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Local trio Atomic Mint burns through pop, rock and indie with style.

Fresh Mint

Atomic Mint gets red hot on new album 'Audio Candy'

By Sarah Quelland

WITH A NEWLY POLISHED look and a refined modern-rock sound, local trio Atomic Mint (featuring vocalist and guitarist Brianna, percussionist Amadeo Donofrio and new bassist Misha Guiffre) has really switched gears since its early effort, A Better Mouse Trap. On its new album, Audio Candy, the band shifts from a funky, percussion-heavy R&B style to one that's edgy and thick with fuzzy, crunchy rock guitars. The change works well and should give Atomic Mint more crossover potential as it blurs the lines between sunny pop and hard rock.

Audio Candy demands attention right from the dramatic opening track, "When It's Right," as Brianna tells a lover, "I'm so sorry you feel like you lose" and "I'm so sorry you can't sleep at night" and asserts "Love hurts now and then." On the breezy and independent "Song About You," she uses just the right amount of sunshine and grit in her voice as she makes observations like "Indie pop helps when you're blue."

The album is full of summery songs about love. On "Stars," Brianna declares. "I don't care if these stars don't shine / I just want for me to call you mine." On "I Got His," she sings, "I've got his heart / Now I have his name / Never will it ever, never will it be the same / ... Unless he gives me a reason to get mad." Still, it's Brianna's huge voice and exuberant delivery (there's tremendous joy in her performance), more than the lyrics, that makes the songs so appealing.

Moody and arty, "That's How You'll Know" segues from jangly rock to hard rock and back again. Full of bounce and sparkle, "Rock Me" does the same. Meanwhile, "Brown Paper Bag" displays the brash attitude of a Breeders song. Even louder cuts include the heavy "Sweet Poisoned Honey" (which was featured recently on KSJO's Home Grown show) and "We Will Be Together," a chunky song with a twangy charge. Atomic Mint seems to be influenced a bit by the rock bands of the 1970s and early 1980s (at a recent show in Santa Cruz, the band played a long set that included covers of Joan Jett's "I Love Rock & Roll" and "The Great Pretender," a Platters hit covered by Queen), and Atomic Candy features a gutsy version of Heart's "Barracuda." Still, Atomic Mint infuses its music with a cool lazy-day indie vibe that keeps it all fresh.

Atomic Mint celebrates its new album with a 21-plus CD-release party in the cellar at Agenda Friday (Feb. 21) with the Skirts and the Feathers, and an all-ages CD-release show Saturday (Feb. 22) at the Mitchell Park Center in Palo Alto with Triple Nipple, the Plus Ones and My New Life. Visit www.atomicmint.com.

In related news, Agenda's Jacek Rosicki has expressed interest in hosting more local rock shows at his club. He has booking positions open for both the Agenda and his soon-to-be-opened new club Zöe. Interested candidates with reasonable knowledge of jazz, reggae, Latin and rock can call Rosicki at 408.287.3991, ext. 15. Other shows coming up at Agenda include Native Elements this Friday (Feb. 21) and Los Mocosos this Saturday (Feb. 22).

HEEEEERE'S JOHNNY!: Johnny Van Wyk's new club, Johnny V's, opens this Monday (Feb. 24). Van Wyk says plans to establish the restaurant and nightclub Sideways in SoFA have been scrapped.

HOT TOPIC: Two of the South Bay's major-label exports heat up this week. Los Gatos' dredg (on Interscope) hits the Great American Music Hall Saturday-Sunday (Feb. 22-23) as part of the 2003 Sno-Core outing with Sparta, GlassJAw and Hot Water Music, and Palo Alto's Donnas (on Atlantic) play the Fillmore Wednesday (Feb. 26) with OK Go and Rooney. ... No Knife, the Velvet Teen, the Jealous Sound, End Transmission and Hockey Night make up the lineup for the seventh annual Canopener held next Friday (Feb. 28) at 6:30pm at the Gaslighter Theater in Campbell.

PLAN AHEAD: Suburban Legends, Dan Potthast, Solemite and Out of Fiction, Feb. 21 at the Los Gatos Outhouse; S1FT, Feb. 21 at the Pound in San Francisco; Fighting Jacks, Sloe, Watashi Wa, Olympic Year, Division Day and Time Stood Still, Feb. 22 at the Portable at 590 Shawnee Lane in San Jose; Andalusia and the Feathers, Feb. 22 at the Mediterranean in Aptos.

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From the February 20-26, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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