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Chris Stamey & The ModRec Orchestra | New Songs For The 20th Century

The power-pop master takes a detour down Tin Pan Alley on his jazzy double album.

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WHO IS HE? The power-pop veteran, indie-rock icon and former member of beloved band The dB’s whose resume also includes stints playing with Alex Chilton and Mitch Easter, plus time behind the boards producing the likes of Whiskeytown and Alejandro Escovedo.

WHAT IS THIS? An unexpected and decidedly off-brand foray into Tin Pan Alley and The Great American Songbook, inspired by the acquisition of an old piano with a bench full of sheet music, including songs by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Henry Mancini, Richard Rodgers, George and Ira Gershwin and others.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The real deal. Composed, arranged and orchestrated over the course of three years, these lovingly authentic tunes are a sincerely rendered, superbly executed and richly rewarding tribute to a bygone musical era. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Stamey has enlisted a stellar lineup of musicians and vocalists that includes everyone from jazz greats like Branford Marsalis and Bill Frisell to contemporaries like Nels Cline, Marshall Crenshaw, Don Dixon and Caitlin Cary.

WHAT WOULD BE A BETTER TITLE FOR THIS ALBUM? They Don’t Write ’Em Like That Anymore — But I Do.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? While wearing a suit, smoking a Pall Mall and drinking an Old-Fashioned.

WHAT 10 WORDS DESCRIBE IT? Sophisticated, nostalgic, swellegant, cosmopolitan, torchy, subtle, supple, sincere, mellow, romantic.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? There are a ton of keepers in the lineup, but you can’t go wrong with the Big Apple ode Manhattan Melody (That’s My New York), the cool ballad Occasional Shivers, the gently swinging On the Street Where We Used to Live and There’s Not a Cloud in the Sky, the wild-sax finger-popper Beneath the Underdog and the indulgent waltz In-tox-i-cho-cli-fi-ca-tion.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY SAY? ‘Are you sure this was recorded this century?’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO THIS? The jazzy stuff will keep you coming back for more. Unfortunately, some of the poppier, up-to-date material pales slightly — and feels a little out of place — by comparison.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE A NIGHTSPOT, WHAT KIND OF NIGHTSPOT WOULD IT BE? A supper club with a revolving bar in a Midtown hotel.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL? All this sophistication doesn’t come cheap.