Charming's follow-up to 1997's Giant album, Champagne and Magazines, was released as a split release on Shelflife Records and Twee Kitten Records in 2001. The 11-track disc continues the New Jersey band's steady rise in indie pop circles, lead by Nicole Stoops' charming and confident vocal style. The musical foundation continues to be set by Chris Reitz on drums, Ravi Krishnaswami on guitar, and a bassist who goes by the moniker of Jay B Flatt. The band has added to the basic ingredients of guitar-bass-drums, adding trumpet, trombone, organ, piano, and different percussion instruments to the mix. The simply cool and relaxed musical environment sets the stage for Charming's musical bag of charms. The third track, "Downtown," throws the listener for a loop, with the frantic backup vocals adding a chaotic variation on Stoops' normal laid-back approach. The sixth track, "Guilty by Association," also stands out from the crowd, diving into an almost reckless chorus, complete with synthesizers and handclaps. Track eight, "Charlottesville, 1997," has an almost bossa nova sound. On the ninth track, "How Unkind," the band experiments with variations of Stoops' vocal style, distorting it at the beginning and throughout. The quartet saves the title track for last, a sedate and complex album-closer.
Champagne and Magazines Review
by Stephen Cramer