Bitter, sweet


CandyShoppe, Jon Cornell, Nick Ramirez, Cheyenne Leigh, Margy Ford and Irma Geddon, rock the stage at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor during a recent open mic.

CandyShoppe, Jon Cornell, Nick Ramirez, Cheyenne Leigh, Margy Ford and Irma Geddon, rock the stage at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor during a recent open mic.

Photo By brad bynum

Great art is often bittersweet. For example, think of Woody Allen’s best films, like Annie Hall or Hannah and Her Sisters, sad stories filled with funny jokes. Reno rock band CandyShoppe is able to achieve similar balance by combining emotions that seem contradictory but work together in harmony, using a simple but effective technique: actual harmony.

The group has two vocalists, Cheyenne “Caramellow” Leigh and Margy “Joo Joo Bee” Ford. The vocalists often take on traditional lead and backing roles, with lyricist Leigh taking the lead, but they often work in such close harmony that the effect is more like two intertwining lead melodies, creating the effect of two different emotions existing simultaneously.

“Cheyenne is good expressing anger and outright emotions, and Margy is more subtle,” says bassist Irma “Kitt Katt” Geddon.

CandyShoppe is also a band that writes happy sounding music that contrasts nicely with the sad-eyed lyrics of songs like “Cigarette,” a song that references the bittersweet feeling explicitly: “I held your pictures in my hand/Yellow turns to blue/And sweet becomes bitter/I burned a hole in you/And watched your eyes fade away.”

CandyShoppe is a vocal-centered band. The songs sound like songs, not as instrumental excursions that happen to have vocals. The instrumentalists, Geddon, drummer Nick “Pixie Styxx” Ramirez, and Jon “Bit O’ Hunny” Cornell, churn out a simple, straight-up, tasteful, midtempo rock ’n’ roll backdrop in front of which the twin vocalists bob and sway.

“I feel like the purpose of the band is to accentuate the vocalists, and not take away from it,” says Geddon. “We want to highlight what they’re doing.”

The band members describe their sound as “princess pop punk,” a description that accentuates the rock and pop aspects of the group but neglects the all-too-important undercurrent of melancholy.

“I hate to say it, but I write ballads,” says Leigh. “All of my songs are sad, emo chick rock. There’s definitely some quirk in there.”

That quirkiness includes “Robot,” a song about robots who are in love but don’t know they’re robots, and “Butterfly,” a song about butterflies that may or may not be a metaphor about death.

CandyShoppe is also a band that isn’t afraid to employ the occasional gimmick or two. In addition to the candy-themed nicknames, they occasionally wear costumes and cover candy-themed songs, like The Strangeloves/Bow Wow Wow classic “I Want Candy.”

“We used to throw candy at the audience, until I hit someone’s mom in the head with a boxed candy and gashed her forehead open,” says Leigh. “So now we just bring it and tell people to come up front.”

The group’s next gig is Marianarchy Winter Ball at Jub Jub’s Thirst Parlor, 71 S.Wells Ave., on Dec. 7. The band members dropped hints that they’ll have a limited edition version of their new full-length album, Glitterbox, available at the show.

“We’re quintessentially Reno,” says Leigh. “We all love this town. We love playing music here. We love the support we’ve gotten from the scene. We love the bands we played with in this town. And we love each other.”