If it weren’t for social media, I’m not sure I would have ever learned of the death of Mick Lynch, the lead singer of the band Stump. A friend of mine, who himself spent time in a band that was fairly attention-getting, posted about it yesterday morning, sharing videos and and an acknowledgment of artistic influence. Stump was fairly obscure, so there was no trending Twitter hashtag nor any obituary offered prominently by any major music news source (Pitchfork, however, did find digital space to write up the admittedly satisfying arrest of a rich pharmaceutical scumbag on the tenuous connection that his obscene wealth made him a particularly conspicuous rap music fan). The true believer fans knew because they were one of the five-hundred-and-fifty or so who clicked the “Like” button on the Stump Facebook page. My friend was one of those true believers. I’m grateful I found out through him.
I’ve written about Stump previously. They were one of those bands that I discovered early in my college radio tenure and basically represented all the wild possibility of this scruffy realm where I found myself. There music was terrifically, rapturously weird. And yet it was also grounded in some devilishly good songcraft. The core of smart pop construction was there, just taken through a pummeling transformation that drew from the art rock abstractions of Talking Heads or Devo and the brash fearlessness of punk. It was as if they followed a muse that flew a slightly drunken path, but they were clear-eyed and ferocious. They released one full-length album, 1988’s A Fierce Pancake. I played it often on the radio, usually sandwiching it between a couple of far more conventional, safer songs, not to protect the precious sensibilities of the listenership (although I was plying my broadcast trade in a Central Wisconsin small town, so the boat could only rock so much) but because their jagged, jumping songs sounded great within that sort of mix: strikingly different and yet a totally comfortable fit.
That something strikingly different could fit in without sabotaging its individuality spoke to me when I was transitioning to college, for obvious reasons. Stump didn’t cultivate strangeness, but they didn’t flee from it either. Being offbeat didn’t automatically mean being an outcast. Their music had meaning and resonance for me, in large part because of the way it revealed that truth.
Listen or download –> Stump, “Living It Down”
(Disclaimer: I believe that the music of Stump is out of print, maybe totally but certainly as a physical object that can be purchased from your favorite local, independently-owned record store in a manner that compensates both the proprietor of said shop and the original artist. It is shared here with no malice and with the understanding that doing so will impede no fair commerce. Even so, I will gladly remove this track from my little corner of the digital world if asked to do so by any individual or entity with due authority to make such a request.)