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Bash & Pop ‎– Anything Could Happen – New LP
Fat Possum Records

Bash & Pop ‎– Anything Could Happen – New LP

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When The Replacements ended their 33-show reunion tour in June 2015, founding bassist Tommy Stinson walked away with his head held high. Armed with a pocketful of new songs and a clean slate, he holed up in his home studio in Hudson, NY and played solo tour dates with a group of players/friends backing him, including Luther Dickinson, Frank Ferrer, Cat Popper, Steve Selvidge, and Joe “The Kid” Sirois. They had more fun than humans should be allowed to have, and over the next year and a half they pieced together a brand new record.
Anything Could Happen is the first album in 24 years credited to Bash & Pop, Stinson’s short-lived post-Replacements outfit. But Stinson isn’t resurrecting Bash & Pop’s original line-up so much as reconnecting with their plug’n’play philosophy, by recording live off the floor with a proper band (featuring GNR drummer Frank Ferrer and North Mississippi All-Stars guitarist Luther Dickinson) after a couple of mostly self-recorded, studio-tinkered solo records. According to Stinson, several of its songs were earmarked for a Mats record that never got off the ground. But in lieu of new Replacements, Anything Could Happen is a decent replacement.

The introductory rave-up “Not This Time” kicks open the saloon doors as vigorously as “I.O.U.” did back on Pleased to Meet Me, while the title track’s cathartic, shout-it-out hooks are evocative enough of a certain Tim touchstone that you could rename it “Bastards of Old.” And in the raw acoustic confessional “Can’t Be Bothered,” he updates the early-20s angst of “Unsatisfied” for middle-aged malaise: “The worst things seem to happen in threes/We used to the flip the bird until the bird turned to a dream/Now we can’t be bothered with any of that.”

But more than any specific Replacements record, the tone and temperament of Anything Could Happen most closely recalls Paul Westerberg’s underrated 1993 solo debut 14 Songs, which furthered his maturation as a songwriter while reapplying some of the grittiness that the latter Replacements records smoothed over. (“On the Rocks,” in particular, feels like an unsubtle echo of that album’s “World Class Fad.”) As a vocalist, Stinson is like a Westerberg who decides to call it a night after just three beers—he may not plumb the same dark-hour-of-the-soul depths as his former bandmate, but he can effectively render a relationship’s wreckage with a single brushstroke (from “Anybody Else”: “You’re trying to make a painting a Picasso/Bought a box of sidewalk chalk”) or self-deprecating sentiment (“I’m the wish that won’t come true,” he admits on the honky-tonk heartbreaker “Breathing Room”).

Anything Could Happen is an album of upbeat songs about feeling down and lucid observations about getting fucked up, split evenly between ragged mid-tempo struts and countrified, come-down laments. And for Replacements fans of a certain vintage, it offers a hit of nostalgia more potent than you’ll get from scrolling your high-school buddy’s Facebook list. But for Stinson, Anything Could Happen is less an exercise in reliving the past than coming to terms with it, having survived being in the world’s most intoxicated band, the untimely death of his brother, divorce, and working for two of rock’s most notorious control freaks. That experience has taught him that, even in life’s darkest moments, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, even if it’s just a cigarette ember. On “Anytime Soon,” Stinson lays down a smoky, miserable-bastard blues to remind himself to quit being such a miserable bastard: “Feeling sad and lonely, yes I know I’m not the only,” he sings, before adding, “you won’t see me dangling from these rafters anytime soon.” Because as Stinson’s unlikely journey from drunk-punk underdog to arena-rock ringer has shown, anything can indeed happen.

 

released January 20, 2017


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