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In 1976, Sneakers (with guitarists Mitch Easter, Rob Slater, & Chris Stamey, drummer Will Rigby, and bassist Robert Keely) released an influential 6-song EP, engineered by Don Dixon. The duo of Easter and Stamey followed this with the albums In the Red and Racket. Stamey and Rigby would go on to form The dB’s and Easter would reappear in Let’s Active—but the Sneakers EP remains vital not only to independent record history, but also to guitar-pop music in general. This summer, for selected dates, Easter, Stamey, and Rigby will be joined by Gene Holder (also from the dB’s) on electric bass.

“[The Sneakers reissues] revive the nervy, independent feel of the birth of power pop. . . . the group’s homemade replicas of ringing ’60s guitar pop hinted toward punk, new wave, jangle pop, and ultimately indie rock, but lacked all of the stylized self-absorption that followed as well. Like Big Star before them, the Sneakers were pop obsessives recording in a blissful vacuum, obsessed with the past but not living with it, so their recordings have a twitchy vitality that remains bracing and fresh years later. Sneakers may belong to a cult, but it’s an important one, acting as the bridge between Big Star and R.E.M., pointing the way to such latter-day popsters as Guided by Voices and the Elephant 6 collective, too. Nevertheless, the
best way to think of the Sneakers is not in terms of history, but rather as a band that produced some brilliant power pop during its brief existence, pure pop that remains purely pleasurable all these years later and has never been better heard than it is here.”—Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

“Rejecting the bombast and indulgences that had marked so much music of the 1970s, the North Carolina band celebrated a mid-decade return to songs that were short, clever, and catchy. Led by Chris Stamey, who subsequently shared singer-songwriter roles with Mitch Easter, the band channeled the ’60s influence of the Beatles and Byrds, but was even more inspired by Big Star, an early ’70s Southern cult favorite steeped in Anglophilia. Stamey would soon enjoy a higher profile in the dB’s and Easter in Let’s Active, while both have continued to put their production stamp on plenty of music by other artists. From power pop to lo-fi indie rock, Sneakers showed the way.”—Don McLeese