"&", Kristian Hoffman's third CD as a solo songwriter, is a collection of duets with many of the leading bright lights of modern alternative pop, and has been Kristian's most wildly adulated best selling CD so far. Goldmine said of its songs :"all are tuneful, artful, and irresistibly enaging!" and Magnet called & " a self orchestrated pop masterpiece!" For more excerpts of reviews you can proceed to the bottom of this page. For a brief biography, read on.
As a tunesmith, Kristian Hoffman is probably best known for the song "Total Eclipse", the cult hit he wrote for early 80's German Space Opera legend Klaus Nomi, ( and more recently a top ten hit in Germany for dance band Rosenstolz, with guest vocals by Soft Cell's Marc Almond!). The song was also featured in the movie" Urgh-A Music War" and more startlingly in the recent biopic on Biggie and Tupac!
But the smart aleck pop songcraft Kristian displayed in his 70's CBGBS NYC punk pop band, Mumps, (with "American Family"'s Lance Loud on lead vocals - their career retrospective CD "Mumps - Fatal Charm" is also available from CDbaby), his dance rock band The Swinging Madisons, and his folk parody band Bleaker Street Incident (with Bongwater's Ann Magnuson) had garnered him critical raves and cult hero status before and since his work with the otherworldly elfin Nomi (which is further documented in the new film by Andy Horn "The Nomi Song" -it debuted at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival).
It is Kristian Hoffman's solo work that has cemented his status as "one of the underground's best songsmiths" (Rolling Stone) whose music is"an exquisite, extravagant pop-pourri of carnival coloured hooks and pinwheel feelings" (Montreal Mirror). His first two solo cds," I Don't Love My Guru Anymore "(1995) and" Earthquake Weather"(1998) included moments of introspective acoustic melancholy as well as Queen/Bowie inflected epic orchestrated bombast, all tempered with generous helpings of his tademark wordplay.
But it was" &" - so named because it is an album of duets and collaborations with an amazing group of legendary friends and admirers- that finally freed him from any pre-conceived constraints of pop singer/songwriter convention. Though still always based heavily in craft and hook-mongering,"&"'s fabulous roster of collaborators inspired Kristian to make every song an adventure- to the point where "Scarecrow" ( a duet with Rufus Wainwright, with whom Hoffman toured as keyboard player and musical director) starts off as a mournful piano ballad and goes through enough quick-stop left turn changes to become a mini-Sgt. Pepper by itself. ( The L.A.Weekly said of "Scarecrow': "Founded on stately Procol Harum-stealing-from-Beethoven piano arpeggios, it jump-cuts through a number of artfully jarring changes before settling into a celestial coda worthy of Brian Wilson. You won't often encounter something this beautiful and this devastating.")
Other luminaries duetting or collaborating with Kristian on "&" are:
Russell Mael (Octave catapulting lead vocalist for Sparks),
Anna Waronker (That Dog, and recent solo projects),
Stew ( of the Negro Problem),
Abby Travis (whose last solo cd Kristian co-produced),
Paul Zone (of trashy Eurodisco sensations Man2man and Violent Life and 70's pop band the Fast),
Van Dyke Parks, who has barely finished facing standing ovations in London for his resurrection of the lost Beach Boys epic "Smile"; he wrote the evocative lush sweeping orchestral arrangements on Hoffman's "Revert to Type",
El Vez (the Mexican Elvis),
Michael Quercio (the legendary Three O'Clock, Permanent Green Light, and Jupiter Affect),
Darian Sahanaja (of the Wondermints - also a "Smile" cohort),
Maria McKee (Lone Justice),
Paul (Pee Wee Herman) Reubens (!) who does a spoken word introduction to
Ann (Bongwater/Anything But Love/The Luv Show) Magnuson's lilting soprano take on" Sex in Heaven",
Steve (Redd Kross) Steve MacDonald, and
Lydia ( punk rant confrontationalist) Lunch!
"&" was one of most critically acclaimed releases of 2002, ending up on loads of year-end top ten polls. The critics were unanimous in their belief that the guest artists enhanced the songs, never overpowering them. All of this moved Uncut magazine to call "&" "a spectacular operatic art rock power pop album (four stars)" while Genre simply said "To say Hoffman is a great songwriter is an understatement. The man and his music are pure genius!"
Hoffman has toured extensively as a keyboard player for Kinks legend Dave Davies, appearing on his last three CD releases. He is currently a member of Los Angeles' sensationally popular loungecore Velvet Hammer Burlesque Show band, is playing keyboards with John Waters Superstar Mink Stole ("Female Trouble") in her new one-woman show, continues to play and collaborate with Abby Travis, and is in the early stages of co-writing songs with Ann Magnuson for her next CD. He's also demoing the songs for his own next CD, tentatively to be produced by Nick Walusko of the Wondermints.
Hoffman's first two highly regarded solo CDs, " I Don't Love My Guru Anymore" and "Earthquake Weather" are also available from CDbaby.
A mind boggling array of further trivia, photos, current dates, rare MP3's, special website only releases, and even original art work (Hoffman designed the famous New York Dolls bendover girl logo!) are available at "the Official Kristian Hoffman Website" at www.kristianhoffman.com.
More Critical Raves for &! :
"Surely one of the finest pop albums of the year!" - Santa Barbara Independent
" Overflowing with violins, harpsichords, French horns, surprising progressions and divine melodies, "&" is the record that every fan of the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Kinks has been pining for! Hoffman is the most skillful American pop songwriter under the age of 51. His publicist sent me a stack of his various CDs. I shoved them in the changer, put it on random play, and waited for something that wasn't brilliant. When that never happened, I knew!" -L.A.Weekly
"Glorious, witty and baroque! "&" is tunesmith extraordinaire Hoffman's finest CD yet!" New Times
"'&' is a pop lover's dream come true! Described as a cross between the Beach Boys, the Move and 60's bubblegum music, "&" is made by pop lovers for pop lovers, and gets better with each push of the play button!" - 20th Century Guitar
" The most epic of pop albums you'll hear all year! "&" is a flawlessly crafted, ornately embellished pop opera that does proud guests as Van Dyke Parks, Paul Reubens (!), Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson, El Vez, Steve MacDonald, Stew, and Maria McKee!" - the Aquarian Weekly
"Hoffman's is one of the most touching voices of all contemporary songwriters in America. Ambitious and more creative than ever, inspired as hell, "&" creates a torrent of emotions, subtleties, contrasts and surprises. This kaleidoscopic album has no highlights simply because all 17 tracks are stunning musical pieces!" - Bucketfull of Brains
" '&' is a great listen, loaded with shimmery operatic sounds for your ears, and smart, twisted, terminally romantic lyrics for your brain (and heart). A pop treasure trove!" - Pop Culture Press
" Hoffman has a strange but beguiling way with melodies, ones that echo generations of local sounds from Randy Newman and Brian Wilson and Arthur Lee to the brightest lights of new wave and the Paisley Underground. The many sterling cameos on "&" never overshadow the songwriters many strengths and quirks. A delightful listen! A-" - the Orange County Register
" In spite of the array of guests, "&" contains a seamless continuity: Hoffman's catchy, at times weird, but always engaging pop melodies. These tunes will quickly have heads bopping and toes tapping. "&" solidifies Hoffman as one of the underground's best songsmiths." - Rolling Stone
" '&' is a fabulous collection of psychedelically decadent duets!" - Time Out New York
" More than the names involved, it's the tunes that impress the most, each an unexpected turn of melody or instrumentation that start one way but then quickly evolve through changes in their tone and tempo. All are tuneful, artful, and irrestibly engaging - songs so instantly infectious one would swear they are from another era. Also reflecting the retro sound are the dizzying multitude of of instruments and imaginitive ideas that pervade "Get It Right This Time", "Scarecrow", "Series of Yous", and "I Can't Remember My Dreams" - the latter a creative concoction that suggests the Beach Boys meeting the Electric Light Orchestra - offering a result that's truly dazzling!" - Goldmine
" A collage of musical whimsy - but not without poignacy and melancholy - "&" orchestrates a duets collection of rock opera proportions. Hoffman's wordplay is brassy and breezy, full of witchery and wry wit, and combined with madcap melodies he creates colors and textures that would have Baz Luhrmann biting his nails and drafting video storyboards. "&" is definitely "!"" - Amplifier
"Generally the stink of desperation permeates a duets album, but "&" is the exception, focussing on the idiosyncratic songwriting and arranging that have made Hoffman a cult favorite. Although glitter rock, cabaret and 60's pop are the main ingredients of &, Hoffman proves equally adept an low slung rockabilly, and throbbing electro-funk, and displays especially sesitive chemistry with Maria McKee on "Tender Even Then". Overall these offbeat duets are consistently witty, and a million miles away from Sinatra's all star last gasps and the "Supernatural"-style cash cows one typically associates with the genre." -Tower Pulse