October 13, 2017

Scott Gagner: Pins & Needles

San Franciscan Scott Gagner has the typical West Coast habit of writing radio-friendly smooth sounding songs about serious heartbreak. His new album Pins & Needles veers between power pop, country rock and soft-spoken psychedelica, and steers clear of the lures of yacht rock, safe for some of overproduced backing vocals. He got some big names helping him out, including Pete Thomas (Elvis Costello's The Attractions, Ron Sexsmith, Matthew Sweet), and Ken Stringfellow (The Posies, Big Star, R.E.M.).

On the surface Pins & Needles takes it easy, and with his relaxed vocals as part of the equation it could be mistaken for another chapter in the big book of Californian hedonism. Sure, some songs fit that description, like Lazy Afternoon, but when there is sun there also must be shadows and that is where Gagner writes his best stuff and tries to chase away his demons (The Ghost of Me & You).

Strawberry Hill contains an inevitable, but tasteful, nod to Fats Domino. His cover of America the Beautiful will be met with indifference non-US citizens, who don't care much for this kind of overblown patriotism. It might help to know that he recorded it for his grandmother’s funeral - it could be interpreted as a dirge too. Take your pick.

Pins & Needles is a self-released album. Buy it from his website.

  1. Someone
  2. Heart Attack
  3. El Rancho Inn
  4. The Ghost of Me & You
  5. How Low Can You Go?
  6. By the Waters of Minnetonka
  7. Lazy Afternoon
  8. Strawberry Hill
  9. You Don't Know
  10. Place in This World
  11. America the Beautiful

» scottgagner.com

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