Monday, November 12, 2018

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Greta On Fleek.

I've had a hard time squaring this in my head. Great Van Fleet was one of the best bands I saw at Lollapalooza this year, yet their debut album is leaving me cold.

I mean, I knew they were mining the Led Zepp fields from the first not of their set, but they were such a magnetic presence I was willing to just sink myself into the music. So I can't figure out why that energy didn't translate to Anthem For The Peaceful Army. What happened?

Take my word for it, I'm cool with bands mining their influences—the new Struts album is amazing—but this disc is just so, meh. None of the energy the band brings to the stage is evident. Which sucks. Perhaps it's just the result of too many cooks in the kitchen sucking the life out of the band's spontaneity?

All that said though, this thing will sell like mad. And if you have a chance to see them live you totally should!

Post-script: Title of this post totally taken from me calling the band the wrong name backstage. Whoops!

Monday, October 29, 2018


I've been "digital" since the early '90s, but being blocked by someone is definitely a more recent occurrence. My ex finally unblocked me from most of her profiles, and I'm grateful. I've regained a decade's worth of stuff that we shared. And I've learned to not talk about them. I know my ethos on this site, since 2001, has been to be honest. But I'm learning that there are some things you don't have the right to know.

I've been actively dating since the start of this year, and the early part of that was probably me moving too quick, but I haven't written about the people I've dated. And I'm not gonna do so.

So I'm crafting my own narrative now, and keeping it central to me. I thought I owed my readers full transparency, but as time as has gone on I realize you're looking in through a porthole and have probably seen too much.

Does this make me an unreliable narrator?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Triple Fast Action's final show!

It's no secret Triple Fast Action is probably my favorite Chicago bands that came out of the '90s signing frenzy that swept through town. A few years ago their drummer Brian sent me a DVD of their classic final show at Metro. The band tore through pretty much every song they ever wrote, and it ended up with every guitarist that had ever toured with them. I'm not gonna drop names, but stick around until the end of this video and your mind will be blown. I remember going to this gig with Photogal, and by the end of the evening both of us could barely stand.

I've seen few truly epic sets, despite the bajillion shows I've been to, but this was one of them.

Dig it.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

HotLips Messiah go big on their new album, ‘Disco Miscarriage.

HotLips Messiah is a Chicago quartet well known for their raucous live sets, led by their mesmerizing singer Traci Trouble. In a band where every member is careening around the stage, Trouble's charisma and searing energy help keep things as grounded as they can be. Which is to say bordering on the edge of chaos.

 The band has been hard at work over the last few years on their new album Disco Miscarriage, a sprawling double-album of 46 songs featuring a virtual who's who of the Chicago rock scene, including guest appearances from (and this is just a sampling) members of Naked Raygun, The Bollweevils, The Gravetones, and Destroy Everything.

While their stage shows are always one step away from complete and delicious implosion, the band's songwriting has grown ever tighter over the years, so expect this new opus from them to be something that will be something you cn dig into and unpeel listen after listen.

The band celebrates the album release at Cigars & Stripes tonight, October 25. The show begins at 7 p.m. as part of the venues's 9th Annual Freaktoberfest, and according to the press release, features "a beer tasting of 13, Big Ass, sought after beers including Founders KBS and other dark, gruesome beers." The tasting begins at 5 p.m.

 Chicago's The Hamburglars will open the show, and if you haven't seen their memorable take on just what a live band should look like, you definitely want to get their early for them. Fire dancer Kimchee Clownstar will also be performing throughout the night.

 Holy mackerel.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Big changes.

I'm moving in 2 days and have a ton of concerts this week so life has been a little hectic. But I'm also pretty excited to close this chapter of my life and move forward. And I had an encounter this weekend that I don't want to go into but it was incredibly positive and cathartic.

I'm feeling good about things in general. 2018 has been a rough year, but the horizon is brightening.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Feeling decadent.

I move next week. It's only across the street so that's lots of less stress. But I'm treating myself (mainly because the move is, well, so short) and having the movers pack my stuff. I mean, there are certain things I'm gonna pack myself (teddy bears, expensive artwork, erm, personal items) but holy heck, I love the idea of a bunch of folks just tearing through my house and packing everything in three hours.

Less than a week an counting.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

I've never gone this long without writing (here).


House is sold.

I'm moving.

Across the street. (I am not a fan of change.)

Mich and I speak sparingly, but at least we speak.

I'm still figuring this out, but I feel less lost.

Once I land a new gig, I have a feel everything will right itself. But I've managed the worst of it.

I hope she has too.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

TFW your first meeting with your ex-wife is captured in print.

It had been online forever, but it was a slight shock to see me and Mich's first meeting make the jump from digital to paper. Especially jarring considering our divorce just became final a few months ago. At the same time it's extremely flattering (though I don't come off as well) to see that moment ambered in time. When I saw it I texted Mich—we now communicate, but still rarely—and both of us were a bit taken aback, I think. But I'm glad it's there. My marriage was a failure, but my relationship with her was not.

And for the record, Jess got it right; no one got in Mich's pants that night. But she did still stay over at my place afterwards, and it was the beginning of one of the best things to ever happen to me.

Last night my new girlfriend read the piece, and she laughed. There are funny bits in there! It felt pretty neat to be able to share something like this with her, and have her response be a positive one. Divorce itself sucks, but this piece reminded me of the beginning, and all the good things therein.

Also, while the names have been changed in this piece, I did totally get Mich's name wrong when introducing her to Jess.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monday, September 17, 2018

Still gathering my thoughts on Riot Fest.

One thing I've been enjoying about writing for different media outlets has been the return to me following my muse instead of just filing something as quickly as possible. So instead of rushing to type up a few quick notes about a couple various bands, I have the luxury of actually sitting on my thoughts for a day or two in order to write something more (I would hope) thoughtful and substantial. I think people care more about the festival experience as a whole, and less about a bunch of quick thoughts on this or that band's setlist. Given the response to my Lollapalooza write-up, I think this thinking is probably right. Is that gonna change how other media outlets sprint to get words up ASAP for fear they'll miss eyeballs? Probably not. But I do think it's the right approach, and I think as time goes on it'll gain more traction. In other words, we'll move back towards the days rock writing was actually writing. That makes me happy.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Solid contender for one of the best albums of 2018? Fer sure.

Photo by John Londono
The new Fucked Up has been on constant repeat for me. They really expand their sound waaaaaay further than the shouty punk you probably know them for with this one. It's long. It's ambitious. And I haven't tired of it yet.

I can't think of anything more punk rock than fearlessly messing with your recognized sound to achieve your artistic ambitions.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Go! Summer ain't over yet.

I wrote about these folks a while ago and posted this tune's audio, but didn't even realize there was a video for it. To celebrate my return to regular writing in this space* (and in advance of me listening to their forthcoming new album, which I just downloaded) here's is Valley Lodge's "Go." And yes, you'll totally recognize the song and not realize how amazing it is after the first super familiar intro.

* It's been a rough summer. But I'm starting to feel optimistic about the future. I mean, I have to. And part of that is returning to regular writing again. I'm actually slightly embarrassed that after 15+ years of posting every weekday I stumbled, but again, it's bee a heckuva year. I think y'all needed a break from me as much as I needed a break from writing.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Radio silence.

Yeah. The first time I haven’t written daily since 2002. Sue me. It’s been a rough year. Heck, I haven’t even been writing concert reviews. (Which is funny, because I’ve spoken them to folks and they’re like, “That’s totally complete! Just type it out!”)


So after 16 years I dropped the ball for a few days. But I’m back. So, stay tuned.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Thursday, August 09, 2018

Digging deep into the rawk with The Dirty Nil.

The Dirty Nil are an Ontario-based trio that realize the fundamentals of a good rock song is melding massive hooks with even more massive guitars. I know, sounds simple, huh? But believe me, it ain't.  I've been listening to their upcoming Master Volume, and it's the kind of album you put on first thing in the morning to rev up for the day, or last thing at night because there's no reason to stop the party.

They just released a video (above) for "Bathed In Light," Master Volume's opener, and it gives you a good idea of where the band is headed. Trust me, the rest of the album is just as good.

Oh heck, here's another taste of what to expect.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

My thoughts on Lollapalooza 2018 are now up!

Head on over to Third Coast Review for my recap of this year's Lollapalooza. After years of rushing to do daily recaps it was nice to take some time and try to write something a little more comprehensive about the fest as a whole instead of just running through notes on a million bands. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Post-fest funk.

Something no one ever seems to write about is the series of blahs in the days that follow attending a large festival. This is especially true of a festival that stretches across, oh say, five days for me. It's not a depression, per se. It's more that your body and brain have been running on overstimulated overdrive for more days in a row than it's used to, so there's an inevitable recovery period.

For me that recovery usually takes a day. Historically I take the Monday off any festival off to recharge. But I must be getting older because now it's day two and I'm still run down. Maybe it's just because I'm still in-between jobs, and in the past I sort of willed myself to recharge a little faster? I don't know. But it sure is making me feel old to see Pickle the Kitten being more active throught the day than I am!

Monday, August 06, 2018

I survived another Lollapalooza.

I have a full review coming later this week—I was covering solo so need a little more time to write—but I'm still alive. Luckily my legs don't ache as much as usual, but I'm still exhausted. I'm heading to the shower now in the hopes of washing (most) of Grant Park off me and feeling slightly more human again.

Friday, August 03, 2018


I've been to every Lollapalooza since its inception, save two. This will be the first time in ten years I'm going without my longterm Lollapalooza companion, and the first time ever I'm going solo. I'm two days in and it's already a bit of a different experience. I'm trying to enjoy the newness, but it's still a little weird.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

Interesting Lolla stats.

Aerial shot of Lollapalooza 2016 courtesy of Soaring Badger Productions
According to Vivid Seats...

  • Average Ticket Price: $423 
  • “Get-In” 4 Day Pass: $564 
  • “Get-In” Day 1 Ticket Price: $245 (Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Khalid) 
  • “Get-In” Day 2 Ticket Price: $225 (Bruno Mars, The National, Post Malone) 
  • “Get-In” Day 3 Ticket Price: $202 (The Weeknd, Vampire Weekend, Logic) 
  • “Get-In” Day 4 Ticket Price: $161 (Jack White, Odesza, Lil Uzi Vert) 
  • Average Distance Traveled: 444 mi 
  • Price Change Since 2017: +3%

Sooooo, it appears Arctic Monkeys > JackWhite. Hmmmm....

Also, my cheat sheet to surviving Lolla from last year still applies.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018


Who's going?

Here are my must-see bands that aren't headliners. Understand this is with the caveat that the undercard is mostly unknown to me so I'll still be wandering around taking in new music and hoping someone knock me out.
Thu 08/02/18 2:45 PM - Stars, Grant Park
Thu 08/02/18 4:45 PM - Franz Ferdinand, Grant Park
Thu 08/02/18 6:45 PM - CHVRCHES, Grant Park
Fri 08/03/18 1:50 PM - Post Animal, American Eagle
Fri 08/03/18 2:30 PM - Taylor Bennett, Perry's
Fri 08/03/18 3:45 PM - LIZZO, Tito's Handmade Vodka
Fri 08/03/18 7:30 PM - BØRNS, Lake Shore
Sat 08/04/18 4:45 PM - LL COOL J, Bud Light
Sat 08/04/18 5:30 PM - Carly Rae Jepsen, Lake Shore
Sat 08/04/18 5:40 PM - morgxn, BMI
Sat 08/04/18 6:45 PM - St. Vincent, Bud Light
Sun 08/05/18 12:45 PM - The Regrettes, Grant Park
Sun 08/05/18 4:30 PM - The Aces, BMI
Sun 08/05/18 5:30 PM - Manchester Orchestra, Lake Shore
Sun 08/05/18 7:30 PM - Chromeo, Lake Shore

Thu 08/02/18 3:45 PM - The Wombats, Lake Shore

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

'Preacher' v. Anne Rice.

Yet another in a series of brief posts because I think I'm suffering from general writing fatigue yet still have Lollapalooza staring me in the face for most of the remainder of the week. Still trying to figure out my mode of coverage, but I think I'm going back to my old school timestamp stylee because, after a few years of being told I couldn't, I now can again. Yippee!

Anyway, this week's Preacher features a secondary story that absolutely lampoons the Anne Rice style of vampire lore, and it's a gut-buster. I grew up on Anne Rice (I worked in a bookstore when the Interview With A Vampire / Lestat craze was first peaking and admit I completely fell for the series for a while) but holy hell is this some funny stuff.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Another (mostly) non-digital Monday.

Today I spent most of my time not texting people and watching fair to middling Netflix fare. I admit at this point the experiment is starting to fill me with a slight sense of dread because I avoided most of my email over the weekend already and I am not looking forward to plugging back in and catching up tomorrow.

So the question is: Is unplugging worth it if it's only going to make you feel a little anxious about plugging in again?

Now I have to escape the house for another showing! Bye!

Friday, July 27, 2018

The Phonographs.

I did a short piece on an excellent Chicago power-pop band called The Phonographs today. Check it out!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Frunching it up.

If you're looking for something to do tonight, I'm venturing to the South Side to see the July edition of The Frunchroom. It should be fun!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Lolla deluge.

Sorry for the short posts, there's just not a ton to to write about lately. However the press trigger on Lollapalooza-related emails seems to have been pulled, so my inbox is even more a battle to keep up with than usual!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Summer lull.

The job market seems to have slowed down, and while I've only been out of work for 2 months that's the longest I've been unemployed in a really long time! Cross your fingers for me, because I'm starting to run out of Netflix and Hulu shows to watch!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Spoon, the band, in the '90s.

Spoon at The Metro in 2014, photo by me.
I know I said I'd stay away from digital stuff on Mondays, but a short daily post won't hurt. And I just realized I totally forgot to share the recent episode of Dig Me Out I appeared one where we discussed Spoon's 1990s output!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Just realized something weird.

This year will be my first major music festival as a single guy. I'm not counting Lollapalooza in the '90s. But still, it's weird.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Hiding down the corner.

One weird thing about showing your house to potential buyers is not being in your house when the showing is going on. I've been spending a lot of time at the restaurant at the end of my block or just taking long walks around the neighborhood lately!

I've found the walks, especially during the day, are great for clearing my head. So while there is the inconvenience of constantly having to leave my house there is as least that upside.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

P4K 2018 preview!

I contributed to the Third Coast Review Pitchfork Festival preview. While I'm mostly not attending as a writer this year, I just couldn't resist supplying some content!

Monday, July 16, 2018

Unplugged Mondays.

Trying a new thing where I try to stay offline and away from my mobile phone on Mondays. So, this is pretty much the extent of my "content" today. Hee.

Friday, July 13, 2018

When you live alone you spend a lot of time talking to your cat.

Of course I had to become single around the same time as that New Yorker short story. Only I actually have a cat! And am not nearly that awkward.

I'm getting used to dating again. After an initial foray, and then some time off, I dipped my toes back into those waters. I made the conscious decision to not write about particular folks I date, but an overall view seems O.K. And the results are good. Some dates last a bit and end with a hug or handshake, and others go for hours or days. Both are fine with me.

I'm also learning how awful many dudes are on dating sites / apps. Women share their exchanges with me (and some truly horrifying photos) and I begin to realize that for all the dumbass moves I've made in the past, I'm actually a pretty reasonably decent guy! I can't tell if other guys approach dating as a sport or from some center of desperation but hoo boy, it ain't good.

I do miss being in a relationship, but I don't miss it so much I feel the need to rush into another one.

But you never know what'll happen. Each date is unique and holds the potential for countless possibilities. Or not.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Blazing Saddles.

It's still one of the funniest movies of all time yet it could never be made today. That makes me a little sad. I'm considering heading out to Wheaton next week to see it on the big screen!

Who's got a car and wants to go?

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Billy Corgan may be, erm, problematic, but the first new Smashing Pumpkins single proves he needed to get the band back together.

The song came out a while ago. And when it did I told a friend to listen, and she did with great trepidation having been a huge "classic" Pumpkins fan. Afterward she smiled and agreed that the line-up of the band we missed most (minus one) delivered the goods. Now that the video is out—O.K., it's a few weeks old but I didn't get around to watching until today—I reckoned, why not post it here?

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Want to buy an awesome house in an amazing Chicago neighborhood?

Well, now you can.

It's a 2-minute walk to the Blue Line, and we made a bunch of improvements to the place when we thought we'd be here longer, so all the updates were made with longevity in mind. It's actually a pretty decent steal, so I don't think it'll be available for long. Interested? Call 312-399-0470.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Facebook birthday wishes.

My friend Mike is doing a little experiment based on Facebook birthday posts. I know some view them as "whatever," but IMHO anyone that takes time to even write a quick message is doing you a welcome show of appreciation.

This year, hilariously, I didn't realize until the end of the day that I had set my own Facebook privacy settings in such a way that people could only comment of stuff I wrote, not leave their own stand-alone "happy birthday" posts.* Subsequently I got almost no birthday wishes and, especially after the last year, it was kind of a bummer.** A bummer of my own making—which believe you me, the irony of which was not lost on me—but a bummer nonetheless. It also made me feel a little better once I realized that's why people hadn't been posting on my wall in general!***

So I don't know how Mike's experiment will end up, but I'll keep wishing people a happy birthday since I know that no matter how you slice it, it can only brighten up their day.

Clearly this was based on me changing my settings a few months ago when I particularly needed to get away from negative posts and comments in general, and I just forgot to open posts back in later once everything was in a more positive place.
** Super smiles to the folks that messaged me, or texted me, or sent me belated greetings, once they realize they couldn't post due to my mistake.
*** I was also offline all day and off my cellphone so I missed extremely nice folks like my friend Alison trying to text me that my settings were off early in the day!

Friday, July 06, 2018

Creating a 'Beautiful Future' with Janelle Monáe.

Got invited to see Janelle Monáe play The Chicago Theatre last night and it was mind-blowing. The tickets came last minute from folks at Belvedere collaborating with Monáe on a women's film initiative, A Beautiful Future. Below is a video describing what to expect, but given Monáe's super close attention to detail, countered with emotional performances, I'm expecting her to give her backing to some really interesting project from these filmmakers.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

An unusual 4th.

Spent the day relaxing and watching movies, then watching stand-up and conversing, all the while avoiding the usual holiday tropes of fireworks, beer and BBQ. I didn't even see any explosions in the sky until I was walking home a few minutes ago. One of the parks nearby was obviously still the staging station for yet another "unofficial" Chicago fireworks show. But it was pretty, so I didn't even mind the late night booms.

By the way, I finally watched Dunkirk and now really regret missing it in 70mm. You know where I'll be should a theater run it in that format at some point in the future!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

I've been bullied for a really long time.

Watched It this morning and while the supernatural monsters didn't scare me, the brief moments of Stephen King's writing about bullies did.

I was bullied from grade school through high school. In grade school I took shit for being smart and weird. In high school I took shit for being smart, and weird, and outspoken. And, jeez, I almost forgot, but in college I took heat for all of the above too.

I was bullied for over half my life. And it had an effect. I grew sharp, and hard, and defensive. And developed a wit that could cut to the core. It made me even smarter. And adaptable.

And, honestly, though it made me into the man I am today, I wish none of it had ever happened.

I was tortured for a very long time. And it did change me. Once I got the upper hand in life, I wasn't always the best person. After years of abuse, I finally felt I was getting my due. But that's not how it should work. Being bullied made me harder. It took away the vulnerable guy who was a good person. It killed the "Ducky" in me. And when I ended up on top of the world, it fed into much of the stuff that killed all the good I had going for me.

Being bullied had a profound effect on me. But I can't even imagine what being bullied nowadays feels like. I feared for my life at times, but I could still barricade myself in and escape. Now? There is no escape. Online bullying never stops. So every time I try to feel sorry for myself I wonder what the new generation of "nerds" has to suffer.

Being bullied made me who I am, for better or worse, but it didn't kill me.

If bullying feels like it's killing you, please tell me. Let's talk. Yes, bullying can screw up your life, but it doesn't need to impact your hold on life.

Monday, July 02, 2018

Sonny Falls are anything but hazy on 'Some Kind of Spectre.'

Hoagie sent me the unmastered version of the album a few months ago, but the new Sonny Falls LP is finally officially coming out next month! I've written about the band a few times (most recently for The Reader, which if you missed it online you might not have seen since the physical column had the misfortune of appearing in an issue that was quickly pulled due to a (thankfully, quickly fired) idiotic senior editorial decision) but here's all you really need to know:

Sonny Falls is awesome. Both one of my favorite Chicago bands and creators of one of my favorite albums of 2018.

Here's a taste of the new stuff. Order the vinyl. I already did.

Oh, and for the visually inclined, here's the video for their first single.

Friday, June 29, 2018

You've been Yorned!

OK, that headline is such a super secret inside joke only less than a dozen people will get. But this surprise cover was shared by a certain musical legend who supplies most excellent background vocals (and, honestly, while no one could ever beat Kim Deal's original take, this artist makes it their own) so I wanted to share this.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

One week ago, I got legally divorced.

Much needed comic relief.
It was supposed to be a procedural hearing and even my attorney seemed surprised I showed up. Apparently lines were crossed and I thought I was supposed to be there, even though I didn't need to be. Good thing I was.

Mich had decided that was the day she wanted everything to be over. Which made sense; it had been almost 6 months to the day since this whole thing started, and in Illinois, 6 months is the earliest you can finalize things.*

So, while I wasn't really emotionally prepared, I did everything I could to reach an agreement, and we did. I kind of wish we had pushed things until July, when the house would be on the market and the majority of the bits we went back and forth on would no longer matter, but she wanted what she wanted and I wanted her to have what she wanted.

So we reached an agreement and the judge legally split us up. There was crying on both sides. And even the judge seemed a little sad. I'm sure he sees this sort of thing a zillion times, but he truly seemed to take what was going on seriously. Which only made us cry harder.

If I'd written this a month ago, it would be filled with juicy details and observations about my take on various parties' involvement, and often obstruction or obfuscation of the process that got us here. And blah blah blah. But I'm different now. I'm clear headed. And I'm tired. And I've lost enough in the last 6 months to last me a lifetime. I've been stripped down to the bone. And the good news is that by being forced to rebuild myself, the guy Michelle fell in love with, and that my friends have probably long been missing, is back. It's ironic that it took the destruction of a relationship and a series of almost comically catastrophic events to put that guy back in the driver's seat, but there you have it.

So, what's next? I guess we'll just see what happens.

*Over the last few months I kept being asked why this was taking so long, but the truth is that everything ended just as early as it legally could. Illinois' no-fault rules are pretty basic, so anyone that tells you things "could move faster" are either lying or don't know what they're talking about.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

A few simple truths.

Trump isn't going to be impeached. So that's not going to save us.

There's a good chance Mueller's findings will never become public. So that's not going to save us. People misunderstand how these things work.

Tweeting about rising fascism and just how unfair everything is won't save us. It'll make you appear involved, but it's pointless.

Sharing fringe articles that support your tribe's views won't save us. It just makes you even more blind to reality while bathing you in the warm froth of perceived inclusion.

Voting? Getting involved? Running for office? Coordinating resistance instead of tearing resistance apart through either bullheadedness or apathy?

That will save us.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Bite into this Giant Peach.

Frances Chang and Mike Naideau of Giant Peach.
Giant Peach comes at you straight outta Brooklyn, but sound like downstate Illinois circa 1996. But You Made Me Such A Beautiful Thing is a noisy, clanging affair, full of bent feelings and sharp guitars.

The songs on this album sound like little journeys that go wherever they feel they need to instead of adhering to any kind of strict structure. But that doesn't mean the music is unfocused; in fact the tunes rock hella hard, even when the melodies turn introspective and walk more delicate pathways.

The band performs as a four-piece right now, but the core songwriters are Frances Chang and Mike Naideau. I haven't a clue how they split the duties of crafting the band's music, since everything sounds like a singular, fully realized vision, but whatever they're doing 100% works.

The band is touring throughout July, and plays a Chicago show at The Burlington on July 21. As usual, you can stream their new album below, and I urge you to throw them some cash and download it if it pulls at your appropriate internal levers.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A secret summer jam from The Melismatics.

It's Monday. It's nice out. Depending on when you read this, you are probably at work right now, or on your way in, or on your way out. Or sitting on a patio preparing to work / wondering why you're not working.

I don't remember quite how I learned of The Melismatics. I'm pretty sure they just sent me a demo or an EP or something when I was booking The Note. They turned into one of my fave semi-regular out of town bands to book, though. By the time the time the album this song was on came out, they had rejiggered their line-up and I really only wrote about music, I no longer worked with bands. Which means I had no excuse to drag them from Minneapolis to Chicago so I've never heard this tune live.

But it kills.

Happy Monday. Hopefully this tune sets your week up to rage in all the best ways.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Do you miss Supergrass? Well, let's scratch that itch!

A few months ago my friend Johnny alerted me to the fact that the drummer from Supergrass, Danny Goffey, had released an album under the name vangoffey a few years ago, and shared a video from the LP with me. I dug the song, but was at work at the time and didn't dig any deeper, and then promptly forgot all about it.

Here's that original video.

Good, huh? Why did I not go back and just stream the whole thing right then and there? Oh yeah. if I remember correctly I had to run into a meeting. Stupid meeting.

Goffey just released a new album, Schtick, under his own actual name and it reminded me of that earlier video. So I did what any rational person would do and immediately downloaded both Goffey albums to give them a listen. The new Gaz Coombes solo release had left me a bit flat, so I didn't have high hopes, but reckoned Goffey's stuff was worth a listen.


Both albums are cram packed with 100% classic Supergrass-type stuff! It was just the kind of thing I needed after a traumatic life-changing event* and 48 solid hours of dreary rain! It's all kinds of "Yeeeeaaaaargh! Whoops of joy! Jump around! Let's dance, motherfuckers!"

Here. Just wait for the chorus.


Don't be dumb like me, give the drummer some and jump on the Goffey train right now and take in both his albums for yourself.

*Still processing and not ready to write about it yet. One benefit of being clearheaded and focused these days is I tend to (mostly) be able to avoid that reactionary writing trap. Thank God for everyone's sake.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Well, that took a turn.

Something I expected to be a routine turned into something far more—well, more—than I was really prepared for. So instead of writing anything about it today (it's all that's on my mind, so there is nothing else for me to even write about) I'm just going to make Pickle the Kitten cuddle up with me and watch the raindrops trail down my family room window as the trees sway with the wind. Let's call it a meditative moment.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Westy can still drum.

I saw Pavement a bajillion times between 1994 and when they finally broke up, and then once again during their brief reunion when they played P4K Fest in 2010. I am certainly in the minority when I say I kind of hope they never regroup again. The reunion show was good fun, and I loved that so many younger fans finally got to see one of the '90s indie legends they had grown up on but never saw live, but compared to the band in its prime it was more a fading carbon copy than a brilliant reenactment of what made the band great.

That said, I do always love mini-reunions like this one: drummer Steve West joining Stephen Malkmus at a Jicks show at The Cat's Cradle to knock out two Pavement golden oldies. No pressure, no build up; just plain fun.

[h/t Stereogum]

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

You ever see a ring tan fade?

The first couple of times I listened to this I was just taking in the vocal melody and sparse backing music, finding the whole thing poignant and affecting.

Then I paid attention to the lyrics. And they are devastating. And a little too close to my own personal experience. The simple line of "you ever see a ring tan fade?" carries a crushing weight that is only made heavier and heavier as the song progresses. The minimalist construction just make the whole thing so much more emotionally powerful. It's like a wrecking ball of ephemeral memories designed to shatter the heart over and over again.

Monday, June 18, 2018

So, I did it!

After all that back and forth ultimately I thought, "Why not cap off a trip out of town with a new haircut and a new beginning?"

Friday, June 15, 2018

Little Junior enters with a boisterous 'Hi."

Photo by Calm Elliot-Armstrong
I wrote about Little Junior a while ago, when they released a video for their pretty excellent Carly Rae Jepsen cover, but I just realized their album is finally out and available to stream and buy on Bandcmp (among other outlets).

This album has grown even better in my estimation since I first listened to it back in March, though I don't really have much to add to my initial write up of their music. It's just damn freaking good, in a totally spazzy, swaying way.

Sadly I missed the band's Chicago stop so I'll just have to content myself with the recorded version of their music for the near future.* The good news is now you too can bop along to their high energy debut all you want!

I have a vacation coming up—I have to get out of Chicago for a spell—and this is just the kind of album I want to blast while hanging in a park, or on the beach, under the summer sun.

I think you'll want to do the same.

*How did I miss that show?! Oh yeah, looking at my calendar I see I was in the 'burbs visiting a friend that night. D'oh!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Please bear with me as I talk hair.

Me, the first time I grew my hair long. My dad was not pleased, but got used to it.
Please don't take this as a post steeped in vanity, even though its primary subject regards the stuff that grows out of the top of my head. But I am truly struggling with a serious question!

Should I cut my hair short again?

I didn't plan on growing it out long again. It just sort of happened. In college my hair reached down to my chest—it was the early '90s, so not that weird—and it just became so much of my identity that it took me years and years to finally cut it. I was worried that doing so would cost me countless cred points and I'd suddenly turn back into the dork I was in my adolescence.

This, of course, is absolutely idiotic. But 20-somethings aren't always the clearest thinkers when it comes to self identity.

So here I am 20 years later facing the same quandary, though not nearly as fraught. I like having long hair. But my hair is thick, and curly, and when it grows it sort of stops at the shoulders and grows outward for a long period of time until it hits that critical length and suddenly drapes down my back. And I don't think I have the patience for that this time around, nor do I seriously think I'll look better that way. At the same time, and yes, this is idiotic too, there is always a small whisper related to Samson that crops up every time I seriously consider the shears. This is clearly based in insecurity.

See? Not so bad short, right?
I'm also searching for a job right now, and while with some companies long hair on a creative might be considered a plus, I'm also aware that not everyone finds it aesthetically pleasing, so it could knock me out of the running for a gig I might actually love, and be a perfect fit with. It's just the way of the world.

At the same time It's festival season! And I will admit there's a certain shallow part of me that likes to look the rock and/or roll part at festivals. Again, idiotic, but if we're being honest, I may as well disclose that. Plus, I'd have to go back and update all my dating profile photos though that might work out in my favor. Most of the women that respond seem to love the hair. But I'm betting there are more that probably prefer their dudes and little less shaggy and a little more groomed. So that's a toss up as well.

I guess I could always go short and then grow it out again, right? But what if I cut it off and suddenly start balding and realize that I can't go back again?! I did notice a thinning spot on the top of my head that suddenly appeared, but since I cut out booze and started working on again adopting a healthier lifestyle that seems to be filling in again, so I'm guessing it was probably more a result of stress and a bad diet than anything else.*

I know this is all incredibly self-indulgent, and if you're still here I truly appreciate your putting up with it. As I said at the outset, this isn't about vanity: I'm well aware I look pretty decent with short hair. It's just that a decision like this really does dredge up a whole torrent of insecurities I should have overcome, you know, years ago. But do we ever outgrow basic insecurities? I'm not so certain we do. We deal with them, and handle them, and move on; but they'll always crop back up at times we consider radical change.

Anyway, what do you think?**

KINDA UPDATE: I actually wrote this draft over last weekend, and then ran an Instagram poll on the question to get feedback from my friends a few days later. The result? 87% said to chop it all off versus 13% who said to keep it. At least now I know what most folks think! Of course, once it ended I found myself in the midst of a particularly good hair day so...

*Since I started working out regularly again, my stress levels have dropped through the floor. Heck, in the last couple of weeks my resting pulse has dropped 17 beats-per-minute! And I feel great. I mentioned it before, but the human body is truly amazing once you start giving it the good stuff it wants!

**With the understanding that, by the time you read this, there's a good chance I've gone and gotten myself shorn anyway.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Well, this certainly makes me feel inadequate as a drummer.

This is Yoyoka Soma, and she is 8 years old. And she is already a better drummer than I will ever hope to be. Amazing.

Now excuse me, I have to go upstairs to my office and start practicing so I can be 0.001% as good as she is.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Rating the dating apps.

I know, you're like, "Dude, I'm surprised ANYONE swipes right on you!"
After a few months of being "actively" single, and going through a number of different dating apps, I feel like I have some key learnings* to share with anyone else also navigating these turbulent waters. I've only used a handful, but they're varied enough that, despite most people's assumptions to the contrary, they each do have their own specific flavor.

So here are my experiences using a few of the more popular apps, though I'm well aware that if you're not me, your experiences may be wildly different. The times they are a'changing, so I've been open to profiles that are looking for everything from traditional LTRs to non-monogamy to existing open relationships to just about whatever.** My only real app turn-offs are a) no bio at all or b) profiles inundated with group photos so you have no idea who the poster is. What the heck?!

It should also be noted that I purposely have a kinda goofy photo as my first shot in most of my profiles—included in this post—since I reckon that immediately weeds out the people that probably wouldn't "get" me in the first place. So that may have an effect on people swiping right / hitting "like." C'est la vie!

Tinder: The OG of dating apps. I know it began as a hook-up app but those days are long behind it. I've had reasonable luck getting a couple of dates through Tinder, but nothing that really lasted all that long. If you're a woman, I understand the number of dudes swiping right on you can be overwhelming, but if you're a dude it's totally manageable. I dunno, my personal jury is still out on this one, but it is one of the easiest to use.

Bumble: Don't call them "the other Tinder." The big difference here is that when you match with someone, they have to start the conversation. I like that since it puts the power in the hands of the other person to get things rolling, but it also means that when you match with someone, if they chicken out, there's not much you can do about it. And if the 24-hour window in which they can chat starts to close, Bumble will bug you to pay money to extend the window. No thanks. I see a lot of the same women on Tinder also on Bumble, but the Bumble dates I've gotten have been more "quality," and even if things haven't worked out romantically, I still chat with many of the folks I've matched with on Bumble. I dig it.

Zoosk: The UX on this app ain't great, and responses are few and far between. From what I can tell, this is the preferred app of suburban single moms, and there is zero wrong with that. However, I don't own a car, so that's not really my scene. Also, the distance parameters constantly go out of whack, so it keeps trying to match me with people who live 50-75 miles away! But if you live in the 'burbs, by all means, this may be the app for you! Me? I'm deleting it.

CasualX: I tried this out based on a Mashable recommendation a few months ago. It is 100% a hook-up app, and it also has a terrible UX, and I'm still not sure exactly how it's supposed to work. And a pure hook-up really isn't my thing anyway. There are also already existing communities out there much better at supporting this approach, so I would skip this app and try those out if that's your thing. For me, CasualX is a full on delete.

Match: If Tinder is the OG of dating apps, Match is the OG of online dating. I only recently started trying it out. Since it's populated primarily with folks looking for long term relationships, I avoided Match for a while, but decided to stick my toe back into its waters. (I first had a Match profile in, what, 2001 or 2001 during a period Photogal and I had broken up?) The response rate still isn't great, but it's a pretty mellow experience overall if you're in no rush (and I am in no rush).

Also, I've also found another approach that works: introduce yourself to someone when you're out at a bar or show [gasp!]. I've had some luck with that as well. Just don't be intrusive, and be prepared to beat a polite and hasty retreat if the person you're talking to obviously isn't into it. It's not that hard to pick up on (though it appears there's an epidemic of men, in particular, who either can't or choose not to see that).

So what am I missing? Should I be trying something else out? And what have been your own experiences with dating apps?

*Sorry, I couldn't resist using that marketing buzzword. It's funny!

**Almost whatever. When friends or ex co-workers (or just plain exes) pop up in my feed I swipe left out of courtesy, and to avoid potentially embarrassing situations. Well, except for one, but that's only because I knew she'd find the humor in it, and she did.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Work on the basement has begun!

After months of wrangling with the insurance company and having to reschedule start times due to events beyond anyone's control, the basement is finally being repaired from February's flood!

I'm viewing this as the beginning of a new chapter in my life—a landmark moment—and the final stage of a particularly challenging (that's an understatement if there ever was one) year.

I'm pretty exited by this.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

O.K., just try and tell me this song by The Fratellis doesn't sound like an outtake from James' 'Laid.'

It's Sunday, so let's keep it short. And as you can see, the title of this post tells you all you really need to know. But am I right, or am I right? Here's a sample of James from the era I'm referencing on the (incredibly unlikely) chance you don't know what I'm referring to.


Friday, June 08, 2018

Weekend plans!

If you're going to any of these events, let me know! If you want to go to either or both of the first two events, let me know! (Sorry, I can't get you into Liz Phair though, so please don't even ask.)

Looks to be a fun weekend in Chicago, so don't let it pass you by!

Friday, June 8

The Kickback at Sleeping Village (9 p.m.)

Saturday, June 10

Do312's Rock'N'Roll Market behind East Room ( 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.)

Liz Phair at The Empty Bottle (9 p.m.)

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Let's all "Start Again" with Bishop Allen.

Photo by Matt Petricone
I've been vacuuming up new music lately, one of the "benefits" of having free time whilst unemployed, but I've also been digging through albums I don't listen to enough. And of course Bishop Allen's most excellent 2014 release Lights Out falls firmly into the latter camp.

Bishop Allen is another one of those wonderful bands who have been swallowed up by the internet. Their Facebook page has seen zero action since 2015, their Soundcloud is empty, and their last album isn't even on Bandcamp. But you can still get it!

If you missed them the first time around, I'm sorry. They put on terrific live shows, and wrote the kind of perfectly taut indie pop with just the right amount of bite that so many bands have attempted but few have perfected. And Lights Out was the band's masterpiece. It's perfect from beginning to end.

The band had written amazing, timeless tunes in their past ("Rain," anyone?) but Lights Out was just, well, just, well...


Here's the first track off Lights Out. And believe me when I say it only gets better from here. We're almost at the weekend, so hopefully this will brighten your Thursday and get you prepped for the good times ahead.

Don't wanna sit through the video? Stream the song here.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Against all odds.

I saw the doctor for my yearly physical yesterday and, astoundingly, I'm in really good shape. My cholesterol is a little high, but hey, I'm middle age and where is the surprise in that? But it's still not out of control. Everything else is, somehow, working perfectly. In six months of bad news this was one welcome piece of information!

I've cut booze out of my diet and hit the gym daily, so I'm granting much of the credit to those two things. Especially since my diet is still that of a 12-year-old's, and primarily revolves around meat and different pastas. And cheese. I do really wish I was more of adventurous eater, and could actually enjoy most vegetables, but I have come to terms that my palate is what it is.

I'm sharing this because it wasn't all that long ago I was convinced my body was falling apart. But a few simple changes have made all the difference. The human body is a miraculous thing and, in many cases, will reset itself to baseline health in a pretty short period of time.

Next up? Quitting smoking! But maybe not just quite yet...

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Street Dogs prove that sometimes you just need a bunch of accessible yet politically motivated and aggressive punk sing-along anthems.

Street Dogs return with their first album in eight years on June 22. I admit, that means little to me since their new album Stand For Something Or Die For Nothing is the first I've heard of these Bostonians. And I admit I went into the album with zero expectations; so few in fact I thought I'd listen to it once, note it in my spreadsheet, and never listen to it again. But it's just so earnest and compelling while somehow managing to be ridiculously catchy I find myself going back to it again and again.

This is turning out to be a good year for politically motivated music. And I don't just mean music with political lyrics and anemic backing one tolerates due to the message, but gut-busting anthems that you want to listen to on repeat. And somehow Street Dogs managed to craft 47 minutes of just that kind of music.

In their press release that accompanied the advance of the album frontman Mike McColgan says, “The dumbing down of America is a reason to write songs in 2018. People need to wake the fuck up and realize the rich won’t drain the swamp or look after the working man and woman.” If that soundalike something you can get down with, you're going to love this album.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Secret Someones; gone but not forgotten.

I rediscovered Secret Someones over the weekend, thanks to Ye Olde tankPHONE shuffle, and wanted to share their album with you today even though it came out a few years ago. Sadly the only embed I could find was Spotify, so, yeah. I always prefer Bandcamp but what can you do?

Their Facebook page is still up, but the last post is about the group disbanding. And their website is gone. Their Bandcamp page is only selling a t-shirt, and their Soundcloud page is super outdated with the last post being over 4 years old. And they're not even that old a band!

This, I guess, is one of the perils of the digital age.

You can see my first post about the band here, that has their best song, "Headfirst," which is the aural equivalent of those first few weeks of love. Though it's also of an intensity that is difficult to keep up with, much like that first flash of infatuation.

The big bummer is Secret Someones were just a little too ahead of their time. Had they surfaced now, the whole HAIM and Aces camp of fans would love them. (And they were on an Interscope subsidiary even!) But, ah well.

Friday, June 01, 2018

The ridiculous rush to review albums within hours after their release, and a few possible alternatives.

Photo by Don Linville
O.K., I've been guilty of reviewing albums minutes after their release. But that was, like, eleven years ago! And I'm pretty sure if you dig you can probably find a couple rush reviews in my own past besides that, but it was something I fought pretty hard against during my time at Chicagoist.

I realize part of this problem is that now we live in a time where many major artists no longer send out preview copies of their new albums, and many are launching surprise releases. But that's still no excuse to rush a review just to grab pageviews.

Rush reviews are even more pointless because with streaming, the general public are going to be able to listen to the entire album a few times before the first hastily types review even comes out, so what is even the point?

Plus, they all read almost exactly the same. I follow a LOT of music websites in the RSS feeds and it's almost laughable how the exact same posts from different sites pop up within seconds on each other saying the exact same thing. We're moving past the days where maximum eyes matter and the quality of the readers are more appealing to advertisers (if that's your focus which, gasp!, of course it's not (it is, there's no way around it since someone has to pay the bills since readers, for the most part, aren't doing so)).

Here are a few alternative ideas. Consider these thought-starters, and not ultimate solutions. But there's gotta be a better way.

  • The easiest? Follow the Consequence of Sound model and immediately post a quick blurb with a link to the stream. (Though I have issues with CoS constantly embedding Apple Music players since they are pointless unless you're a subscriber to that service. And, of course, CoS is also guilty of the rush review. But I have always liked their practice of that initial, "here's the stream" post. Again, don't embed a subscriber service though. Ugh.)
  • When you know something is coming, like Kanye West's release this week, have a package ready to go that ranks all his previous albums. Once the review is written you can both run the review and republish the ranking article with the new album's place in the oeuvre. No, this isn't perfect since you probably can't accurately rank where an album falls without the benefit of more time, and of course "ranking posts" are always dubious, but at least it's kinda fun and buys you some time.
  • Run a writer's roundtable of first impressions so you get various viewpoints, but don't have to pretend it's a comprehensive critical review. I like this because you're not granting the piece the validity of a single critical eye and are admitting, "Hey, we're all hearing different things this first time around. Get back to us in a week!"
  • Just refuse to run a review until you've had a few days to digest the album. Period.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Feelin' optimistic?

It's been a rough week, but I made some pretty huge decisions that I think will have an immensely positive impact on my life. I'm under tremendous pressure for a variety of reasons, but I've taken steps to at least try and meet head on the multitude of challenges being simultaneously thrown my way.

It's funny how much the trajectory of my life parallels my dad's. He too went from a very successful executive type to almost starting from the ground up due to a series of unfortunate events. And the first half of 2018 has thrown obstacles in my way that almost makes me envy how easy Job had it in the belly of that whale. But I have faith everything will work out. I'm an extremely determined and focused person, and while I've never had to leap so many hurdles placed so ridiculously close together, that doesn't mean I'm giving up on the race and abandoning the finish line.

My former creative director was talking to me a few weeks ago, and shared that he believed everyone goes through a phase like this, only mine seemed a little more daunting than most. But that after it's all over I'll be so much stronger, and find an inner happiness driven by a sense of accomplishment, that the whole thing will eventually be worth it.

I believe him.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

I NEED to see this band live!

Too funny. This post was drafted on Sept. 9, 2016 and then I never got around to publishing it! I did notice the first time I actually did write about them was even earlier than this. Too funny. My brain is obviously Swiss cheese at times (though I'm working on changing that since I currently have the free time to do so).

Clearly I have seen Beach Slang live since then. But since yesterday's posts was kinda heavy I figured I'd go back through my draft post for something that never made it in prime time, and...

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The wedding ring.

I haven’t heard her voice in months, and while that has probably helped it’s also weird to have a decade of your life wiped away like that. We ran into each other recently at a book release party but didn't talk.

So ... I still wear my wedding ring, it’s just on my right hand now. Hey, it’s a nice ring! Seriously, I think I mostly wear it to remind myself of both the good times and to keep in mind the mistakes that were made so I don’t make them again. I hope the ring I gave her might serve a similar function, but for all I know she's already sold it. Which would obviously be her right.

Marriage was hard for me. I kept pulling away and to this day I still am not completely sure why. But that’s what therapy is for, right? And friends willing to tell you hard truths about things you hadn’t noticed about yourself that were apparently obvious to everyone else on the planet. I’ve also managed to keep up with posting positive and not divisive stuff. From what I can tell I definitely lost most of the mutual friends in the divorce, so that just wasn’t being helpful.

My friend last week told me she thought that the fact I still wore the ring was a sign of not letting go. And I thought about it. And thought. And thought. And realized she was wrong. I let go a while ago. And so did Mich. And from what I hear—mutual friends seem to insist on keeping me up to date even though I have zero contact with her—she's doing great. Which makes me happy. She deserves more than what I could give her at the time. I’m also told she’s writing again, which makes me even happier, because she has an excellent voice, and she's witty and insightful, and the idea of her not writing means the world would be missing out on something special.

Today is our third and last wedding anniversary. I don’t know if I’ll ever wear another wedding ring on my left hand again, but to me the current ring on my right hand is both a symbol of the past and a way to focus on the future.

Monday, May 28, 2018

This song always makes me cry.

It's just so good, and if you've ever seen it live you'd understand why I cry.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Thursday, May 24, 2018

16 years.

I started this little blog 16 years ago.

It's gotten me jobs. It's gotten me in trouble. It's gotten me girlfriends. It's gotten me friends. It's made me enemies. It's helped out tons of bands. It probably helped me find my wife. It probably helped me lose my wife. It's been a daily outlet for me. It's driven me crazy. It's helped me keep sane. It's hosted countless photos of kittens and beagles. It's the first place I went to write when my dad died. It's where I've definitely shared TMI.

Here was the original description of the site I wrote in 2002:
Rantings, ravings, short stories and lists of stuff that everyone should own, read or, yeah.
It really hasn't changed much since then, huh?

If you were here at the beginning. Wow. You are really old! But no matter when you stumbled across this site, I'm glad you've been around.

Today I have more readers than ever before. 16 years on that seems really weird to me, but I don't take a single one of you for granted. And not to sound weird, but even if I had zero readers I'd keep writing. But I'm happy you're here. And I hope 16 years from now you still will be.

Because I'm not going anywhere.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Taking a break.

I decided I'd give myself a week to just chill out and figure stuff out. I guess tomorrow is the end of that. And kind of an anniversary, so the timing seems right.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Deadpool 2.

Still don't feel like writing, but if you want meta meta po-mo meta, you will enjoy Deadpool 2.

Monday, May 21, 2018


Big life changes. Even more than usual. More later.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Here comes the summer.

How does Cheap Trick keep being so good while other bands their age sound so flabby and uninspired?!

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I'm gonna need a minute here.

Stay tuned. I'm not going anywhere, but the original post I was going to write today no longer makes any sense.

If you're in Chicago, it's beautiful outside. If you can get out and enjoy the day, you really should.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Soft Science returns with gauzy guitars that pack a wallop.

I thought these folks sounded familiar! I reviewed Soft Science’s Detour back in 2014, and dang if much of what I said then doesn’t still hold true. Woozy, smeary, heavy guitars are stabbed through by Katie Haley’s ethereal, dreamy vocals and it’s 1993 all over again on their forthcoming new full-length Maps. (Or maybe 1990?)

Soft Science doesn't shy from breaking out the ol' shoe gaze elements; there’s a pretty big MBV influence on the opening track “Undone” as one blasting, wavering guitar line hangs over the whole proceeding like Damocles’ Sword. Only things break into more pure pop territory on the next song “Breaking.” Though even here the ears trick you, because what sounds like a bright brass section is probably treated synths or a heavily tweaked guitar; I can’t tell which. But you’ll have to wait until the album is out on June 1 to hear that track.

But what I'm saying is they like the guitars loud but they ain't a one-trick pony. Give into the melodies buried in the blankets of noise.

Until the album comes out, check out “Undone” and the band’s earlier single “Sooner” below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Allow me to clear my throat.

I'm going in for an upper endoscopy tomorrow; basically having a little camera shoved down my throat to check everything out in there. Given my history of smoking and such, and my dad having died from esophageal cancer, these things always make me a little nervous. But hopefully everything is O.K.! The only downside is that they need to knock me out—well, sedate me, I'll probably conscious and just not remember it—so I'm going to be largely useless for most of the day.

On the plus side, hopefully everything will come back hunky dory and I'll have some peace of mind.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Different timelines and alternate realities.

I was watching the latest episode of Legion, the one where they posit that every decision you make creates a different timeline in an alternate universe, and it got me to thinking. If I’d stuck with the original plan we made when we started house hunting, what would that reality look like?

I would’ve stopped going out as much and concentrated on projects around the house instead. Around Halloween would be the time time we told our families (but no one else, not yet) that we were expecting. Our first Thanksgiving and/or Christmas in the new house would’ve been celebrated with visits from one or both of our families. New Year’s Eve at The Corner Bar would be the last time we celebrated that holiday outside of the house for a number of years. I would’ve stopped going out completely after that, unless it was a date night or a show we both really wanted to see. The basement flood wouldn’t have been a disaster, but a challenge we tackled as a team. All our credit cards would be paid off and we'd have a really healthy nest egg. I’d be at my goal weight even as she got bigger and bigger. I would've stopped smoking. And right now I’d be a dad and sleep deprived and probably cranky, and we'd both be getting on each other's nerves because she'd be getting even less sleep, but our house would be a true home.

But would I be happy? Is that the life I wanted? Even as difficult a time this is for me, would that be the path I was meant for?

I’ll never know. All I can know is that the life I’m living now is the one I’m stuck with, so I have to make the best of it because this is the timeline I’m in.

But that episode of Legion? It really did make me think…

Friday, May 11, 2018

A sunny song for a sunny day from Billy & Dolly.

Trust me, their music is cheerier than this picture would suggest. Photo by Andres Ramirez.
I almost didn't listen to this album.

I hopped around a few tracks when it showed up Wednesday and it didn't really hit me. But then yesterday it was still on my computer so I decided to give it a spin, and that was yet another moment that reminded me that I should give every band a chance. Because Five Suns is fabulous.

Bill Rousseau and Dahlia Gallin Ramirez form the core of Billy & Dolly, he on guitar and she on Wurlitzer / Moog / various other keyboards, and I imagine as a duo they could sound pretty lovely. But they added drummer Elliott Kiger and bassist Charley Hine, turn up the amps without losing the lovely vocal melodies, and the result is something that feels fresh yet familiar. There's definitely an Elephant 6 vibe going on here, at times equal parts '60s sunshine and 70s stomp. Oh wait, they're from San Francisco. That makes total sense.

Listen to "Everything Is Off below for a taste of the sunshine, then stick around for the other preview track "Bobby" for a bit of the stomp. Then pre-order the album or come on back when it gets released on June 8.