Honky Tonk Hacienda: Brian Whelan, The World Record, Jimmer

Jimmer Podrasky fronts the seminal, critically-acclaimed band The Rave-Ups, hailing originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but best known for being from Los Angeles, California. Labeled with connections to various genres throughout their career, the band were / are equal parts pop / power-pop, roots rock, alternative rock, alt-country (before alt-country / No Depression / Americana labels even existed), and singer / songwriter aesthetic. They are best known for their alternative rock hit songs "Respectfully King of Rain" and "Positively Lost Me" as well as their appearances in Pretty in Pink and Beverly Hills 90210.

Opting out of the music industry so he could raise his son Chance, Jimmer devoted himself to single-fatherhood and put his career on the backburner. Tom Waits once said that just because your line’s not in the water it doesn’t mean you’re not thinking about fishing and that’s exactly what Jimmer was doing all these years: thinking about fishing in the form of writing songs in his head or on the acoustic guitar propped up by the door. Some came quickly, some came slowly, but after two decades out of the ring, when it was time to come back, his right and left hooks were as strong as ever.

His first album in 23 years, The Would-Be Plans is Jimmer's strongest work to date. His sardonic wit dangerously sharp, his wordplay as fresh as ever and his voice remarkably unchanged since Chance, this is a staggering return to form. His solo shows and reunited shows with The Rave-Ups have been playing to packed houses.

"If Jimmer Podrasky was just a little better known, his recent album would be at the top of every critic's list and he'd be appearing on Saturday Night Live, because there is no better rock release this year. He captures the kind of heart and hurt that people like Bob Dylan used to, and does it so naturally he sounds born to run. Do not miss this chance at learning what things can be like when the world tilts in the wrong direction, and what it takes to make it tilt back. Irresistible." - Bill Bentley, The Morton Report

"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. … The Rave-Ups’ singer/songwriter, Jimmer Podrasky, 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. … Go listen to the title cut – or any of them – and see if you’re not instantly hooked. It’s one of the best albums of 2013." - Mark Brown / MSN Entertainment

"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... 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." - Alex Green / Caught In The Carousel

"Jimmer Podrasky is that rare find: someone with seductive good looks and charisma and the solid songwriting skills to reach out meaningfully to a more sophisticated audience. Podrasky walked on stage looking as rumpled as if he had just rolled out of bed. His wrinkled shirt sleeve stretched far beyond the limits of his black jacket and he kept rubbing his tousled blond hair. When the music started, however, he stepped to the microphone and sang with authority and snap. There is a strong sense of innocence and romanticism running through his songs, yet he is capable of sarcasm and bite. Podrasky’s best songs revolve around a questioning of contemporary values. He writes a lot about alienation and suburban blues, though not in predictable fashion. He’s not afraid to show his own insecurities and doubts." - Robert Hilburn / L.A. Times

The World Record

The World Record's latest album Freeway Special has been a long time coming. Just over six years, as a matter of fact. The 18-song CD (+5 bonus tracks on the vinyl) did not start out such a behemoth, but as the years passed it steadily grew. The delays did have an upside—late in the game the band played a live show at the Bootleg Theater and caught the attention of Squid vs. Whale (Nada Surf, French Kicks, Radar Bros.), a boutique indie vinyl label, and a deal was set up for distribution and promotion of the album, including a release on double vinyl.

The band formed in 2003 after songwriter Andy Creighton (Apex Manor, Papercuts, Foreign Born) began passing a solo album around to friends. Soon Creighton was playing out as The World Record backed by a transient lineup that included members of The Broken West, Wildcat Wildcat, The Parson Red Heads, Dashboard Confessional, and even Toad the Wet Sprocket.

In 2006 they released Guitars Forever on Tallboy Records. Though initially somewhat overlooked, by the end of 2007 the album was appearing on best-of lists and making a surprise CMJ chart entry at #107. Aquarium Drunkard wrote: "Sure, name checking a band as the West Coast heir apparent to Big Star is a bold statement, brave in fact, but that's exactly how I've been hailing The World Record of late." During this time the song "We're #1" made appearances in several TV shows including Gossip Girl and How I Met Your Mother (and more recently Ben & Kate and New Girl). But despite praise from L.A. Times, LAist, You Ain't No Picasso and others, The World Record remained one of L.A.'s best-kept secrets, rarely venturing outside of Southern California. Freeway Special is set to change all that.

The band now consists of Andy Creighton (Guitars/Vox), Aaron Ballard (Bass/Vox), Brian James (Guitars/Vox) and Matthias Wagner (Drums). With influences ranging from The dBs, Blue Öyster Cult, The Soft Boys, and Big Star, The World Record have crafted their own take on rock and roll, relying heavily on song craft and production. Freeway Special is a collection of songs which speaks to a time when it was important to make a lasting impression, because it might be a few years before another record was available.

Freeway Special was released in October, 2012 and Come On Summer, a follow-up EP containing the 5 vinyl-only bonus tracks, was released in March, 2013.

"The band offers the instant-favorite choruses and bouncing rock rhythms favored by acts ranging from Big Star to Fountains of Wayne, with a hearty helping of sincere lyricism." - David Greenwald / L.A. Times

"These songs are full of hooks and heart and spirit and are so well written that you want to get up and dance and cheer at the sound of the first chords." - Radio Free Silver Lake

"When you name your band The World Record, you are more or less compelled to translate that sound into something successful. And if their sophomore LP is any indication, the Los Angeles band is indeed on the precipice of something truly extraordinary." - Absolute Punk

Brian Whelan

"To me, Brian Whelan will always be the Kid. When he first materialized several years ago at the Cinema Bar, that charmingly crowded, noisy little room in Culver City known as “The World’s Smallest Honky Tonk,” he was an alarmingly boyish presence. At first he stood out because he didn’t look old enough to legally consume the beer he was holding. But he soon distinguished himself as a young lion behind the roots-rock sages – Randy Weeks, Mike Stinson, Tony Gilkyson – whose shows packed out the tiny joint. It became quickly apparent that Brian could play just about anything, and brilliantly; his formidable chops later found him a primo spot in Dwight Yoakam’s band. But he displayed other musical dimensions: He also played in a tough little pop-rock band, known variously as the Brokedown and the Broken West, which recorded a couple of fine records before lamentably breaking up too soon. He fronted another rockin’ unit, Wheelhouse, as a prelude for the album you’re listening to now. It shows off splendidly the many things – singing, playing, writing — that Brian does so exquisitely well. And it cuts across the broad swatch of stylistic turf that he occupies effortlessly, from the rootsy inventions of Gilkyson’s “Mojave High” and Stinson’s “Brand New Love Song” to a group of originals (two of them co-authored by Broken West cohort Ross Flournoy) that to my ears bear favorable comparison to the best of Nick Lowe or the Plimsouls.

Yeah, he’s still the Kid to me. But Brian Whelan’s work is thoroughly mature and emotionally wise, and many another grown-up musician will envy its excellence." - Chris Morris / Host - Watusi Radio / Scion Radio 17

"Brian Whelan‘s most visible gig these days is playing guitar, keys, pedal steel and accordion in Dwight Yoakam’s band, which meant he had a busy 2012 playing on and touring behind Yoakam’s excellent 3 Pears. But Whelan’s new album, Decider, makes a strong case for him stepping out on his own whenever his job permits. There’s an underlying rootsiness to Whelan’s songs but he often steers them into interesting and hooky directions that reveal a deep historical affinity for thoughtful pop. He’s an expressive and versatile singer, able to touch on twang and stir in some soul. His is a sophisticated sort of power pop that nevertheless invites listeners to occasionally shake a leg. Decider spills forth with an energy that suggests the live show should be a corker." - Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle

"Brian Whelan makes everything sound so easy — crisp classic rock, tart-and-twangy country, bluesy swagger — that you’d think his first solo outing “Decider” just happened overnight. On the contrary. Whelan’s debut, finally out today via Three Moves Equals a Fire , is the culmination of four years’ work, done here and there as the singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist toiled as a side man for some of L.A.’s great talent. He has played (or is playing) with Dwight Yoakam, Chris Shiflett & the Dead Peasants, the Ross Flournoy-led indie bands the Broken West and Apex Manor, Mike Stinson, Randy Weeks, Tony Gilkyson, the Parson Red Heads, Ferraby Lionheart, Correatown and at least a half-dozen more. Stinson and Gilkyson songs turn up on “Decider,” and Flournoy is a co-writer on two as well, but what holds “Decider” together is Whelan’s confident voice — not just his vocals, but his presence, as a guy who knows his way around a song, and his heart, and the ground those two entities share." - Kevin Bronson / Buzzbands.LA

"After spending time in both the Broken West and in Dwight Yoakam’s band, that Decider would sound like it does shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s gorgeously textured powerpop that carries a great deal of vintage Americana influences with it. That the two complement each other to the extent they do is the real achievement here, which is something that posits Whelan, once again, as a songwriter to watch. While the lyrics on Decider don’t take the spotlight, they’re strong enough to indicate that Whelan’s secret weapon may be his understated lyricism, which is evident in songs like “High and Lonesome”." - Steven Spoeri / PopMatters

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Every Thursday El Cid turns into "Honky Tonk Hacienda" with bands, songwriters and musical instigators tearing it up in Outlaw Country, Roots, Old Time and Americana territory...

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