Discover more from Remember The Lightning
The 'Mats, Uni Boys & The Whiffs—OH MY!
A Truly Incredible Week For Guitar Pop Fans
The Replacements’ Tim Gets The Box Set Treatment
If any album represents the pinnacle of mid-’80s college rock, it has to be Tim.
Although only a modest commercial success upon release in 1985, the Mats’ fourth studio album was critically acclaimed and became a cult classic—a well-deserved reputation that has only grown over the decades, thanks in part to it being the final release featuring Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars.
Tim is nothing short of a pivotal, career-defining moment. It not only featured some of Westerberg’s best and most consistent songwriting up to that point, but it was the band’s first collection to fully deliver on the pop genius glimpsed on more reckless (but equally incredible) releases like Sorry Ma…, Hootenanny and Let It Be.
With fan-favorite songs like “Bastards of Young,” “Kiss Me on the Bus,” “Waitress in the Sky” and the devastating day-drinker ballad “Here Comes a Regular,” this has long been my go-to album when introducing the uninitiated to an all-time favorite band.
I kinda lost my mind when the Sorry Ma… box set was announced in 2021. And I’m equally excited about Tim: Let It Bleed Edition which includes an Ed Stasium remix, previously unreleased studio and live recordings (including songs produced by Alex Chilton!), a remastering of Tommy Erdelyi’s original 1985 mix, and a 1986 live show.
The deluxe box set also features liner notes by Replacements biographer Bob Mehr, who co-produced the collection with Rhino’s Jason Jones. Mehr told me that Tim features the band’s “best and most enduring songs” when I interviewed him in 2021 about The Replacements’ legacy in light of his revelatory book, Trouble Boys.
“The Replacements weren’t a band for their time, they were a band for all time. Their victories and the place they earned in the rock ‘n roll pantheon has only come over time. And maybe they’re better for it. Maybe there success is more well-earned as a result of that,” Mehr told me.
The 65-track (1LP/4CD) collection was announced this week along with a Stasium mix of the classic Replacements’ college rock anthem, “Left of the Dial.” If this is what the rest of the remixed album sounds like… “I’ll Buy.”
New Uni Boys Single!
Earlier this year I interviewed Noah Nash and Reza Matin, the main songwriters for LA power pop darlings Uni Boys. The band was in the studio with The Lemon Twigs recording the highly-anticipated follow up to their 2022 album, Do It All Next Week.
Here’s an excerpt from my conversation with Uni Boys:
What can fans of Do It All Next Week expect from your new music?
Reza Matin: This record is definitely a step up from the last record both sonically and in terms of songwriting. I’m really happy with how it turned out and I’m sure our fans will be too.
Noah Nash: Fans of Do It All Next Week can expect a better album. I’d say it’s in the same vein of the last record, just a bit more complex.
Today, Uni Boys released the fantastic first single, “I Want It Too,” from the forthcoming album Buy This Now! Fans of the band’s previous releases will instantly recognize the combination of power pop hooks, killer guitars, and longing, lovesick lyrics. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the rest of the new album and it definitely delivers on the high expectations set by “I Want It Too.”
Speaking of Curation Records…have you heard the latest single from Brighton, U.K.’s The Evening Sons?! Between Uni Boys, Billy Tibbals, and this new song from the forthcoming album, Tracks, it’s safe to say that Curation is on a roll.
The Whiffs Are Back With A West Coast Tour & New Single
The Whiffs were on the cover of Remember The Lightning: A Guitar Pop Journal, Volume 1, so you know I was thrilled when the Kansas City-based quartet surprised fans with a couple outtakes from their latest album, Scratch ‘N Sniff. Hard to believe that any band can have so many great songs that they’re able to leave a potential single like “Satellite” on the cutting room floor—but here we are.
Speaking of my article about The Whiffs in Remember The Lightning: A Guitar Pop Journal, Volume 1, here’s a brief excerpt including a few key quotes from the band:
These aren’t math equations masquerading as wannabe hits; more like 3-minute blasts of early Beatles or the Who force-fed through the Ramones, the Nerves, and the Exploding Hearts, but with enough hooks to make Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe or Ric Ocasek blush. A few instant classics from Scratch ‘N’ Sniff include “Shot Thru,” “Wanted,” and “Tired Of Romance”—each penned by a different band member.
But all this talk of the band’s musical and songwriting prowess runs the risk of missing a crucial point—the Whiffs never forget that they’re a high-energy rock and roll band. In other words, listening to their music makes you want to get off your ass and go see them live, preferably at some sweaty bar that’s packed to the rafters and loud as hell. (I’m seeing them with Uni Boys in LA Aug. 16!)
What do you call that if not power pop?
Well, that’s where things get a little tricky. In addition to boasting one of the most dedicated, opinionated and downright fussy fanbases around, power pop is also the genre most likely to be shunned by the very bands it places on pedestals. It’s true for highly-regarded legends like Marshall Crenshaw and Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake—who have both given “power pop” serious side-eye at various points in their career—but I’ve also heard versions of it from many current artists.
The basis for this resistance usually boils down to one of two things (if not both):
1. All genres are restrictive, but power pop is particularly pigeonholing.
2. Power pop is a commercial kiss of death. (See: Big Star, Knacklash, etc.)
Beyond that, many artists simply find genre discussions reductive, and genre distinctions mostly irrelevant in our new algorithmic reality. Fair enough. Power pop musicians certainly aren’t alone in those opinions.
We briefly touched on some of this when I interviewed Cameron for Big Takeover last December. In that exchange, I asked him if he had any strong opinions about power pop and how he thought the Whiffs fit into the genre:
I only use the term ‘power pop’ to describe us to people that I think absolutely know what it is (punk nerds), or I usually just say it sounds like a ‘punked up Beatles’ to my friends’ dads who I know are gonna love us. Dads love us.
I found his brief response both insightful (“punked up Beatles” might be the most succinctly accurate definition for power pop I’ve come across) and hilarious (“Dads love us.” is definitely one of the best rock and roll one-liners ever). Still, reading between the lines I sniffed a familiar dismissiveness.
So I decided to dig in by asking each of the Whiffs a few specific power pop questions. Below is a selection of those responses:
What is your personal relationship with power pop?
Rory Cameron: I’ve never really cared that much about subgenres other than when they’re used as descriptors. People tend to get dogmatic about what something is and isn’t given their personal preferences... It’s ultimately rock and roll with a good hook.
Joey Rubbish: It’s obvious why this style appeals to people that love rock and roll—hooks, interesting arrangements, tight 3- minute-or-less songs, countless nods to the timeless pop that came before. But it’s not ‘new,’ so most people won’t pay attention to it. That’s fine. Power pop will forever re-emerge with different aesthetics because it’s a formula that works. The flipside is that it’s a formula that can become tiresome and boring.
THANK YOU FOR ALL THE SUPPORT!
I’m sincerely blown away by the great feedback, comments and shares this newsletter has received since launching in January.
We’ve also gotten plenty of people generously pledging paid subscriptions—but here’s the thing…
My aim for Remember The Lightning has always been to keep the newsletter free while charging a small price for the more in-depth guest essays and articles in our semi-annual guitar pop journal—my only goal is to cover the expenses of paying contributors, commissioning cover art, and hiring an experienced copyeditor.
So, Here’s My Humble Request…
A Few Easy Ways Readers Like You Can Help Out:
WORDS & STARS: Already purchased a copy? You rule! The easiest way to help spread the word is by leaving a one sentence review and 5 ⭐️s on Amazon. The algorithm rewards reviews by increasing the book’s visibility among readers. SEO!
Here’s how easy it can be:
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The Great News Is : Volume 2 Is Already In The Works!
We’ll make an official announcement in the next month or so, but you can expect another collection of well-written essays by talented music writers, knowledgable fans of modern guitar pop, and a few of the incredible musicians releasing fantastic music these days. Stay tuned for more soon…
In the meantime, THANKS AGAIN for all your support!
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