Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Jon Auer (Posies) - 1994 demos: An Auer of Power!

Maybe it’s just me, but even after being acquainted with the Posies for some fifteen years now, I still have trouble discerning Ken Stringfellow and Jon Auer when they take the mic, spanning the gamut from Dear 23, all the way up to their 2005 reunion LP, Every Kind of Light. Heck, even on their solo albums, their respective pipes fool this set of ears, even with their names clearly emblazoned on the CD cover. Ultimately what differentiates Ken from Jon, is good old fashioned aesthetics. Both are keen songsmiths, more then adept at carrying the torch for most notably, Big Star, whom they’re invariably compared to, but Ken has been increasingly apt to follow his idiosyncratic muse, particularly on solo records. Jon on the other hand goes straight for the gusto, honing in on glorious, deftly crafted three-minute pop nuggets that gratify instantly.

At any rate, when it came time for masterminding the follow-up to the Posies, near-commercial breakthrough, Frosting on the Beater, Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow went about demo-ing songs. I’m not sure about Ken’s compositions, but when their label, the might Geffen caught wind of the stuff Auer had concocted, the didn’t order him to go back to the drawing board, rather they deemed his tentative creations needed a little mud splattered on ‘em. Keep in mind, this was the mid-90s, and their label thought they could eke a little more mileage out of the Posies if they could position themselves on a “grunge” trajectory (Their Washington State proximity wouldn't hurt the bottom line either). The final outcome, 1996’s Amazing Disgrace, was indeed heavier and for that matter swampier then it’s three predecessors, but the tunes floated to the surface blissfully as ever.

This collection of Jon Auer demos from 1994 are ostensibly what the higher ups heard that influenced the Posies to change their tune, so to speak. The relatively unfettered readings of “Daily Mutilation,” “Fight It If You Want,” and “Hate Song” among others, not only bustle with the penetrating hooks and harmonies shared with their fully realized counterparts on Disgrace, but bring something refreshing and lucid to the fore that was ultimately blunted on LP, if only slightly. Other gems here wound up on the supposed Posies finale, Success, a few more migrated to Auer’s solo releases, and some cuts remain exclusive to this set. This “Auer of Power,” will be a real treat for anyone interested in hearing what some killer Posies compositions sounded like in their embryonic state.

01. Hate Song (revisited)
02. Fight It You Want
03. Throwaway
04. Somehow Everything
05. World
06. Elena Aria
07. Brooken Record
08. Will You Ever Ease Your Mind
09. Grow
10. Placebo
11. Sad to Be Aware
12. Every Bitter Drop
13. Daily Mutilation


vathek said...

no, it's not just you. but having seen them playing solo gigs a few months apart last year i ... might ... just ... think ... i could tell them apart, if i tried real hard.
anyway, thanks for the Auer demos -- downloading them right now -- and i'm sure there'll be something for me to like.
right. listening to "Frosting On The Beater" for about 20 mins now; it is hard.

Mark said...

FOTB was a bit like Adam Schmitt's 2nd release 'Illiterature' - a move away from the 'power-pop' of the first album to fit in with the prevelant 'grunge' sound of the time.
Thanks for the chance to hear the 'unaltered' demos!

ehprh12 said...

Can you please re-up this. Would love to hear it. Thanks.

jo said...

I'll echo what everyone else says regarding distinguishing their vocals. Really remarkable. I guess two Jon/Kens is better than one. At least I can tell them apart visually...