We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.


A decade ago, I got caught in a college-radio-geek debate about Teenage Fanclub’s supposedly Big Star-beholden breakthrough LP, Bandwagonesque. Even after 10 years of thinking about it, I’ll stand by what I said then: Besides the “Daisy Glaze”-inspired coda to “The Concept” and the “September Gurls”-damaged “December,” Bandwagonesque ain’t really all that Big Star-like. I’ll also add something that I couldn’t have known back in 1991: However undeserved, the skilled-imitators rep the Fannies earned with Bandwagonesque hasn’t done them any favors. The cheekily Chiltonian title of their 1993 follow-up, Thirteen, didn’t help, either. By that time, my college-radio friends had nothing to debate: To them, the Glasgow-based quartet could never be anything more than “engagingly derivative,” “pleasant but hardly groundbreaking,” or “the Badfinger of the ’90s.” But anyone who wrote off Teenage Fanclub back then has missed out on three LPs’ worth of stellar guitar pop: 1995’s Grand Prix, 1997’s Songs From Northern Britain, and last year’s Howdy!, perhaps the band’s best long-player since, well, Bandwagonesque. That album’s shambling, fuzz-pedal-heavy Dinosaur Jr.-isms are pretty much gone, but Howdy!’s carefully crafted, low-key mix of acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards, and horns is just as bracing. As usual, the Fannies wrap most of the disc in appealingly tattered warm-blanket harmonies, but it’s the stripped-down, note-perfect closer, “If I Never See You Again,” that really shows how far they’ve come—and how little they’ve changed. I haven’t heard understatement pulled off this beautifully since, well, Radio City. At 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 10, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $15. (202) 393-0930. (Leonard Roberge)