HIGH ON STRESS: Cop Light Parade

Cop Light Parade is the long overdue follow up to High on Stress’ 2005 critically acclaimed debut Moonlight Girls. The first album received excellent notices and airplay in not only their hometown of Minneapolis MN, but across the nation and from as far away as the UK, the Netherlands, and Belgium. Cop Light Parade is the culmination of three years of weathering enough personnel changes, geographic obstacles and wardrobe malfunctions to have killed a less recalcitrant band.

Following the sudden departure of founding member Jon Tranberry, the band welcomed Jim Soule, who took up the bass guitar and played his first show a few days later opening for Jackson Browne at a huge outdoor festival. The band returned to the studio to begin work on its second album only to be set back by another unexpected loss. Guitarist/songwriter/raconteur Ben Baker moved to China, having already contributed heavily to the recording. Baker continued to work on the project, utilizing new school technology and old school frequent flier miles, while Chad Wheeling, a curiously youthful yet grizzled veteran guitarist, joined singer/songwriter Nick Leet, drummer Mark Devaraj, and bassist Jim Soule in finishing the record.

Bringing things full circle, Cop Light Parade was recorded with great care by Jon Tranberry. An advance single of the title track of Cop Light Parade has been released worldwide and added to dozens of radio stations (online, terrestrial and satellite), once again drawing raves from outposts of the blogosphere from San Francisco to Istanbul. Reviewers have favorably compared the band’s “almost alt.country” sound to REM, the Replacements, Wilco, and Josh Rouse among others.

[From CD Baby: HIGH ON STRESS: Cop Light Parade]

CD is currently available at CDBaby (where you can listen to stream of the album to decide whether or not to purchase it). Also more info at their MySpace page Check ’em out when they come to your town…

Paul Westerberg – 49:00 redux

Stephen T. Erlewine downloaded Paul Westerberg’s new eccentric album, 49:00, too

Although there are enough full-blown songs to anchor this album, much of the music here wouldn’t make sense on a proper album as it floats in and out of focus, sometimes overlapping with an existing tune, sometimes offering just a tantalizing flash of melody or formative riff. But far from being a frustrating collection of unfinished home demos, 49:00 plays as a complete work, where the raggedness is part of the point — and its coarse four-track surfaces feel defiant in an age of computer recording. There’s undeniably an element of ragged rebellion in the rough-hewn creation of 49:00 but Westerberg has always sounded best when he’s on the fringe — and while this was delivered in a high-tech fashion, the album, with all its unfinished surfaces and frayed fragments, is old-fashioned college rock filled with fragile ballads, rude rock & roll, dead-end detours, and smart-ass jokes, like the classic rock oldies Westerberg flips through at the end of the album. Of all of Westerberg’s solo albums, 49:00 comes closest to recapturing the spirit of the Replacements but it doesn’t do so by doggedly re-creating the ‘Mats’ drunken mess; instead, Westerberg reconnects to the joyous, reckless sense of adventure that fueled his earliest work, and by doing so his scruffiness is once again endearing and hard to resist.

[From The Allmusic Blog » Paul Westerberg – 49:00]

Apparently, Amazon was the only online retailer that let Westerberg set the terms of download (49 minutes without track titles, breaks), and set his own price – 49¢. I got a chance to listen to the album finally, and I like it. You have to be in the right frame of mind to appreciate the oddness of it, especially when two different songs are playing at the same time from different speakers, once you can open your ears to non-standard compositions, the album makes a certain amount of sense.

On the other hand, if you are just playing the album as background, it seems kind of half-assed. Usually only the extended re-release of classic albums contains such material as song sketches, and unfinished bits. A bit disconcerting to listen to song fragments of songs you’ve never heard before. Maybe I should put mine together, and release it on an album? What do you think, would you pay 49¢ to listen to nearly an hour of various bits of music I made?

Paul Westerberg Album 49

“Besterberg: Best of Paul Westerberg” (Paul Westerberg)

Actually, Paul Westerberg has come up with a pretty clever way to sell an entire album: release it (cheaply!) as one long track, forcing listeners to hear it in the way it was originally sequenced.

I bought the album for $.49, all 49 minutes of it, and if I like the album, will buy the actual CD. If there is one, this might just be a oddity and curio. Still am happy to squander two quarters for an interesting idea.


update, apparently not available anymore. If you want a copy of the mp3, contact me directly, and we’ll see if we can work it out.