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.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

My current Swedish addiction? Tove Styrke.

Photo by Emma Svensson
Tove Styrke's album number three, Sway, plays with odd syncopations under thunking beats and lyrical delivery that slides atop like so much sweet syrup. It's a lean 27 minutes long, which means Styrke never gives you a chance to tire of her. As if you could with such a tightly commanding collection of tracks.

Lyrically it ain't the deepest stuff—primarily love songs of one sort or another—but there's a sophistication in her delivery that elevates the subject matter into something that resembles an emotionally sonic experiment.

For a 25-year-old who released her first album when she was 18 it's pretty impressive stuff.

On the production end, I admit that before I read the album credits I suspected this was another Jack Antanoff project but it's actually Elof Loelv, who has done a couple more recent things with folks like Icona Pop, Katy Perry and Mikky Ecko.

Anyway it's Thursday, and to some tonight is the early start to the weekend, so laying a couple Tove Styrke songs seems like the right thing to do. The album came out last Friday so if you enjoy the tunes below head on out to stream or buy it.

(For the record my favorite tracks are "I Lied" and "On A Level" but there aren't any easy embeds to share those.)

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Check out this blast of chunky, fuzzy, guitar pop from Dott, and get ready for more to come.

Irish indie poppers Dott have waited 5 years between full-length albums, and Heart Swell is a triumphant return. Much like other recent music caught in in my ears recently, it’s a crunchy, bouncing hard charge into early ‘90s guitar pop.

I went back to listen their debut, I admittedly was unfamiliar with the band's earlier work, and it’s got more of a jangling, garage vibe. It’s still really good, but having heard Heart Swell first, I can definitely hear the progression in their sound. They are more confident, their textures are more sophisticated, and their overall approach is just more self-assured without losing hooks or the rough edges that make them stand apart.

The first single “Like A Girl” is getting some attention since Sadie Dupuis of Speedy Ortiz adds in some guest guitar licks, and while I’m happy her presence is raising Dott’s profile ahead of the album’s release on June 8, it blends right in with every other song. So if you like it, you’ll like the whole album. It’s also one of the more political songs on the album, and according to a statement from the band, “the video highlights the faces of several women who have been working to get the vote for reproductive rights reform in Ireland.”

I can’t find any pre-order info on the album, so feel free to stalk the band’s Facebook page, or the Graveface Records shop looking for that news to arrive!

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

How much new music did I listen to in March and April 2018? Let's find out!

Man, I really missed it on this one and totally forgot to post a list last month, so this one doubles up! As you can see by the numbers below the vast majority of whatI listened to was kinda meh, but the stuff that stood out really stood out.

As always, the revamped rating system is here.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in March and April 2018: 51

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 2

Number of those releases that rated 5-6: 12

Number of those releases that rated 3-4: 35

Number of those releases that rated 1-2: 2

Highest rated album: Kinda cheating, but it was the Liz Phair's Girly-Sound To Guyville: The 25th Anniversary Box Set. The original album is still perfect and the cleaned up demos are terrific.

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: Marmalakes’ Please Don’t Stop is just delightful indie pop I can’t stop listening to.

Most surprising discovery: Just how much Soccer Mommy’s Clean is a delightful listen. And shares a lot of DNA with Liz Phair, which makes sense since she’s opening for Phair's shows.

Monday, May 07, 2018

The unexpected pleasures of a pretty great weekend.

So my friend had a release party for her book yesterday (a book you should totally buy) that I went to. She’s had other events leading up to the release but I avoided going to those since I figured my ex might be there. But I couldn’t miss the actual party! And of course my ex was there, which was totally fine, though it was weird since I haven’t even seen her in person since early January. But I did the right thing, and left her alone, aside from briefly talking to a mutual friend she happened to be standing next to. I reckon when she’s ready to engage with me again, if she’s ever ready to, she’ll let me know.

It helped that a close friend of mine went to the party with me, and she’s known me a very long time, and my whole story, so it was nice to have that support. I’ve spent too many months trying to navigate these waters through my own sheer will and am learning that help from friends is not a bad thing, though it’s not the sort of thing I ask for naturally.

The party itself was a huge success! It was wall-to-wall packed and there was quite the line to get my author friend to autograph copies of her book. It’s been fun to see her doing her media tour to support the book. And a ton of previous Chicagoist writers were there too, so it was nice to see so many familiar faces.

Come to think of it, this weekend was pretty great all around. On Friday, I saw The Joffrey Ballet’s Midsummer Night’s Dream with the same friend who went to the release party, and it was mind-blowing. Mich stopped taking me to the ballet a few years ago since I tended to start snoozing by the second act, and would instead bring friends of hers who could really appreciate what was going on. But this ballet was just bonkers, wild, and weird, all in excellent ways. It shared much more with modern dance and a stage play than with a conventional ballet. I’m only sorry I waited until almost the end of its run because now I just want to tell everyone to go see it.

Saturday started of with a friend of mine coming over to give a painting estimate on some work I need done in the house, and that stretched into an all day hang that ended with another friend’s birthday show at Liar’s Club. It was a totally unexpected way to spend Saturday but I had a lot of fun, and again, learned that sometimes just talking to other people in person about the stuff going on in your life helps a whole lot.

So yeah, I'm going to say this weekend was a pretty much full win all around.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Now you can watch the mind-blowing theater production of Roberto Bolaño's '2666' from the comfort of your couch.

From my original review of The Goodman Theatre's production of Roberto Bolaño's 2666:
With a running time of 5 hours and 30 minutes, 2666 is an act of physical endurance—for the audience to watch, and for the 15-actor cast to perform. The actors take on almost 80 roles between them, jumping backward and forward in time through the inventive use of lighting and intricate, multimedia sets.
It was at times grueling to sit through the whole thing, but I'm still glad I was able to experience it in person. My primary regret was that so many people didn't get a chance to see this outrageously audacious adaptation of what appeared to be an un-adaptable book. But adapt it they did!

Well, luckily for everyone, The Goodman filmed the production and just released the entire play online, so now you can take the whole thing in. Heck, it might be easier to watch in chunks (they've divided it up into four videos below).

So get comfortable, and prepare to go on one wild ride.

[h/t Third Coast Review]

Thursday, May 03, 2018

The Nectars want it now.

New Jersey's The Nectars are a little glammy, a little trashy, and a little No Doubt-y. The sound on their debut, Sci-Fi Television kind of veers all over the place. It's not a perfect album, but it is a pretty spirited first step for the band. I tend to enjoy the harder rockers over the poppier excursions, but that's merely a matter of personal taste. And that's probably just because I prefer singer Jessica Kenny's vocals more when they are thrashing and scratching on those heavier numbers. "I Want I" is definitely in that camp.

If you like it, Sci-Fi Television is out on May 25, but you can pre-order it now.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018


It's been pouring and thundering and lightning for hours now, so of course all I can think of is how many times I need to check the basement because I'm so paranoid of flooding. Usually I would love a summer storm like this, even though it's supposedly still spring—though I've seen no evidence spring ever arrived this year.

At least Pickle the Kitten seems to be enjoying the storm.

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

On violence.

I've seen a number of aggro posts on the Facebooks and Twitters recently and it reminded me of one main thing.

I hate fighting.

When I was security at bars I got punched in the face a few times. My response? I took the drunk down as quickly and gently as possible, and sat on their chest. I have zero interest in hurting another human being. I've had drinks thrown in my face and I've only responded with words.

I hate fighting.

I'm big, and can be imposing, but physical fighting has always seemed like a terrible idea to me. So I avoid it at all costs. I'm a gifted talker so I always try that first. If a fist flies I will be the first one sitting on your chest asking you to chill out. But I won't hit back. If a 300+ lb guy can clock me and I can keep my cool, I can handle most anything.

In one of my previous lives I was the first to pull security off the wayward drunk. Physical violence is never the answer. I detest it.

Am I an outlier?


I have good days and bad days. Some days are easier than others, and some are harder. I’ve stopped fretting about it because the traumas I’ve gone through over the last 5 months show I’m simply human. That doesn’t mean I’m not actively working on making more good days than bad (yay, therapy!) but it still happens. When I open my trap it often feels like I am trying to put out fires with gasoline. No matter how careful I think I'm being, or how many times I read and re-read something I've written.

Home with a stomach bug today, but today is one of the better days. Feeling optimistic.

Monday, April 30, 2018

FAN the Industrial-pop flames with "Velour."

Photo by Gael Herrera
FAN is the one-man band helmed by Meric Long, who you might recognize from his other band The Dodos. And while his new project shares many of his The Dodos' melodic methods, he mostly trades in his guitar for synthesizers to create multi-layered throbbing waves of sound that effortlessly carry you along.

The first time I listened to Barton’s Den it was a little mellower than I expected, but the second and third times revealed that the songs were actually driving pretty steadily ahead at a quicker pace. The synths have the effect of creating a sense of aural drag and I think that’s what tricked my ears the first time. This ain’t mellow, kids.

And then I hit the penultimate song of the album, "Velour," and almost wanted to dance around the room. It’s a it’s all roiling sound that is close to Industrial, but Long’s sweetly delivered vocals turn it into pure pop instead of something that might grate. It’s my favorite track on the album, amidst an already strong collection of songs that will win just about anyone over.

Super big plus is if you dig "Velour" too, you don't have to wait until the album's release on May 4 to hear the whole thing! If you buy the CD or vinyl versions you get an MP3 download of the entire album immediately. Sweet!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Speedy Ortiz sounds particularly exciting on 'Twerp Verse.'

Photo by Shervin Lainez
The new Speedy Ortiz LP is out today and it is something you should not sleep on. The band has tightened their sound and kicked up the melodies, and you can definitely feel the influence of singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis' synth-heavy side project Sad13.

Don't worry, it's not like the band has gone all slick on you, but Twerp Verse is a big step forward for the band's sound. It could be because it's a completely different album than the one they had planned to release. Apparently after election day the group realized that the "strictly personal or lovey dovey" material they planned on recording was no longer all the relevant given the outcome of the Presidential race.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed that album, but it probably wouldn't have sounded as ambitious as the material they ended up writing afterward. Enjoy the album below and if you're in Chicago you can see them on May 12 at Subterranean.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is it Friday yet? No?! Well then, here's something to cheer you up until then.

Kylie Minogue stopped by Seth Meyers' show last night and I somehow missed it despite watching Late Night just about every night. But I haven't been sleeping the best this week, so lately I've been conking out during his monologue and then waking up an hour or two later.

First she played the first single, "Dancing," off her excellent new album. Which is above. THEN, as a web extra, she did a re-worked more rockin' version of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head." Which is below.

Man I hope she tours the States behind this current album.

Getting back out there.

Still under construction but getting there. :)
Once you get over the initial paralyzing fear you’ll be alone for forever and ever, dating in your 40s is actually much different than I expected. In a good way.

(And let me be clear: I'm talking about actual dates and NOT entering into the hook-up culture. I'm sticking with dates.)

Over the last 20 years, two major relationships occupied almost all that time, so my singledom has come in slivers, and dating is way different now than when I was last single! I remember meeting girls through Twitter, but apps dedicated to dating were definitely not a thing.* I’m also older now, so even the way I approach dating is pretty different than when I was in my 30s or 20s.

I know I’m probably more open-minded about potential dates now than I thought I was when in my mid-20s. I have gone on dates with people both older and younger than me, and with both longtime friends and complete strangers. Single moms seem totally cool. It’s not a prerequisite dates live in the city. And while in the past I tended to date people with connections to the music world, I’m really enjoying the broader spectrum of backgrounds I’m encountering. And I've gotten way more open to letting things go slow and hang out with a couple different people instead of trying to lock down a single relationship right away, which was definitely a pattern in my past behavior.

So I’m starting to enjoy being single, finally. I still have some mourning of my marriage and other stuff to work through, and I'm certainly not saying I don't get deeply sad at times, but after months where everything seemed a little too dark I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and optimistic about my future.

In fact the only downside to dating is that it can get expensive. And between the divorce and the house issues I'm definitely feeling the pinch —so I have no idea how millennials can afford it!

*Speaking of dating apps, I can’t understand why so many people don’t write even the briefest of bios, or use photos that are only extreme close-ups or shots of groups of people. And I finally had my first ghosting experience thanks to a dating app, but that was O.K., it didn’t bother me. Just the price of admission to dating in 2018, I guess.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The lengths through which people will go to escape the news.

"Erasure" is one of my favorite songs off the new Superchunk album, What A Time To Be Alive. I'm honestly a little surprised it wan't the first single! But now it's out and the band has released a video for the tune that takes an inventive approach to our current news cycle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

These Idle Hands will get you dancing.

This photo is almost a decade old, who knows who is still even in the band at this point!
The Idle Hands are from Ireland but now based in Minneapolis. I was introduced to them years ago by my friend Skip when I was booking The Note, and they were honestly one of my favorite groups to come into town. They also definitely fall into the "why weren't they huge" category that always mystifies me when a band is this much fun.

I happened to be listening to their albums over the weekend and the band let me know that their final EP was up on Bandcamp so check it out below. I thought the band had broken up but they actually have a few shows coming up under a different name so I don't know how many of the original members are still involved (though you're out of luck unless you live in Richmond, VA or Camden, UK), so I'm happy to see some of 'em are still in action. If you dig the below, their earlier full album is on Spotify.

Also, their new project is The Stress Of Her Regard (which I think they told me about a while ago and like an idiot I forgot) so that's definitely worth a listen too.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Returning favors.

I was able to do something nice for a close friend that has been really supportive of me the last few months. They've been there every single time I needed them so I has happy to have a chance to actually return the favor. That, on top of another really good weekend, has me in the right mood to kick off the week!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Get wonderfully weird with Post Animal.

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
I was gonna write something in a more personal vein today, and while it wasn't a bummer topic, it was a little more serious than today's lovely weather deserves. Then I remembered the new Post Animal album was coming out today so I decided to say something about that instead.

Post Animal is one of those Chicago bands I never paid attention to, and until now was primarily known as the group "Steve" from Stranger Things was in. (He's not anymore, but I believe he did play on the new album.) So I, like an idiot, kind of wrote them off as more of a gimmick thing. My mistake.

They also seem to hang out with the Twin Peaks dudes, which makes total sense given their sound. Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks live knows that the recorded version of that band is a far more polite version of the pandemonium of their actual stage shows. Post Animal swims in a similar lane, though they definitely skew more towards '60s hard psych-pop (that's a thing, right?). Their new album, When I Think Of You In A Castle, showcases a band at the height of their current powers. Or maybe this is where they've always been? I dug through their back catalog and there isn't a whole lot of variation on their sound, so maybe they were pretty fully baked from the get-go. That said, this is definitely the strongest collection of their songs.

Post Animal is touring a lot through June, so I'd recommend seeing them if they come through your town. Unless you live in Chicago, which is already sold out, so you're out of luck.

Check out the album and throw the lads a few bucks to download (or buy a physical copy) if you see fit.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Believe it or not, Beach Bunny's got me interested in "Sports!"

It's gonna finally be warm outside today! So let's break out some beach pop!

I was digging through the bill VARSITY is playing on at The Empty Bottle for their record release show Friday, and decided to check out this tune by Chicago band Beach Bunny.

Judging by their band photo they look impossibly young, but their music is super catchy and super accomplished. Much like the Hatchie track I shared yesterday, their sound definitely has deep roots in '90s indie pop, something I'm a total sucker for.

I was digging through their discography and from what I can tell, the band started out as the solo project of singer/guitarist Lili Trifilio, but the single below and their most recent EP feature a full band. It's all pretty good stuff though, so if you dig "Sports" you might want to tour their whole collection as well.

I have plans on Friday night, so I don't know if I can make it to the show, but if I do you can be sure I'll get there early enough to check these folks out. And if not, I'll definitely be at their next show!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Sugar & Spice" and everything is all right when I listen to Hatchie.

Things have finally been going well in my personal life lately, but this unending winter is still taxing me emotionally. So the timing of this music video couldn't be more perfect. Chip tweeted a recommendation to me yesterday that I might dig this song by Hatchie, and he was so right. Dreampop in a firmly '90s vein that still manages to sound bright and sunny.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Darkness rocked.

Photo by Simon Emmett
Some days I just don't know what to write, especially since I've made the conscious effort to let a lot of things that had been weighing on my just float away. So instead, go read my review of The Darkness show I saw last week.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pretty excellent weekend.

Good times. Good hangs. Lots of music and good people. After the last couple of weeks this weekend was exactly what I needed. Thank you to everyone I ran into or talked with. I don't even care that it's the middle of April and it's snowing outside!

And now, a chimpanzee riding on a segway. What a classic.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wussy bring on the aliens in our midst.

Photo by John Erhardt
The new Wussy album just sort of chugs pleasantly along for the most part. It's made for nice background music at work. I've never seen them live but I can envision these tunes being really amped up in a club.

Anyway, the one track that really jumped out at me was their cover of Twinkeyz' "Aliens In Our Midst," a hard driving rocker that seethes with paranoia, but doesn't prompt actual anxiety.

It's almost like you want to go, "But of course there're aliens in our midst, dude, what are you freaking out about?" And then that dog with a human head from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers pops out of the bushes and goes, "Duh."

O.K. that doesn't really track lyrically but it's the vibe I got.

What Heaven Is Like comes out digitally next month and physically in June, but you can pre-order it through the player below. Get on it.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Saw The Darkness last night...

Here's a blast from their past. Review to come on Third Coast Review. I've seen this band so many times—from their first U.S. tour with a show at Double Door (with The Webb Brothers opening (?!)), through shows in other cities, up until last night's gig at Park West (easily the weirdest venue I've seen them play but oh-so much fun!)—and I still haven't tired of their over the top true embrace of showmanship and rock and/or roll.

Some call them ridiculous; I call them ridiculously fun. Hell, I might steal that line for my review.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

It's National Pet Day!

I mean, how could I live without little Pickle?!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Aces hit the spot.

This weekend was particularly taxing in ways I'm actually not going to go into (gasp!) but my friend Marcus recommended I check out The Aces, figuring that might cheer me up ... and he was right!

The band includes sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez and their friends friends McKenna Petty and Katie Henderson. They definitely rock in a HAIM vibe, so if you’re looking for sunny pop this will hit the spot.

The band is on tour opening for X Ambassadors and hits Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on April 27.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Just an observation. Happy Monday!

Home warranties are great for major mechanical breakdowns (like a furnace) but not for emergencies (like needed to immediately change your locks or getting a plumber out to stop your basement from flooding).

Friday, April 06, 2018

Happy Sloan day!

I can't even tell you how much of a healing tonic Sloan's 12 has been over the last month or so, and you can finally hear the whole thing! Go snag yourself a copy and thank me later!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Been a week.

I have a cough that I just haven't been able to ditch, so matter how much Theraflu I take.

It also means I've been tossing and turning and unable to sleep and probably spending a little too much time on the Facebooks as a mode of distraction from not feeling well. In fact I think I might need a Facebook break for a while. We'll see how that goes, but it certainly can't hurt.

I had a long phone call with a friend this evening and they pointed out a few things I had been blind to, and it was an incredibly helpful and kind thing for them to do even if parts were tough to hear. I'm not a bad person, but they helped me understand how I can be a better person. I think I'm finally ready to let go of the stuff from my past that's gotten in my way and look into the future. I'm kind of excited about that!

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Way too much Scott.

I love this song but if I ever saw that many Scotts I'd freak out. One is plenty. (I kid, dude.)

Was trying to find the late night talk show performance of this with Wes on guitar but can't seem to find it anywhere. Anyone have it? I think my only copy is on VHS and I ain't digging through boxes to find that.

Monday, April 02, 2018

Friday, March 30, 2018

Another break-up.

Today is probably the last time I'll see my gym. Sadly LSF Verge, formerly Cheetah Gym, closes their doors at the end of the month. It's a huge bummer, and even though there were some rocky times in our relationship when they changed owners, they ended up righting the ship and creating a great atmosphere. But I guess it wasn't great enough to survive.

I've been a member since December 29, 2003. I know, what?! Heck, outside my family this has been my longest relationship with regular contact. When it briefly closed in 2007, it gave me a series of articles that at the time brought in crazy new traffic to Chicagoist. The gym really meant something to people.

It was also known as "the gym in the Real World house"—which was true—but to me it was always "the gym in Urbis Orbis" a '90s Wicker Park/Bucktown coffee shop I used to go to and drink coffee and buy 'zines. So it's roots go deep. I mean, do I really have any reason to go that part of town any more? Not really.

How do I even find a new gym? My company will start offering subsidized memberships to a nearby gym, but that doesn't start until the summer. And lord knows if I hold off until then my summer bod won't show up until winter at the earliest!

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Say 'Hi' to Little Junior and their amazing cover of Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You."

Usually I don’t go for kitschy covers as a promotional tactic, but this version of Carly Rae Jepsen's "I Really Like You" by Toronto’s Little Junior is an exception. It’s definitely a bit of a stunt, but there is zero ironic distancing going on here. The song appears as the final track on the band’s debut LP Hi, and the video they created is a great lo-fui production that mimics the original.

In the video Annie Murphy from Schitt's Creek plays Tom Hanks, while Rane Elliott-Armstrong of Little Junior is Carly.

The band’s heart is also in the right place. They said:
Any money we get from covering this video by the flawless Carly Rae Jepsen is going to Youth Line, a youth-led organization that provides peer support for LGBTQ2 youth in Toronto. It's a great cause and we feel we have a responsibility to use our privilege to give back to our community. To our LGBTQ2 family and friends: we see you, we're here for you.
Hi isn’t out until May 11, but I’ve been listening to it this morning and it brings up the same question I frequently ask about band’s from Toronto: are they just born with hooks galore running through their blood? Hi is more power-pop than punk, but there’s enough attitude in there to keep things just the right amount of scuzzy with flashes of polish. And these folks can really write concise bursts of music that waste none of your time but give you all the pleasure—the album’s 11 tracks clock in at under 32 minutes.

The band will be touring in April and May, and I'll definitely be at their Chicago show at Subterranean on May 19.

Hope this video brightens your day as much as it did mine.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

You can bleed when you wanna bleed.

I had forgotten how much I love this song. Crank it up and transport yourself to 1993. Also, am I crazy or is Liz Phair in this video as well and I just never noticed it before?

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

'Move On' with The By Gods.

The By Gods recently rolled through town, and I didn't even realize they had put out another album late last year! If you're a fan of heavy, melodic rock and/or roll, you'll really like this. The show was pretty fabulous too, so you can see if they're coming through your town.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Sour gifts.

I had bought her the 30th anniversary edition of INXS' Kick for her birthday. It was an import, so I'd pre-ordered it months before, but had already moved out before I could give it to her. I sent her a text letting her know where it was—I didn't want her to think I'd forgot her birthday—and she texted back that it was one of the most depressing gifts she'd ever received. Clearly had I been there and present and given it to her in person it would've been a completely different situation. But I didn't. And I regret that.

Yesterday I discovered it buried underneath a bunch of Blu-rays and realized she didn't even take it with her. That was pretty depressing.

It's the stuff she left behind that stings. She knows I will never eat "classic onion pierogis." And that I would never open the Orange Hostess Cupcakes I bought her because I knew she loved them. But she did take all the clips for the potato chip bags, and all the magnets off the fridge. And I could've still used those. Oh well.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Making the best of a bad mood.

I'm in a bad mood today. I'm under the weather. The divorce settlement went from cruising to rocky. I'm now avoiding rock shows because I don't want awkward encounters with a person I know. My right arm aches. My The Man Who Fell To Earth digital movie code got borked and I'm sure I'll never hear from the distributor about it. Blah blah blah, poor me.

So instead of wallowing, why don't we just let's dance in honor of modern love?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Marmalakes turn "Milwaukee" into a power pop rager.

Well, this hit my inbox at the perfect time! It’s a beautiful, sunny day in Chicago and this track “Milwaukee” is perfect listing. And hey, if it’s not sunny wherever you are, this might just melt the clouds above you.

It’s performed by Marmalakes, out of Austin, and is a new single off their debut full-length Please Don't Stop, out May 11. The bandleaders’ names, Chase Weinacht and Josh Halpern, might ring a bell since they each also play in a number of other bands including Shearwater and The Hermits.

“Milwaukee” is a surging little piece of power pop, that glistens and shines. But the band isn’t afraid to get a little scuffed up—the instrumental break down near the end of the tune offs just the right amount of grit—and the resulting combination is a song that is over far too quickly. Luckily, you can just put it on repeat.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Get caught up in Ten Million Lights' "Red Tornado."

I can't remember how I stumbled across Saturna. It was probably when I got their excellent single "Pop Rocks" off one of Largehearted Boy's daily downloads a decade plus ago. Unbeknownst to me, one of the band members was regular Tankboy reader and alerted me when a couple folks from Saturna had started a new project called Ten Million Lights. Their  music was a little more on the dreamy shoegaze side, while Saturna was a little more rocking, but I dug both projects.

Ten Million Lights released their self-titled debut in 2010 ... and then didn't do anything else. Until this year when they released a new single and EP. That I completely missed, until Ryan from the band emailed me yesterday with another new single they're releasing ahead of their sophomore effort, Sour Oranges, out next month.

All this build up is to say, it sure took you folks long enough to put out a second album! Talk about taking your time.

Ten Million Lights have changed their sound a bit, adding more straightforward hard rocking and chugging guitars to the dreamier elements of their earlier music, with a dash of the poppier muscles they flexed in the Saturna days. If "Red Tornado" is indicative of this slightly new direction then Sour Oranges will probably find a welcome place in my music collection.

Check it out for yourself and let me know if you agree.

As a matter of fact, if you live in Portland, you can go to the band's record release show at The Fixin' To this Saturday, March 24. If you do, let me know how the rest of the album sounds!