Deep Album Cuts Vol. 62: The Posies

This week, The Posies are releasing their 8th full-length album, Solid States. And though I usually do deep cuts playlists for acts who had a lot of success on the singles charts, The Posies are one of my favorite bands that I'm always trying to turn people onto, whether they know '90s alt-rock radio hits like "Dream All Day" and "Golden Slumbers" or not.

The Posies Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist):

1. Song #1
2. Open Every Window
3. Any Other Way
4. Lights Out
5. Grant Hart
6. Burn & Shine
7. Throwaway
8. I Guess You're Right
9. Compliment?
10. Fight It (If You Want)
11. Friendship Of The Future
12. No Consolation
13. Love Letter Boxes
14. What Little Remains
15. Fall Apart With Me
16. Coming Right Along
17. My Big Mouth
18. So Caroline
19. You Avoid Parties
20. Sad To Be Aware

Tracks 9 and 14 from Failure (1988)
Tracks 3, 17 and 19 from Dear 23 (1990)
Tracks 4, 6, 13 and 16 from Frosting On The Beater (1993)
Track 2 from DGC Rarities Vol. 1 (1994)
Tracks 1, 5, 7 and 10 from Amazing Disgrace (1996)
Track 20 from the "Please Return It" single (1996)
Tracks 11 and 15 from Success (1998)
Track 12 from Nice Cheekbones And A Ph.D EP (2001)
Track 8 from Every Kind Of Light (2005)
Track 18 from Blood/Candy (2010)

Aside from the new album on the way, The Posies have been on my mind lately because two members of the band have died in the past year. Darius Minwalla, who'd played drums for The Posies since 2001, died at a shockingly young age last May. And Joe Skyward, the band's bassist from 1994 to 1999 (who rejoined the Minwalla-era lineup for some shows in 2013 and 2014), died of cancer abotu a month ago. You can hear Skyward's work with the band here on tracks 1/5/6/10/11/15/20, and you can hear Minwalla on tracks 8 and 18.

The Posies occupied an unusual little niche in the alternative rock boom. Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow's self-recorded indie debut was jangly late '80s college rock with such a strong anglophile vibe that they sometimes sang with slight British accents. And they released their major label debut in 1990, before Seattle bands started getting signed just because they were from Seattle. So while Dear 23 was too soon to benefit from the Seattle boom, 1993's Frosting On The Beater came along a little late to fully capitalize on it. But in those 3 years of touring, they'd become a louder, heavier band, and the combination of Auer and Stringfellow's soaring vocal harmonies, Auer's guitar hero solos, Mike Musberger's thundering Keith Moon drums, and Don Fleming's noisy, blown out production sound made for one of the greatest power pop albums ever.

Auer and Stringfellow both joined the reunited lineup of Big Star in the '90s, and continued to do so until Alex Chilton's death in 2010, which really burnished The Posies' rep as torchbearers for the nebulous and never terribly fashionable 'power pop' label (and Stringfellow also logged a decade as a member of R.E.M.'s expanded touring lineup). The Posies had too much of a mainstream presence at their peak to be considered a lost gem like Big Star were at the time, but I always feel like they never get enough credit. The fact that they had the best vocal harmonies in '90s rock didn't matter because virtually no bands were even trying.

It was really hearing Posies songs on compilations that turned me onto the band more than their singles -- "Open Every Window" from DGC Rarities, as well as "Limitless Expressions" from Home Alive and the appearance of "Coming Right Along" from The Basketball Diaries were what made me pick up Amazing Disgrace and quickly become a huge fan of The Posies. But soon, the band got dropped from Geffen, recorded a 'farewell' indie album, and began working on other things (Jon Auer has one fine solo album and a few scattered other projects, but Stringfellow's been really prolific, with several great solo albums and as the leader of The Disciplines and Saltine and a few collaborative projects).

But The Posies never really stayed inactive for long -- Auer and Stringfellow started playing acoustic shows together just a couple years after breaking up the band, then recorded an EP together, and then got together a new rhythm section and began touring and making new albums. And I've been impressed at how the band's 21st century albums have kind of expanded the parameters of what a Posies record is, musically and lyrically -- there's a lot of weird, funny, interesting things that you wouldn't have heard on their earlier records, and what I've heard from Solid States so far continues that tradition. One note about the later records -- two songs from Every King Of Light were used as sample files for the Windows Vista OS, which really seemed to boost the profile of those songs. "I Guess You're Right," a great deep cut from a low-selling indie album, is the most played Posies song on Spotify, twice as popular as any of their '90s major label singles.

I really tried to represent the full range of The Posies with this mix -- the punky barnburners, the dark brooding rockers, the mopey ballads, the chipper pop songs. And I tried to balance out contributions from the band's two songwriters -- Auer/Stringfellow have a Lennon/McCartney approach in terms of joint songwriting credits and often helping each other finish songs and sing back up on each others' songs, but you can generally tell who wrote the bulk of a song based on who sings lead. On this mix, most of the odd-numbered tracks are Ken Stringfellow songs, and most of the even-numbered tracks are Jon Auer songs (with the exception of tracks 7 and 8, which are flipped the other way around).

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg
Vol. 40: Ciara
Vol. 41: Creedence Clearwater Revival
Vol. 42: Dwight Yoakam
Vol. 43: Demi Lovato
Vol. 44: Prince
Vol. 45: Duran Duran
Vol. 46: Rihanna
Vol. 47: Janet Jackson
Vol. 48: Sara Bareilles
Vol. 49: Motley Crue
Vol. 50: The Who
Vol. 51: Coldplay
Vol. 52: Alicia Keys
Vol. 53: Stone Temple Pilots
Vol. 54: David Bowie
Vol. 55: The Eagles
Vol. 56: The Beatles
Vol. 57: Beyonce
Vol. 58: Beanie Sigel
Vol. 59: A Tribe Called Quest
Vol. 60: Cheap Trick
Vol. 61: Guns N' Roses
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