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Album Review

Cleveland, OH, may not seem like a hot spot for indie pop, but thanks to Afternoon Naps, the city is home to one of the best indie pop bands anywhere in 2009. Parade, their debut album for indie pop stalwart Happy Happy Birthday to Me, is a short, sweet confection made from a recipe of classic pop sounds from the past, able songwriting, and breezy performances. The ten songs that make up the album hit the sweet spot between tightly arranged pop from the Brian Wilson school, the loose-limbed jangle of the Postcard Records crew, the sunny harmonies and chords of any number of '60s sunshine bands, and the lo-fi, high-energy patchwork of the Elephant 6 collective. Throw in some Felt and a touch of Smiths, then add the ability to take all these influences and turn them into something fresh, and that’s a pretty nice trick — and one that's pretty easy to figure out, too. The strength of Parade comes from the attention to detail the band exhibits throughout; there’s not a single misplaced note or move that doesn’t ring true. It also comes from the excellent vocals of songwriter/guitarist Tom Dechristofaro and keyboardist/arranger Leia Hohenfeld. They split the duties pretty evenly, and the arch, detached feel of Dechristofaro's singing blends well, almost perfectly, with the earnestly sweet style of Hohenfeld. And perhaps most of important of all, the songs are good, very good. They are melodic, hooky, and varied, and add up to one of the more impressive indie pop outings of recent times. Picking highlights is near impossible because they are all of such high quality, but if pressed, then perhaps "Beach Bums," with its swirling organ and insistent beat, and the super catchy rocker "Catholic School" could be singled out for extra praise. Really, though, it could be any of the ten tracks. Afternoon Naps may not be doing anything new on Parade, but they turn their love of the past into something very now and very impressive.


Formed: Cleveland, Ohio

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Inspired by psych-pop and bubblegum acts of the 1960s (and especially by bands like the Yellow Balloon and the Left Banke), Cleveland, OH-based musicians Tom Dechristofaro (vocals, guitar) and Leia Hohenfeld (vocals, keyboards) teamed up to form the Afternoon Naps in 2006. Bassist Mike Allan, multi-instrumentalist Augustus Gus, and drummer Craig Ramsey were brought on board to round out the group's sugary sound, and the newly expanded Afternoon Naps self-released their debut mini-album, Sunbeamed,...
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