Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Top Ten albums mentioned first, songs from each album follow the album title. 


Corner Laughers Temescal Telegraph Lord Richard, Leslie Pereira & the Lazy heroes Good Karma Good Karma, Bye-Bye Blackbirds Boxer At Rest  If It Gets Light, GT Postscript: Across The Barries Of Sound. Inverness. 


Alyson Seconds Bag of Kittens Dig My Pig, Anton Barbeau Manbird Manbird the song


Anton again:  Kenny Vs Thrust Jingle Jangle. Marshall Holland Paper Airplane She Buys A Dress (To Go With Her Pink Belt.)


Spygenius Man On The Sea Spite


Dolph Cheney Rebuilding Permit  President of the United States Is the Breitbart Bimbo. Jim Basnight Misfits, Jokers, and Misfits 5 Song from it I Can See For Miles (Who cover).


Blake Jones The Homebound TapesThree Jerks In A Jeep. Mike Tittel  "Sleeping In") Kid Walking. 


Big Believe Juggernaut Tania Was A Truth Teller.


Brothers Stave S/T Carry Me. Librarians With Hickey's Long Overdue Black velvet Dress.


It's Karma, It's Cool. Woke Up In Hollywood American Sushi. Big Stir Sixth Wave singles comp, Paula Carino Door, Corner Laughers, Queen Of The Meadow, FaB This Wicked Pantomime 9 Song from it Persuasion. 

FaB is Bee Brogan and Neil Fitzsimon


Nick Frater Fast and Loose Let's Hear It For Love, mylittlebrother Howl 10 Song from it Responsibility.

Andrea Weiss 

Sunday, January 24, 2021

 The Stan Laurels

There Is No Light Without The Dark

Big Stir

The fourth album, and Big Stir debut, from John Lathrop, who records under the Stan Laurels name, is very 90s influenced power pop--think Fountains of Wayne or Juliana Hatfield--and very good, a really nice updating, with a bit of the 70s thrown in for good measure. 

The lyrics are about dark and light states of mind, his wife and son, and Trump. “Florida Man,” is both about the state and it being a state of mind. Lots of good wordplay, especially on the anti-Trump “Red Handed Puppet,” as in “What do we do about Elmo...” 

This is the kind of power pop I like the best: impure, creative, with expert guitar playing and smart lyrics. 

Andrea Weiss

 I had seen the name of this band before, The Stan Laurels, and always meant to check them out, so when this album arrived from Big Stir, I dove in, and found very good, 90s influenced power pop. John Lathrop basically is the band, and he's a great one man band, too. John was kind enough to consent to an interview.

Andrea Weiss: For those who don't know you, can you give a bit of your history?

John Lathrop: I’m originally from Florida, USA but moved to Austin, Texas almost 24 years ago. I grew up in a family that was constantly playing music … great music … the best music. The Beatles, Badfinger, Yes, Tears for Fears, Stevie Wonder, early Billy Joel, to name a few, were all played constantly, along with tons of other great bands. My parents had the most epic record collection I’ve ever seen; I explored it and mined all the gold and platinum nuggets from it that I could find. 

That was the beginning--absorbing and really listening to the music, examining it almost in a scientific manner. My dad was a drummer and because there was a drum kit at the house (and because I had discovered Led Zeppelin in that record collection and was thoroughly enamored with John Bonham), it was my go-to in terms of playing an instrument. So I taught myself to play drums, and my uncle also lent me a guitar and showed me basic chords and a couple of songs. Later on I explored the guitar in much more detail, teaching myself how to be a rudimentary guitarist. Then later I did the same with bass and keyboards. I was hooked on playing music. After years of being “the drummer” in several indie rock bands, I decided it was time to do my own thing. Around 2006 I created The Stan Laurels to start recording and releasing my own music. Four albums/two film soundtracks later, here we are!

AW: Who have you been influenced by from the 90s, as in grunge, power pop, adult rock? And are you influenced by the Beatles? I hear all of it in you music.

JL: Oh, the ‘90s were HUGE to me. In the late ‘80s/early ‘90s I was kind of getting out of a metal phase and into hip-hop (A Tribe Called Quest, Ice T, Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, etc.), but at the same time listening to a lot of indie/alt rock. Tons of ‘90s bands have had an influence. It’s in the dreamy clean jangle of The Sundays and R.E.M. and The Smiths (though they are more ‘80s, I certainly was listening in the ‘90s). It’s in the reverby clean guitars and syrupy synths of The Cure and Depeche Mode. It’s in the dynamics of veering between low-key and huge sounds in bands like Nirvana and The Pixies and Jane’s Addiction. It’s in the thick basslines and powerful beats of Living Colour, Soundgarden, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. It’s in the heavy distortion combined with super-melodic pop sensibilities of Weezer and Fountains of Wayne and Matthew Sweet. It’s in the humor and quirkiness, along with great songwriting, of bands like They Might Be Giants and Cake. I could go on about the ‘90s, but we only have so much time! As for The Beatles, well YEAH! They are my absolute number one, my ultimate, my musical religion.

AW: And which decade do you like the most, as I heard the 60s, 70s, 90s, and today in your music?

JL: I guess I just gave away my answer when I said The Beatles are my main squeeze, but if I had to choose, it would be the ‘60s--mid to late ‘60s, to be exact. Rubber Soul and Revolver-era Beatles, Face to Face and Something Else-era Kinks, Odessey & Oracle by The Zombies … everything done during this time by bands like Simon & Garfunkel, Jimi Hendrix, The Hollies, The Byrds, The Mamas and The Papas, The Monkees, (and too many more to list) is all just too good. I also really love ‘60s soul music, especially Motown and Stax--artists like Booker T. & the M.G.’s, The Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, Sam & Dave, etc. I could list a ton of bands from every decade that I got into, but for brevity purposes (too late, I know), I’ll just say the ‘60s are probably my favorite.

AW: What is “Florida Man” About?

JL: It’s a play on the (sadly often true) stereotype that Florida is the butt of the joke, that its people are crazy and unhinged, that if anything ridiculous and/or stupid happens, it’s probably Florida’s fault … or someone from Florida’s fault. I recognized at an early age that the people around me seemed a little nuts … like more than the “usual” amount of nuts. Not everyone, of course! (Don’t @ me, Florida people!) Even though I have been away for almost a quarter of a century, I still once in a while do stupid things, and the joke of the song is that I blame those stupid things on being from Florida. In the song I say directly to Florida, “I learned it by watching you,” which is a reference to an old anti-drug PSA from the ‘80s that became kind of a joke itself.

AW: I like how your music is so melodic, but also flows along with the rhythm. What comes first, melody or rhythm?

JL: Thank you! As much as I am a drummer at heart and it’s the instrument I probably play the best, melody always comes first. I always figure out the chord progression and singing melody first, and then the arranging comes, where I bring in the rhythm. I have found that the way a song is arranged can really change the entire flow, mood, and dynamics of everything. 

And as a drummer, I do try to make rhythm a big part of my music. I also try to keep the drums and bassline tightly in sync, while also keeping the bass very melodic. The heavy focus on a big, tight “rhythm section” (I put it in quotes because it’s me playing along with myself) probably comes from my love of soul and funk music, and is one of the things I think makes my music a little different from most power pop bands, which can sometimes be a lot looser, with more of a garage rock sound, without as much rhythmic tightness or driving emphasis on the basslines and beat. Neither way is better than the other, and I love a great garage sound as well--hell, sometimes I wish I could let go more and just get messy--but I guess it’s just how I choose to do things.

AW: You write about your son and your wife, and that's wonderful. What draws you to the personal lyrically?

JL: I appreciate that. My lyrics have always been personal, because I think writing about what (and who) you know yields the most honest and true lyrics. I absolutely love writing songs that are humorous and silly, and not quite as personal, and I have several of these on the new album, so I like to mix it up. But writing songs for the people I am closest to is something I have always done. I have a song for each of my sons and quite a few for my wife. I like the challenge of expressing myself in varied ways to write about one person, while making each song uniquely different. I would invite people to check out “LoveBirds,” “A Million Miles High,” and now “Of Love, Wine, and Song” for three examples of completely differently styled love songs, all written for my wife! In this album I also tackled other, more personal issues like anxiety, as well as some of my fears, such as losing my creative edge and drive, or dying before I get everything done I want to do. These are all things I think most people can relate to, and I wanted to make this album as lyrically genuine as possible.

AW: I like your guitar playing a lot, halfway between grunge and indie rock. Is there anyone you draw on for that?

JL: Thanks so much! I draw on many influences in both style of playing and sound, one being Peter Buck of R.E.M., who wavers between the clean jangle of their earliest albums and the heavier biting crunch of the Monster era, and also in that he stirs it up quite a bit between strumming and picking, something I do a lot myself. I love light, mellow guitar sounds as much as chunky distortion, and everything in between, and often like to mix those and have them all in one song. I love the picked-out Rickenbacker jangle of The Byrds. 

I love clean, dreamy, strummed sounds of bands like The Sundays and The Smiths. Johnny Marr is definitely a big influence. I love clean (and clean-ish) reverby guitars picking out single-notes, which Robert Smith of The Cure does a lot, and you can hear that influence quite a bit on this album especially. 

I also love a sweet, medium crunch guitar sound. This comes from lots of places, like David Bowie, The Kinks, Badfinger, and Juliana Hatfield, to name a few. On the heavier side, I love the big distorted guitar sounds of Kim and Kelley Deal of The Breeders. I’m a huge fan of early Black Sabbath, so Tony Iommi’s rad sound has always been an influence, even though it may not seem to show up all that much on Laurels records. Lead guitar-wise, I couldn’t shred even if I wanted to, but I guess that’s fine since I am much more into melodic solos over shredding solos. I think Roland Orzabal’s lead on the Tears for Fears song “Shout” is one of the best and most iconic solos ever; definitely an influence on how many of my lead guitar lines go down. Lastly, I tend to do a lot of guitar harmony (or “guitarmony,” as I like to call it), and that comes from a lot of places, but most notably an old ‘70s prog-ish rock band called Wishbone Ash, as well as the band everyone would certainly cite as my most obvious influence, the great Iron Maiden! (The teen metalhead within my core secretly lives!)

AW: What advice would you give a musician first starting out?

JL: Great question … if you have any sort of musical desire, follow it and work hard on it. Be patient with yourself; you’re going to want to be a virtuoso musician overnight at whatever instrument you play, but it’s going to take a lot of work and time, so don’t get discouraged, and stay with it. You will notice the changes day after day if you put in the time. I would also say don’t try to be anyone but who you are. Being influenced by others is totally cool, and we all are. But be yourself first and foremost. And sometimes it will take a while to find out who you are. In fact, most of us are still working toward finding out who we are, not just as artists, but as people. But that exploration, that journey is what making music is all about. One of my lyrics on the album is “This is your life – go find your spark.” When you find it, you’ll know.


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