It’s not surprising to find references to record stores and record players on Stag’s self-titled, full-length debut. Or for that matter, a faithful cover of Eric Carmen’s “Get The Message” from his days with Cyrus Erie in 1969. The Seattle-based Stag, fronted by vocalist Steve Mack of the UK’s That Petrol Emotion, packs a power pop wallop that harks back to an era when Cheap Trick and Carmen’s better-known group, The Raspberries, pretty much released everything on vinyl.
Stag’s chief songwriter, guitarist-singer Ben London, draws from a variety of influences, such as The Who on the energetic “Ides Of March,” and the original British Invasion on the catchy and fun tribute to indie labels, “Love Her Records.” London’s knack for satire shines through on the galloping “Chameleons,” with its images of diners fighting over a check and urgent chorus of, “What are you waiting for, you’re running out of time.” The rollicking “Tiffany Rose” depicts a woman so caught up in the latest trends, she disappears within her high fashion clothes and make-up. Mack offers a wide range of vocal styles throughout these 12 tracks, and creates some inventive harmonies with London and guitarist-vocalist Lincoln Barr.
Steve Mack (That Petrol Emotion)’s cool, enthusiastic voice hasn’t changed, and this new Seattle five-piece, including songwriter/guitarist Ben London (ex-Alcohol Funnycar), tries a more classic rock-pop song, and a good one, than either older group was known for. With Seattle vet Jack Endino behind the board, “Don’t Lead with Your Heart” comes off like a ’70s nugget by guys with one foot each in that era’s singles scene and rock ballroom circuit from Fillmore to Fillmore. Shakespeare’s 1599 Julius Caesar-referencing B-side “Ides of March” (woe to the Roman emperor, March 15, 44 BC) comes out more definitely in the later camp; with its swinging horns, it pays clear homage to 1970-1973 Who, from “My Wife” to “The Real Me.” [Limited-Edition numbered 500 copies on colored vinyl.)
I recently did an interview for the 90’s music podcast Dig Me Out about my old band Alcohol Funnycar, our final album Weasels and a little bit about Stag. You can check out the podcast and a full length interview with me here.