Paranoid Lovesick

Paranoid Lovesick: Tuxedo Avenue Breakdown

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Artist: Paranoid Lovesick
Title: Tuxedo Avenue Breakdown

Tuxedo Avenue Breakdown is the final work of Paranoid Lovesick. Almost finished when guitarist Rick McBrien unexpectedly died in 2003, it sat in the vaults until being completed in 2009. 19 tracks deep, it includes three remixed tracks from the bands laudable 1995 debut Molly, and guest lead vocals by Lisa Mychols on two tracks. During the late 90's the band was persued by major labels, and played opening slots for acts like Oasis, Wheezer and The Posies. See below for a history of the band/review of their last live performance. You Can't Switch Off the Sun: The Sad and Not-So-Sad Story of Paranoid Lovesick In April of 2002, Watershed jerked our Econoline to a stop in front of the Beachland Ballroom. That night's opening band, we'd spent the last half-hour making wrong turns while arguing over the Rand McNally-giving ourselves an accidental tour of East Cleveland. Now we were late for soundcheck. Except we weren't. From the curb we could hear the headliner, Paranoid Lovesick, tuning up for their check. A shotgun snare roll. The bass's E-string rumble. A Rickenbacker chord so bright it seemed to cut glass block. Then, with two floor tom hits, PL launched into The Who's "So Sad About Us," a cover so perfectly matched for the band playing it-lyrically and sonically-that at least two of the four Watersheds shot our fists into the air. It may be that truck stop coffee and the 140-mile drive up from Columbus had us wired, but heard through the Beachland's brick walls, this Cleveland band's take on Maximum R&B was transcendent. I'd listened to a whole lot of Who, and I'd never heard this song sound better. Standing on the sidewalk, our drummer smashed air-toms and cymbals along with the sloppy-great Keith Moon fills. Our guitarist made an involuntary windmill. I sang the harmony parts out loud, thinking that if my job was to explain rock music to Martians, I'd have them land their saucers right here, right now, on Waterloo Road, Cleveland, Ohio. "If you don't like this sound," I'd say, "you might as well fly your little green asses on home." By the time PL hit the bridge, we weren't playing air-anything. All four of us were nodding in silent admiration, our hands in our pockets, heads titled and listening like the RCA dog. So sad about us. What a beautiful racket. On the surface there was nothing sad about Paranoid Lovesick. These were four of the funniest, most good-natured guys we'd come across in our ten-plus years of touring. Most nights in Rock Club, USA, the bands who've been squeezed together on the bill communicate via cocky silence or a ridiculous indie-cred pissing contest. You don't make many friends on the road. That's why, when you do meet a band you actually, ahem, like, you cultivate that relationship. You trade phone numbers. You open for one another. You steal from each other's bar tabs and hit on each other's girlfriends. Watershed had been Paranoid Lovesick fans from the night in the early nineties when we first met. It had taken maybe half a set for us to hear that their songs were in the 99th percentile for catchiness. Plus they could sing. And play their instruments-which isn't a given or a necessity. But as good as they were on stage, they were even more charming just sitting at the bar cracking wise. PL has swapped-out rhythm sections a time or two, but the quintessential line-up-the one they always returned to-was the one we shared the Beachland stage with in 2002. Like The Beatles or The Who, all four guys had distinct personalities. The appropriately named Bill Stone handled rhythm guitar and vocals, and he had a knack for fusing stray riffs and throwaway vocal lines into songs you could sing along to. He was the Steady One, the rock whose mild demeanor held the operation together. Lead guitarist Rick McBrien was the Unlikely One-unlikely because, while the other three worked day jobs that left calluses, Rick was an attorney. And he was a relocated Detroiter. And he was carrying twenty pounds too many. No matter. His solos were melodic as George Harrison's and reckless as Rick Nielsen's. He was also the funniest guy in a band of funny guys. Drummer John Potwora was the Impetuous One. Quick to quit the band, quick to join back up. And hell on the skins. He was half-Starr and half-Moon, which means in a perfect world he would have drummed for the Dave Clark Five. Kurt Maracz played bass. With his tinted lenses and taste for the sauce, he was the Cool One. I always wondered (a) if he was on Quaaludes, and (b) if he'd give me one. Like all cool rockers, Maracz wasn't the most reliable dude in the world. He'd often flake out and skip rehearsal or studio time. But he wrote and sang some of PL's best songs, including his masterpiece of ennui, "Drag" (chorus: Damn it, what a fucking drag x 4). He was a bit of a fuck-up who often left the other guys waiting, but he was a talented fuck-up. And as Joe Strummer once said about Mick Jones, "You can wait for talent." Frankie LaRocka, Watershed's A&R man at Epic Records, once said this to me about Paranoid Lovesick: "They look like four schmucks who walked straight out of the john and onto the stage." With their wide faces and Slavic noses, PL never looked like rock stars-not even when decked out in suits and skinny ties. Still, in 1995 LaRocka and other major-label reps started showing up at Peabody's Down Under and The Grog Shop to see them. Thanks to the success of bands like Teenage Fanclub and The Posies-and the renewed interest in Alex Chilton and Big Star-power-pop was the flavor of the moment. It didn't get much poppier than PL, and the A&R sharks took notice. There was blood in the water. Paranoid Lovesick had, to use mid-nineties vernacular, buzz. The schmucks were now the cool kids, the go-to guys for the high-profile shows. They landed on the bill with Weezer and opened for Oasis on the British band's first-ever US date. Drew Carey showed up to one of their Peabody's gigs. Paranoid Lovesick became more self-effacing with success. Most bands-Watershed included-sent postcards that made every out-of-the-way gig sound as important as a slot on Saturday Night Live, but PL published their mailing list flyers as a satire magazine. The Subterrestrial Glamorous Pop Hymnal barely mentioned the band's shows. Instead it featured Onion-style articles-and this was before anybody outside of Wisconsin had ever heard of The Onion-with headlines like, What Should a Mother Tell Her Daughter About Men's Underwear? and Gang-Raped By Fate...AGAIN! I can't do any of this justice here, but trust me: PL to Offer Band Franchises...PL Unveils Songwriting Machine!...Secrets of Music Explained...That shit was funny. But the most hilarious piece is the one in which PL takes on Jon Bon Jovi and his claim that he'd seen a million faces and rocked them all. "That's a pretty cocky thing to say," PL writes in The Subterrestrial. "Jon would have had to play fifty consecutive shows to 20,000 persons apiece and rocked so inconceivably hard that NOT ONE FACE was left unrocked." Then, "using complex actuarial tables and ticket sales figures" PL calculates their own faces-seen-to-rocked ratio at 39.4%, placing them somewhere between Sandy Duncan and Up With People on the face-rocking chart. With any justice PL and their smart pop songs will be revered for time in memoriam. But if they are somehow remembered for just this one Bon Jovi bit, I'll die smiling. Paranoid Lovesick never landed a record deal. By 1996 the A&R scouts had moved on to the next Next Big Thing, and PL was just another Cleveland band, slugging it out in the trenches. Which isn't to say they were defeated or that the songwriting suffered. They were good guys with great songs before the suits weaseled onto the guest list, and they were good guys with great songs after the suits disappeared. The big break never came, but a few little ones did. PL's version of "Icicles" was included on a Badfinger tribute album, a collection that also featured Aimee Mann, T

1.1 Big Star (2009 Remix)
1.2 Universe Boat (2009 Remix)
1.3 Marginalia
1.4 Seeds and Stems
1.5 Orbit (Feat. Lisa Mychols)
1.6 The Way Some People Die
1.7 Don't Go Away
1.8 The Ballad of Paranoid Lovesick
1.9 Cannonball
1.10 When Everything Was Cool
1.11 Carried Away
1.12 Thrall (Feat. Lisa Mychols)
1.13 Alright to Drive
1.14 Come Back
1.15 Star Crossed
1.16 Good One
1.17 Twilight Garage
1.18 And Fall Asleep on the Floor
1.19 Velvet (2009 Remix)

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