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Mark Brown – MSN Entertainment

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013

Rave-Ups leader back with blistering new music

The Rave-Ups were one of the most promising band of the ’80s, and should have had a career that rivaled R.E.M., The Cure or at the very least alt-legends The Replacements. They were doing alt-country before Uncle Tupelo existed.

Instead, they got caught up in minor- and major-label disasters and disillusionment. After 1985’s “Town and Country” became an instant classic, they signed to a major and promptly had their career derailed by music-industry stupidity, greed and just general cluelessness. Their great 1987 album, “The Book of Your Regrets” doesn’t even include the sublime cover of the song, “Train to Nowhere,” that the title was taken from; it turned up only on a very rare promo. Hear that song here.

Their final album, “Chance,” was released in 1990. And that was it.

Mention The Rave-Ups today and you get blank stares. Mention that they were the band in the Molly Ringwald film “Pretty in Pink” and suddenly everyone knows who you’re talking about and the song “Positively Lost Me.”

The Rave-Ups’ singer/songwriter, Jimmer Podrasky, has just released his first new music in 23 years — the perfectly titled “The Would-Be Plans.” The good news? It’s a damn good set of life-worn songs, and the title track is one of his best tunes ever — a haunted hard-rock look at a man and his demons, wondering how things go wrong. After years of kicking around with publishing, songwriting and other deals, including playing in The Lovin’ Miserys, Podrasky has taken the step with producer Mitch Marine at the helm. “The Would-Be Plans” is available through his website in digital, CD or vinyl incarnations. Go listen to the title cut – or any of them – on JimmerMusic.com and see if you’re not instantly hooked. It’s one of the best albums of 2013.

With the Internet, Podrasky is hoping for a second act. “I have no management, no publicity and no money, flying on a wing and a prayer right now.” Here are excerpts from a long conversation from his Los Angeles home.

MSN: The last time I saw you in person was the day you gave up your “Town and Country” publishing to get out of your first record deal. You looked like you wanted to kill yourself. The last time we spoke was five years later after “Chance” came out on a major label and you sounded just as defeated.

Podrasky: “You are a perceptive dude! …a lot of stuff seemed to come to a head there as ‘Chance’ came out. It didn’t do well enough for Epic to like us at all. I don’t know if they liked us to begin with. I’m not sure why they signed us in the first place…they really didn’t consider us a rock band, which I don’t think we were. They were trying to get to an end point with the least possible resistance. Those companies live by templates, it seems. Even back then. If we can’t squeeze them into this genre…then you kind of weren’t gonna get much attention… There was a part of me, honestly, as a songwriter that wore that as a badge of honor.”

I don’t wanna dwell on the negatives from the past when the new album is so good.

“Hey, I’m a 55-year-old man. To think ‘Hey, I wanna make my first solo album’ is crazy. This has been a labor of love, even with the bumps in the road. I’m really proud of it. I obsessed so much on those Rave-Ups records, too. That was my band. I was always present when anybody played anything … this was a different thing. I’m not a great producer. I’m not a great guitar player. Maybe I do what I do and let Mitch and the people he trusts just go for it.”

The title cut is up there with your best songs.

“Thank you for saying that… ‘The Would-Be Plans’ is a hard song even for me to sing – that’s how heavy it really is. It’s got that blues thing in it which I always love but the words are pretty hard to spit out sometimes.”

I can’t tell from one verse to another if you’re talking about wrestling with demons with yourself, your father, your son, or all of them.

“I think you figured it out. It’s all of them. There you go – you solved it.”

Why didn’t you use the Rave-Ups name, as you’d written the bulk of the songs for the band?

“People seek out and buy those damn Rave-Up records. When I made ‘Town and Country’ I would have never been audacious enough to say ‘People will buy that 20 or 25 years from now.’ … (A friend urged him to use the Rave-Ups name anyway) and I understood it from his point of view. He said ‘You’re making people connect dots…if they remember the name from college that’s all they need… why are you sabotaging this thing?’ I just couldn’t do it to my friends. I don’t see it as a brand name. I see it as my friends who made music with me. If it’s just me, I can’t do it. … Legally they couldn’t do anything. Those three guys were the ones who made the three records with me that people know. It’s a personal thing, but it’s also disrespectful to fans of the band.”

Was there no chance of making this a Rave-Ups reunion?

“That’s what I wanted this to be and they just didn’t want to make new music. I spent a good two or three years, getting together with them, a special show in L.A. here or there… the only thing they seemed to be interested in doing…is 10 or 12 songs from those albums, re-record them and release them as a pseudo greatest-hits package. I have many albums worth of material. … I was ready to go back into paying my dues again, and knew I’d have to do it alone. It was deeply humbling, I will say.”

So where do you go from here?

“I’m more comfortable onstage in the persona of an older singer/songwriter than the frontman of a rock band. I can just calm down and be myself. I’m just winging it right now, but I know I’ve got to get out there and play.”

original site  >  http://social.entertainment.msn.com/music/blogs/post–rave-ups-leader-back-with-blistering-new-music


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Alex Green – Caught in the Carousel

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013

Jimmer Podrasky is one of the most important American songwriters of the last 30 years.

The only problem is, he’s been gone for about 23 of them.

After Podrasky and his bandmates in The Rave-Ups bid farewell to Epic Records, the singer decided that living the rock and roll lifestyle was not the best way for a father to raise his son. He could have toured the country and made more albums with his band, but wishing his son a happy birthday while standing in a phone booth in Iowa suddenly seemed like a really bad idea.
So Podrasky walked away.

He put down his guitar, left his band and settled into domesticity as a single father in L.A. whose sole purpose was to take care of his son.

Now that Chance Podrasky is a grown man, Jimmer has stepped gracefully forward from the shadows and turned in one of the year’s finest albums. Not missing a beat from The Rave-Ups’ last record–1990′s masterful Chance–Podrasky’s first solo album The Would-Be Plans is a virtual songwriting clinic. From the gut-wrenching irony of “Empty” to the glorious pop wonder of “She Has Good Records,” Podrasky sounds invigorated and as potent as ever. With a few players on loan from Dwight Yoakam’s band backing him, as well as Rami Jaffe and Marty Rifkin in tow, Podrasky effortlessly reasserts himself as one of the greatest songwriters currently roaming this planet.

Jimmer sits down for a chat with CITC about his new album, where he’s been all these years and why the Ramones still sound so great…

Caught In The Carousel: First of all, welcome back!

Jimmer Podrasky: Well, thanks for the welcome back but I haven’t been “gone” really–I’ve pretty much been hiding in plain sight for 23 years, just not exactly visible in the big ol’ music world. Who knew there were other things outside the cutthroat, ego-driven, music industry? Actually, I’ve been raising a son (Chance–who’s now a grown man of 25) while growing up and older myself. And, like everyone else, watching the world change (and even self-destruct). Jesus, I think two different “named” generations have been born since I last put out a record. I’m apparently a far more patient man than I thought I was–or maybe it’s just that I’m older now.

CITC: How did you keep up your chops?

JP: I never stopped writing songs even though I’d basically stopped performing and recording. To me, it’s always been about the song–so long as I still have a guitar to write with, I’m a happy camper. My very limited singing range hasn’t changed much since I was young–so when it came time to record this album, my voice hadn’t been blown-out by years and years of abuse on the road. That’s why at 56, I still pretty much sound the way I did when I was 26. It’s my voice and I’m stuck with it.

CITC: This record sounds like the natural follow-up to Chance–how did you pull that off after 23 years on the sidelines?

JP: Chance may have been the last official record I released with The Rave-Ups, but I see this new album as more of a follow-up to 1985′s Town + Country, blurring the lines between urban and rural sounds. Hell, it blurs the lines between good and bad, between black and white, between blood and water. I think with Chance, I was desperately trying to please the good folks at Epic Records, which is something no songwriter should ever do. Town + Country was the album in which I found my voice, both musically and lyrically–I wasn’t attempting to “please” any powers-that-be. The Would-Be Plans is me finding my voice again, and I had a lot of help from others in finding it. I owe everything to those “others.”

CITC: Were there moments where you missed making music?

JP: I was making and writing music all along–I just wasn’t sharing it too much with others. My focus for the last few decades has been on my son–in fact, Chance is a pretty damn good guitar player, so there were certainly times that I combined my two great loves by sitting around the living room and playing music with Chance. When I walked away from The Rave-Ups all those years ago, it wasn’t due to the normal band break-up shit (artistic differences/drug abuse/etc.)  My son needed a father more than the world needed another singer/songwriter. It was as simple as that.

CITC: I know that sounds like a silly question, but did you ever hear a song on the radio or at the end of a movie and find yourself thinking, “I could do better than that…” ?

JP: I never thought to myself “I could do better than that” but it did cross my mind that “I HAVE done better than that” and the world just wasn’t listening at the time. Music is no different than life in general–it’s all about timing. The great thing about songs is that they exist forever and, if they’re really good songs, they’re timeless. Fuck financial success–the important thing about a song is that it connects with human beings. Almost every song I’ve ever written has been a personal letter of sorts to a friend, loved one or ex and I just let anyone who wanted to read it. I don’t like to compare art or artists and I sure as hell never see it as a competition. I always hear people say that The Rave-Ups were ahead of their time and it makes me laugh–we sure weren’t trying to be trailblazers, we were just trying to be good.And we were. In the end, that’s all that really matters.

CITC: You’ve always been such a wise writer–how do you compare your wisdom now?  Are you a better version of yourself?
JP: I’ve been through the ringer in the last five years or so and I’m very lucky to still be alive. Without some wonderful friends (both old and new) I probably wouldn’t be here, and that’s not a dramatic exaggeration. The one profound change that has occurred as I’ve gotten older is that I’m a far more patient man than I was when I was younger. Maybe it’s the years of single-parenting. Maybe it’s simply the fact that I’ve loved and lost enough at this point to put the big things (and little things ) in life in perspective. Am I a wiser man now because of it? Probably a little. Am I a better version of myself now?  I think so…but I’ll let this new album answer that question for me.

CITC: Let’s talk about the album title–it’s classic Jimmer humor…Podraskyian, if I may! What I mean is that it’s wordplay whose subtext is both clever, but sorrowful at the same time.  Why did you decide on this title and what does it say about the songs therein?

JP: I’m not sure what classic Jimmer humor is. I guess Podraskyian is either cleverly sorrowful or sorrowfully clever, depending on the song and the time of day you hear it. The whole worldplay thing is what attracted me to songwriting in the first place–I was working it into those Rave-Ups songs from the very start. But subtext doesn’t work well in a rock’n’roll band and I think a lot of my “cleverly sorrowful” wordplay fell on deaf ears. On this album, the song was king. Not me. Not even the amazing band. It wasn’t my singing…I have a voice only a mother could love. And it wasn’t my guitar or harmonica playing. It was all about the songs–they were, in a sense, the would-be plans, waiting to be carried out.  When it came to giving the record a title, I tossed out dozens of sorrowfully clever ones to Mitch and Ed. The Would-Be Plans was the one that seemed most fitting to the three of us…or maybe I just got tired of defending the dozens of other possibilities. In hindsight, I think it was always meant to be The Would-Be Plans.

CITC: What I love about this record is that it plays the way a record should–with cohesion. The opener feels like an opener and the closer feels like a closer–not an easy feat or one that bands seem to pay attention to these days. Was the sequencing tough or did it happen organically?

JP: It was Mitch’s plan all along to make an “album”…something that you can put on and let play and each song stands on its own while somehow connecting to the whole. Not a “concept” album, but a collection of songs that represents something bigger than the sum of its parts. I remember us standing outside his rehearsal space and him talking about making an old-fashioned “album.” I knew right then that he was the producer for me– he was fearless, funny, smart and completely-driven. Plus, he’s a helluva musician. I wanted “Empty” to be the opening track (what with the opening snare hit reminiscent of “Like A Rolling Stone”) but Mitch knew better. “The Far Left Side Of You” isn’t the strongest song on the record but it’s a perfect opener because it has bits of everything in it…you hear little parts of what’s in store on the rest of the album. Sequencing was easier than I thought it would be because the songs simply fell into their respective places.

CITC: “She Has Good Records” is a personal favorite–what can you tell us about that number?

JP: That song was written in 1979, in the very early days of the Pittsburgh version of The Rave-Ups.In those days, it was played faster and (since I could barely play three chords) and came out more like a lost Ramones tune. I tried recording it various times over the last thirtysome years but it never really gelled. I guess I’ve been keeping it in my back pocket all these years, hoping that one day I’d do it justice as a pop song. It really is one of the slightest and silliest songs I’ve ever written, but it has a undeniable hook that makes me (and hopefully others) smile. It was Mitch’s idea to put a string arrangement on it–once again, he was right on the money. There really was a “she” who was the inspiration for the song–this girl had the best collection of punk/new wave music I’d ever seen. But in reality, the “she” at the center of the song isn’t a real person–it’s the music industry as a collective whole. How many times has a band or artist heard from record company geeks who say “just play us the hits?” It’s a pop song about writing a pop song.

CITC: I know you have your roots in punk rock and you just mentioned The Ramones–do you still listen to them?

JP: The Rave-Ups started out as a punk band, so to speak. But the punk moniker had more to do with our amateurish playing and simple songs than it did with any artistic aesthetic. As I learned more about music, I was able to bring to the table all of the other kinds of music that I loved–blues, country, folk, rockabilly, even Southern rock’n’roll. And yes, I still listen to the Ramones and I still feel that same rush of boundless joy and inexplicable energy that I felt the very first time I heard them at a house party at Carnegie-Mellon. No guitar solos, no lush harmonies–but they still touched on everything from garage rock to early 60′s girl groups to the Beach Boys, all in their own unmistakable way. It was (and still is) pretty damn great. More importantly, it inspired me to embrace all the kinds of music I liked as a kid and to incorporate them into my own songs.

CITC: Please tell me we won’t have to wait another 23 years for the next record!!

JP: Well, I’d be 79 by then, so let’s hope that’s not the case. Maybe 23 months, not 23 years. In fact, 23 weeks would be even better! But the only way Mitch and I can do it all again is if folks embrace this new album and we can make enough money to do another one. That’s the whole idea. There’s enough material for at least three more records–but we have to sell this one first. Here’s hoping we talk about another record in 23 weeks!

original site  >  http://caughtinthecarousel.com/former-rave-ups-frontman/

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Firdaposten (Norway)

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013

The time has passed, it has been 23 years since “Chance” by The Rave-Ups came. But I have never ever forgotten “Town and Country” from 1985 and “The Book of Your Regrets” from 1988. There are discs that can greatly withstand being picked up again, despite the time that has passed. When singer and songwriter Jimmer Podrasky finally finds the time ripe for a solo album, it sounds as if time has stood still.

The Rave-Ups were a great band. Equal parts pop / power pop, roots-rock, alternative rock, alt-country (long before the alt-country / No Depression / Americana moniker existed) and singer / songwriter tunes. And Podrasky has taken all this with him. To help him on the record, he has been joined by Mitch Marine and Brian Whelan from Dwight Yoakam’s band — the latter gave out a great power pop solo album last year — Rami Jaffee (The Wallflowers, Grant Lee Buffalo, Willie Nile, Foo Fighters and Pete Yorn), Ted Russell Kamp (Shooter Jennings and solo artist) and pedal steel legend Marty Rifkin (among other things, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty).

And truly he is not difficult to recognize when he repeats in time with “The Far Left Side of You” with a great harmonica in the introduction, and a shade rich with a lot of guitars, acoustic and electric. Then even more harmonica and Podrasky’s distinctive voice. “Empty” keeps the guitar, but uses the organ as the main seasoning instead of harmonica — wonderful, wonderful half-tempo pop rock. He bends a little on the “Big Ball of String” — fast, nice bouncy country. Again with the voice, with the space. “The Would-Be Plans” is a bit heavier and more monumental — lower speed, roaring organ. Heavy guitars. Strings and high tempo on “She Has Good Records” — 70s inspired folk rock, with excellent use of strings. A song that gets me in a good mood. “Satellite” held me in a great mood, while we are running in the picturesque country sound of the harmonica and pedal steel. Actually, completely amazing. Very nice chorus. He slowed the “Molotov Moon” — a semi-ballad with organ and pedal steel in marvelous ensemble. And I sit here and have trouble grasping how good this is.

“Just What You Do” grows it even slightly — adds another dimension to an album that reminds me of Dylan. He increases the pace ion “With This Ring”. But adds acoustic guitar and accordion, giving the album enough dimension. “Fall” concludes the album and aligns the circle.

Here we are back in the sound of “Town and Country” from 1985. But Harder. More rock. Less shades. I am reminded how much I loved and still love this band.

When Podrasky finally managed to drive the career forward again, he has put a fourth a building block on top of his fantastic great portfolio. I hope he finds this so successful that he continues to release records.

original site  >  http://www.firdaposten.no/platearbeidaren/article6788321.ece

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Paul Gleason – Caught in the Carousel

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013

A Magical Record That Sounds Like Love Feels

Great songwriting is alchemical, an act of sorcery. And even though a great song emerges from what, on paper at least, reads as a simple, almost banal mathematical formula—something like terrific lyrics + amazing chord progression + fresh arrangement + catchy vocal melody = great song—said equation can’t capture the magic that flows from the song, imbeds it in your head, gets your foot tapping, and your mouth humming. The song possesses you for days, elevating your spirit. It’s an offering to you from an alchemist who knows how to derive gold from the formula.

Some songwriting alchemists have the ability to sustain the magic for an entire album. Bob Dylan on Highway 61 Revisited comes to mind, as do Brian Wilson on The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, Van Morrison on Astral Weeks, Bruce Springsteen on Born to Run, Paul Westerburg on The Replacements’ Tim, Elliott Smith on Either/Or, Jeff Mangum on Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, and Sufjan Stevens on Illinois.

Songwriter Jimmer Podrasky is of their company. The hook-filled, lyrically-inspired records that he made with his band The Rave-Ups—Town and Country, The Book of Your Regrets, and, especially, Chance—are magical works in their own right and hold their own with the records listed in the previous paragraph.

It’s been 23 years since Jimmer put out Chance (be sure to snag a copy of this masterpiece if you don’t already have one), so the release of yet another work by the master—this year’s The Would-Be Plans—is extra special: an unexpected treat from one of the best songwriters of the past 30 years.

The Would-Be Plans grabs you with “The Far Left Side of You” and doesn’t let you go. The vocal melody is as catchy as it’s brilliant, and Jimmer sings it in a voice that’s fresh and shows its experience at the same time. The lyrics demonstrate a facility with wordplay, but the song remains earnest and heartfelt, never taking the easy path of irony. “Left Side” is simply a great pop song.
The organ touches and guitar arpeggios make “Empty” instantly memorable, as do the introspective lyrics and bright melody. It’s like The Byrds have met Big Star in a jam session in heaven.

“Big Ball of String,” “Satellite,” and “Molotov Moon” are amazing, rootsy ditties, all picked banjo chords, strummed acoustic guitar, steel guitars, and harmonica. Jimmer again sounds terrific on lead vocals, delivering poppy and moving melodies that you won’t forget—I guarantee it. His vocal performance on the reflective “Molotov Moon” could be the best on all of The Would-Be Plans.

The moody title track finds Jimmer continuing to reflect—fearlessly. “How can I be so much older than I should be?,” he asks, writing from the point of view of a son addressing his father. This track really gets at the complexities of father-son relationships. Is Jimmer the son? The father? He’s both—that’s what’s so incredible and dexterous about the poetry here.

“She Has Good Records” changes up the mood, with a melody of which Brian Wilson would be proud. But the lyrical wordplay is, again, amazing—and, I can’t emphasize this enough, used to delve into an earnest exploration of the relationship between two lovers. Perhaps the strongest cut on The Would-Be Plans, it simply soars at the end, with the addition of strings to the mix.
Just the opening chords of “Just What You Don’t” are enough to bring tears to your eyes, as are the lyrics that express the singer’s longing for a lover whom he’ll never have. The song is country-tinged; it’s somewhat of a road song. But the lyrics are so beautiful, the desire so dire, that the track’s just as fresh as it is traditional.

Spanish guitar and accordion form the foundation of the superb “With This Ring.” This is another rootsy song that might remind you of Calexico. But Jimmer’s self-revelatory lyrics and willingness to sing his true emotions separate the tune from Calexico and all others. It’s a stunning song that sounds like love feels.

By the time you reach the climax of The Would-Be Plans—”Fall”—Jimmer’s snagged you yet again with another unforgettable melody, cool chord progression, and a great set of lyrics, which are funny and sad at the same time: “Summer came like a phone bill / That I knew I couldn’t pay” and “There was something in her eyes / That said she was older than a star, / And she was sweeter than a Milky Way, / But she was younger than my car.”

I’m going to go ahead and say it: The Would-Be Plans is the perfect follow-up to Chance, even though it took 23 years to reach us. It could even be its better.

But, ultimately, comparisons don’t matter when you get the chance to welcome back one of America’s greatest–and most magical–songwriters: Jimmer Podrasky.

original site  >  http://caughtinthecarousel.com/magical-record-sounds-like-love-feels-jimmers-plans/

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Roy Trakin – HITS magazine

Posted by on Oct 25, 2013

The man in question is Jimmer Podrasky, the Carnegie Mellon grad and Pittsburgh kid who came west to form the Rave-Ups, precursors of the No Depression/ Americana wave of neo-roots bands, releasing two critically acclaimed albums on Epic Records, 1988’s The Book of Your Regrets and 1990’s Chance, before vanishing. The band made their way into pop culture lore by having their name inscribed on Molly Ringwald’s notebook in Sixteen Candles (Jimmer had a child with her sister) and appearing as the house band for several key scenes in Pretty in Pink. Jimmer took some time off to raise that son, Chance, and now, 23 years later, he’s launched his solo career with an album that finds his bruised, lovelorn persona remaining intact, none the worse for wear. With Mitch Marine producing and playing drums, Podrasky is also accompanied by multi-instrumentalists Brian Whelan and Ted Russell Kamp alongside a group of talented sidekicks like Rami Jaffe on keyboards and pedal steel guitarist Marty Rifkin.

The opener, “Far Left Side of You,” defines the void with succinct perfection: “”I used to sleep upon/The wrong side of my life/Now that you are gone/The other side is mine,” its ’60s-style wordless “bop-ba-ba-bop-ba-bas” forming the perfect melodic bromide to that spiritual ache. “I feel as empty as a gun/When the shooting spree is done,” he laments in “Empty,” and you can literally feel Jimmer’s angst, though even that is washed away by the sweet, playful country strains of “Big Ball o’ String” and the Neil Young plaints of the title track: “I’m so young and so much older than I should be,” he paraphrases Dylan, with a female choir providing some gospel-flavored solace. “She likes to hear a tune with a poppy groove,” he sings in “(She Has) Good Records,” and offers precisely that with a tribute to someone’s good taste in music. The autobiographical “Satellite” details his own “story from start to end,” with a clear-eyed tale of regret and subsequent self-destruction: “I had a dream and a family/Of love and loss I know a lot/Mom and Dad have gone away/And there isn’t a bongload big enough.” The slow country blues of “Molotov Moon” admits, “Well, there isn’t an answer/So don’t question why,” while “Just What You Don’t” poses the sardonic question, “Why do I reap just what you sow?” The south-of-the-border acoustic feel of “With This Ring” offers a bittersweet view of a failed relationship, with lines like “Someone better steal my TV/I can’t even watch it anymore.” The closing “Fall” describes a new relationship that “was over before it started,” with a girl “sweeter than a Milky Way” but “younger than my car.”

Still, for all that melancholy, Jimmer leaves the door a crack open to the possibility he can, and most likely will, fall in love again. It’s too bad it took him 23 years to rediscover a passion for what he does best, but luckily for us, he’s done just that here.

original site  >  http://www.hitsdailydouble.com/news/newsPage.cgi?news09527m01

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10/12 We’re getting great press

Posted by on Oct 12, 2013

The album is getting some really great reviews


The album is getting some really great reviews and I’m humbled by the kind words and praise. Hopefully more to come.


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