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Lambchop

Touted as "Nashville's most f*cked-up country band" by their label Merge Records, Lambchop was arguably the most consistently brilliant and unique American group to emerge during the 1990s. Their unclassifiable hybrid of country, soul, jazz, and avant-garde noise seemed at one time or another to drink from every conceivable tributary of contemporary music, its Baroque beauty all held together by the surreal lyrical wit and droll vocal presence of frontman Kurt Wagner. Although Lambchop's ever-rotating roster would later expand to over a dozen members, the group formed in 1986 as a simple three-piece teaming Wagner, guitarist Jim Watkins, and bassist Marc Trovillion, former high school classmates already ten years removed from the educational system. Originally dubbed Posterchild, the trio made its earliest recordings in Trovillion's bedroom, self-releasing a series of cassettes with titles like I'm F*cking Your Daughter. In time, the lineup began to grow and the band regularly performed live in and around the Nashville area, often at the area record shop, Lucy's (not coincidentally owned by Wagner's wife, Mary).

In 1992, Posterchild -- now consisting of Wagner, Trovillion, guitarist Bill Killbrew, clarinetist Jonathan Marx, multi-instrumentalist Scott C. Chase, drummer Steve Goodhue, and percussionist Allen Lowery -- released An Open Fresca + A Moist Towlette, a split single with friends Crop Circle Hoax. The 7" brought the group to the attention of entertainment lawyer George Regis, who issued cease-and-desist orders on behalf of his clients, the noise pop band Poster Children. After rejecting the names REN, Pinnacles of Cream, and Turd Goes Back, the band settled on Lambchop, added vocalist/saxophonist Deanna Varagona, steel guitarist Paul Niehaus, and organist John Delworth, and signed to Merge to release the 1993 single "Nine." Their debut LP, I Hope You're Sitting Down (aka Jack's Tulips), followed a year later. In many ways, this album would be the most conventional Lambchop record. Its Nashville origins and torch-and-twang ambience would saddle the band with the increasingly erroneous alt-country tag, although Wagner's Lou Reed-like vocals and bizarre narrative conceits -- in particular the fan-favorite "Soaky in the Pooper," a vivid recounting of a bad LSD trip -- immediately signaled their obvious distance from the likes of Uncle Tupelo or the Jayhawks.

The lovely How I Quit Smoking appeared in 1996 (although on the subsequent "Cigaretiquette" single, Wagner would proudly announce, "I'm smoking again"). Recorded live the previous Independence Day, the Hank EP followed later in 1996. Marking the debut of drummer Paul Burch, the disc represented the apotheosis of Lambchop's Billy Sherrill-inspired phase, its lush production evoking the Nashville sound so popular three decades earlier, but by then completely passé among Music City's chart superstars. 1997's Thriller proved a major turning point; highlighted by the Muscle Shoals soul of "Your F**king Sunny Day" and including no fewer than three songs penned by East River Pipe's F.M. Cornog, this sprawling, difficult album introduced the uncompromising eclecticism that would dominate Lambchop's work from here on out. The follow-up, 1998's What Another Man Spills, upped the ante further. On remarkably soulful covers of Curtis Mayfield's "Love Song (Give Me Your Love)" and Frederick Knight's "I've Been Lonely for So Long," Wagner's baritone drawl even gives way to a Prince-like falsetto. That same year, the group also backed Vic Chesnutt on his album The Salesman and Bernadette.

Lambchop's fifth full-length, Nixon, appeared in the spring of 2000. Supposedly a concept album exploring the presidency of the infamous Tricky Dick, Wagner even included a bibliography in the liner notes -- a direct connection to the Watergate scandal remains unidentified. Though still criminally unknown at home, Lambchop enjoyed a much more substantial following overseas, and on May 13, 2000 they appeared at the London Royal Festival Hall. The gig was recorded and made available at U.K. appearances that fall as the Queens Royal Trimma limited-edition EP. (A 2001 European tour yielded the Treasure Chest of the Enemy EP.) The 2001 collection Tools in the Dryer assembled many of Lambchop's scattered singles, compilation tracks, and remixes.

After recording the purposefully spare Is a Woman in 2002, Wagner and company moved on to their most ambitious project yet -- two simultaneously released albums, Aw C'Mon and No, You C'Mon, in which Lambchop returned to full power and joined by a lush string section. The next year, the musically experimental EP CoLAB came out, followed in the spring of 2006 by The Decline of Country & Western Civilization, Pt. 2: The Woodwind Years, an eclectic collection of tracks that had never appeared before on Lambchop records, including one new song, "Gettysburg Address," and a record of all-new material called Damaged later that summer. 2008 saw the release of the typically graceful and elegant OH (Ohio), followed in early 2012 by the group’s 11th full-length outing, the austere Mr. M., which offered up 11 lush, string-laden meditations on love and loss, all of which were dedicated to the late Vic Chesnutt. In 2015, Kurt Wagner introduced his electronic side project HeCTA, and elements of HeCTA's eclectic musical approach informed Lambchop's next project. FLOTUS (which Wagner says stands for "For Love Often Turns Us Still") was released in October 2016. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Mr. M

1. If Not I'll Just Die

2. 2B2

3. Gone Tomorrow

4. Mr. Met

5. Gar

6. Nice Without Mercy

7. Buttons

8. The Good Life (Is Wasted)

9. Kind Of

10. Betty's Overture

11. Never My Love

x

Track List: Live At XX Merge

1. Jon Wurster: Introduction (Live)

2. I Will Drive Slowly (Live)

3. The New Cobweb Summer (Live)

4. Grumpus (Live)

5. Sharing A Gibson With Martin Luther King Jr. (Live)

6. What Else Could It Be? (Live)

7. Tony Crow: Joke (Live)

8. National Talk Like A Pirate Day (Live)

9. Hey, Where's Your Girl? (Live)

10. Your F**king Sunny Day (Live)

11. Up With People (Live)

12. Give It (Once In A Lifetime) (Live)

x

Track List: Oh (Ohio)

1. Ohio

2. Slipped Dissolved And Loosed

4. National Talk Like A Pirate Day

5. A Hold Of You

6. Sharing A Gibson With Martin Luther King Jr.

7. Of Raymond

8. Please Rise

9. Popeye

11. I Believe In You

x

Track List: Damaged

1. Paperback Bible

2. Prepared (2)

3. The Rise And Fall Of The Letter P

4. A Day Without Glasses

5. Beers Before The Barbican

6. I Would Have Waited Here All Day

7. Crackers

8. Fear

9. Short

10. The Decline Of Country And Western Civilization

x

Track List: The Decline of Country & Western Civilization, Pt. 2: The Woodwind Years

1. My Cliche

2. Loretta Lung

3. Two Kittens Don't Make A Puppy

4. It's Impossible

5. Ovary Eyes

6. I Can Hardly Spell My Name

7. The Scary Caroler

8. Your Life As A Sequel

9. Smuckers

10. Alumni Lawn

11. Burly And Johnson

12. Mr. Crabby

13. Playboy, The S**t

14. Gloria Leonard

15. The Old Fat Robin

16. The Distance From Her To There

17. The Book I Haven't Read

18. Gettysburg Address

x

Track List: Aw C'mon

1. Being Tyler

2. Four Pounds In Two Days

3. Steve McQueen

4. The Lone Official

5. Something's Going On

6. Nothing But A Blur From A Bullet Train

7. Each Time I Bring It Up It Seems To Bring You Down

8. Timothy B. Schmidt

9. Women Help To Create The Kind Of Men They Despise

10. I Hate Candy

11. I Haven't Heard A Word I've Said

12. Action Figure

x

Track List: No You C'mon

1. Sunrise

2. Low Ambition

3. There's Still Time

4. Nothing Adventurous Please

5. The Problem

6. Shang A Dang Dang

7. About My Lighter

8. Under a Dream of a Lie

9. Jan. 24

10. The Gusher

11. Listen

12. The Producer

x

Track List: Is A Woman

1. The Daily Growl

2. The New Cobweb Summer

3. My Blue Wave

4. I Can Hardly Spell My Name

5. Autumn's Vicar

6. Flick

7. Caterpillar

8. D. Scott Parsley

9. Bugs

10. The Old Matchbook Trick

11. Is A Woman

x

Track List: Tools In The Dryer

1. Nine

2. Whitey

3. Cigaretiquette

4. Miss Prissy

5. The Petrified Florist

6. Each With A Bag Of Fries

7. All Over The World

8. Flowers Of Memory

9. Scared Out Of My Shoes

10. Style Monkeys

11. The Militant (Mark Robinson Remix)

12. Up With People (Zero 7 Reprise Remix)

13. Give Me Your Love (Doppelganger Remix)

14. Love TKO

15. Or Thousands Of Prizes

16. Moody F**ker

x

Track List: Nixon (Reissue)

1. The Old Gold Shoe

2. Grumpus

3. You Masculine You

4. Up With People

5. Nashville Parent

6. What Else Could It Be?

7. The Distance From Her To There

8. The Book I Haven't Read

9. The Petrified Florist

10. The Butcher Boy

11. What Else Could It Be? (How I Met Cat Power)

12. Up With People (How I Met Cat Power)

13. The Distance From Her To There (How I Met Cat Power)

14. The Book I Haven't Read (How I Met Cat Power)

15. The Saturday Option (How I Met Cat Power)

x

Track List: Nixon

1. The Old Gold Shoe

2. Grumpus

3. You Masculine You

4. Up With People

5. Nashville Parent

6. What Else Could It Be?

7. The Distance From Her To There

8. The Book I Haven't Read

9. The Petrified Florist

10. The Butcher Boy

x

Track List: What Another Man Spills

1. Interrupted

2. The Saturday Option

3. Shucks

4. Give Me Your Love (Love Song)

5. Life #2

6. Scamper

7. It's Not Alright

8. N.O.

9. I've Been Lonely For So Long

10. Magnificient Obsession

11. King Of Nothing Never

12. The Theme From The Neil Miller Show

x

Track List: Thriller

1. My Face Your A**

2. Your F**king Sunny Day

3. Hey, Where's Your Girl

4. Crawl Away

5. Gloria Leonard

6. Thriller

7. The Old Fat Robin

8. Superstar In France

x

Track List: How I Quit Smoking

1. For Which We Are Truly Thankful

2. The Man Who Loved Beer

3. The Militant

4. We Never Argue

5. Life's Little Tragedy

6. Suzieju

7. All Smiles And Mariachi

8. The Scary Caroler

9. Smuckers

10. The Militant

11. Garf

12. Your Life As A Sequel

13. Theone

14. Again

x

Track List: Hank

1. I'm A Stranger Here

2. Blame It On The Brunettes

3. The Tin Chime

4. Randi

5. Doak's Need

6. Poor B**tard

7. I Sucked My Boss's Dick

x

Track List: I Hope You're Sitting Down

1. Begin

2. Betweemus

3. Soaky In The Pooper

4. Because You Are The Very Air He Breathes

5. Under The Same Moon

6. I Will Drive Slowly

7. Oh, What A Disappointment

8. Hellmouth

9. Bon Soir, Bon Soir

10. Hicky

11. Breathe Deep

12. So I Hear You're Moving

13. Let's Go Bowling

14. What Was He Wearing

15. Cowboy on The Moon

16. The Pack-up Song

x

Track List: FLOTUS

1. In Care Of 8675309

2. Directions To The Can

3. Flotus

4. JFK

5. Howe

6. Old Masters

7. Relatives #2

8. Harbor Country

9. Writer

10. NIV

11. The Hustle

Comments

Report as inappropriate
pandora41232
I don't know if it's the one song Pandora has played for me (The Petrified Florist) or if this is indicative of their sound, but I thought I was listening to a Soul Coughing track until I checked.
Report as inappropriate
Check out great duet with Kurt Wagner/Morch e e b a What New York couples fight about to hear the awesome Kurt Wagner in action !!
Report as inappropriate
hoogland.mar k
Love love love Mr. M!
Report as inappropriate
interesting songs but the singer can't or else won't sing. some folks are able to overcome that. bill morrissey is another one like that.

a counter example is geezer phase bob dylan, or sinatra - voice is gone but still selling the song.

lambchop has not yet sold me a song. i figure they must put on a good show or are financially independent or else they have friends in the biz.
Report as inappropriate
Christine Van Leuven, please listen again. If you decide you don't like them after a second listen it will be perfectly acceptable to throw up wherever you like. Hell, I'll keep a wastebasket in my profile for you. Just try them again.
Report as inappropriate
Disgusting
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dan-hartman8 8 5 7 4
was that sax?
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Every new release by this band is better than the last. Kurt Wagner knows what he wants and makes it happen. Awesome band!
Report as inappropriate
yep, i agree that they're interesting. of course, i've never heard of them until now. the only lambchop i'm familiar w/ hung out w/ shari lewis. but this group seems like they have a helluva eclectic mix and a sense of humor as well.
Report as inappropriate
Interesting.
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lambchop is one of my favorite active bands. heres hoping they make another 7 or 8 full lengths.
Report as inappropriate
no chit.
Report as inappropriate
bromide01
This crappy band made that many albums?????? ? ? ? ?
Report as inappropriate
.

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