Brendan Benson + The Posies
Bottom Lounge; Sat 6
For over a decade, Ken Stringfellow has quietly played ringer. The Hollywood-born songwriter sits on the sidelines for R.E.M. and lent melodic muscle to Big Star. But with the death of Alex Chilton, and the Athens arena rockers in rest-and-record mode, Stringfellow has rekindled his power-pop baby the Posies.
Frosting on the Beater, the Posies’ 1993 career peak, has grown into a cult classic, long overshadowed by the band’s angstier Seattle peers. The Posies shared the chunky guitars of Nirvana and Mudhoney but covered the scuzz with a ganache of harmonies and summery sprinkles. A recent seventh album, Blood/Candy, sticks to the formula of pleasure-coated pain.
The guitars have grown janglier and more acoustic-sounding in spots, but Stringfellow and songwriting partner Jon Auer hang their breezy voices over humble McCartneyisms and golden American road-cruising rock. The wallflower songs of heartbreak and underdogs don’t exactly grab you by the neck, but Stringfellow is better known for assists than flashy dunks.
Brendan Benson is another blue-collar craftsman comfortable playing second fiddle, in his case to Jack White in the Raconteurs. That beefy, bluesy vehicle does little justice to Benson’s skills as a no-nonsense sunshine popsmith. The Michigan native’s latest, My Old, Familiar Friend, might be referring to an AM radio station, a flannel shirt or an ELO album. With warm and worming hooks, Benson and the Posies are too long in the tooth for aspirations of rock-god fame. Comfort—both theirs and ours—is the aim.