Release Date: Jun 9, 2009
Record label: Bar/None Records
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
In 1991, when former dB's bandmates Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey ambled into the studio to record the collaborative album Mavericks, they cut a largely acoustic and low-key set of songs which seemed to reflect their status as thirty-somethings beginning to look past the rough-and-tumble side of the energetic pop that was their trademark. Eighteen years later, both Holsapple and Stamey are eligible to join AARP, and their second album as a duo, Here and Now, clearly reflects the maturity that making itself felt on Mavericks. At the same time, in many respects it's a more upbeat and optimistic album than Mavericks, and it's every bit as pleasurable.
If we can agree that the first generation of power pop began with Big Star in the early '70s, then Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, who became new wave/power-pop cult heroes in the early '80s with the dB's, had a foot in that era through their pre-dB's work with Alex Chilton. Which is to say that Holsapple and Stamey know a thing or two about turning out sparkling pop gems with some rock 'n' roll grit, if anyone does. After Stamey left Holsapple to front the dB's on his own in the mid-'80s, the pair reunited in 1991 for the first Stamey & Holsapple album, Mavericks.
Any number of outcomes is possible when artists with a history of successful collaboration reunite, as former dB’s bandmates Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey do here for the first time in 17 years. The pair have not worked together since their early ‘90s duo disc Mavericks (whose reissue I gave high marks over a year ago). The reunion can refresh the artists’ creativity, allowing them to get back in touch with a creative spark that they either have not experienced in some time or haven’t experienced in quite the same way as when they were mutually inspired.
Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, cofrontmen of ’80s indie-pop group the dBs, reunited in 1991 for the album Mavericks, which proved to be a master class in creative and precisely executed songwriting. Not this time: The long-awaited hERE aND nOW falls victim to the pair’s hokier tendencies. The duo starts off strong with a faithful cover of Family’s ”My Friend the Sun” and the lush late-summer longing of ”Santa Monica.” Unfortunately, the proceedings quickly descend into a puddle of cheese spread, silliness, and ill-fitting Branford Marsalis sax solos.