Saturday, January 17, 2009

PopMatters Review

PopMatters reviewed our ablum The Coolest Thing About Love. Go here to read it on their website or read below.

The Smittens

The Coolest Thing About Love

(Happy Happy Birthday to Me)

US release date: 12 August 2008

UK release date: Available as import

The Smittens are from Burlington, Vermont; not the first place you think of when you think of indie pop. Yet, The Coolest Thing About Love is one the best indie pop albums in years. It is a well-planned album with great flow. After listening to this album many times, I find something new to love each time: the lyrics, the harmonies, the instrumentation. Though there are five Smittens, the songwriting duties are shared between three members; Dana Kaplan, Max Andrucki, and Colin Clary. Each member contributes something different to the band’s sound. Kaplan’s songs are innocent and wistful, much like the Softies. Andrucki’s contributions are the most literary offerings, similar in sound and style to the Magnetic Fields. Clary’s are perhaps the catchiest and most twee of the bunch.

Highlights are “The Interstate”, “Half My Heartbeats”, “C’mon!” and “Baby Don’t You Know”. The best thing about this band is how different each song is from one another, while still remaining inside the indie pop sub-genre. However, “H&M(+A)”, by Andrucki, really sticks out because it’s the only song not about love, and instead is about what’s wrong with the world today. The band’s theme song “It’s a Saturday!” is one that will get lodged in your brain. The album ends with Kaplan’s doo-wop number “The One For Me”: “You’re the bluest sky through an open door / In our love I’ve never been so sure.” The Smittens have made a truly lovely album.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

My Interview in The Burlington Free Press

Today my interview in The Burlington Free Press came out. They included this picture in the printed form and a different one online. Below is the profile in the hometown section.

Holly Chagnon, drummer extraordinaire

If you happen to run into Vermont native Holly Chagnon around downtown Burlington, it is almost impossible to think of her tiny frame banging away on a set of drums. But that's exactly what she does. Standing at a mere 5 feet 2 inches tall, Chagnon, 33, has been playing with her local band The Smittens for six years and hasn't broken a wrist yet.

How long have you lived in Vermont?

My whole life.
Do you like living in Burlington?

I love the creative community, the local support. I love that I can walk everywhere and that there are four distinct seasons.
Where did the band name "The Smittens" come from?

My fiance and friend first came up with the name while making up names for bands prior to The Smittens forming. They recalled the name, and when the band formed, it stuck.
You are so tiny, how did they make you the drummer?

Well, the shortest answer is the I was playing drums at a New Years party just for fun with some friends while the real band was taking a break and then a month later David Zacharis asked if I would want to be in a band he, Colin Clary and Max Schwartz were putting together. I said yes in a heartbeat and then they told me we had a show two weeks later. I never looked back.
Do you know any other female drummers in the area?

Dana Kaplan who primarily plays guitar as well as sings in our band also plays drums on several of our songs while I'm either playing the melodica, glockenspiel or keyboard depending on the song. Then there is Alissa who drums with Ryan Power whose drumming I love. Also Vanessa Brunkhorst drums locally and used to play in the band Dialogue for Three with Hannah Wall, Thomas Barnes and Rob Koier. They were a great band.
How would you describe your music?

Well, I always like to think we have a bit of the ¥'60's bubblegum pop with some modern indie pop sound. We are always dubbed "twee music." Several voices, male and female harmonizing to make beautiful pop music you can sing along or dance to.
How would you describe the music scene in Burlington?

I think everyone is pretty supportive of one another. There is such a diversity of musicians and styles of music being played and everyone respects that and supports one another.
Do you feel supported by the community?

Yes, I think people want everyone to do well. There is a lot of local pride being a Vermonter.
What's your most memorable Burlington music moment?

Well as far as the band goes we've had so many great moments. Playing with one of our favorite bands and inspirations Tullycraft was a dream come true. They are the biggest American twee band. We played a sold out show with them at the Monkey Bar this past summer that was so much fun. Another great memory was just this summer too when we played during the Burlington Jazz Festival on the Magic Hat stage on upper Church Street. Growing up in Burlington for me this was such a trip to look down Church Street packed with people for Jazz Fest. We rocked that night and it was great. Of course there's always our first show back in 2002 at Metronome with the Also-rans, James Kochalka Super Star and the Magic Is Gone. I remember feeling so supported by our friends and the crowd even though we were a bit rough around the edges to say the least.
What do you do when you're not playing music?

When I'm not playing music I'm dancing. I take dance classes and perform when I can. Dancing makes me so happy. I love to draw too when I have time. Then of course there's always catching up with my friends and family.
David Zacharis not only plays in your band, but is also your fiancé. How do you like working so closely with him?

Great. If it weren't for the band we might not have met. It sure makes scheduling things together easier.
Who else musically inspires you in Burlington?

Missy Bly, Cave Bees, Let's Whisper, Ryan Power, The Cush, Colin Clary and A Magog, Me and You, and on and on.
Who musically inspires you in general?

I'm inspired by all kinds of music. I love 60's pop, dreamy sad music, classical, R&B to indiepop, my friends who make music. Right now I'm really into this band called The Just Joans from Scotland who we played several shows with in England this summer. They are amazing.
What advice would you give to Burlington musicians?

Practice, practice, practice. Get to know your local musicians and introduce yourself. Put your self out there, ask for what you need and always be clear about your expectations. Have fun.