Two Earth Hours
About Anya

"Geek" isn't the pejorative it once was. These days, there's geek chic, geek pride, and even a geek "mafia" (don't ask).

And then there's geek rock, which may not be what you think. If you dig bands like They Might Be Giants, Barenaked Ladies, and Ben Folds, you're into geek rock.

San Diego's own Two Earth Hours is doing geek rock up right. Their first CD, About Anya, is the pet project of Scott Jackson and brought to life by producer/arranger David Randle and a host of skilled musicians, including Tim Foley of Skelpin fame. Jackson doesn't appear on the album; instead, he collaborated with Randle, allowing his work to be interpreted through Randle's production and Foley's excellent vocals.

About Anya is a geek concept album in the truest sense. It's a paean to a science fiction character of Jackson's creation, the space-hopping Anya Turgenova. Anya has all the hallmarks of what makes geek rock popular - songs about perpetually lost love and an abundance of sci-fi references. Yet Jackson and Randle have crafted a work that is very accessible. The lyrics are thoughtful and cheeky, and the music is straightforward pop with unusual instrumental flourishes. The overall sound is reminiscent of Third Eye Blind - if they sang love songs using computer and math analogies.

Anya opens with "Walk," an uncomplicated pop tune that starts the concept off with a lighthearted bang, flush with unrequited lust. It's followed by a mid-tempo love song, "Horseback or Plane," which replaces the initial lyrical yearning with quieter infatuation, accentuated by synthesized strings and acoustic guitar. "Space Blonde" introduces the more overt sci-fi themes of the album, complete with wobbling synth. "Dreams That Die" is the first glimpse we have of the doomed nature of love; "Action Figure" picks up the mood a bit with an electro-Latin feel that compares competition for a girl to dueling action figures of unequal coolness. "Math and Science" takes the geek rock love song concept by the megabytes and runs with it; "Alien" follows - another love song that replaces the math, science, and computer analogies with straight sci-fi and a mellow rock shuffle. "All About Anya" is the genesis of the project, written by Jackson in 2001. It's another acoustic/electric ballad that begs for Top 40 play, despite its unusual subject matter. A two-song suite follows: "Time for Time Part 1" has a similar plaintive pop ballad sound; "Part 2" is more upbeat and electric. The album rounds out with "His Masochist," an acoustic reality check as the object of infatuation is finally seen as fallible. The "bounce, baby" backing vocals give the tune a baroque feel.

This album is a promising and ambitious project for Scott Jackson and David Randle. About Anya was long in the making, but if this collaboration continues, San Diego might have another music scene in the making.


This review was run in the San Diego Troubadour Magazine in November of '09. See the Troubadour article