Minus 5/Young Fresh Fellows frontman Scott McCaughey has been blurring the distinction between his two bands for a while, to the point where many of the songs on either group’s LPs would be appropriate for the other. Both return this week with new efforts: the Minus 5’s Killingsworth and the Fellows’ I Think This Is. The tunes are more divergent, with Killingsworth featuring a heavy alt-country vibe and I Think This Is being a typically funny garage-pop workout. When he’s not fronting his own combos, McCaughey is a sideman for R.E.M. and Robyn Hitchcock, the latter of whom produced I Think This Is. McCaughey is guest-editing magnetmagazine.com this week. Read our Q&A with him.
McCaughey: It’s been almost 15 years since my dear songwriting pal Jimmy Silva died, rather suddenly and freakishly from a run-in with chicken pox. I’ve continued to listen to and perform his songs, and not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. He was the guy who first made me believe that I could write songs (but don’t hold that against him). I think his albums Remnants Of The Empty Set, Fly Like A Dog, Heidi and Near The End Of The Harvest contain an absolute treasure trove of power-pop and folk-rock classics. But Jimmy was always under the radar—not a particularly ambitious guy, I suppose, though he was serious about the craft of songwriting and worked extremely hard at it. He did have a brush with success, when buddies the Smithereens recorded his “Hand Of Glory” for their surprise-hit debut long-player. But mostly his name and work remain known to only a relative handful of music lovers. A tribute album (Through A Faraway Window, executive produced by MAGNET’s Jud Cost) is shaping up to be released in November, with contributions from friends and admirers like John Wesley Harding, the Posies, Sal Valentino (Beau Brummels) and, of course, the Young Fresh Fellows. Hopefully this will bring the songs of Jimmy Silva to a few more ears.