Monday, February 20, 2017

Spiral Stairs Pounds the Pavement Again

I can't help but root for Spiral Stairs. Even though he co-founded Pavement, he never seemed to get the cred of his famous mate, Stephen Malkmus. I was a big fan of Stairs' post-Pavement band, Preston School of Industry, and PSOI's first full-length album, 'All This Sounds Gas,' still garners a gaggle of plays in this house some 15 years later. At the time of release, reviews were lukewarm at best. Again, I felt like it was because he was being compared to Malkmus. Admittedly, Malkmus' first solo album, released about six months earlier, was great, but so was 'All This Sounds Gas.'

One of Mrs. LTL's all-time favorite shows was seeing PSOI in 2001 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago. We were one of about 50 that saw them that night, and Stairs seemed so approachable that we had a little chat with him after the show. We thanked him for the effort and had a good laugh about his Robert Smith imitation in the music video for "Falling Away," which had just been released. That song was a mighty accessible piece of pop and quite different from the rest of the expansive twang of 'All This Sounds Gas.' It had hit written all over it, but as often happens, the masses missed it.

There have only been a couple of albums since then. I didn't think followup 'Monsoon' was quite as good, but I imagine it might have sold a little better since they had played for bigger audiences as openers for Wilco, one of the hottest bands at that time, prior to that release. Five more years would pass before Stairs would release another album, this time as Spiral Stairs, not Preston School of Industry. This was around the time Pavement would briefly reunite and tour to support a best-of package. I'm afraid the latest from Stairs may have been lost in all of that love for Pavement.

That's it. No new music from Stairs for the past eight years... that is until March 24 when 'Doris and the Daggers' hits the shelves. Quite a bit has happened to Stairs since we last heard from him, and that is reflected in the music. He's lived abroad, lost friends and become a father. So expect the songs to be more personal, emotional and confessional. I'm not usually one to quote from press releases, but I was pretty excited to read Stairs say, "The lyrics definitely have a more traditional 'songwriter' feel. I'm getting older, and the music I'm listening to is often more story-based. I love Paul Kelly, the Australian singer-songwriter – he's a great storyteller. I think I was trying to channel some of that, and people like Lloyd Cole, songwriters more from the Dylan school of honesty." Here's the first release from 'Doris and the Daggers,' with help from Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. Stairs has a slew of dates on the west coast in the spring. Catch him if you can.


George said...

Would a purchase of a promo copy of Real Feel by the Spiral Stairs (for £1.50) be a waste of money and listening time?

Brian said...

George, Check your inbox.

The Swede said...

I know the PSI name, but had never knowingly heard their stuff before today - it is good isn't it? I can absolutely see why you're a big fan. The new tune is great too. I've no doubt that 'Doris & the Daggers' will be in the running for honours when it comes time for you to draw up your albums of the year in December.