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Tommy Stinson 

With Alien Crime Syndicate. Friday, September 10, at the Grog Shop.

Tommy Stinson's story is one of the strangest on the pop-music periphery. At 12 years old, he started playing bass with the legendary Replacements, and he was out boozing and touring by 13. He was soon forced to kick his brother Bob out of that band because of the alcoholism that eventually took his life. After the Replacements' demise, Tommy started pumping out music with a couple of other bands -- Bash 'n' Pop and Perfect. Then he somehow got hired as Guns N' Roses' bassist, whatever that entails. Though a new GN'R CD has yet to materialize and their tours invariably fall apart, Stinson remains under contract, making him unable to join in on numerous (though probably futile) requests for a Replacements reunion. He has kept making solo records, however, which has now landed him on that safety-net label for rock vets, Sanctuary. And he's still only in his early thirties.

Unfortunately all that experience hasn't translated into gripping music. His latest, Village Gorilla Head, is another Tommy Stinson record -- not bad, but basically a junior Paul Westerberg solo record (which aren't that gripping themselves). A few modern tweaks are tried. "Couldn't Wait" has the distorted rush of many of the current bands influenced by, uh, the Replacements. The title tune offers an electro-beat chill vibe. "Motivation" and "Something's Wrong" are fine boppin' Stones knockoffs. But it all has that sheen of the background music on WB dramas -- tasteful faceless pop played by a menagerie of studio musicians.

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