Bash & Pop - Anything Could Happen

by Steve Ricciutti Rating:5 Release Date:2017-06-23

The Replacements worked and partied hard through the ‘80s only to find themselves firmly ensconced as one of those critically adored but popularly underappreciated bands (like X). Their zenith Let it Be was released 33 years ago and the first (and only) Bash & Pop record prior to this year’s release came out 24 years ago, all of which begs addressing the cruel subject of aging in a young man’s game, an issue most clearly evident in rock and roll, although sports is a close second.

The Rolling Stones, in a league unto themselves at this point, can amazingly still command triple digit ticket prices for a broad aged audience to see them tap into songs older than most of those fans, even while it’s cartoonish if not downright gross for 70-something Mick to preen around singing about the taste of a young girl. For lesser acts like The Replacements (and Tommy Stinson), however, the stakes are different. Die-hards remain and reunion tours still happen, but on a far smaller scale, and it’s within this broad swath of aging rockers that the ability to stand on stage trying to summon up decades-old magic evokes more pathos than nostalgia. To be fair, who can blame them? To paraphrase Jagger, “What can an old man do ‘cept to sing for a rock and roll band?”

Stinson, whose resume is full of post-‘mats duties, including a long stint with Guns n’ Roses, has come back to his solo project of sorts Bash & Pop to record album number two, and it has me wondering why. I’m not trashing the album as much as I am questioning the motives, if not the content. Sure, he has to bring home the bacon, and a guy who’s only a few years younger than me isn’t going to suddenly left turn, cut his hair, buy a navy blue business suit, and walk into some corporate HR office with a single sheet resume looking for an entry level mail room job. His lot has long been cast with the rest of the AARP members with no other marketable skills than songwriting. In the end, I suppose I can’t blame the guy for trying, even as I would rather hear a younger, newer, fresher take on the trad barroom blues-country-rock he serves up on the dozen tracks of Anything Could Happen.

Bash & Pop channel those same Stones, the Faces, and his former band across a fairly generic offering. It’s not awful, yet it lacks anything that elevates it above the banal, and that’s why I wrote this review disguised as a rant against aging rockers with little left to add to the overflowing canon. Replacements fans will dig it and probably some middle-aged dudes might glom onto the straightforward rock stylings, but I can’t get over how m’eh it is. The musicianship is strong (lots of guests appear) with a tight sound, air-guitar riffs a’plenty, and lyrics dealing with pedestrian issues like aging, love, regret, and the like, delivered through Stinson’s ragged vocals. The band recorded the album live and it makes for a casual, fun swagger. But that’s also what makes it so interchangeable with about a million other albums from middle of the road bar bands. Hell, even differentiating between songs seems like a pointless exercise in assigning mild tweaks to the house formula. This one has a nice solo, that one slows things down a bit, this one has a nice keyboard touch…whatevs.

I was hoping for more, maybe because I love the cover of “Tiny Pieces,” a Bash & Pop song from that first release that Coco Hames recorded for her superb debut solo album released earlier this year. In the end, however, this just seems like a guy simply punching the clock, like the dead-end cubicle dwellers in Office Space, which makes this album sound like it lacks flair and suffers from a case of the Mondays.

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