Texas. Before I even get into this blog, I think I need to do the full disclosure thing right here. I like Texas. I’ve got a whole bunch of good friends there, and I’ve been able to go out there for 6 out of the last 7 years. I’ve eaten barbeque, drank beverages, listened to live music, done live broadcasts, and experienced heat and humidity. So I guess it was kind of time to honor Texas.
But this show didn’t start out that way. I was set to interview John Stevens, Lannie Flowers’ stellar lead guitarist, who I’ve known from, well, Texas! And then John Lathrop, the mastermind behind The Stan Laurels, was added to my February 6th lineup. For some reason, I assumed that John was from England–probably because of his band name. Then in doing my pre-show research, found out that he was actually from Austin, TX! So only a 2 hour difference, not the overseas 8 hour difference associated with the UK. So this led to the show being subtitled “The Two Johns from Texas”.
The first John, John Lathrop, had been in bands before, but decided that The Stan Laurels would be a solo project. So he simply learned all the instruments, and started the band as a studio recording outfit. He made it sound easy, but that’s because he is really good at it. His fourth album, “There Is No Light Without The Dark”, is out on Big Stir Records. It’s my first Stan Laurels record, but that’s my invitation to work backwards and see what I’ve been missing.
It’s really good. To my ear, the overall sound and feel is informed by John’s 1990s upbringing on alternative rock, which is kind of a sweet spot era for me, so I felt right at home upon first listen. I guessed those influences correctly, but John also draws from classic 1960s rock and roll, especially those bands known for their excellent songwriting: The Beatles, Kinks, Zombies, and then a bit later, Badfinger and Pete Ham.
I like the way it all came together. The album title is emblematic of the odd times in which it was made, and it loosely describes the stylistic contrasts of the songs as well. I think you’re going to want to hear this record. More info at https://www.bigstirrecords.com/the-stan-laurels.
I’d been following John Stevens ever since he joined Lannie Flowers’ band around 2014. He’s part of the magic behind that ace outfit–playing shimmering and driving leads on electric guitar. He’s always been fun to chat with after shows, whether in San Francisco, Sacramento, or his home turf of Fort Worth. But what happened late last year really surprised me. John reached out and gave me a sneak preview of his upcoming solo debut album, which he’d been hinting about on social media. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially after he “warned” me that it wasn’t a power pop record.
What that turned out to mean, is that the album, “Living Room”, sounds different than the Lannie Flowers music he’s played on. It’s great, just a different kind of great. A rootsy sound–blues, country, and Americana. Some of it rocks, some of it simmers, and some of it is more mellow and gentle. There are a few acoustic and instrumental tracks on the album, showcasing his and collaborator Taylor Tatsch’s proficiency on all things stringed.
I’d never heard John sing before, and he is an excellent vocalist, heartfelt and soulful. Turns out he had been a front man before, years ago, before becoming one of Fort Worth’s busier sidemen. The genesis of doing his own project started during the pandemic, with some extra free time, playing acoustic guitar and composing songs in his own living room. That’s where the album title comes from.
This is a strong first album. For longtime Fort Worth music fans, this is long-awaited. For the rest of us, it’s a great introduction. I’m looking forward to when this pandemic is over, so we can all go out and hear John play these songs live. Learn more at https://johncstevens.com/home.
Artist | Title | Album
Iggy Pop | I Won’t Crap Out | Brick By Brick
Life in a Blender | Vacancy for a Bluebird | Satsuma
Harvey Danger | Private Helicopter | Where Have All The Merrymakers Gone?
Gail George with Early Times | Gonna Get Worse | The Barrio Sessions
Blake Jones & The Trike Shop | Clever Things | Pop Songs & Kyries
Lisa Mychols & SUPER 8 | Honey Bee | LISA MYCHOLS & SUPER 8
Death Of Samantha | Conviction | If Memory Serves Us Well
Ming Tea | BBC | Austin Powers
John Lathrop interview
The Stan Laurels | Tomorrow | There Is No Light Without The Dark
The Stan Laurels | Of Love, Wine, and Song | There Is No Light Without The Dark
The Stan Laurels | This is Your Life | There Is No Light Without The Dark
The Who | Magic Bus | The Kids Are Alright
Charlie Cheney | Giant Chicken | Giant Chicken
The Ks | 13 Steps | Can’t Get it Together
Rachel Taylor Brown | Up You | Run Tiny Human
R.E.M. | 7 Chinese Bros. | Best Of The I.R.S. Years
Sunshine Boys | The World Turning Round | Work and Love
Natalie Cortez & the Ultra Violets | She’s Better | Stupid Fresh Or Stupid Bad
Gnarls Barkley | Gone Daddy Gone | St. Elsewhere
The Amplifier Heads | Funhouse Mirrors | Music For Abandoned Amusement Parks
Lannie Flowers | The One | March To Home
Don Hawkins | Wrong Before | Observation Blind
Walker Brigade | DIsEASE | Therapy Animal
John Stevens interview
John Stevens | If I Sing | Living Room
John Stevens | (I Wear My) Heart on My Sleeve | Living Room
John Stevens | The Devil’s Gone and Let Me Down | Living Room
Anny Celsi | Tangle-Free World | Kaleidoscope Heart: 12 Golden Hits
Duncan Faure | Man of a Thousand Dreams | Pronounced Four Uh
Nick Lowe | Queen Of Sheba | Nick The Knife
Elk City | 25 Lines | Everybody’s Insecure
Jet Electro | I Blame You | Tall Dark And Lonesome: The Story Of Slim Grinder
The Armoires | McCadden | Zibaldone
Sex 66 | Kandi | Grew Up Down
Librarians With Hickeys | Looking For Home | Long Overdue
Krista D | Black Eyed Susan | Look at me… I’m Krista D
Petrified Max | Get the Guitar | Year Gone By
Nolan Voide and His Own Bad Self | Indie Rock Superstar | Single release
Rose Reiter | Where You Are | What I Don’t Get
The Chandler Travis Philharmonic | Ivan in Paris | The Ivan Variations
Anton Barbeau | Manbird (Oxford Variation) | Manbird Disk 2
Scarlet Rivera | All Of Me | World Pop
Randy Newman | It’s Money That Matters | Land Of Dreams
Matt Langlois | Don’t Tuck Your Shirt Into Your Pants | Merde!