In the music spotlight: The Posies

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The Posies | Dot Pierson

Power pop heroes The Posies came of age in the ‘90s, but the musical impact of partners Jon Auer and Ken Stringfellow sank uncommonly deep roots into their musical past. The acclaimed pair of songwriters and multi-instrumentalists have worked with a who’s who of peers including R.E.M. and Ben Folds. The Posies continue to mine a rich history while making a concurrent push toward the future with a tour stopping at City Winery next week.

Multi-instrumentalist Stringfellow has local ties, having spent childhood through the ‘70s in Glenview and Lake Forest. His family eventually relocated to Bellingham, Washington, where the young musician released the Posies’ home-recorded debut “Failure” 30 years ago with likeminded high school pal Auer. The album was released by the PopLlama label in 1989. The chime and jangle of the harmony-laden “I May Hate You Sometimes” became a touchstone of the second psychedelic era, and later spiked the pop culture of 2000 as the end title music for MTV’s animated feature “Is It Fall Yet?” starring sardonic teenager Daria.

The homespun success of “Failure” led to a major label deal with the David Geffen Company. 1990’s “Dear 23” yielded the beautiful and melancholy single “Golden Blunders,” an acoustic-driven and deceptively cheerful-sounding song about living with the unintended consequences of youthful indiscretion. The song found a fan in no less than Ringo Starr, who covered the song on his 1992 album “Time Takes Time.” 1993’s “Frosting on the Beater” produced additional alt-pop hits “Dream All Day” and “Solar Sister.”

In addition to its debt to the Beatles catalog, the Posies had obvious affection for jangle-pop acts including the Byrds and Big Star. Auer and Stringfellow became key components of a 1993 revival for Memphis underdogs Big Star, joining original members Alex Chilton and Jody Stephens in a new lineup that performed until Chilton’s death in 2010. The group recorded 2005’s “In Space.”

The Posies’ eighth studio album “Solid States” arrived in 2016, featuring the atmospheric and recriminatory “Squirrel vs. Snake.” Other songs like “M Doll” touched upon an expanded palette of electropop and krautrock.

Although Auer and Stringfellow have their sights set on new music, the Posies’ current acoustic duo tour focuses on 30 years of potent partnership. The set list will draw from an abundant catalog of winsome gems as Omnivore Records prepares to reissue the band’s ‘90s Geffen output on CD and vinyl. The pair also promise the occasional Big Star tribute.

* The Posies, 8 p.m. Jan. 31, City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph, $25-$32; citywinery.com.

Jeff Elbel is a local freelance writer.

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