Friday, May 17, 2019

The Soft Bulletin was released 20 years ago today…

The Flaming Lips in 1999 looking almost presentable!

Most of you probably didn't hear The Soft Bulletin the day it came out, since the May 17, 1999 release date was for the UK version (the US version, with a slightly different track listing, wasn't released until June 22). It took me a week to finally track down the import version after stalking every indie record shop in Chicago on a daily basis.*

I had heard The Flaming Lips debut their new direction a few months earlier at La Zona Rosa in Austin during SXSW. I believe it was only their second live set as a newly configured trio (they played two days earlier in Dallas as a test run) and they went on well after their supposed 1 a.m. start time. I remember being confused by Steven Drozd being set up behind a bank of keyboards and VCRs. I had heard Zaireeka, but was expecting the band to play as a power trio, full of Wayne Coyne guitar squalls, Michael Ivins thunder bass and Drozd's monster drumming.

That was obviously not what happened.

The trio played three of their older "guitar" songs, reconfigured to match the new aural direction the band was headed, instead relying on one Zaireeka cut and a slew of material no one in the room had ever heard, including "Race For The Prize" and "The Gash." The band was still kicking out psychedelic anthems, but there was a whole new dimension and tenderness that flowed through the new songs that BLEW ME AWAY.

The piece I turned in recapping that year's SXSW for The Chicago Flame isn't online, and one day I'll dig through my hard copy collection of my writing to find it, but I do remember no one in the office believed The Flaming Lips would sound the way I described them. At the time they were still only known to mainstream audiences as the "She Don't Use Jelly" band who appeared briefly on an episode of 90210. And my music friends who had been following the band along with me since the late '80s didn't believe it either.

Obviously The Soft Bulletin is now lauded as a modern classic, and that Austin show I saw bore the genesis of Coyne's turning to theater props to help convey the weight of the music since he no longer had a guitar to bash away at. Back then the DIY stage show aesthetic had always been a part of the band's DNA—their shows were visual spectacles even if it was merely through draping every piece of gear with Christmas lights and setting up a bunch of strobes they carried in themselves—but in The Soft Bulletin era they took the visual component up a notch. And since then have taken it up about 10,482 notches with varying degrees of success.

I'm older, so to me I'll always prefer the albums of the pre-Bulletin Lips when considering my favorite portion of their body of work—it's just the stuff I heard first that hardwired the band into my brain, I'm totally O.K. with folks who only love the era Bulletin kicked off—but I don't think they ever released anything in that period, or are likely to do so in any later period, that caught me so totally off guard and filled me with so much melancholic joy.

*This was back in the days when music wasn't immediately online for bands like the Flaming Lips, so all I had between the show and the album's release was the memory of the music (I hummed the melody of "Race For The Prize" on a daily basis between that March and May, for sure—it was all I had). Yes, Napster and its compatriots were certainly rising, but they were still depending on more mainstream releases pilfered from CD packaging plants and the like to fill their online offerings. The Flaming Lips didn't qualify as a band early pirates felt the need to obtain and disseminate online. Yet.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Checking in.

Looking toward a brighter future!
One year ago today I was in the the hospital because I thought I was having a heart attack. It was the second time in less than a year I found myself in that same emergency room with the same fear that I was surely dying. The first time Mich was by my side, but this time I was totally alone. It turned out my ticker was fine, but my stress levels were through the roof, and they weren't going to come down any time soon. One year later I'm in a much better place, but my life is still far from perfect. Though I do keep a gratitude journal to remind me that good things do happen to me every day.

But I'm still filled with the deepest sadness that I lost her. In the month leading up to her deciding divorce was inevitable I honestly thought I'd be able to turn it around. To my (minor) credit at least I didn't harangue her to change her mind for months on end. I made a few attempts to dissuade her from ending the marriage, but for the most part I accepted her decision.

Maybe somewhere deep inside I was still in denial.* Maybe? I'm sure I was.

A little over a year ago was probably the toughest period of time in my life for a number of reasons I no longer feel the need to rehash. But I do remember it was right about now that the more public-facing evidence of the destruction of my life had started to ebb and I began to focus more on making things right with myself for the sake of my future. (The timing couldn't have been better since I was about to lose my job to a company merger the day after my heart attack scare. What timing!)

I've thinking about the future, and am struck that I am at the almost exact same place I was 20 years ago. 20 years from now I should be ostensibly retiring (though I don't see how that can possibly happen at this point). I thought I led a charmed life, and the fact of the matter is that I really did. And then I squandered it, blew things up, and threw myself all the way back to square one.

Therapy helped me identify a few milestones that led me to where I am now, and of course now that I see them clearly I wish I'd noted those warning signs and adjusted my decisions accordingly. The period between buying our house and the sudden closing of Chicagoist was probably the steepest downward slope that found me skiing out of control and straight into losing the best thing that had happened to me up until that point in my life. Other people probably saw the signs more clearly than me. I remember having a "wake" for Chicagoist at our house and I'm pretty sure most people in attendance could tell something was wrong with my relationship before I did. I was too wrapped up in my own selfishness to truly be able to self-evaluate, that's for sure.

So where am I now? I live across the street from the house we once owned, in an apartment that's too big for a single person—no single dude really needs 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, but I just wanted to move and make it as simple as possible. But it is the right size for me to at least fit all my stuff into instead of renting a storage unit. I've settled down after months of heavy dating—and by that I mean many "getting to know you" dates; this isn't some sort of hook-up humblebrag. I have a nice freelance gig at an agency I really like, but of course would prefer the security of a permanent job. I've made a lot of changes regarding what I eat and drink, along with physical activity, and am enjoying feeling more clearheaded and energetic than I have in far too long. I'm grateful for the friends who stuck around, since I lost most of them during the course of the divorce. I don't blame them, but it still hurt.

There are still a few special people that bring flashes of color to my life when they're around—there's one person in particular that entered my life over the winter that makes me especially happy, and I hope I'm doing the same for her—but for the most part I still feel as if my world has largely turned grey when I'm alone. I suspect it will be for a while longer, and even though it seems like it will never return to the Technicolor glory I enjoyed not all that long ago, I'll keep holding on hoping for that more permanent saturation of color to manifest.

There's really no other choice.

*If we're going by the traditional 5 stages of grief I think it's worth noting I went through all of them except "anger." I'm definitely now in acceptance, but that doesn't mean I'm not still depressed by what happened. I don't think the sad part will ever totally go away.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

American Football isn't playing games, they're playing moods.

Photo by Atiba Jefferson

I know it’s gonna sound blasphemous, but I was never a huge American Football fan. That's probably got more to do with timing than anything else since they seem to be fervently adored by folks just a few years younger than me, for the most part. Even though I wasn't following their every move, though, I did enjoy their music.

On their third self-titled album the vibe remains subdued, the lyrics are still introspective, and the song-craft is meticulous as ever. American Football isn't a group about letting loose their inhibitions, they draw inward to create miniature pockets of air intent on unraveling inner mysteries.

The album came out in March but I'm choosing to share this song today because it matches by mood as of late. I wouldn't say the lyrics wholly connect to my actual feelings—though there are snippets of truth in there—but the tone of the song as a whole does. Often I take music as more the whole sound of all its parts rather than dissecting vocal meaning, and this is certainly an instance where that inclination of mine of driving my fondness and finds this song popping u on my daily playlist more often than not.

American Football is on tour now, so if they come through your town you probably want to see them since they said on a recent podcast that this could be the end of the line for the band, at least as far as live shows go.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I'm still "Falling" for Dude York, that's for sure.

Photo by Eleanor Petry

Dude York's new album Falling isn't out until July 26, so you'll have to wait until closer to that date for my full review. What I will say is that the band continues to grow artistically at an astonishing rate.

I was a big fan of 2017's Sincerely, and their Happy In The Meantime EP, released earlier this year, proved the band was moving in a more refined direction. Don't take "refined" as meaning polite or any less urgent than their previous work. Instead the trio has continued to hone their approach, resulting in sharper songs and evolving melodies. The first single "Falling" sees the band working their strengths as Peter Richards' guitar zooms right along as Claire England's vocals twinkle and shine, all driven by Andrew Hall's pop-along drumming.

Stream the single below, and if you like it consider pre-ordering Falling since you'll immediately get a download of the tune to take with you on-the-go.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Get A Life, get a job, get a band.

Photo by Anthony Flores

Get A Life is the one-person band conceived by Chase DeMaster, and his debut This Band Could Be Your Life Or Debt is a lo-fi but engaging listen. Apparently the first song he wrote that ended up sparking the project as a whole was "Get A Job," whose refrain of "I'm going nowhere fast" gives a pretty good idea of the direction of both the song's interests and the album as a whole.

Yuuki Mathews of The Shins produced the album, though to my ears that is more in the interest of connecting a "name" to the release of an unknown indie rock endeavor. Maybe Matthews cleaned things up a bit? From the press release it seems like he may have played more of a mentor / encouraging role than anything else. Whatever—if it helps get the album to more ears then that's a good thing!

Anyway, here's the song that started it all. It looks like Get  Life just wrapped a short tour with TV Girl, but here's hoping they've got something in Chicago coming up since I'm really curious to see how these songs take shape on stage.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Oh, there's the big twist!

Watching a late night host prove to his writers that a bit isn't going to work has never been funnier.

[h/t Slate]

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Walking Bicycles return to take you on a dark ride.

Walking Bicycles disappeared from the Chicago scene for five years before returning with last month’s Chooch. In the world of independent rock and/or roll that is an eon and a half. So does this quartet that's been kicking around since 2004 warrant a heralded comeback?

Hell yes.

I was never a close follower of Walking Bicycles—in the Chicago scene I'm not even sure which clan they fell into back when they were active the first time around. I feel like I probably put them on a bill I did at some point in the mid-aughts when I was still actively booking and promoting shows, but they could have been added at the request of one of the other bands. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that the band as it currently exists is worth your attention.

The music is dark, but it ain't depressing. It just feels like a heavy, warm, wet and woolen blanket is draping the sound and suffocating you with its weight. Singer Jocelyn Summers yelps and sneers throughout the claustrophobic maze of sound as the instruments fight against barriers and attempt to break free. Check out the wandering bass lines that bump up against the guitar drone and waves of drums on "Statutory Basement" for an obvious example of this, though it is a characteristic of the band's sound as a whole.

There is also something refreshingly simple in their approach; in this instance repetition isn't hypnotic as much as it's bracing. So open the hatch, climb down the ladder into Walking Bicycle's subterranean sound, and enjoy the band's unexpected return.

You can catch Walking Bicycles at The Hideout this Friday, May 10, so getcher tickets here.


Wednesday, May 08, 2019

Snowball ii returns with a short blast of new songs (and I want to hear more).

Jackson Wargo of Snowball ii
It's been two years since Snowball ii last released an album, so the arrival of the Eaton Super 10 EP is quite welcome. The Los Angeles-based group is led by  Jackson Wargo, who handles most of the instruments here with the exception of the drums and one of the bass parts. So, much like 2017's Flashes Of Quincy this is largely a one-person affair.

Eaton Super 10's five tracks fly by far too quickly. It's not that they're unusually short, most clock in between 3 to 4.5 minutes so that feels pretty average, but each time the EP ends I find myself wanting more. Opener "What Pressure?" starts off delicately, largely driven by sparse sparkling guitars interrupted by occasional crescendos of noise that mirror the narrator's inner journey. It's rumination that gives way to exclamation, and it's a slightly more nuanced approach than much of Snowball ii's previous work.

From the point on we're back in more familiar territory, with guitars courting melodies that sway back and forth between sweet and slinking atonality that never grows jarring. Listen to the dazed-n-confused guitars winding their way through "The Air In The Mean Time" and you'll see what I'm talking about.

"Lost in Juarez" flirts with shoe gaze tropes without ever tripping over them, before depositing us in the soft borderline psychedelia of "Spring Breaks Eternal," another sonic departure from the band's past. Don't get. Too cozy though, closer "Which Way To The Egress?" ensures you leave Snowball ii's latest collection in a wash of sonic fury.

Eaton Super 10 is currently available to stream or download for free (see below), although if you like what you hear it's always a good idea to throw a band a little dough through ye olde Bandcamp interface. Sadly it looks like the band never really gets far from California tour-wise, which is a real bummer because I bet these songs slay live.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Check out some sunny, buzzy, wistful pop from The Beths.

Photo by Mason Fairey

I think for the rest of the week I'm going to highlight songs or albums that are setting my mood on "summer."

I got a text from a friend yesterday asking if I'd heard of New Zealand band The Beths. I admitted I hadn't and then did a quick search through my email to discover I'd actually been sent their 2018 release Future Me Hates Me earlier this year ahead of a U.S. tour. And somehow I totally missed it, which has me kicking myself in the seat of my pants twice as hard since bands from New Zealand don't exactly hit Chicago all that regularly.*

In case you couldn't tell form the "kicking myself" aside, The Beths are pretty great, ergo my despair at missing their Chicago stop last March. Future Me Hates Me is an effortlessly buzzy collection whose music lifts you up even as the introspective lyrics pull you down. Singer Elizabeth Stokes has the kind of delivery that is world weary without being sad. Her delivery is understated and conversational, drifting along atop melodies I can only describe as melancholic rays of summer sunshine.

I shouldn't even say this since I tend to avoid the whole "so-and-so sounds like" or "RIYL" shorthand—outside of social media teasers where I'm trying to get someone to read a longer piece—but I'll just put this out there. Stokes' style of delivery is rather reminiscent of Courtney Barnett. I do not say this to diminish her talents or set them up for comparison. Instead I mention it because it's incredibly hard to make lyrics sophistication sound so effortless. So if that shorthand gets just a few more people to give the album a listen than I am happy to employ it.

*Luckily I, and quite possibly you, will get another chance to catch The Beths since they announced a summer U.S. tour. It hits Chicago's Logan Square Arts Festival on June 30 (my birthday!).

Monday, May 06, 2019

Let's get started again, set the clocks at the same time.

Clearly I have decided not to shutter the site. After getting feedback from friends and readers I think it's time to ramp things up again and return to your regularly scheduled weekday posting. A couple other changes in my life have me feeling back on track (I can NOT stress enough how resetting a regular sleep and gym schedule helps with mental acuity and physical energy) so I'm ready to get back at it. It's been a really challenging year-and-a-half, and I still have a lot to work through and put to rest, but I'm in a much happier place now. And that also means I feel creatively inspired, which is good for everyone.

So let's go!

[Title of this post courtesy Frisbie, as you can hear above.]

Friday, May 03, 2019

Just what I needed.

I previewed Partner's EP and their upcoming show at The Hideout this Sunday evening. If you need a pick-me-up like I do (or are just in the mood for some dang fine hooks) then you should check them out.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Should I shutter this?

After way more than a decade of regular posting clearly I've hit a wall.* It's obvious the last year had a profound effect on me as far as what I want to share. Do I keep this going or is it time to call it quits?

I think I want to keep the option open but I'm curious if y'all think it's just time to hang it up.


*Actually did a cursory look at posting in 2019 and realized I'd written more than I thought but still FAR less than my old "a post a weekday" cadence I kept up since 2003 until recently. So, question still stands.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Post Child invites you into their "Simulation."

Post Child just released a new single, and it's far dreamier than their previous work. The Chicago band tends to specialize in large, fuzzed out guitar pop, but "Simulation" sees them in a far gauzier territory. I';m curious to see what Post Child's next album will sound like because they're obviously exploring new territory.

Check out the tune below or download it for free (or pay what you want). If you like it the band has a show at Emporium Chicago on April 14.

Friday, March 08, 2019

This is temporary.

Is it depression if you brought the misery onto yourself?

Maybe? I dunno.

What I do know is that I’ve been deeply sad for quite a while. I enjoy people’s company, and there are certainly individuals that bring me joy when we’re together, but it’s finally settled in that a little over a year ago I totally blew up my life and I’m still not sure how to recover.

It doesn’t help that 2018 brought me an epic run of bad luck that had nothing to do with my divorce, but as I’ve said before, perhaps I had outlived my charmed existence and karma came back at me with a vengeance.

I’m a better person for it now. But I’m also a much sadder person. I still try to maintain my signature blend of pragmatism and optimism, but I admit it’s gotten harder.

Don’t get me wrong—there are many good things in my life. My friends and my job are both great. When Pickle the Kitten meets me at the door every time I come home it truly brings me joy. My family is awesome. In the past year I’ve met a LOT of new and amazing people as well, and it’s helped me break my usual rhythm of going to the same places and doing the same things. I view all of these as positives.

Oh Jesus, I just re-read that first sentence and realized I sound just like Rob from High Fidelity. I guess some things never change. I’m leaving it in though.

I stole the title of this post from her blog, because she’s right. This is temporary, and she’s living proof of that. I need to follow her example, let go of the past, and embrace the good things to come in my future. Because good things do come.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

It's an epidemic.

The person across the aisle from me on the train this morning was splayed out, snoozing across both seats they were on. At first I thought they were just being rude, until they moved their head on the backpack they were using as a pillow and a ton of empty little baggies and needles fell onto the floor. I just stared in shock. What do you do in a situation like that? I mean, the person looked pretty normal, and I had just assumed they were a student catching a quick nap before school.

Opioids are a huge problem and their abuse isn't being properly addressed. I've know addicts and was never sure what I could do to help. I bet you know addicts too, even if you're unaware. It's so depressing and I feel so useless.

Eventually a conductor came into our car and woke the person up. They told them to clean up all the stuff on the floor, and then left the person alone. I think that might've been the most disturbing thing. This is so common that public transit staff just treat it as a routine, mundane occurrence.

I hope that person is O.K.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

You're gonna love Love In October

Love In October continues the trend of Sweden kicking out sparkling and infectious music. The two brothers at the core of the group, Erik  and Kent Widman, relocated to the states in the early aughts, eventually settling in Chicago. Their sound settles firmly in the realm of power pop, and released a series of EPs between 2009 and 2016. With each release, the band’s sound got tighter and tighter, shinier and shinier.

With this year’s SHAPES, their debut proper full-length, some grit was thrown into the mix. The brothers, with the aid of guitarist Chris Limerinos, adjusted their sound to reflect the turmoil the world is currently going through. The result is a scrappier, though no less melodic, incarnation of Love In October. Kicking off with “Time Cop” the band mixes slashing guitars, swooshing synths and a driving beat that snags you from the first note. From there the album keeps up the intensity and only bringing you down into a less frenetic state of mind with the album closer “Wasting My Time.” The band also pulls off the amazing trick of sampling Donald Trump on “I Stopped Caring” without immediately triggering a spate of projectile vomiting.

The band plays a record release show at Chop Shop tonight. Since Love In October almost never plays live shows this is a rare chance to see them bring their music to life onstage. Check out SHAPES below and then you snag your tickets to the show here.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

St. Vincent + Dua Lipa 4ever.

Somehow the Grammys did not completely suck this year. I know! How did that happen! And this duet between St. Vincent and Dua Lipa was easily the highlight. Snippets of this were all over Twitter yesterday, but St. Vincent was kind enough to post the whole video on her YouTube page so enjoy the steamy fire smoldering throughout this performance.

Wednesday, February 06, 2019

FINALLY! Some new music from Charly Bliss!

Photo Credit: Ebru Yildiz
Charly Bliss just announced their new album Young Enough is coming out in May! I've been a huge fan of the band since I first saw them (opening for Veruca Salt, I think?) so I am very excited. I actually saw 'em play a few weeks ago at the Tomorrow Never Knows fest and, as usual, they fully delivered. If you haven't seen them, you are missing out because they are one of my favorite live bands out there right now.

The group is previewing one track, "Capacity," from the album and it has me even more excited to hear every other track. It's got a great groove and is a little more downbeat and complex than their previous work. But I think it shows a band that's growing their sound in new and exciting directions, and who wouldn't get excited about that?!

Since they were just in town the obviously don't have any Chicago dates right now, but I betcha they'll be on one of the festival bills this summer, so keep an eye out.

Stream "Capacity' or watch its video below.

Tuesday, February 05, 2019

Celebrating new chapters.

Hey there. Hi there. How are you? I'm good, thanks for asking.

Well, as good as a guy can be in the middle of winter with almost no sunshine. But hey, I survived the polar vortex, so that's something!

Speaking of sunshine, my ex-wife is making plans to move to California. She told me about it a while ago, but I have learned over the past year not to talk about another person's business until they publicly break the news, even if it's to be celebratory. I mean, I already knew that, but in the initial months of my divorce it's clear I didn't always make the best decisions.

How do I feel about the move? There is certainly a part of me initially sad she's leaving. But I'm also happy for her. Her boyfriend is out there. Year round sunshine is out there. Activities I know have made her feel peace in her life are out there. She will be able to start a new chapter in her life out there. She'll be incredibly happy out there.

And in the end that's what counts, so that makes me happy.

Friday, January 25, 2019

We are the AI.

This short film by Keiichi Matsuda explores just how integrated we will become with tech in the future. It's not a good direction for the human race. The short posits that as we become more and more connected we seem to grow further apart. And in the end there's only one real solution to combat loneliness—the Merger.

Also note it's a 360ยบ video so feel free to change your vantage point and really get inside the story.

[h/t Mashable]

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

What the holy heck is a FLOPPOTRON?

Well, this is certainly one of the more interesting interpretations of Blur's "Song 2" I've ever heard. Let's hear it for old tech!

[h/t Boing Boing]

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Cherry Glazerr gets shinier and poppier but keep their scuzzy heart intact.

Photo by Pamela Littky
With each album, Cherry Glazerr strips away more of the L.A. grit that abraded earlier releases and replaces it with another layer of refined pop. So what started as a caterwauling garage band now sounds like something you’d hear on more mainstream modern rock radio. This makes them a little less fun, IMHO, but I also respect their drive to grow and expand their sound. They could have easily stayed in the swim lane that appeases hipsters but instead are striving for something a little more universal.

All of that said, while the the songs on Stuffed & Ready (out February 1) feature a shinier studio sound, the lyrics are anything but crowd friendly as frontperson Clementine Creevy continues to give zero fucks about what might or might not offend you. I can also easily see these songs stripped down into something grittier and glammier when performed live. In other words the band may be aiming for car radios but they’ll still sound just as good at somewhere like Bottom Lounge when they play there on February 23.

Check out the mildly NSFW video below and see if you agree with my read on the band’s latest evolution in sound.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Not the plague, but not pleasant either.

The drink of champions?
It's been weeks and I just want to stop coughing.

I want my voice back.

I want to stop alternating between feeling feverish and feeling chills all over my body.

I want to be able to get a decent night's sleep.

I want to feel strong enough and rested enough to make it to the dang gym, even!

I know I'm not the only one going through this since my Facebook feed is filled with friends who also seem to be sick with similar symptoms that just won't let go. I can usually power through these things but last week I completely lost my voice, and that never happens to me, so it freaked me out. Yesterday I barely made it out of my bed and to the couch and just focused on doing nothing in hopes my body would repair itself. But here I am, chugging Theraflu at my desk all day long and nothing is improving.

I made a deal with myself that if this stays this bad for the next couple of days I'll go see the doctor. It's just so hard to make the time to do so! I'm so busy at work I feel guilty for leaving the office for an appointment. Again, I'm sure I'm not the only one that does this since most everyone I know are dedicated to what they do and loathe to take any time just for being sick.

Anyway, enough of my moaning and complaining. I;m jjust counting down the hours until I get home, wrap myself in a blanket n the couch, and warm up some chicken noodle soup. It pairs quite nicely with all the Theraflu.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Year in review, or maybe not.

This year has been, um, interesting. I dated a lot of of very cool, very smart people. Exes of mine were kind enough to take me in as I tried to sort though everything. Heck, the girl I lost my virginity to decades ago took me out for a delicious lunch. And, even via dating apps, I made lots of friends.

This is my way of saying I'm O.K.

It's been a rough year. But I survived it.You will too.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Take a ride to "Motor City Steel" with The Dandy Warhols.

The Dandy Warhols are releasing Why You So Crazy on January 25, and today they released the latest video from the new album. "Motor City Steel" is a jaunty little number that will have you humming along with it within the first few measures of the song. It also offers a nice hint of what to expect from the new album as a whole. I've heard it and think that fans of the band's work but recent and old will find this an enjoyable listen.

The band is touring behind the album and celebrating their 25th anniversary as a group this year, with a stop in Chicago at The Metro on May 11. Honestly, I can't believe they've stayed such a solid ensemble for over two decades—no offense, but a bunch of druggy musicians from Portland usually don't have great staying power—but here they are. I guess longevity is a healthy by-product of just doing things your own way and not giving one whit about what others think of you.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Best / worst Fig Dish cover of all time?

I don't know what rabbit hole Kip fell down in order to come across this, but holy cow.

From what I can tell this dude is an L.A. comedian/actor, but I suspect he's being totally sincere here. I wonder if this will lead to another Fig Dish reunion?

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Meg Myers ain't interested in your parent's disco.

Meg Myers was unknown to me until I was listening to a recent All Songs Considered, and the track they played, "Tear Me To Pieces," really grabbed me. So I went to check out her album Take Me To The Disco and while it feels a little uneven, it's still pretty solid and worth your time.

I kind of forgot about it again—I've finally started to rev up and am listening to quite a bit of new music again after months where I slowed waaaay down—but when the news broke that St. Vincent is producing the new Sleater-Kinney album, Myers popped back to top of mind. Meyers is definitely rocking a St. Vincent vibe with her latest music, so I figured in honor of this most excellent new S-K music news, I'd share the track that initially grabbed my attention and sparked the realization Myers most certainly shares that Annie Clarke DNA.

Also note it appears Myers has had at least 5 full-length releases since 2013, so the fact I'm just now discovering her is entirely my fault. But if I hadn't heard of her, there's a chance you might not have either.

Friday, January 04, 2019

I made a funny.

Oh the joys of cartoon clip art. I used Strip Generator to make this. It's awfully glitchy but if you're looking for something goofy to play with, have at it! I obviously opted for the minimalist approach...

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

One last adventure in 2018.

So I did something crazy during the holiday break. On Christmas Eve, at the last second, I decided to buy a ticket and go to the Dominican Republic for a few days. My family wasn't doing a holiday gathering until the following week, and a friend of mine was already down there and offered to arrange somewhere for me to stay while I was in the air.

I missed my first flight when I got to the airport and discovered I had left my passport on my dresser. When I finally landed the cab driver was super late picking me up. My hotel room had an, um, interesting smell and a bathroom that looked straight of the set of one of the Saw movies. I got pretty sick one of the days I was there. On my final night an older Russian traveler who was in the shared suite area of my room decided it was a good idea to bring in a prostitute, and was so drunk he kept trying to open my door, not realizing his room was across the hallway.

Yet it was still one of the most relaxing, wonderful vacations I've had that involved beaches and sun.

In the past I'd usually stay at an all inclusive resort and spend all my time trying to down as much free food and booze as I could. This time my focus was on unplugging and relaxing. I spent one day just reading on the beach, more interested in drinking water than margaritas.

The neighborhood I was staying was more remote and less touristy, and I cared more about just walking around than taking in the nightlife.

I spent a day hanging out with spider monkeys in the mountains, and taking in the countryside during the 90-minute ride to and from the preserve. If you ever have a chance to take a similar excursion I highly recommend it. You haven't lived until you have a bunch of monkeys using you as a literal jungle gym. And later that evening I had some excellent chicken from a restaurant owned by a Serbian ex-pat.

Most of all I just re-centered. Since booze and clubs and partying were the furthest things from my mind—and I stayed mostly offline since I kept my phone in airplane mode while I was there—it was just an excellent few days of getting away from it all without also getting away from myself.