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Album Review

V.O.T.E. was a limited release in October of 2004 that saw a much wider, slightly altered official release (including four additional tracks) in January of 2005 as A Question of Temperature by the Chris Stamey Experience. With a public service announcement as the title and lead track (the jingle is relegated to a bonus track on the newer release), V.O.T.E. was one of many attempts by the rock & roll community to help get the vote out in the 2004 presidential election. While it may not have been successful in its unstated goal of unseating the incumbent (Stamey claimed V.O.T.E. stood for "Very Obvious Total Emergency" in press releases), it certainly left an impact on Stamey's catalog. With generous help from Yo La Tengo — with whom Stamey first collaborated in 1987 on the band's sophomore effort, New Wave Hot Dogs — and other key contributors like Caitlin Cary, keyboard wizard Tyson Rogers, and Stamey's former dB's bandmate Gene Holder, V.O.T.E. features a broader, harder-hitting sound than Stamey's previous recorded solo fare. The first half of the record is given over to covers, including Vietnam-era corkers like Cream's "Politician" and the Yardbirds' "Shape of Things." These classic rock warhorses share billing with chiming pop gems more typical of Stamey, including a worthy re-recording of his 1978 single "Summer Sun" and an almost-as-gorgeous one-take-only version of Television's flawless "Venus." But it's Yo La Tengo that provide most of the musical muscle via their particular pastiche of melody and dissonance, which is precisely what Stamey had in mind from the outset (the pre-Stamey Experience record is officially credited to Chris Stamey with Yo La Tengo). The YLT signature sound seeps into almost every song, in fact, nowhere more so than on Stamey's "McCauley Street (Let's Go Downtown)." A ten-minute-plus voyage written with his former New Jersey neighbors in mind, it unfurls as adventurously as any of Yo La Tengo's own classic feedback-happy marathons. To his credit, Stamey sounds as comfortable yowling in front of the rock band as he does cooing one of the gentler cuts, and V.O.T.E./A Question of Temperature serves as a nice foil for his more demure and twangy solo pop constructions. Recorded primarily in one three-day August 2004 session, Stamey's record is a worthy addition (in either incarnation) for fans of both bands.


Born: 06 December 1954 in Chapel Hill, NC

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

From his tenures with the Sneakers and the dB's on through to his subsequent solo projects, singer/songwriter Chris Stamey remained a linchpin of the jangle pop renaissance. Born December 6, 1954 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, he was raised in the Winston-Salem area, and alongside longtime friend and collaborator Peter Holsapple, he first surfaced in 1972 in the short-lived Rittenhouse Square, which issued its sole LP the following year. While attending the University of North Carolina in 1975,...
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V.O.T.E., Chris Stamey
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