OK, tell me all about Wussy

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I can't find this band on iTunes (or elsewhere, for that matter). Xgau gave them an "A" in his most recent CG (below), but he's burned me many times before. Are they worth checking out?

Funeral Dress
(Shake It)

In which Chuck Cleaver—Ass Ponys, you remember, they still play out around Cincinnati—joins unknown Lisa Walker, multi-instrumentalist Mark Messerly, and amateur drummer Dawn Burman for 11 three-minute songs, all about perfect, one after the other after the other. Small, but about perfect, with Walker handling the human detail and Cleaver tossing off metaphors—a sideshow horse, a shunt to drain the fear from his brain. It's an ideal partnership—vocally and lyrically, Walker grounds the old guy and he lifts her. The band sound is more Velvets than Burritos, yet country still. It's as if they've reduced all of white Ohio to an articulated drone, unlocked a silo or warehouse of hummable tunes, and worked out the harmonies. A

Jim M (jmcgaw), Thursday, 9 February 2006 19:34 (fourteen years ago) link

Wow. That sounds great. Chuck Cleaver is so underrated. I get "Little Bastard" and "Earth To Grandma" stuck in my head on a regular basis.

Brooker Buckingham (Brooker B), Thursday, 9 February 2006 19:43 (fourteen years ago) link

I found it on slsk, it's great.

Ass Ponys fans may be disappointed to find that Chuck doesn't sing on all the songs, but it doesn't really matter, cause the girl adds a whole new element. As the Dean said, it's more alt rock than alt country.

Best song is the first song, Airborne. That has both of them singing. In a better world, it would be a hit.

kornrulez6969 (TCBeing), Thursday, 9 February 2006 19:51 (fourteen years ago) link

You can hear Airborne and three other songs on their site:

Chuck B, Thursday, 9 February 2006 19:55 (fourteen years ago) link

I can't stop listening to Airborne. It is getting to be a problem. Somebody please help.

moxie alvarez, Wednesday, 15 February 2006 19:44 (fourteen years ago) link

It is a great song. I've listened to it quite a bit as well. I love when she comes in.

TRG (TRG), Wednesday, 15 February 2006 19:56 (fourteen years ago) link

There's a lot to like about Wussy; their ready-for-radio hit features a self-destructively prominent f-bomb, the entire album's 37 minutes long (nowadays I give gold stars just for brevity), and it's been a while since I've heard a lyric as pitch perfect as

And all the treasure from the good days
Is going through the last phase
Of Yours and Yours and Mine
When something from the Yours pile
Shattered on the floor tile
And you went off like Frakenstein

The title cut is a shameless rip of The Undertones' "Teenage Kicks," and they cite VU and The Meat Puppets as influences, so I suppose their hearts are in the right place. If Funeral Dress had come out on Homestead Records in 1985, it would've been a CMJ chart topper.

But it's appropriate that Christgau says they "unlocked a silo or warehouse of hummable tunes, and worked out the harmonies" cause this is a very workmanlike album. There's "writer's workshop" damage all over this thing and if you told me they built this in the garage using power tools and The Singer-Songwriter Handbook For The Rock Musician I wouldn't be surprised. You know those wistful songs that TV shows like Scrubs or Grey's Anatomy play over concluding ain't-life-poignant montages of thoughtful character shots (lesson-learned voiceover optional)? If The Drew Carey Show ever indulged in such hijinks, Funeral Dress could've provided a half-season's worth of grist. OHIO!

As for the future, Wussy might:
A) release 3 more steady-rocking slabs like this one and then issue one hell of a greatest hits album
B) put 5 songs as good as "Airborne" on their next record and end up on everybody's top 10 list of 2006
C) resist their formalist tendencies and push what they've got into some weird new sonic territory
D) encourage Lisa Walker to extend her countrified girl-gone-bad-is-now-a-bitter-woman snarl (as evidenced in "Airborne") over the course of an album

... any of which would be a good thing, although C and/or D would be my personal preferences.

Edward III (edward iii), Wednesday, 15 February 2006 21:43 (fourteen years ago) link


rizzx (Rizz), Wednesday, 15 February 2006 21:45 (fourteen years ago) link

three years pass...

anyone heard the newest, Be here now? yet another A from X'gau and it may well be my favorite batch of songs. i guess they're kind of obscure in that i've never even seen their cd's at amoeba, and i don't think they've travelled West of the Rockies.

outdoor_miner, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 16:37 (eleven years ago) link

I love it – an angrier Yo La Tengo, although the male Wussy occasionally sounds like Adam Duritz.

Bud Huxtable (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Tuesday, 9 June 2009 16:44 (eleven years ago) link

weird I was just thinking about them the other day in that "what every happened to wussy" way

鬼の手 (Edward III), Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:11 (eleven years ago) link

whatever, that is

鬼の手 (Edward III), Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:12 (eleven years ago) link

what ever

鬼の手 (Edward III), Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:12 (eleven years ago) link


鬼の手 (Edward III), Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:12 (eleven years ago) link

i guess "be here now" is a typo. it says "be the best" on the actual disc, but wussy's website refers to the disc as s/t. who cares

outdoor_miner, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 17:26 (eleven years ago) link

"and i don't think they've travelled West of the Rockies."

just got this e-mail from chris brokaw today:

"hi all,

wanted to let you know i have a solo show next week at pa's lounge, in somerville. i'll be playing a bunch of new stuff from recent records and upcoming ones. my good pals from ohio WUSSY will also perform, as well as NATHAN XANDER and PAPER AND SAND. come on down if you can!"

scott seward, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 18:14 (eleven years ago) link

that would be friday, june 19th.

scott seward, Tuesday, 9 June 2009 18:14 (eleven years ago) link

two months pass...

i love Funeral Dress.
like somewhere between The Vaselines, Yo La Tengo and New Pornographers.
The underrated Lisa Walker writes better songs than Cleaver - maybe thats why this record is better than anything Ass Ponys ever done imo\.

how are the other 2 Wussy records compared to Funeral Dress?

Zeno, Saturday, 29 August 2009 16:32 (ten years ago) link

they keep getting stronger. esp. the songs/writing on the new one. i've only heard it about 7 or 8 times, but love it more with each listen.

outdoor_miner, Saturday, 29 August 2009 20:30 (ten years ago) link

Chuck Cleaver has been responsible for a buttload of great music in the 2000s. Haven't heard the new Wussy, but I loved the last two. And the Ass Ponys were seemingly incapable of writing a bad song, especially on the last two records, Some Stupid With A Flare Gun and Lohio.

I saw the Ass Ponys at Maxwells a few years back, as part of a triple bill with Neko Case and the Handsome Family. So good.

kornrulez6969, Saturday, 29 August 2009 22:33 (ten years ago) link

well, the new Wussy album is awesome.
yes - they do keep getting stronger.
the album is even more hooky and catchier than Funeral Dress,the production is cleaner and thicker, and the melodies reminding me stuff like Quasi or early BtS (meets YLT New Porno's).

one of the most underrated bands around this days - how come Matador/Merge didnt sign them yet?!
(on the other hand,a step like that might ruin them)

Zeno, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 17:22 (ten years ago) link



Zeno, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 18:32 (ten years ago) link

one month passes...

Downloaded this at amazon for $6.99. So great.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 21 October 2009 18:37 (ten years ago) link

eight months pass...

Still great.

kornrulez6969, Monday, 28 June 2010 01:07 (ten years ago) link

yeah, they are pretty great (well, their songs are, anyway). i just really really REALLY fucking wish they didn't sound like such a demo band. Lord Lucifer please to bestow unto them a decent producer/engineer. kthxbye.

"enduring lack of street cred" (Ioannis), Monday, 28 June 2010 08:07 (ten years ago) link

i like them, though they tend reapeat the same schticks (esp. with the male/female vocals) ans as a result some of their songs sounds like versions of older ones

Zeno, Monday, 28 June 2010 09:15 (ten years ago) link

five months pass...

I've just caught up with this year's record and love a lot of it. If they were to ever come through Toronto (maybe they already have, and I missed it), I would actually make the effort to see them.

clemenza, Tuesday, 21 December 2010 12:33 (nine years ago) link

eight months pass...

New Wussy album!!!


kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 18:49 (eight years ago) link

nothing's special on first listen

nostormo, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 19:05 (eight years ago) link

I like everything this band does, including this. There's nothing as immediate as Rigor Mortis, but even so, it's still vintage Wussy. Chuck Cleaver continues to rock.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 7 September 2011 20:17 (eight years ago) link

six months pass...

Hey Wussy fans, read what Robert Christgau has to say about them.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 20 March 2012 17:10 (eight years ago) link

eight months pass...

Their song Motorcycle is one of my favorites of last 5 years:


live version is great too:

Campari G&T, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:27 (seven years ago) link


And what a great song this was (with simple but indelible guitar riff!) (charming video too)

Campari G&T, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:42 (seven years ago) link

just one more link - Yellow Cotton Dress (live)

That Grisly Adams guy plays some great guitar in this clip!


Campari G&T, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 09:56 (seven years ago) link

Normally my taste diverge that greatly from the ILX norm; but in this once case I can't recall a single other person expressing any kind of appreciation for what I consider one of best songs of the last decade: Mayflies https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYMkVn9u8vU

I even got more of a favorably response when praising Northside a few years back..

Campari G&T, Thursday, 13 December 2012 07:59 (seven years ago) link

I realize the grammar in that last post makes it sound like it was Google-translated from Russian

Campari G&T, Thursday, 13 December 2012 08:07 (seven years ago) link

three weeks pass...

OK, my favorite album of 2013 has just come out, and it's free. Get your Wussy outtakes and live versions record at wussy.org. It's called Popular Favorites. Holy moley, so so so good.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 06:00 (seven years ago) link

I downloaded that the other day, but haven't had a chance to listen yet. "Pizza King" was high on my year-end list.

clemenza, Tuesday, 8 January 2013 14:47 (seven years ago) link

eight months pass...

I don't pay any attention to Record Day, so I didn't realize there was a short one (seven songs) called Duo out there. No luck so far figuring out how to get hold of it.

clemenza, Sunday, 8 September 2013 17:42 (six years ago) link

I went through everything they've done and listened closely. (I've put songs of theirs on year-end lists, but I hadn't really taken time with each album.) If I made an introductory mix-CD, here's what I'd put on it.

1. "Airborne" (2005)
2. "Crooked" (2005)
3. "Bought It Again" (2005)
4. "Mayflies" (2007)
5. "Millie Christine" (2007)
6. "Tiny Spiders" (2007)
7. "Sun Giant Says Hey" (2007)
8. "Melody Ranch" (2007)
9. "Vivian Girls" (2007)
10. "Gone Missing" (2009)
11. "Happiness Bleeds" (2009)
12. "Muscle Cars" (2009)
13. "All the Bugs Are Growing" (2009)
14. "Airborne" (2011 acoustic version)
15. "Crooked" (2011 acoustic version)
16. "Magnolia" (2011)
17. "Pizza King" (2011)
18. "Little Miami" (2011)
19. "Runaway" (2013)
20. "North Sea Girls" (2013)

A title..."The Last Phase of Yours and Yours and Mine." They've been my favourite band for the past couple of years.

clemenza, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 22:46 (six years ago) link

thank you this thread for reminding me of "earth to grandma."

fact checking cuz, Wednesday, 11 September 2013 23:33 (six years ago) link

But....but....how could you have a Wussy best-of without Rigor Mortis or Grand Champion Steer. or Maglite fer crying out loud!

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:35 (six years ago) link

Just not crazy about any of them. I don't know, past "Airborne," they seem like a blank slate where favorites could fall anywhere. (I love the Ass Ponys' "Astronaut," too.)

clemenza, Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:17 (six years ago) link

Fighter Pilot is another great Ass Ponys song. And Kung Fu Reference and Dried Up from the follow up.

You could make a strong argument for Chuck Cleaver being the best songwriter of the millennium with Ass Ponys and Wussy together.

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:26 (six years ago) link

How can I get North Sea Girls?

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:30 (six years ago) link

I got it through a well-known secret file sharer. (So well known that I feel silly doing the thing with the asterisks--but if I don't do it, I worry that I'll bring the whole operation to a ruinous end.) It's only seven short songs--if you're not particular about vinyl, I'm sure I could get it to you in a couple of e-mails. Or you could go through the well-known secret file sharer.

clemenza, Thursday, 12 September 2013 01:40 (six years ago) link

four weeks pass...

I would definitely add Maglite and the Funeral Dress II version of Conversation Lags. That chorus drives me insane:

campreverb, Thursday, 10 October 2013 21:50 (six years ago) link

five months pass...

The new album is excellent so far.

Bryan Fairy (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Sunday, 6 April 2014 00:38 (six years ago) link

I voted for "North Sea Girls" last year, so I already know that's good. Found a site where I was able to hear "Teenage Wasteland"--also very good, and I like how the beginning paraphrases what you'd expect. (I guess they were inspired by One Direction's "Best Song Ever.") The album cover's kind of ugly; with such a great title, I think they could have done better there. Still looking forward to it, of course.

clemenza, Sunday, 6 April 2014 02:53 (six years ago) link

I still need to give it another listen, but I liked "Aliens in Our Midst" the first time through (and I certainly like it better than "Brimful of Asha").

Police, Academy (cryptosicko), Thursday, 6 September 2018 01:53 (one year ago) link

"Heaven" is much more engaging than "Forever Sounds". The opener, "One Per Customer" grabbed me and everything flows really well.

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Thursday, 6 September 2018 02:35 (one year ago) link

I'll give it another listen for sure at the end of the year when I rank albums, but this was to me the boringest of Wussy albums -- the only one from which I kept not a single tune.

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 6 September 2018 02:37 (one year ago) link

I didn’t care for it much on first listen but it’s grown on me.

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 6 September 2018 02:55 (one year ago) link

The opener, "One Per Customer" grabbed me and everything flows really well.

Played those first three songs again in the car this morning; "Cake" and "Gloria" still seemed a little ordinary, but yeah, "One Per Customer" has a really spacey appeal, even if they missed (or, more likely, resisted) the most obvious rhyme in the world, "Knievel" with "appeal."

I'm not a big lyrics guy, but I usually take notice of certain lines and phrases from Wussy. "Aliens in Our Midst" has a verse about a friend who dresses up in his sister's clothes and gets a beating from his dad, and you can also hear the word "dreamers"; it might be a Trump song, unless it's about actual aliens.

The Wussy mix-CD I give to friends gets better and better; I'll probably bump three songs from it to make room for "Skip," "Black Hole," and "Getting Better."

clemenza, Thursday, 6 September 2018 11:37 (one year ago) link

Aliens in Our Midst is a cover https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44bkhkBYrew

treefell, Thursday, 6 September 2018 13:01 (one year ago) link

Ha! Never read too much into a song... (I won't discount that they made a Trump connection from the title, though.)

clemenza, Thursday, 6 September 2018 13:10 (one year ago) link

What is everyone's favorite Wussy album?

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 6 September 2018 13:42 (one year ago) link

The eponymous album or Attica!

The Silky Veils of Alfred (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 6 September 2018 13:53 (one year ago) link

Yeah, those but still like Funeral Dress a lot as well.

The Great Atomic Power Ballad (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 6 September 2018 13:57 (one year ago) link

Left For Dead could be mine

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 6 September 2018 14:42 (one year ago) link

I would have said Attica! or Wussy, but, initial excitement being what it is, I might pick Heaven today. (I'm absolutely certain that last year's was their worst.)

clemenza, Thursday, 6 September 2018 15:05 (one year ago) link

Funeral Dress plays like a greatest hits, it's ridiculous.

I'm digging the new one, much more than 'Forever Sounds'-and hell, even looking at that I see it has 'Majestic 12' and 'Hello I'm a Ghost'.
"Aliens' is such a brilliant cover, I saw them perform it a couple of tours ago, it's so great. and the second-half in particular is so back-loaded, I'm having a moment here with 'Nope'.

campreverb, Thursday, 6 September 2018 15:12 (one year ago) link

i love Forever Sounds

flopson, Thursday, 6 September 2018 15:37 (one year ago) link

Strawberry gets overlooked, but it's great as well.

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 6 September 2018 15:39 (one year ago) link

(xpost) "Nope" is great. They stole the melody of the verses from somewhere--driving me up the wall trying to figure out where--but that's okay.

clemenza, Thursday, 6 September 2018 21:56 (one year ago) link

the west coast has the sunshine and the girls all get so tan

kornrulez6969, Thursday, 6 September 2018 22:48 (one year ago) link

Sort of! That works, but I think I'm thinking of something else (maybe a song that copied "California Girls" so Wussy could copy that song). It has to do with the way Chuck sings those verses too--the combination of that melody and that timbre, I'm sure I've heard it elsewhere.

clemenza, Thursday, 6 September 2018 23:56 (one year ago) link

Yeah I'm not sure California Girls is 100% it but it's close. There's something closer, though.

I do know they got sued by the Undertones for allegedly taking the melody of Teenage Kicks for the song Funeral Dress.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 7 September 2018 00:47 (one year ago) link

one month passes...

Somebody's Wussy collection:


Also, the mix-CD I made for a friend recently:

1. airborne (2005)
2. crooked (2005)
3. bought it again (2005)
4. millie christine (2007)
5. tiny spiders (2007)
6. sun giant says hey (2007)
7. melody ranch (2007)
8. vivian girls (2007)
9. gone missing (2009)
10. all the bugs are growing (2009)
11. pizza king (2011)
12. little miami (2011)
13. teenage wasteland (2014)
14. halloween (2014)
15. home (2014)
16. beautiful (2014)
17. dropping houses (2016)
18. skip (2018)
19. black hole (2018)
20. getting better (2018)

"Getting Better" was mostly there to reel him in (I do like it); if it were for my own use, I'd replace that with "Aliens in Our Midst."

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 00:01 (one year ago) link

Geez, no Rigor Mortis or Grand Champion Steer? Those are two of my very favroites.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 14:37 (one year ago) link

I think you mentioned that when I posted a different mix-tape a few years ago...I can't retrieve either in my mind, but I didn't save them on my hard-drive, so I guess I decided I didn't like them enough at the time.

clemenza, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 15:32 (one year ago) link

Ha! I like to stay on message with all Wussy-related things. You should definitely give those another chance as they are quite possibly my two favorite. Another is the acoustic version of Crooked from Funeral Dress 2.

kornrulez6969, Tuesday, 30 October 2018 15:33 (one year ago) link

Re-listened to "Rigor Mortis" and "Grand Champion" off YouTube. Like them both. They've got so many good songs, an 80-minute CD isn't quite enough. But two 80-minute CDs would be too much...with the possible exception of Neil Young, there's nobody who could sustain two 80-minute CDs for me without drifting off into songs I like but don't love.

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 03:47 (one year ago) link

interesting list clemenza. love that you included the delightful and bizarre 'Sun Giant Says Hey'.
'Motorcycle' or 'Beautiful' are the two I'm most likely to pass on when friends ask about Wussy.

campreverb, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 04:14 (one year ago) link

My favorite Wussy song has been "Airborne" from the first moment I heard them, and if you polled a hundred fans, I'd hazard a guess that that would almost certainly end up on top. But the last few months, "Melody Ranch" has been right there with it. It makes me think of Billy Altman's great description of "Black Dog" in the Rolling Stone Illustrated History: "indescribably chaotic."

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 11:48 (one year ago) link

Wussy does indescribably chaotic as well as anyone. Shunt and Pulverized certainly qualify. And Rigor Mortis maybe most of all.

kornrulez6969, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 13:40 (one year ago) link

I'm not so sure they do chaotic as well as anyone-if they did 'Forever Sounds' would be better.

campreverb, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 14:25 (one year ago) link

This is a band that I initially thought, "Well I like this one album". Then as I started listening back I kept saying "I like this one, too, I'm all set" - until I had picked them all up. And now I compiled all their non-lp tracks (at least I think I've got them all):

Rigor Mortis EP
Breakfast In Bed - Dangerous Highway Vol. 3
Duo EP
Popular Favorites EP
Public Domain Vol. 1 EP
Folk Night At Fucky's - Dropping Houses 7"
Ceremony 7"
Getting Better EP

It's all very consistent, so much fun!

Gerald McBoing-Boing, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 15:09 (one year ago) link

(xposts) Agree with both of you--sometimes they lose me when they get heavy and chaotic (like most of Forever Sounds), sometimes those are my very favourite songs ("Melody Ranch," "Dropping Houses," "Skip").

clemenza, Wednesday, 31 October 2018 22:03 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

"Nope" is great. They stole the melody of the verses from somewhere--driving me up the wall trying to figure out where--but that's okay.

This may be what I had buried in my head, I don't know...the resemblance isn't as strong as I thought (no lawsuits pending), but I can hear it.


clemenza, Sunday, 18 November 2018 14:51 (one year ago) link

clemenza, I kind of hear something going on with the verse lyric as well, but can't place it either.
this song, jesus.

campreverb, Monday, 19 November 2018 14:19 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

Thanks for the David Blue post! Somebody I always used to mean to check out, 'til he gradually faded from my mind (long RIP, right?).
Getting into What Heaven much more on second listen, though sound quality (of mp3 promo) is a bit distracting, for a whole album, even though I don't mind it on the Record Store Day EPs---anybody got the CD?? I'm getting hooked on those...

dow, Friday, 7 December 2018 18:39 (one year ago) link

I'm getting used to it, but still wondering how CD sound compares. Good stuff anyway!

dow, Friday, 7 December 2018 18:40 (one year ago) link

five months pass...

Chuck Cleaver
Send Aid
Shake It
19 July 2019

Chuck Cleaver (Wussy, Ass Ponys) has been writing and performing his thoughtful, idiosyncratic songs for over thirty years, developing a cult following of devoted fans across the United States, Europe and beyond. However, this summer’s upcoming Send Aid LP (on Shake It Records) marks his first recorded solo output.

According to Cleaver, “folks have been trying to get me to do a solo record for years now”, but the thought of recording without his regular bandmates had always left him feeling a bit out-of-step. But then a prolific writing streak came along, and after Wussy had assembled their latest LPs (Forever Sounds and What Heaven Is Like), he was left with a near-album’s worth of extra material. He characterizes these solo tracks as “primarily Wussy rejects, although I wrote a couple just for this beast.”

And so.. with one track already in tow from the Wussy sessions at Ultrasuede, Cleaver aimed to craft the remaining songs with a more DIY approach that he describes as “somewhere between John Prine and Big Stick”. On Send Aid, he set out to fully explore his love of noise mixed with a stripped-down aesthetic.. then topping it off with a healthy dose of treated/doubled vocals. While a natural performer, Cleaver has always had a Lennon-esque disdain for his own singing voice, placing him in the role of reluctant frontman. But it is this vulnerability that shines through the layers of distortion and tape-delay.

Many of the off-the-cuff performances were recorded as first takes in practice spaces, engineered by frequent Wussy collaborator John Hoffman. The record’s fuzzed out edges are occasionally softened with the addition of cello, accordion, sitar or mandolin from Cleaver’s rotating backing band of friends and neighbors, who just happen to be among the best of Cincinnati’s thriving punk, indie rock and folk communities. The roster includes some of his Wussy bandmates, as well as appearances from members of Lung, Vacation, Dawg Yawp, Swim Team, Notches and Mardou. This record also marks Chuck’s final collaboration with the late (and greatly missed) mastering engineer Dave Davis; the two had worked together since the 1990s on multiple Ass Ponys and Wussy releases.

Much of Cleaver’s writing on Send Aid details the mundanity and memories of daily life, with other tracks unfolding as harrowing fictional narratives (two of Cleaver’s noted strengths). His struggles with self-doubt and pessimism are often laid bare in cheery three-chord pop format, as evidenced on the self-loathing opener “Terrible Friend”, as well as in “Bed”, in which he wards off thoughts of impending mortality with sleep: And as my time decreases / I’m sitting listening to “I Fall to Pieces” / And while the words are winding through my head / I think of all the things I should have said / Then I give up and go to bed.

Send Aid’s first single is “Anything”, an anthem to failed relationships, in which Cleaver laments, “It’s impossible, it seems, to not romanticize the past.” As if confirming his suspicions, he does just that in the final verse: Had it been a meaningless exchange, I don’t suppose I’d care / But the fuses all were lit, and bits of us were scattered everywhere / Though it’s really just my luck that I would try to find some comfort there / But I would do anything, I would do anything.

But not all is doom and gloom: In the sweet and instantly singable album closer “Folk Night at Fucky’s”, Cleaver recollects dancing around the house with his daughter as they listened to Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”. Throughout the record, emotions range from despair to joy.. and everything in between. There are odes to bullets dodged (“Mess”, “Devil May Care”), megalomaniacs in positions of power (“Children of the Corn”), and the dual nature of passion (“Flowers and the Devil”).

No Cleaver record would be complete without a couple of tales from haunted small-town-Ohio, which always reside somewhere between reality and horror. His ominous “The Weekend That It Happened” details a fictional account of kidnapping and murder rooted in his real-life suspicion that “bad things always happen on the weekend”. Later on the album, “The Night We Missed the Horror Show” is a riff off of a Joe Lansdale short story title with one word altered. “I really just used the title,” he explains. “The song itself has nothing to do with the story. Except that there’s an element of overwhelming dread in the original – and a similar sense of dread in the song. But it’s about being afraid of things to come. It’s kind of a toss up as to what’s more horrific – the story or real life.”

The album’s cover photos were taken by his daughter Anna Stockton, and were discovered in a moment of kismet. Cleaver had been having difficulty deciding on a cover image, when she happened to send him a batch of photos she had recently taken of his hometown Clarksville, Ohio. The first image he pulled up was of a now-defunct business well-known to him from his childhood. He knew immediately it would be the cover. According to Cleaver, “It’s a former furniture store that just happened to be where I was waiting on the school bus one morning in the 70s, when the owner asked if I could go up the street to check on the town barber. I found him, but he was long dead and catfish-grey. It was not a pleasant memory.” As for the title, it “came from a sign that’s on the door. It’s still there.”

The back cover, also a photo by Stockton, depicts the decaying remains of Valley Steel, also in Clarksville – a once thriving mill that ceased to exist when the railroad disappeared from the region. “It’s by the #8 trestle” according to Cleaver (Ass Ponys fans may recognize “trestle eight” from the song “Grim”). “It’s a sad ass state of affairs.”

Cleaver, along with Wussy bandmates Lisa Walker and Mark Messerly, will be combining forces for a solo tour throughout the East Coast, New England and the Midwest in Summer 2019. The in-the-round style shows will feature material from Send Aid, as well as from Walker’s and Messerly’s recently-released solo albums (under the monikers The Magic Words and INERT, respectively). The trio will perform in a combination of one-, two- and three-person setups, sharing stories behind the songs as time permits. Some stripped-down Wussy numbers will be included in the set (a la Funeral Dress II and Public Domain), interspersed with new solo and duo material.

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dow, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 02:02 (one year ago) link

Lisa Walker sings the majority of my more recent favourite Wussy songs, but I will still get hold of this soon.

clemenza, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 11:36 (one year ago) link

I saw the three of them doing their solo stuff as support for Wussy when they played Glasgow last year. It was kind of shambolic at times but still very charming.
Hopefully the Chuck Cleaver record will be easier to get hold of than the Magic Words tape release or the INERT CD. I only managed to get the tape from the merch stand at the gig. I still don't have the INERT release.

treefell, Tuesday, 7 May 2019 13:41 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

The Chuck Cleaver record is out and it sounds excellent on first listen. It's his catchiest batch of songs since Attica. The production is just OK but his guitar and vocals are always so strong.

kornrulez6969, Friday, 19 July 2019 19:20 (eleven months ago) link

eight months pass...

Agree. (Only took me eight months to buy it.) I love "Flowers & the Devil": "I'm so happy that I found you/I can't stand to be around you" is a great line.

clemenza, Thursday, 9 April 2020 13:55 (three months ago) link

I've never watched one of these, but Lisa and Chuck are doing a live Facebook thing right now.


clemenza, Friday, 10 April 2020 23:17 (three months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Some sad news. Our bandmate John Erhardt passed away this week. We are devastated, and we will miss him every day. It was truly such a pleasure to know him. The band’s full statement is below. pic.twitter.com/Po8OxhtEa7

— Wussy (@wussymusic) May 7, 2020

Ned Raggett, Thursday, 7 May 2020 17:15 (two months ago) link

Just came to post that...They're my favourite band, but honestly, I don't know anybody except for Chuck and Lisa.

clemenza, Thursday, 7 May 2020 17:22 (two months ago) link

Same here essentially. RIP, John.

My Chess Hustler (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 7 May 2020 17:23 (two months ago) link

We're taking a week off from the Friday evening live stream but we'll be back next week. Didn't know this was a regular thing, glad they're continuing with it. RIP & rock on.

dow, Friday, 8 May 2020 03:35 (two months ago) link

He was the guitarist of the Ass Ponys as well, he wrote all their best songs ("Mr. Superlove", "11:11", et. al.)

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Friday, 8 May 2020 05:23 (two months ago) link

John recorded & mixed & produced the first four Ass Ponys records (as well as a bunch of the Wussy records):

John Erhardt @wussymusic approached the world with a beautiful mixture of curiosity, patience and joy; a creative wildcard that always made the hand stronger. I will treasure the laughs and music. Extra sad to lose someone like this because there are too few of them as it is. pic.twitter.com/pJQQzmI1Th

— John Curley (@MrJohnCurley) May 9, 2020

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Monday, 11 May 2020 16:22 (two months ago) link

My favourite Ass Ponys song (couldn't really name an album) is "Astronaut" from--greatest album title ever--Some Stupid with a Flare Gun. Looks like he'd moved on by that point.


There was a great homemade video for that 10 years ago that appears to have been removed. Gotta remember to record these things before they disappear.

clemenza, Monday, 11 May 2020 16:52 (two months ago) link

Still there! Forgot that someone took the trouble to hide it.


clemenza, Monday, 11 May 2020 16:55 (two months ago) link

Damnably has put together an online benefit w/concert footage from our May 2016 show at the Brixton Windmill. They're hosting a watch party today at 1pm PDT / 4pm EDT / 9pm BST. It’s a free online event, but donations to the funds listed in the YouTube link are welcome. ❤️ https://t.co/RzP6ejw3Ib

— Wussy (@wussymusic) May 11, 2020

treefell, Monday, 11 May 2020 17:16 (two months ago) link

one month passes...

Ghosts is quite good. My two favourites are "Days and Hours" and "She's Out There." There's a nice of cover Dusty Springfield's "Breakfast in Bed." And it's free!


clemenza, Friday, 26 June 2020 19:44 (two weeks ago) link

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