For a band that broke up a little while back, the Posies
have kept the CD pressing plants busy: first came the delicious Geffen best-of Dream All Day
and the sharp 7/28/98 Barcelona live gig released on Badman as Alive Before the Iceberg
. Now a third label, Casa, offers this document of what this band's wonderful songs sound like unplugged -- just the two principals, Jon Auer
and Ken Stringfellow
, with two acoustics and two microphones -- caught at their home Seattle's Showbox club, 2/24/00. (The duo completed a national tour in this fashion, too.) And though everybody and their mother fashions themselves as excellent candidates for MTV Unplugged, the harsh reality is that the noise and backbeat of most bands is the only thing that masks how Kate Moss-thin their songwriting and singing is. So unplugged gigs just expose such deficiencies with the clarity of an X-ray machine. Not so with Auer
. Their power pop smackers often have done the reverse, distracting scrutiny from how delicately crafted their hooks have been, underneath the sonic ker-pow of later LPs such as Frosting on the Beater
or the '60s-isms of earlier efforts. Likewise, this format means the two pals' striking harmonies are front and center, carrying the show as much as the anguish in their individual voices. "Suddenly Mary" and "Throwaway" have all the sweet grace and hang-on-the-words force of the best folk music, the kind built on tension and pop story setting instead of mere embrace of the acoustic picking form. Elsewhere, "Flavor of the Month," "Grant Hart," and "Solar Sister" make one want to sing along as much as ever, just quietly, and with commiseration, instead of full voice like the full-band versions. Another wonderful document, and another side, from a band that refuses to die -- all exaggerated reports of its demise to the contrary.