We all have our addictions. Mine, I admit, is DVRing and watching The Alternative from VH-1 Classics. Despite a near-obsession with Morrissey (I swear half the videos in any given episode feature him, either solo or with The Smiths), they show a fairly broad range of videos difficult to find anywhere else. These are the ones that made 120 Minutes, but no further, and it's simply the most reliable source of the kind of stuff I like from the 80's and 90's.
Thers shares this obsession (successful relationship rule #347: if you hate all the music your partner does, and they hate all yours, it won't work in the long run. (Ask yourself this question: what will you listen to in the car on long trips to grandma's?)), and was going through the most recent episode when I heard him yell "No Fucking Way! I've never even seen this video! Mary!" I wandered down to see him taking in a video I had also never seen: The Smoking Popes "Need You Around."
If you don't know the Smoking Popes, you should. I don't exactly know how to explain their sound, so I'll describe it as punk crooning. Others speak of driving guitars and lounge lizard vocals, which strikes me as roughly accurate, though a bit dismissive. But the sound combines factors not usually seen together, and does so with a lot of style.
The band is made up of three brothers: Josh, Eli, and Matt Caterer, and drummer Mike Femulee. They hailed from the Midwest, as so many of my favorite musicians do (I think the state of Illinois must have a power pop training program in the public schools....) Band formed around 1990, made their first record, Get Fired, in 1993.
But it's 1995's Born to Quit that I go back to again and again.
Great songs on this record: "Need You Around," "Adena," "Just Broke Up," "Gotta Know Right Now." (You can hear clips of these at Amazon.) ANd do yourself a favor and check out this video for "Rubella."
The less successful Destination Failure followed in 1997 (although the cover of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is pretty inspired), and in 2003, The Party's Over, an album of covers of standards such as Rodgers & Hart's "Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered." According to one source, this last album was recorded and submitted to Capitol, the band's label, in 1998, and rejected (along with the band themselves). It finally came out on Double Zero in 03.
Lead singer Josh Caterer got religion in there someplace, and the Popes continued in a religious form as Duvall.
But in 05, they reunited as The Smoking Popes for a festival, and ended up recording a live show at Metro in Chicago. That album, At Metro, is set to be released on February 28. And they seem to be continuing: Texans can see them at The Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas next week, and several shows are set up for the Chicago area in March.