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The Posies: Sensitive Rock – 1998

by Pooja Khandekar, Seattle Times, 1998

In a city once dubbed as the “grunge capital” of the nation, the Posies are a refreshing change of pace. Though their music is not without driving guitar riffs, introspective lyrics or lamenting vocals, their sound is a unique blend of pop, and one that has evolved and grown over the past decade.

“The real key to the Posies has been our ability to connect with people when we perform in proximity to them,” said vocalist/guitarst Ken Stringfellow. But there’s something more to the Posies; there’s something about them that sets them apart from the rest of today’s other pop bands.

“We represent a kind of sensitivity that is very rare,” said Stringfellow. “Most of our alternative music peers thrive on desensitization, numbness, bleakness … and we thrive on sensitivity, responsiveness, and even hopefulness.”

Another characteristic unique to the Posies have is the fact that songwriting and lead vocals duties are shared equally between vocalist/guitarist Jon Auer and Stringfellow. Often, this situation could only lead to conflict, with both individuals experiencing “creative differences” and wanting to put different spins on the music. However, Auer and Stringfellow have managed to put up with each other for over 10 years, which attests to their shared connection in and of itself.

“Rather than criticizing each other’s music, we just do our individual things and are able to expect that the other will support whatever that ends up being,” said Stringfellow.

With 5 albums and numerous world tours under their belts, Auer and Stringfellow’s joint venture may soon come to an end. “There is something that feels right and circular about ending things this year,” said Stringfellow. “The Posies is a musical form that we have spent a lot of time exploring, and we feel the need to change something.”

Though the Posies are still playing frequent shows around the Seattle area, there is little chance that they will put out a 6th album. Right now they are contemplating continuing on as a band with a new style and name or calling the Posies quits and going their separate ways.

For the moment, however, there are still fans to be made. At their recent RKCNDY gig, the Posies put on a show unlike the usual fare Seattle is host to. Each song of the set was energetic and masterfully presented, the vocals rounded out by Musburger’s drumming and Joe Skyward’s basslines. Over 10 years of shared music-making between Auer and Stringfellow was likely the reason why the guitars and vocals melded together so fabulously. The typical crowd at RKCNDY doesn’t like to stand quietly through the slower songs, but this one was unique. It seemed to consist of avid Posies followers and pop lovers who found themselves captivated by the intensity of the music.

With the question of the Posies longevity in the air, any upcoming show of theirs could likely turn out to be their last. The Posies are truly a pop standard, and any pop fans should be sure to catch them in concert before their studio work is all that remains of their legacy.