Thursday, January 19, 2017

Doing the robot, running into naked people, and Gorrilaz—my day so far.

It’s been an interesting morning.

On the way to work Mich and I broke outing did the robot while at a stop light downtown. Then I looked to my right and saw two deputies in a sheriff’s car laughing at our little dance. That was actually fun—bringing a little unexpected delight into the day.

Then a few minutes later I was coming out of a Starbucks by my office and saw a naked woman walking down the sidewalk towards me. In broad daylight. It was surreal. Before I could ask her if she was OK—I honestly couldn’t tell if this was art or if he was just out of it—other passersby started talking to her and then a squad car pulled up to handle it.

So, it’s been an interesting morning. Some laughs and some confusion. Oh, and a new Gorillaz video.

I’m deeply curious to see how the day continues to develop from here on.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dude York aren't the band we deserve, but they are the band we need.

Dude York, photo by Sam Gehrke
Dude York—the Seattle trio of bassist/singer Claire England, guitarist/singer Peter Richards and drummer Andrew Hall—write RAWK songs. Big guitars, big choruses, big feelings, big cymbal crashes; there is nothing subtle about this band. And I love it.

Their new album Sincerely is out February 24 but I wish it was coming out this week, because now more than ever is when we need music like this. Joyful, loud, timeless, and reminding us that sometimes a band's job is to make a euphoric noice that connects us to the moment and makes us forget about the world around us, if even for only three minutes.

Check out "Tonight" for a taste of what makes this band great. Every time England sings, "holy cow, the air feels so fucking good" it makes the hair on my arms stand on end and I truly believe her. It does feel so fucking good.

The band kicks off a U.S. tour in February and hits Chicago on April 1, playing Cobra Lounge.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nine years ago today I joined Twitter.

And I've only sent out a few tweets that were entirely embarrassing. Or meant to be direct messages. Oops.

One of my favorite Chicago artists resurfaces, just in time for these times.

Photo by Jim Newberry
Bobby Conn doesn't play live all that often any longer, which is truly a shame. I've been a longtime fan of the man, and just noticed he's doing a show at Hideout this weekend, um, spurred by recent political events.

I've written about his music for what seems like ever now, and remember buying his new releases from Quaker Goes Deaf back in the day when you had to hunt down indie records from store to store because you weren't sure who actually got any delivered from time to time. He's never gotten the respect I think he deserves, but maybe that's just in Chicago. I remember seeing him do a SXSW set in the early aughts where he played to a bigger crowd than I had ever seen assembled for one of his hometown shows. So obviously more than just me and a small midwestern cadre are fans.

Anyway, here's an oldie but a goodie from the man; a song that I think balances his talent at manipulating earwigs from past soul / glam / pop / avant sources to deliver a discomfiting message. This is an approach he developed and refined further over the years, but this is one of his earliest successful experiments at lacing a dire warning with a sugary center.

And yes, the song this is based on is obvious, but it's not a ripoff, it's a recasting of the familiar to deliver the disturbing.


Monday, January 16, 2017

Today is one of those twilight days.

It’s cold and rainy and dreary, and it feels like the world is caught in limbo. Due to the holiday many folks are off work, which means downtown Chicago is a relative ghost town. And atop that there seems to be a general sense of unease and dread in the air as this week drives toward a political handoff in a few days that has the majority of the country feeling a growing sense of unease.

I’m trying to remain optimistically pragmatic while not giving into accepting anything is “normal” right now. And I get the feeling that there are many—on all bands of the political spectrum—who feel similarly right now. The best advice I’ve heard thus far is that we can doubt the intentions, and even the skills, of our elected leaders, but that the spirit of the people is a constant that’s gotten us through uncertain times in the past.

Despite our disagreements I want to believe that most people really do want what’s best for everyone around them. And while we may not all be on the same page about what that looks like or how we’ll get there I do believe that in the long run we’ll find a middle ground that truly is in the interest of landing on the right side of history.

Remember that—the majority of people truly want everyone to succeed and be happy. So if we don’t be sidelined by fear, and work towards that goal the best we can, at whatever level available to us, we’ll get there.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tom Hanks has a new career—game show host.

Tom Hanks fills in for Peter Sagal, host of NPR’s “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!”, at a live taping of the program on Thursday, January 12, 2017 at the Chase Auditorium in the Chase Tower in Chicago, photo by Andrew Gill/NPR
I was lucky enough to attend last night's taping of this week's episode of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! with very special guest host Tom Hanks. I know, what?!

Here's some behind the scenes info on what went down and how it came about.

Listen to the episode this week; I am dying to see what from the 2+ house of material makes it into the roughly 50 minute final! show! And of course I am hoping against hope they eventually release a "director's cut" of all the material because there was some great stuff in there I am sure will not make it to air...

UPDATE: And here's the full episode!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

If you see my enemies, tell 'em I wanna be friends again.

The new Rubblebucket EP is out next week, and it's quirky, herky-jerky dance rock is just the tonic I need right now.

There's a weird disconnect when everything is going great in your personal life but you legitimately fear that an armageddon you have no control over may be right around the corner just waiting to crush your happiness with orange fire.

So sometimes you just gotta dance and be in the moment. Honk and skronk horns, take it away!

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Humpday strikes again!

A video posted by @shellster129 on

I will never get tired of this series Mich has started up.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

From poison to medicine.

Photo by Nicole Brody
Blak Emjoi's Intro EP is a promising start. Straddling the line between dark pop and driving R&B, it mixes and swirls it's influences into a brief burst of tunes that has me intrigued for more.

Kelsey Warren is Blak Emoji and "Poison To Medicine" is the standout on his debut; a slow build that somehow transforms dread and tension into joyful release anchored by a darkness at its core that keeps the affair from feeling frothy or cliché.

I don't know—there's a dark theme at the core of this tune that should, by all right, fuel despondence, but instead I hear something hopeful sparking within its darkness. Maybe you'll hear it too.

Monday, January 09, 2017

Wanna be your vampire teenage boyfriend.

I mean obvs The Lost Boys had a huge effect on me as a kid, coming out while I was in high school and mixing vampires with ‘80s cool. I can’t even begin to tell you how badly I wanted one of those hanging earrings Kiefer Sutherland and his tribe of hot bloodsuckers sported throughout the film.* So I wasn’t surprised to see a reference to the flick pop up in one of Black Mirror’s more celebrated new episodes "San Junipero" in the form of a massive billboard advertisement (that, since it was at the very beginning, threw me off the way it was supposed to since at that moment we don’t realize we’re in a different decade yet). And that made sense since writer and show runner Charlie Booker is right around my age.

I was surprised when listening to The Courtneys’ new album, The Courtneys II, and found my foot tapping along to this driving song that was very slowly building and building into what would prove to be a satisfying crescendo. I was enjoying the ride and not really focusing on anything but the vibe when suddenly the lyrics locked into focus and triggered a strong filing of deja vu. A glance at the song title, “Lost Boys,” explained why. I’d been enjoying the album as a whole—and you’ll probably want to grab a copy when it comes out on February 17—but for some reason this connection just tickled me. Especially since I'm pretty sure no one in the band was old enough to remember (if they were even alive) when The Lost Boys first came out.** Which I think is kinda cool, for some reason.

The album as a whole is built on winning riffs delivered in a knowing, slightly lo-fi envelope. It really reminds me of what Tuscadero sounded like the period between their super early indie single and their more polished and heavier Major Label stuff. This is a perfect bullseye in that style.

And hey, what do you know, they just happen to have a video for “Lost Boys!”

*I am certain this was probably one of the tings that led to me being the first guy in his high school to get his ear pierced. It should be noted that my own piercing was not met with awe spurred by sudden cool cache but instead prompted push-linty of bullying and teasing by teenage dudes who couldn’t fathom why another teenage dude would pierce his ear. Ah, the ‘80s.

**On July 31 of this year it will be the 30th anniversary of the release of The Lost Boys. What?!

Sunday, January 08, 2017

What a lovely surprise.

David Bowie's birthday is today, and despite making his final exit last year it appears we can still expect the unexpected to poke out from behind that final curtain. The No Plan EP, with three songs previously only available on the Lazarus soundtrack, just magically appeared.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Four years ago...

You know, it still sometimes feels like she's still here. Maybe just at doggy daycare to give the cats some peace. Or maybe just sleeping under the bed and I can't find her. Or maybe, just maybe, eating some cheese she's hidden in the couch. I still miss my little beagle.

Anyway, the photo above is a trip in the wayback machine to when Mich and Betty were still getting acquainted. It makes me smile.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

Was thumbing through my INAUGURATION 2009 Gmail folder today.

We were so excited and couldn't believe our luck. Mich and I had only been dating a while and decided to take this road trip together. We ran into the Hideout bus full of friends and musicians on the way. We waited quite a while for our tickets but the Congressman's office was pretty and his staff was really nice. We almost thought we weren't going to get into the Inauguration because the lines were backed up so far and the entrances were all clogged, but my years of attending rock shows and festivals came in handy we navigating around people and getting us in. Obama was a tiny little speck in the distance and we definitely couldn't see Marcus but we could definitely see Aretha's hat and it was awesome. And we were all so happy and hopeful and even when it took hours upon hours to get home amidst the crowd choked streets—my fest navigational superpowers were helpless in the face of that much people congestion—and all the public transportation was hours behind and everyone was hungry because no place was open the vibe was still amazing and magical and, yes, filled  with an all caps feeling of HOPE.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Happy humpday!

A video posted by @shellster129 on

Mich and her sister have a long history of making camel jokes on Wednesdays—I can't even remember what initially spurred this—and this Christmas her sister took it to the next level by sending Mich a stuffed camel.

And now Mich has taken it to the next next level.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Ready for the next phase? Hell, yes!

New Day by Christopher.F Photography
I was laid off from my 9-to-5 a month ago, and instead of taking the holidays off (like a sane person would) I actually started my job search right away. I figured nothing would come of it but I may as well get my name out there and hope to land a few interviews after the holidays.

Well, instead I ended up with a flurry of interviews almost right away, and a great job offer before the holidays. The only downside of this is that the week between the offer and starting work I got deathly ill so couldn't even enjoy that sliver of time off where I no longer had to worry about anything!

Anyway, today I start the new 9-to-5 and I am really excited. It's filled with opportunity and the people I've met are smart, funny and very fast-paced; all qualities that spark with me, for sure!

So yeah, I'm stoked. Happy new year indeed!

Monday, January 02, 2017

Every day should be a holiday.

From here on out I decree that both new year's day and the day after new year's day should be holidays!

Friday, December 30, 2016

Was 2016 the worst? In many ways, yes. But...

More moments like this in 2017, please.
I won't even attempt to touch on the litany of tragic events that made 2016 such a difficult year publicly. And I certainly don't feel like going into the darker personal corners of the last twelve months. But I will admit that despite much of the misery there was also lots of personal growth and new opportunities that are setting me up for a brighter future in the longterm, even if the short-term will carry plenty of their own struggles.

So with that in mind, I think 2017 is where, collectively, we need to pull ourselves out of the fetal position and approach life with a new hope, a dedication to being actively involved in local communities in positive ways, and an acceptance that we can only truly have responsibility over our own actions, so only worry about what you can do personally.

Of course I won't judge you harshly at all if you want to cast one final "good riddance!" to 2016. Have at it, and then forge ahead!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Get energized.

I think we could al use a blast of positivity, so let's all fall back into the sheer glee of this golden oldie. I hope you find the vibe infectious and it brightens up your day, if even for only a few minutes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking for a ray of light or two, please.

2016 really seems to be refusing to go out with a flurry of body blows and bad news.

All the more reason to look at ensuring 2017 is filled with new hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What a way to spend a final week off!

Mich was struck down by some sort of death virus last week, and now it seems it is my turn to suffer. Ah well, you take the good with the bad—at least I have a valid excuse to just sit on the couch and binge watch TV, right?