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Reeling over the Stutter Steps

A few years ago, I attended Blue Arrow Records release party at The Happy Dog. I had just interviewed Blue Arrow co-founder Pete Gulyas and his pal and label signee, Ethan Daniel Davidson, on the airwaves of 89.3, WCSB, Cleveland. Hustling from the station to the tiny club, I was surprised when Ethan leapt to the stage first. Ethan said he had to “Catch a train.” Apparently he had a morning meeting with that Bono guy, Paul Hewson. He said something about riding horses. 

Shuffling toward the Happy Dog’s sweeping, deco bartop, I thought, “Well, this will be an early evening”.

Then Blue Arrow Records’ label-mates, the Stutter steps, plugged in their amps.

I was reeling. They were amazing.

Dig the aptly titled “Reeling”, the Stutter Steps’ third, a full length serving of velvet perfection. The new, 12-song release, from Blue Arrow Records hit the hippest of shelves on May 1, 2020. You can buy it here, too, hip-cats:

https://www.bluearrowrecords.com/

The Stutter Steps are the tidy, melodic offspring of Ben Harrison, the Curator of Performing Arts and Special Projects at the Andy Warhol Museum. And what beautiful offspring they are! Harrison’s highly capable song writing reconciles the Crazy Rhythm-Feelies’ aesthetic of driving, hum-able dissonance with textural accents familiar to fans of the War on Drugs.

The hi-fi, sonic similarity is not an accident, as the War on Drugs’ multi instrumentalist, Anthony LaMarca produced “Reeling” in lo-fi, Youngstown, Ohio. Once dubbed a “boy genius” by St. Vincent’s Annie Clark, LaMarca has recorded and toured with Dean & Britta and David Byrne. Mr. LaMarca is the also the adept architect of his band, The Building.

Devoid of a moment’s wasted track, “Reeling” is a complete record. With a nod to the psych-rock torch bearers of the Paisley Underground, side one opens with album highlight, “Giant Sand Heart”. My hard chosen favorite, however, is the lushly Luna/Galaxie 500-soaked title track, “Reeling”.

Perfectly symmetrical and equally impressive, side two ascends with a buzzing tension and beauty. Turn up the strident rockers, “Been There” and “Damming Creeks”. The Thurston Moore-like arrangement of “It’s Waiting” is an alt-grooved groover. Have you heard enough? I don’t think so. Flip it over and do it again. Stutter Steps, be assured that this one will be on the best of best of’s for 2020. Bravo, brother!

Great Lakes Reverberation. John J. Callahan, PhD. POW/WCSB Joining POW In the summer of love, 2019, John Callahan, co-host of the Friday Night Rock Rotation, has been a conspicuous presence on WCSB for 15 years. John is known for spinning modern psych in the vein of Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3, and the Brian Jonestown Massacre (BJM). Interviews of his favorite artists are also his thing. The Magnetic Fields, Dream Syndicate, Black Angels, and Dandy Warhols have all shared the airwaves of the Rock Rotation. John’s first review/interview dates back to 1991 when he shot the chit-chat with shoegaze legends Chris Acland and Emma Anderson of Lush. Today it's spacing out with Fuxa, Pontiak, and Kim Gordon for the love of all things rock ‘n’ roll. It’s coffee over Moon Duo as he plots his next interviews with the Warlocks, Stereolab, and King Khan. Oh yeah, Dr. Callahan is a life long special education teacher, swimmer, and Dad. You can find his super-sharp wife and family leading the way into Cleveland-area record stores and flower gardens.