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DICK STUSSO

Dick Stusso

S.P.

    Dick Stusso’s third album is a document of slow mental unravelling with a world in perpetual decay as its backdrop. With S.P., California-based singer and songwriter Nic Russo has created his most out-there and toothsome record to date, plunging his listeners into a strange and thrilling new world at every opportunity. S.P. is the first Dick Stusso record in four years, following his stellar Hardly Art debut In Heaven from 2018—but this latest missive is more of an indirect sequel to the buzz-building 2015 release Nashville Dreams / Sings the Blues, diving deeper into the fictional character Dick Stusso’s crumbling psyche and dystopian surroundings. If our introduction to Dick was someone trying to pursue their dreams and turning into a failure as a result, S.P. reflects the moment where, in Russo’s words, “The character is becoming unlikable. He’s succumbing to what is taking place around him. ”Nearly half of its 18 songs—spanning countrified rock duets, Guided by Voices-recalling anthems, and outro noise-burst sound experiments—were completed before the pandemic, when Russo decided to take a beat and allow the music to sprout new, weird buds in his rehearsal space. With mixer Andrew Oswald accentuating the record’s unique feel, S.P. bridges the gap between the ultra lo-fi confines of his 2015 debut Nashville Dreams / Sings the Blues and the lush echoes of In Heaven, with a few helping hands to fully flesh out Russo’s vision. Grace Cooper (The Sandwitches, Grace Sings Sludge) contributes vocals to “Dinner for Two” and “Self Reflection (Deep),” while his father Marc Russo—a Grammy-winning saxophonist who’s currently touring with the Doobie Brothers—lays down expert horn arrangements on “Garbagedump #1.” The myriad of twists and turns on S.P. further establish Russo as a fascinating craftsman who’s never bound to do the same thing twice.

    TRACK LISTING

    01. Rocking Machine
    02. Part-time Apocalypse
    03. The Check In
    04. Convenient Life
    05. Garbagedump #1
    06. A Fairly Normal Guy
    07. Dinner For Two
    08. The Masterwork
    09.Self Reflection (Deep)
    10. Big Money
    11. Haunted Hotel
    12. Checking Back
    13. How Do You Spell Success?
    14. Doubt
    15. Failure
    16. Hell
    17. Twilight At The Shareholders' Meeting
    18. Tears Of Love

    Dick Stusso

    In Heaven

      That old blues hound dog Bonnie Raitt probably sang it best and most lucid in her timeless, pedestrian hit “Nick of Time": “Life gets mighty precious when there's less of it to waste.” And so now, her wise lyrical turn seems to be ringing true for Oakland muso Dick Stusso. When we last caught up with this Bay Area BBQ gaucho on his debut, Nashville Dreams, he'd hit that special zen layer of loserdom. He’d thrown up his hands into the folly of failure. He was the affable, bumbling red-cheeked drunk lurking around the edges of the cookout — bumming smokes, putting down all the white wine and cocktail shrimp he could get away with. But now, a couple years on, that early-30s existential dread has crept its way into Dick’s purview.

      With his sophomore long-player In Heaven, Stusso's numbered human days are on his mind. Without stumbling into pomposity, Dick has taken back the wheel on his life and is doing a bit of hotdogging. The album sounds so assured, you'd never guess the whole endeavor was almost completely down the tubes. “I was about 75% done with the album and then my apartment got burgled,” Stusso said of In Heaven’s bummer origins. “They took it all.” Having laid it almost exclusively to tape, there weren’t even files to pull from. But what seemed like another sour turn for Dick actually ended up being a little lemon zest in his G&T. He ended up teaming with psych visionary producer Greg Ashley in a defunct old church, making for a leap in fidelity on In Heaven. The new peacock strut to Dick's vague longing and malaise suits his countrified T. Rex sound quite well.

      Exhibit A: album standout “Modern Music,” a sort of State of the Union and State of the Soul all set over a warm, gauzy glam bass line. “Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, I don’t blame you/Nobody wants to look at the dark heart, myself included,” he sings a low-register Orbison sneer. “I’m just looking for a good time and a little cash-uh.” Employing deft songcraft, which includes a wide open ambient midsection to really get you thinking about The Void, Dick manages to take down both capitalism and the bullshit conditions of human mortality without sounding all that put out by either.

      TRACK LISTING

      01. Well Acquainted 2:55
      02. The Bullshit Century Pt. 1 3:01
      03. Up The Stream 2:44
      04. Modern Music 4:51
      05. Addendum 1:07
      06. Phasing Out 2:06
      07. Getting Loose 3:13
      08. Terror Management 3:21
      09. The Big Car Commercial Payout 3:25
      10. In Heaven 3:12


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