Posts Tagged ‘Ric Menck’

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Best known over the past 35 years or so as one of the champions of pervasive power pop, a sound and style heavily invested with a mix of melody and reverence for classic rock tradition, Matthew Sweet embraces edgier intents on “Catspaw”, his 15th album overall.

Mostly a solo affair, sans the famous collaborators he’s worked with in the past, it’s a lean, mean and gritty affair, one that bows to Sweet’s desire to establish himself as a lead guitarist fully capable of stepping to the instrumental fore. Although it doesn’t necessarily indicate some sort of insurgent attitude, songs such as “Coming Home,” “Blown Away” and “Challenge the Gods” do find him in darker domains, an arena mostly devoid of the lush arrangements that have marked Sweet’s more prominent efforts to date. There are exceptions—the billowy “Drifting,” the psychedelic strains of “Stars Explode” and “Parade of Lights,” and the Laurel Canyon like lilt that wafts through “Hold On Tight” in particular—but overall it’s a more pronounced approach that dominates the proceedings.

Sweet claims that the tone was dictated by his attempts to come to grips with the inevitably of aging and the belated onslaught of maturity. “I’m trying to get my head around getting older,” he remarks in the press release that accompanied the album. “I want to let go, I want to tell the ugly truth … I want to do all kinds of different things in my head and they really popped out in these songs.”

Sweet also reveals the fact that the title was borne from his struggle to reconcile himself with his own mortality infused with some obscure trivia gleaned from his childhood. “I really connected to the idea of the certain and deadly inevitable—the pounce. Don’t ever forget life is totally cruel and the catspaw is already coming down on you.”

Despite the fact that Catspaw was recorded entirely on his own, save drumming from longtime pal Ric Menck of Velvet Crush, and put together in his home studio prior to the pandemic, the album still manages to retain an emphatic edge while eschewing any hint of sadness or sobriety. It seems to be the next natural step in a career that’s always been capped by one accomplishment after another and brought him considerable regard in the process.

“What if the best of me isn’t good enough,” Sweet asks himself on the track fittingly titled “Best Of Me.” “What if the best of me isn’t me at all?” Judging from the results realized herein, Sweet’s clearly got no reason to worry.

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We’re very excited to announce the upcoming release of a singles compilation from the legendary pop group The Springfields! We really can’t think of a more appropriate way to celebrate SLR30 than with some of the perfect records that influenced us when starting the label in the first place.
When it comes to indiepop, few names are as respected as Ric Menck and Paul Chastain. Through years of collaboration in groups such as Velvet Crush, Bag O’ Shells, Choo Choo Train and The Big Maybe they just about *were* the entire US indiepop scene, but it’s as The Springfields that they made perhaps their best, most beloved records. Taking their cues from influences like The Byrds and The Hollies they created a sound that was as jangly and melodic as their inspirations, but marked by a unique songwriting voice, excellent tunes, and sterling arrangements. “Singles 1986-1991” collects the 5 singles they released on Sarah, Picture Book, Summershine and Seminal Twang Records and adds one extra tune, here on vinyl for the first time. From the Paisley Underground-aligned opener “This Perfect Day” through the perfect pop of songs like “Sunflower” and a clutch of savvy covers, The Springfields created a compact, flawless catalog that more than justifies its legendary status and this timely reissue.

Releases November 15th, 2019

Ric Menck: Lead Vocals, Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Drums
Paul Chastain: Bass Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Jeffrey Underhill: Electric Guitar
Eric Peterson: Electric Guitar
Wes Lachot: Bass Guitar
Buddy Judge: Electric Guitar
Michael Hausman: Drums

Reissue of the debut Velvet Crush LP from 1991, originally released on Creation Records. Recorded & Mixed on 8 Tracks by Matthew Sweet, Princeton, New Jersey 1990-91.

From the liner notes by Ric Menck:
Paul, Jeffrey and I worked out the songs together at our rehearsal space in Providence, Rhode Island. Someone would come in with the germ of an idea and we’d figure out the arrangement together. When we came up with at least three or four decent tunes we’d hop in the van and drive to Matthew’s. Once there, we set up in his living room facing one another, and it usually took two or three takes to capture a performance. Matthew overdubbed his lead guitar bits later. In all, we recorded the entire record in three quick weekend sessions”.

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Reissue – released October 5th, 2018, Produced by Matthew Sweet And Velvet Crush.

Paul Chastain: Bass & Vocals
Ric Menck: drums
Jeffrey Underhill: Guitar
Matthew Sweet Guitar & Harmony Vocals

Velvet Crush’s first and best album was mistakenly lumped in with the then-predominant shoegazer aesthetic upon its release in 1991, thanks to its British release on the shoegazer-central Creation label and the occasional washes of sparkly electric feedback and creamy-smooth harmonies that settle over some of the songs.

Reissue of the album debut by Velvet Crush LP from 1991, originally released on Creation Records. Recorded & Mixed on 8 Tracks by power pop legend Matthew Sweet, Princeton, New Jersey 1990-91. Produced by Matthew Sweet And Velvet Crush. 

From the liner notes by Ric Menck:
Paul, Jeffrey and I worked out the songs together at our rehearsal space in Providence, Rhode Island. Someone would come in with the germ of an idea and we’d figure out the arrangement together. When we came up with at least three or four decent tunes we’d hop in the van and drive to Matthew’s. Once there, we set up in his living room facing one another, and it usually took two or three takes to capture a performance. Matthew overdubbed his lead guitar bits later. In all, we recorded the entire record in three quick weekend sessions”. 

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In the Presence of Greatness sounds like Big Star’s #1 Record updated for a new decade. The general air of mildly anguished wistfulness is the same, as are the jangly guitars and high harmonies, but Velvet Crush plays with a post-punk sprightliness and a less overtly British Invasion-inspired melodic sense.

Releases October 5th, 2018

Paul Chastain: Bass & Vocals
Ric Menck: drums
Jeffrey Underhill: Guitar
Matthew Sweet Guitar & Harmony Vocals