinable quality that makes you want to hear them over and over... Killer indie pop cuts - Babysue
|Before listening to Her Space Holiday’s XOXO Panda & The New Kid Revival I was expecting the electronic shoegazeish sound that we’ve all come to expect from Marc Bianchi and company, but after listening to the first track, The New Kid Revival, all my previous expectations went out the window.
XOXO Panda is actually one of Bianchi’s side projects but he released the music under the Her Space Holiday name, foregoing computer based sounds to instead team up with Andrew Kenny of American Analog Set and use acoustic guitars, keyboards and even a glockenspiel.
The first few songs, all with a similarly unplugged folky sound, seemed to blend together upon listening and it wasn’t until track five, "No More Good Ideas," that things started to build. The toe tapping, hand clapping chorus along with the keyboard and strong drum beat made me think if that great 60s rock pop sound a la’ The Zombies.
I was worried that perhaps I had just listened to the only gem on the album but the next song, "The Boys and Girls," didn’t disappoint. With a lot of la-la-la’s and louder drums that came in on the chorus the song was more upbeat and definitely did not seem to float off to make background noise.
Two in a row, not bad, but I was hoping for three and "Sleepy Tigers" was it, by far the runaway hit of all 14 tracks. The song was released as an EP prior to the release of the full length, which I somehow ended up getting my hands on only to find that I really didn’t like it. I thought it was just too hokey, for lack of a better word. Maybe the mood was just right when I listened to it the second time around or maybe it was because I heard it following two other good songs, but "Sleepy Tigers" really delivered with its pretty lyrics and hum worthy melodies.
After this things again began to blend. Not good but not bad either. Good to listen to when you’re working or reading and want a little company.
It wasn’t until the end of the album that my interest was peaked again. Track 12, "Two Tin Cans and a Length of String" was the most beautiful song of them all. I must have listened to it more than a dozen times after the first play. It too conjures that 60’s pop feel but this time Bianchi seemed to be channeling The Beach Boys. The sweet song speaks of love, but it feels like that innocent summertime love that all too quickly vanishes come fall.
The next song, "The Year in Review," is also worth a listen if you appreciate throwbacks to The Beatles circa the “Please Please Me” era.
Overall XOXO Panda & The New Kid Revival is a fantastic composition of sound and lyrics that is blended together, in a good way, to create a listen-worthy album. -