Tuesday, December 31, 2019

BS 3

Big Stir Single Series, Vol 3
Big Stir Records

The third volume of this series, released earlier this year, showcases pop/rock in all its forms: punk, psych, pop, and rock. All the songs are excellent, a reminder that there is some very good music out there, if one is willing to look for it.

But it’s the emotions of these songs that make this comp stand out--not just good times and bad times, but why they’re good or bad, happy or sad, all without emo-style overwrought lyrics. These are adult emotions, in all their complexity, with happiness, and joy the most prominent.

For examples, Paula Carino’s single, A and B Sides, “Flying Dream/Greenwood,” describes difficult situations, with hope and certainty that things will work out. The Librarians With Hickeys bring comfort in “Black Velvet Dress,” and the comp’s saddest song, “Alex.” One wonders what Alex did to make the narrator so upset. Blow Up bring pure and happy punk for A Side “Reckless Hearts,” and a great Velvet Underground cover of “What Goes On” for the B.

I will be hearing volumes 1&2 early next year. If they are anything like volumes 3&4, they will be some of the best singles comps I’ve ever heard, a reminder that hits don’t have to be Top 40 to be great.


Andrea Weiss

Sunday, December 29, 2019


Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers

I first heard of this Tempe band from Big Stir Records' singles comp, Vol. 4 and really liked what I heard.

Bliss, their third album, reminds me a bit of Neko Case’s debut, The Virginian, but I like it a lot better, as this band’s Americana thrash is much livelier and not trad, and Pacey’s soulful singing is more forthcoming emotionally and lyrically. I also like the way she takes no guff and isn't mournful about it. The rest of the band, Andy Borunda on electric guitar, Benno DeLuca on drums, and Dante Fiorenza on bass sound great. Pacey’s acoustic guitar playing adds texture and detail.

If you want something different, not run of the mill country or Americana, I think you will really enjoy this album.

Andrea Weiss

Sunday, December 22, 2019


The Jim Basnight Thing
Pop Top
Precedent Records

The pop on this album has a punky rawness to it, making this college rock really powerful. They take Midnight Oil at their best as a starting point. It’s very good, all the more so for including some blues, like “Opportunity Knocks” and “Blue Moon Heart.

“Hello Mary Jane” and “Stop The Words” are straightforward punk, making for even more variety. Another great album from this band, and one that has staying power. People will remember them long after the album has ended.

Andrea Weiss

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Big Stir

Big Stir Singles: The Fourth Wave
Big Stir Records

The fourth volume of virtual A- and B-sides is some of the best pop/rock today. Some tracks are more punk rock, some more folk rock, some psychedelic, and some pure pop. All are melodic.

Everything is here: good times, like Dolph Chaney's “I’m OK;” bad times in The Vapour Trails' "Drowning As I Fall In;" love in all its forms; and sex, like Carol Pacey & The Honey Shakers' amazing, feminist cover of the Violent Femmes' "Add it Up," which also includes a great gun control message. The equally amazing sparkle jets* U.K. do Big Star covers with Jody Stevens himself on drums.

Five dollars from every comp sold goes to the Ed Asner Family Center, which works with special needs people of all ages and their families to give them dignity, confidence, self-respect, and a chance to be whatever they want to be. As someone who is learning disabled, I can’t think of a finer cause to support. I’ve heard of the center and know they do good work.

For this reason I urge you to buy this, but also because it's great music, truly and unjustly outside the mainstream. It is so versatile, so rocking, so smart, so fun, and so everything everyone needs, what more could you want.


Andrea Weiss

Saturday, December 7, 2019


Jim Basnight and the Moberlys
Seattle-New York-Los Angeles
Precedent Records

These recordings from 1982-89 are a great take on early Tom Petty--more garage and punk, but also good power pop, and one song, Elma, borders on cowpunk. Every track has something to recommend it, like Elma’s sarcastic take on wishing to leave a one-horse town. If I’d heard these tracks in the 80s, I would’ve thought they were every bit the breath of fresh air that early Petty was. Fans of all of these genres and just good music, this is a must-hear. Basnight made a wonderful debut with Sexteen and got even better with this album.

Andrea Weiss


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