The Chris Stamey Experience, A Question Of Temperature

Douglas Wolk

By Douglas Wolk

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Stamey is the singer/guitarist from jangle-pop forefathers the dBs; the Experience is all of Yo La Tengo plus jazz keyboardist Tyson Rogers; and the question of the title, besides being an allusion to the Balloon Farm's '60s garage standard, is a political question. An earlier draft of the album was released as V.O.T.E. shortly before the 2004 election, named after a jingle that's now tacked on at the end, and a couple of the covers that frontload the album address the state of the union (Gene McDaniels 'enraged "Compared to What") and the state of its leaders (Cream's thuggish blues "Politician"). What makes Temperature rise, though, is that the band is obviously having a great time — Yo La Tengo guitarist Ira Kaplan takes a long, thrilling solo on "McCauley Street," and Stamey's ingenious reinterpretation of Television's "Venus" adapts that landmark of blazing lead guitar into something more like the gentlest of YLT's own styles. Most of Stamey's original songs here are pretty minimal (aside from his 1977 single "Summer Sun," which the band remakes twice, including a joke Happy Mondays-style funky version): "Come On" is a tiny instrumental riff, and "Sleepless Nights" is basically just a title and a snatch of melody. But this Experience only needs the barest of structures to shine.