Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Sloan! Hardcore! HARDCORE!

Sloan just released a limited edition 7" single as part of a "hardcore" package. The a-side is terrific, but the b-side is even better. Love the energy!

If you want to grab the vinyl you still can, and it comes with a digital album of hardcore covers* by the band as well as a cool t-shirt. Make sure you buy the shirt a size or two smaller than you usually would for genuine punk rock effect.

*You can also just get the digital version of these tunes for cheaper, if they're sold out of the bundle or your pocketbook is tight.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Is it me or are SO MANY bands just letting us down this year?

Free Energy at Lincoln Hall, April 26, 2013. 
So I wrote that headline a week or so ago and it still stands. But only insomuch as we're talking about bands we expected good things from only to be shafted. I've already written about my disappointment with recent releases from Phoenix, Fall Out Boy and Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The new Strokes is nothing to write home about. Guided By Voices continues their trend of releasing albums with a good song or two  and then forty minutes or so of subpar filler. Heck, even Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience, an album I was pretty down with upon first listen, isn't holding up under repeat spins.

But I am not despondent! This is the year where I'm finding myself surprised more and more often and remembering what it's like to discover new music you can truly fall for. I'd never heard of The Blank Tapes but they're new one is burrowing under my skin, and Dead Stars is a band with only two EPs under its belt but if you miss indie rock in its loud and sloppy yet undeniably tuneful days, they are scratching that itch quite nicely. All I really knew about Mikal Cronin was that he was associated with Ty Segall, but goddamn if I don't like his album MCII better than anything I've heard from Ty.

And then there are some old favorites who I'd fallen out of love with only to fall for them all over with recent releases. I'm talking about Suede, Wavves, Tegan And Sara andwhat?!Spacehog! And then there are bands I thought were good but maybe losing their touch, like Surfer Blood and The Thermals, who returned this year with some great material.

And let's not even get into Free Energy and Warm Soda, my power pop, good time, hell yeah it feels good to be alive saviors.

And I'm only scratching the surface.

I think what I'm realizing ist that the heavies we thought we could rely on have lost their way big time, and this is O.K. You see, after a number of years where I honestly felt a resounding "meh" at the end of each year when it came time to "top XX album" anything, I think 2013 might be the year I finally don't say "meh" in late December and instead holler, "YEAH!"

Friday, April 26, 2013

Freeeeeee Energy!

I've been trying to figure out just what it is that makes me go so ga-ga over Free Energy, and I think it's the purity of their music. It's super catchy and super life affirming but at the root it's coming from a very real place. It's honest. It's not putting on airs. It's not trying to impress; this music only wants to make you feel, in the best possible way. They're playing Lincoln Hall tonight, and you can bet I'll be there. The funny thing is, for them being one of my favorite bands right now, it's been quite a while since I saw them last even through they've been through town a bunch of times! Wild. Anyway, they just popped out a new b-side (though I have no idea what it's a b-side to since there doesn't seem to be a new single anywhere!) and as usual it's great. Listen.

Can't wait for tonight.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


So, for reasons I won't go into right now, lately I've ben feeling etra on. On top of things. Able to clearly see pattens I think others are missing. Problem solver, that's me.


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Watch a whole buncha critics do a whole buncha talkin'!

I shared the tweets connected to last evening's critics' panel already, but now you can watch the whole thing! Oh, the excitement!

Video streaming by Ustream

Seriously though, it was a really good discussion and I recommend you watch (well, listen at least) to the whole thing.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

How did tonight's critics' panel go? Here's the story in tweets!

We don't need no stinking critics!

I'm appearing on a panel tonight discussing criticism in the digital milieu of today. That shounds fancy, but ultimately it'll hopefully just be a really good discussion  between some local cultural critics and an engaged audience. That's what I'm hoping for. It takes place at Maybe Stage tonight and kicks off at 7 p.m. sharp, so don't be late!

Jim DeRogatis is moderating the panel, and the attendees include Andrew Barber (editor of the hip-hop blog Fake Shore Drive), Donna Seaman (who writes about books for Booklist and other outlets), LaShawn Williams (the arts editor at Gapers Block), Leah Pickett (who writes about pop culture for the WBEZ blogs), Kris Vire (one helluva great theater critic),Duncan MacKenzie (co-founded and contributes to the Bad at Sports art blog), Drew Hunt (who reviews movies for the Chicago Reader), a special guest who will appear incognito (as many food critics must) ... and me.

Hope to see you there!

Don't lose your head.

Or, keep your head about you. Or, maintain a good head on your shoulders. Or ... geez, just watch the new Dandy Warhols video.

Monday, April 22, 2013

It's cool to be UNCOOL.

I'm all about supporting experimental models of selling good writing. I admit I'm a luck sonofabitch, because I've been writing for so long I've got a nice little niche I'm happy with, and since I also work a 9-to-5 I'm free to not fall prey to fighting for freelance dollars on site that survive on listacles* and stories that unfold over 25 piece photo galleries designed to up pageviews.** So when Maura Johnston got fired from The Village Voice and decided to stop chasing pageviews and start her own subscription magazine dedicated to writing slightly longer-form pieces I threw my money in the pot and subscribed for a year. And when David Greenwald lost his fulltime gig and decided that in order to (I presume) keep his sanity amongst all the chasing of freelance gigs he put together a Kickstarter to try and fund a magazine with a couple other folks that would build even further on the idea of longform music writing,  UNCOOL, I threw my money in that pot too.

UNCOOL didn't meet it's goal, the main purpose of the fundraiser being that they could fund freelancers and pay for a years worth of writing up front, but instead of just fading away and giving up Greenwald and friends have decided to produce a single issue anyway and see if it sells. If it does they'll make more. Simple! So of course I immediately bought an issue. It looks good and it's only $3.99 so I'm willing to buy into the experiment. If it sucks I won't buy the next one, but judging by the table of contents the writers onboard, and the brie scan I've been able to give my own downloaded issue, I don't think that it's gonna suck.

Do you feel like reading some probably better than decent music and culture writing? Then listen to David's sales spiel below and hit the "buy" button. And then once you download it, if you dig it, feel free to share with friends.

Let's keep quality music writing alive, folks. It's cool to be UNCOOL.

* I fucking HATE that word.
** Which is just for the benefit of advertisers. Though I've been saying for, well pretty much since everyone started to obsess over pageviews, that uniques are what count first, and time spent on the site comes closely behind. That is, if you're really looking for who is engaging with what you're doing.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Let's all dress like the '70s and slay some riffs, dudes!

When asked to induct Rush into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, what else would you expect Dave Grohl to do other than dress the Foo Fighters in vintage Rush clothing and absolutely slaughter "2112 Overture."

Screw the "best week ever," Grohl continues to have the "BEST LIFE EVER."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

A simple observation.

When you take booze out of your consideration set your belly shrinks while your wallet gets fatter.


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Feel The Terror!

Photo by Jim Kopeny / Tankboy
I reviewed the latest from the Flaming Lips, The Terror, on Chicagoist. The album seems to be splitting opinions so take a gander and let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Be a good person.

Events over the last days have shown me the importance of being a good person. You never know what's going to happen. And once bad things happen you may never have the chance to be a good person again.

Monday, April 15, 2013


Anything I write about today's events would just be pitiful at this point since there's still just too much unknown, but my very first thoughts went to a longtime blogging friend based in Boston and how if I was worried about her, someone I've never met, how absolutely and unbelievably wrenching this must be for residents and visitors to Boston and their friends and family right now.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

This sounds nothing like what I usually wake up to!

GalPal says her favorite part is removing the earplugs she needs to wear to sleep and hear this rushing in instead of the usual city noise.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Ahhhhhhh. What the heck is that?

I'll tell you what it is ... it's mountains we flew over to get to the paradise we're vacationing at right now!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Monday, April 08, 2013

Six seconds of cute.

Hey, are you on Vine? I am! I have been for a while. If you feel like it you can follow me under tankboy.

And in return you get such cuteness as this.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Always walk with purpose.

Emma, CO, April 30, 2013. Photo by Ryan Farber. Click here to embiggen.


Thursday, April 04, 2013

When I met Roger Ebert.

My dad was in the army with Gene Siskel, so they knew each other, somewhat. My connection was with Roger Ebert. I knew him as the dour other half whose thumb pointed downward more often than upward when it came to movies I liked as a kid. But our tastes converged when it came to Pink Floyd's The Wall. So it's weird that this week sees both the first time I've ever watched The Wall on a big screen and the passing of Ebert, just a little while ago.

I was a Pink Floyd NUT near the final years of high school, so when I learned Alan parker, director of The Wall, was coming to town I immediately secured tickets to see him speak. The evening's interviewer / moderator was Ebert. And it was during that session I discovered Ebert was incredibly intelligent and asked questions I would have never thought of in order to secure answers I appreciated even more. Afterward I got Parker to sign a book of mine about Pink Floyd, in the chapter about The Wall. But then I walked over to Ebert to tell him what a good job he did, a compliment he took graciously. That was over twenty years ago and despite my time in the Chicago media scene our paths never crossed again. I never really regretted that until just now, figuring it was just a matter of time until I saw him again.

Goodbye, Roger.

RELATED: This latest turn in his health, when it was announced a few days ago, reminded me of the Thumbs Up Roger project Chicagoist did years ago during his initial health problems. It was always reassuring to see just how many people were pulling for him.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Late night.

Is anyone sad to see Jay Leno go?

Nope, didn't think so.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Foot stompin', stoner rockin' ... it's PRINCE!

It looks like you can't buy this anywhere yet, but feel free to bang your head to Prince's 2013 reworking of his own classic, "Let's Go Crazy."

Monday, April 01, 2013

I'm back!

I'm back in town. My weeks of being on the road have drawn to an end. It's funny that while I'm still neck deep in the project I've been traveling with, I also need to immediately familiarize myself with the status of all the other work that's been chugging along in my absence. It's daunting, but it's nice to have the change of pace and shift my focus.

I've gotten used to all this moving around for the 9-to-5,and I wouldn't argue were I offered more. But it is swell to be home, for however long it ends up being.