Boston’s Letters to Cleo are ‘Back’ Here, Now, and Forever?

The final A-Sides music session of the year is quite easily one of my favorites. I’ve been a fan of Letters to Cleo before I even heard them. I’d caught their name on a local alt-rock radio station and during one trip to Tower Records one day, I decided to pick up their debut Aurora Gory Alice on cassette without hearing a word. Wow, I just aged myself on two fronts there. Anyway, I wasn’t disappointed. From the very first track on that record – “Big Star” – I was enamored, and became an instant fanboy of the Boston band fronted by Kay Hanley.

A few months later, I felt sort of vindicated (though not really since I had already turned my friends onto that 1993 debut), when their song “Here and Now” broke into alt-radio after their music video was featured at the end of a Melrose Place episode. My fandom continued for the band, which also featured Greg McKenna and Michael Eisenstein on guitar, Scott Riebling on bass, and Stacy Jones on drums, with their 1995 release Wholesale Meats and Fish. I can honestly say that album hasn’t left my car – and I’ve had three since its release – since it came out. Sadly, the band broke up after the release of Go! just over two years later, but they left such a lasting impression on me, their native Beantown, and alt-rock in general.

But, the sting of their breakup was taken out a bit. Its members stayed in the industry and excelled in different areas, notably Hanley, who released two solo albums and an EP and became a force writing songs and performing for Disney, and Jones who went on to create American Hi-Fi. But the overall void was obvious. Thankfully, Letters to Cleo returned this year with a new EP Back to Nebraska, which may or may not have been influenced by the dearly-departed Parks and Recreation. Adam Scott’s character Ben Wyatt often wore a band shirt, and eventually the band reunited to play a festival on the sixth season finale of the show.

In the midst of a brief fall tour, Cleo’s Hanley and Eisenstein were kind enough to sit down for an A-Sides session filmed at the Gibson showroom in New York City (by shootmepeter.com) to perform two new songs (“Hitch a Ride” and the very classic LTC “Four-Leaf Clover”) along with a special request I tossed their way. They also discussed their comeback, Parks and Rec, and what the road ahead looks like. Hopefully, it’s more albums, touring, and all that good stuff. Anyway, watch on and rock on.

About A-Sides with Jon Chattman – thisisasides.com :
Jon Chattman’s music/entertainment series typically features celebrities and artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometime humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, Jon strives for a refreshing change. (Theme song by Blondfire.) Artists featured on the series include Imagine Dragons, Melissa Etheridge, Yoko Ono, Elle King, Joe Perry, Alice Cooper, James Bay, Jimmy Eat World, Charli XCX, Marina and the Diamonds, and Bastille.