CD Review of hERE aND nOW by Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey
Peter Holsapple & Chris Stamey: hERE aND nOW
Recommended if you like
Badfinger, dBs, Spongetones
Peter Holsapple &
Chris Stamey:

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

ike a few other folks, this scribe’s first real introduction to American alternative pop came in the form of the dBs, acknowledged pioneers of a genre who would later give way to R.E.M., Superchunk, the Spongetones and any number of other like-minded melodic combos. Helmed by Peter Holsapple and Chris Stamey, the dBs released a short string of albums that established their penchant for angular hooks and easily infectious melodies, but sadly none made much of an impression on the mass populace as a whole, although their debut, Stands For Decibels, remains an institutional classic to this day.

Happily, all four members went on to greater rewards – the rhythm section of bassist Gene Holder and drummer Will Rigby contributing their talents to innumerable recording sessions over the years, while Holsapple and Stamey fronted individual projects and regrouped in other combinations. Holsapple himself achieved some measure of success backing up R.E.M., while Stamey became a producer of renown and boosted the efforts of others. Nevertheless, it was the duo’s long-awaited reunion in 1992, bearing the banner of the Mavericks (not to be confused with the alt-country outfit of the same name) that brought their names back to the spotlight and boosted hopes for a full-on dBs reunion. Seventeen years later, hopes still linger that that reformation will someday take place, anticipation elevated all the more by word that the foursome have reconvened and are indeed preparing a new album for release later this year. In the meantime, however, there’s joy enough to celebrate with the reconvening of Holsapple and Stamey via the appropriately titled hERE aND nOW, a gloriously effusive and cascading collection of melodies that further delivers on the promise of their debut.

Wisely, then, the two have opted to forego the Mavericks banner, being that there’s nothing here that bucks the tradition of pure pop expression. Anglophiles will be hooked from the get-go, courtesy of an ebullient cover of the all-but-obscure Family jewel, "My Friend the Sun," given the radiant treatment it so richly deserves. And though that’s a hard number to top, the rest of the set follows suit via a series of beaming and bubbly Merseyside melodies that make no secret of their affection for pure pop innocence and exuberance. From the lithe lilt of the McCartney-esque title track and the unfettered cheeriness of "Early in the Morning" and "Some of the Parts" to the snappy retro rock shuffle of "Widescreen World" and "Part of the Parts," these songs sound for all the world like instant classics, each of which would have nicely filled out a soft rock radio play list well back in the day. In fact, the duo’s old school instincts betray them in more ways than one; "Broken Record" offers an analogy for enduring romance while also conjuring up imagery that’s almost been vanquished in an era of iPods and MP3s – that of an actual vinyl album in all its worn glory.

With Holder and Rigby lending their talents to the song "Santa Monica," hERE aND nOW looks ahead to that dBs reunion by effectively recalling their archetypical sound – and what a graceful, glorious sound it is. Taken in tandem with the rest of this sensational LP, hERE aND nOW provides a timeless treasure all its own.

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