New Band of the Month: August – Reflection

For the eight month (and final in Seattle) of the New Band feature, I selected Washington state pop rockers, The Posies (read my initial thoughts here).

How did this bit of 90s nostalgia rock strike me?

I’ve always had a soft-spot in my music-listening heart for the mid-90s pop rockers who came alive in the wake of Nirvana’s demise.  They wrote catchy hooks, nice melodies and had just enough edge in their guitar playing to be qualified as alternative rock even as they were pleasant enough sounding to play with your parents in the car.  Bands like Gin Blossoms and Better Than Ezra were too soft to ever garner the type of respect that the grunge bands received and too rock to be pure pop forces.  For a period in the mid-90s, they ruled the radio, but their era has passed.

The Posies fits pretty solidly in this tradition of pop rockers, always walking the line between delving fully into grunged up punk guitar work and middle of the road Goo Goo Dolls soft rock.  They find a pretty solid balance there, but while they are ‘harder’ than, say, Better Than Ezra (a band I unabashedly love), they lack the insanely catchy hooks and idiosyncratic flair that made some of these bands interesting.  Good?  Sure.  Memorable?  Not precisely.

The one thing that the band has going for it is their 60s-style harmonies that are always welcome in my book.  If Kurt Cobain was cribbing his style from the Beatles, the Posies were definitely listening to a lot of the Hollies and the Byrds.  It does give their sound some distinction, but ultimately the songs themselves never really grabbed me.

Will I Buy An Album?  Nah.  Nothing against the band which writes enjoyable songs, but I just never found myself thinking, “I’ve got to have this album in my collection.”  If one of their albums were playing in the background somewhere (I can’t imagine the scenario where this would be the case, but whatever), I would probably hum along.  But once it stopped, I wouldn’t think twice about the music.

Favorite Song:  I have some fondness for “Chainsmoking in the USA” from their Nice Cheekbones and Ph.D. E.P. (plus, I just love the title of the E.P.).  It’s got a hint of edge that makes it stand out for me.  Also, “Golden Blunders,” their one essential ‘hit’ is undeniably catchy in the way the best 90s pop rock songs were.  I could see myself bopping along to it between Better Than Ezra’s “Desperately Wanting” and Blind Melon’s “No Rain.”

Next Month: Hey Mcfly, you bojo.  Those boards don’t work on water.  Unless you’ve got power!

New Band of the Month: August – The Posies

Every month this year, I’m dedicating myself to getting into a new band.  By ‘new band’, what I really mean is an old band who I’ve known of for awhile but have for one reason or another never checked out.  Maybe they were a genre I wasn’t into, maybe they were the favorite band of someone I didn’t like, maybe I was just lazy.  Whatever reason, I’m going to spend the month trying to get into them.

If, at the end of the month, I find myself enjoying the music I’ll buy an album.  And if not, I’ll save my money for something else.

My New Band for August is:

The Posies

From the wiki page

The Posies are an power pop group. The band was formed in 1987 in Bellingham, Washington by primary songwriters Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow. They are best known for their radio hits “Golden Blunders” (from Dear 23), as well as “Dream All Day”, “Solar Sister” and “Flavor of the Month” (from Frosting on the Beater). The band is currently signed to Rykodisc, and has been through a number of bassists and drummers over the years.

My personal history with the Posies:

It comes down to this:

That is Thom Yorke (of Radiohead, duh) playing an acoustic version of Pablo Honey‘s closing track, “Blow Out.”  Instead of being accompanied by Jonny Greenwood and Phil Selway, though, the musicians playing with him are Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow, the main members of the Posies.  And just as the DJ suggests at the end of the recording, I’ve had a bootleg mp3 of this recording for years.  But, other than that, I know nothing about the Posies.

The reason I picked them was because I was hoping to find a Seattle or Washington band to close out my year here.  Most of the big name bands usually associated with this city (or region, at least) were bands I already knew pretty well, such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Death Cab for Cutie.  While searching for a band, I recognized the name of the Posies, but I had no familiarity with their music.  It’s a pretty safe bet I’ve never intentionally listened to a single song by them.

Though their recording heyday puts them in the same era as other indie heavyweights such as the Pixies and Pavement, I have no idea if the Posies represent the third ‘P’ in the trifecta or if they’re in a world all unto themselves.  This is truly a case of me knowing nothing about them other than what Wikipedia can tell me.  They’re an indie band who signed a major label and then were dropped later on (or they left willingly; not really sure).  They had some mainstream success, but not enough to be a household name.

So here I go.  One last month in Seattle, Washington, and one Washington band to send me on my way.  Check them out with me if you never have, or if you’ve been sitting on the secret greatness of this band for years, please, share with me what I need to know about them and what albums I must, must, must listen to.