Bash & Pop: Anything Could Happen

Tommy’s question, “How long can we take it before we break it?” is a perfect summary of the Replacements. And if that isn’t what the line is about, well, I'd prefer to think it is.
Bash & Pop
Anything Could Happen
Fat Possum

Like most Replacements fans, I recently finished Trouble Boys by Bob Mehr. It is the best band biography of all time. Want to know why? First, underdog stories are an American tradition going back to our underdog story in the Revolutionary War. Second, the Replacements is the most commercially underrated band in the last 30 years. If you disagree, I challenge you to name one band that has a better album than Let It Be that sold less. Third, there are more incredible moments here (that are too crazy to be fictional accounts) than any band ever, period.

Each page was filled with chapter-length stories made to be a paragraph or two long because of the sheer volume. Burning per diems, tearing apart vans, heckling audiences (rather than audiences heckling them), and intentionally botched label showcases: it is the truest picture of American post-’70s rock and roll that could exist. Throughout, Tommy Stinson is described as a rock star, a man who gives the vibe of a rock star, lives out the rock star mythology, and is a perfect successor to the classic Jimmy Page/Mick Jagger genealogy. After being in the most underrated band of the ’80s, he was in what many would call (myself excluded) the most overrated band of the ’80s, Guns n’ Roses.

Having lived both extremes of rock stardom — the unknown and the well-known, the touring van and the touring mansion bus — he has a rich history of rock and roll to draw from in his only band where he is the frontman, Bash & Pop. Their new record, Anything Could Happen, is a breezy pop/rock collection. Initial listens will lead to Oasis comparisons, as well as mid-period Guided by Voices, Nada Surf, of course, the Replacements. The record is strongly rooted in early ’90s pop rock throughout so that it will appeal to people born in the late ’70s and early ’80s, plus anyone in love with reminiscence. After all, ’90s nostalgia is in right now, isn’t it?

The record opens with its three best songs. “Not This Time” is a pop/rock gem that succeeds on pure energy and overcomes its lack of originality with Stinson’s charm. The pre-chorus begs for the chorus to hit and when it does, it’s not a disappointment. It’s a solid refrain that packs enough catchiness to warrant repeated listens. At only 2:36 in length, it would have been a good leader for the rest of the tracks. Likewise, “On the Rocks” even starts with the first three seconds of the “Bastards of Young” melody, which is a gutsy play. Also, the chorus has a clever play on words and feels lighter than air. Tommy’s question, “How long can we take it before we break it?” is a perfect summary of the Replacements. And if that isn’t what the line is about, well, I’d prefer to think it is. As for the third track, “Anything Can Happen”, it continues the Tim ripping with a classic Bob Stinson guitar tone, but the Gallagher brothers chorus is the winner of the bunch. If mixtapes were still a thing, this title track would be the easy choice.

The rest of the record is a mixed bag of semi-painful crass jokes and country rockers. For instance, the first 15 seconds of “Bad News” sound so painfully derivative of even the blandest country rock piece, with the kind of production that’d be used as background music on The Bachelor to simulate some vague cowboy undertone. It’s worse than a bad song; it’s a painfully average song. When Tommy jumps octaves on verse two, well, he just can’t do it like Westerberg used to.

Truth be told, I can’t imagine anyone listening to this record who isn’t a Replacements fan, so your enjoyment of it will be entirely based on your ability to like a Replacements side project. The record altogether is too bland to inspire any new fans or re-engage a fan base that mostly hasn’t purchased a new record since the Bush era. “Which Bush era”, you may be wondering? Exactly.

RATING 6 / 10