Aug 282014

Ryan Adams has an EP out that you can stream above. Minneapolis is buzzing a bit about it, because it’s supposedly a nod to The Replacements circa 1984. I can sort of hear it, can you?


  14 Responses to “Does This Sound Like 1984 to You?”

  1. In not very related news — The Jayhawks’ principal songwriters are fighting again:
    Money, prescription drugs, legacy complications . . .

  2. Ryan Adams might be the most inconsistent artist alive, but I try to listen to his stuff because I love Whiskeytown and I think Heartbreaker is a great album (the only other solo album of his that I really like is Jacksonville City Nights, but I’ll listen to 29, Easy Tiger, and Love is Hell – the problem is that I can’t stand his stuff apart from those and Cold Roses). I haven’t listened to this EP yet and I look forward to it, but it’s being set up for failure if it’s supposed to live up to Let It Be.

  3. Oh, that’s too bad – I love the Jayhawks. On the other hand, they’re not coming very near here (Ann Arbor) on the upcoming tour, so even if those dates somehow get cancelled I won’t be affected.

  4. I was surprised to see they were touring, but now I see it’s the Louris version of The Jayhawks, which isn’t bad, but it’s not the same.

  5. Yeah, I think I’ve listened to Smile once and it didn’t leave much of an impression.

  6. Too bad. In my opinion, either one of those guys without the other is worthless. The couple of albums I heard after the one guy left were boring. Every song seemed to have a 24-bar intro. I can’t wait that long for many songs to get underway.

  7. I can hear the Replacements tie in; it’s just a little less appealing than I find most Replacements songs. I’d love to know the details behind the likely high-tech plug-ins Adams used to make the production sound cheap.

    I’m exaggerating, but my lack of interest in the Replacements is well documented. What I don’t think I’ve ever shared before is my complete lack of understanding regarding anyone’s interest in Ryan Adams. He usually sounds like a hack to me, yet the indie/cool media fawn over his every release, as if he’s one day going to put out the Great American Album That’s In Him.

    Really? He sounds like a slightly cooler version of that originally sub-Replacements band from Buffalo that somehow became massively popular. What’s their name? They’re a trio with a lead singer of Polish descent and what looks like a spiked toupee? Ah – Goo Goo Dolls!

    Is that where Ryan Adams’ potential lies, in the fact that he could be what the Goo Goo Dolls might have been if they didn’t somehow become massively popular and crappy?

  8. BigSteve

    I really like Ryan Adams, and I thought his last album, Ashes & Fire, was one of his best, so I’m looking forward to the new one. He’s obviously not committed to any one style, and I know that bothers some people, but I have to give him credit for not churning out Whiskeytownesque albums under his own byline. I also felt like I was the absolute target audience for his Grateful Dead album, Cold Roses. I think he has a chance to be around for a long time, but his career is not going to be a neat one.

  9. People may other ideas, but for some I think he still has kind of a wunderkind status. Ryan Adams was pretty young when he made one of my top five albums of all time. Whiskeytown’s “Strangers Almanac” is one of the great albums of the 1990s. He’s done some pretty good stuff since as Big Steve points out below, but nothing has connected with me like Strangers Almanac.

  10. saturnismine

    I’ll take this Ryan Adams bit for a ride and I’ll be as open minded as ever.

    I find his music very hit-or-miss. I sympathize with his yen to explore styles and not stay in one place and, like BigSteve, would rather see him do that than continuing to simply replicate the formula .

    It’s probably unfair to to say this, but I was dragged to a show of his early in his career (I think it was at the North Star); a gal-pal of mine was gaga for him and so we stuck around after the show so that she could maybe get a chance to talk to him. I won’t repeat the conversation, but trust me, he was a dick. He took a very cynical approach convincing her that the best thing for her to do was continue the night with him; he played the part of the thoughtful, down-to-earth, rootsy, sincere guy to a tee. But when it was time for her to make a decision, his true colors came through; no sincerity, no thoughtfulness, just ego. To her credit, she saw that he took her for a sucker.

    Ever since then, I’ve mostly heard a cynical approach to sounding sincere in his music. I’d like to think I’d hear that in those tunes whether I had that experience or not. I cite the fact that I felt that way about his performance that night, before we got the chance to meet him.

    The idea that he’s paying tribute to one of the most sincere albums of the 80s instead of just writing one himself sounds about right to me.

    How open minded can I be? Not very, I suppose, but I’ll do my best. In general, I *want* to like music, because I get tired of listening to the same things over and over pretty quickly.

  11. Great story! I saw him at Iota in Arlington, VA, with Whiskeytown in 97 or 98 and he came off as really self-involved. Show started late for some damn thing he didn’t like. I was not surprised when they broke up, but it doesn’t make like Strangers Almanac any less.

  12. The proper new Ryan Adams album is streaming over at NPR (along with the new one from Robert Plant)

  13. saturnismine

    Occasionally he does something truly Westerberg-esque.

    The chorus’s of the first song (:23 – :26), for example, really sounds like something Paul would write.

    But jiminey crickets, there are way too many songs at the same tempo. They don’t distinguish themselves from one another much at all. By 1984, the Replacements had slowed things down and were writing with much more variety than this.

    There’s more to say: the Replacements were A LOT more fun than this, even when they started taking themselves seriously.

    The song that starts around 3:18 sounds more like Patti Smith than Paul Westerberg.

    I can see where people who don’t listen too closely would say “wow…cool! this really sounds like them!” but those people annoy the fuck out of us, don’t they? That’s why we’re here, on RTH, instead of living blissfully ignorant lives like them.

    Thanks, funoka, for showing us this.

    I did have fun listening! But I don’t hear any songs that would make me want to come back. This is the curse of being uber-picky, I suppose.

  14. saturnismine

    I felt guilty about telling it, but hey, a dick’s a dick, right? And he was bein’ one that night, *that’s* for sure.

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