Tuesday, September 2, 2014


If I saw these guys on the street circa 1989, I would have rolled my eyes.  With stacked, feathered hair, fancy leather jackets and pointy boots, this pair of 19-year olds looked like Cure fans who couldn't even get tickets for the show.  Forgive them, they were kids.  There is no need to forgive the music they made.  This debut from northern Washington State was something of a landmark, an unknown group with impeccable pop taste, making beautiful little earworms on home studio 8-Track equipment. 

Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow were out of Bellingham, Washington, right near the B.C. border, and away from the grunge scene of Seattle.  Instead, they were power pop nuts, and wanted to make records that sounded like garage bands, British Invasion acts, and later craftpeople, The Raspberries and Big Star.  The two of them had worked especially hard on a vocal blend, and sounded just like The Hollies in their harmonies.  This was retro in the right way, and energetic and modern too.

With the golden voices sailing through each song, in came the hooks and studio craftwork.  It really became obvious these guys could play on numbers such as I May Hate You Sometimes, with its intricate bassline.  The only thing that gave away their ages was the sometimes-hammy lyrics.  But this was just the start, and there would be lots more Posies down the road, as they toughened up, grew up, became half of Big Star when Alex Chilton agreed to come back, and they still remind people how glorious pop music can be when handled with care and smarts. 

This deluxe edition adds a further eight tracks to the original 12, although all but one have been out before, on a previous reissue or a sampler album.  There are demos, instrumentals and a live cut, all of which show the pair could do it alone with acoustics, and really came up with all this on their own, they weren't just studio creations.  They made a couple of better albums, but this is probably the freshest.

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