Friday, September 25, 2020

Freedom truly is love, and The Freedom Affair sets out to prove it.

Photo by Erica Joi Photography

Since the world is a dumpster fire right now, both literally and figuratively, and the pressure seems to only be increasing on everyone about everything, so this week I'm interrupting the previously planned editorial calendar to focus on music that is uplifting or transporting in a positive way for anyone who might need a 30 to 50 minute respite from it all before going back to fight the good fight.

Another rule I haven't shared about selecting the music I've shared this week is that I wanted it to be so accessible that my mom wold enjoy it, even if the musicians making the tunes were a complete mystery to her.* Today's entry totally meets that standard, and is a truly remarkable album, suffused with love, hope, and joy.

I don't really want to ruin The Freedom Affair's Freedom Is Love by trying to describe it further, but just in case you need an additional nudge, the vibe is very early '70s soul flirting with both gospel and a few psychedelic R&B touches, and their choir of voices should appeal to both the dusty soul junkie and the choral aficionado who deeply appreciates group singing.**

I hope you deeply dig it!


BONUS ALBUM: The Freedom Affair knocked the other album in contention for today out of the running at the last minute. I had planned on sharing some early Polyphonic Spree because a) it's been so long since they were last active I think most people have forgotten them and even more never heard of 'em, b) I was definitely looking for something with a chorus of voice, and c) it would allow me to again mention I saw the band crammed into The Empty Bottle on their first tour.

I was also originally going to post The Beginning Stages Of..., but at the last minute decided Together We're Heavy would more immediatley appeal to my mom more. So enjoy this bonus album to close out the week.

*I may have stretched this rule a bit with the Superchunk entry. My mom tends to appreciate more traditionally "controlled" singing from her vocalists, but I think the melody of the singing paired with the song's energy would still be appealing to her. Bit I haven't asked since she had no idea that was even one of my considerations when posting these.

**What I call the "Plotz preference" after David Plotz's famous love of group singing.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

I'm not sure you can ever get enough of Bleached.

Photo by Nicky Giraffe

Since the world is a dumpster fire right now, both literally and figuratively, and the pressure seems to only be increasing on everyone about everything, so this week I'm interrupting the previously planned editorial calendar to focus on music that is uplifting or transporting in a positive way for anyone who might need a 30 to 50 minute respite from it all before going back to fight the good fight.

Unbeknownst to you dear reader, I had a number of rules around this series that I started breaking almost immediately. But one I am sticking to is that any of the music I suggest be available through Bandcamp, because it offers the best streaming experience coupled with the ability to easily purchase the music you're listening to. I've had to make a few last-minute adjustments due to that rule as I've gone along, so that helps explain today's delayed entry, but here it is!

Another thing I've tried to do is avoid most pop stuff, since that is usually built to trigger joy and seems both a little obvious and rather susceptible to your response being, "C'mon man, tell me something I don't know." Well, if you've read my writing in other places over the years you're already aware of Bleached, but you might not be aware just how excellent last year's Don't You Think You've Had Enough? really is. So consider this me telling you something you might not know.

On Don't You Think You've Had Enough? Bleached takes the killer hooks they used to smear over with a wash of guitars, and pulls them to the forefront, bolstering them with a newfound precision that sounds oh-so very human when it could be rendered to sound machine-like in less skilled hands. 

Also, the material absolutely rips on stage. 

So you have something to look forward to whenever it's safe for bands to tour again. But until then, this is so full of life and so freaking catchy it should help hold you over.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

With Superchunk, when it comes to Summer, "This Summer" is a real winner.

Since the world is a dumpster fire right now, both literally and figuratively, and the pressure seems to only be increasing on everyone about everything, so this week I'm interrupting the previously planned editorial calendar to focus on music that is uplifting or transporting in a positive way for anyone who might need a 30 to 50 (or in today's case, 3) minute respite from it all before going back to fight the good fight.

Instead of a feel-good album, here's a feel-good song for the day. I first heard this Superchunk track when they originally shared it as a fee download in 2012, though I can't remember which website got the "exclusive." Much like yesterday's entry spoke about music bending time, "This Summer" manages to somehow cram what feels like an epic anthem into 3 minutes, and that includes a slowly building intro that manages to take up almost a minute of that time before things really explode.

So why share just one song today? Because this one song has come to my rescue so many times in the past I literally can't keep count. There is something at its core that is so suffused with life and joy, it is one of my two go-to songs in an emergency where the interior world needs rebalancing and my mood needs a boost. And it has never failed to lift my mood, so maybe this will be your secret weapon to fighting off the darkness as well.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Slipping through the streams of time with Wye Oak.

Photo by Kendall Atwater

Since the world is a dumpster fire right now, both literally and figuratively, and the pressure seems to only be increasing on everyone about everything, so this week I'm interrupting the previously planned editorial calendar to focus on music that is uplifting or transporting in a positive way for anyone who might need a 30 to 50 (or in today's case, 20) minute respite from it all before going back to fight the good fight.

Today's entry featuring music to make you feel good is a weird one for this series, I'll admit. Even I thought all these posts would feature immediately recognizable "up with people" tunes, but one of my main criteria for uplifting music is that it transports you to a better place, and on the No Horizon EP Wye Oak certainly takes you to a different plane. 

It's a world of aching beauty given power through hope and and the openness to something bigger than you in this world. The entire EP lasts a brief 20 minutes, but the space within those minutes is far larger, creating a weirdly pleasant dissociative effect as the music literally takes you into a different temporal dimension.

I know this all sounds very highfalutin and one might think I'm describing the exact opposite of comforting, feel-good music.* But once you start the little journey into No Horizon it will all make sense and you'll come out the other side of this EP feeling refreshed and positive. 

And then you'll have a trusty quick musical hit to turn to when you just need a few minutes to reenergize throughout the day.

*Did you know highfalutin doesn't require an apostrophe at the end? I was today-years-old when I discovered that!

Monday, September 21, 2020

Nada Surf is here to lift your mood and remind you we're 'Never Not Together.'

Photo by Annie Dressner

Since the world is a dumpster fire right now, both literally and figuratively, and the pressure seems to only be increasing on everyone about everything, so this week I'm interrupting the previously planned editorial calendar to focus on music that is uplifting or transporting in a positive way for anyone who might need a 30 to 50 minute respite from it all before going back to fight the good fight.

Nada Surf is a band who offered distinct different entry points to different people over the years. I was introduced to them as a prematurely labeled one-hit wonder, but many others probably became fans during the group's early shift from more straightforward alterna-rock and started exploring deeper lyrical complexities while opening up their sound. Which means emo fans went ga-ga over albums like Let Go. This is not a veiled insult. And it opened the band to a broader reconsideration by the populace, to the benefit of all.

And then Nada Surf did the unspeakable: they just kept releasing really high quality music with an emotionally accessible core that felt spiritual and uplifting even when the lyrics might've veered into more dour or raw territory. And just kept the quality way up, over and over again. And I think people took them somewhat for granted because of that.

And Nada Surf did nothing to counter that viewpoint, and kept releasing a stable run of really impressive albums. So in some ways their constant excellence may be their biggest barrier to more widespread acclaim? 

This year's Never Not Together came out in February with huge touring and promotional plans ... and then disappeared from most of the musical conversations as the world shut down.* This is depressing not only because the album really deserves your attention, but also because it's truly a tonic for the soul. Jubilantly uplifting clouds of energetically strumming guitars lift you ever higher, song after song. And lest you miss the higher spiritual (not religious, spiritual) aspirations, halfway though one song kicks off with a choir.**

This is spiritual music in the life-affirming, good-for-you, feed the soul category. And most importantly, you just feel good, and positive, and human after riding its waves for 42 minutes. Repeat as needed.

*I know, a constant refrain from me these days, but worth repeating since it really is stunning how much terrific music has just disappeared this year with no touring to help keep the new works in the news cycle and heighten exposure.
**The shift between the frenetic "Something I Should Do" and the softer yearning of "Looking For You" is just so perfect.

Friday, September 18, 2020

I couldn't survive the death of live music, and neither could you.

 It is impossible to really describe the danger to the survival of live music venues right now. If your friends don't understand the danger—no judging, the notion of live music disappearing seems so outlandish I can understand people not taking it seriously—share this excellent article by Slate's Jordan Weissmann with them for a larger picture of the issue.

If we don't do something now, this time next year we will have no independent venues left, with only corporate owned entities that could financially survive the pandemic still standing.

If this is all tl;dr to you or someone you know, then this quote near the end of Weissmann's piece might help promote action—it wouldn't take much for congress to save an entire industry that hasn't been fiscally irresponsible for decades.*

The Save Our Stages Act is not expensive; the total cost is $10 billion. It’s not clear if anybody in Congress even opposes it. The problem is that, as of now, Congress appears to have reached a point where it will either pass one gargantuan aid package or nothing at all. At the moment, the prospects for a grand bargain on relief spending are looking increasingly dim. Last week, I asked Schumer’s office if they thought there was any chance that Save Our Stages could get a floor vote on its own; they told me to ask Cornyn’s office. When I asked Cornyn’s, I got silence.

*I mean in comparison to something like the airline or oil industries. I've certainly known plenty of financially irresponsible club owners, but they never regularly asked for government bailouts to counter their personal stupidity.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A valuable how-to for an all too common issue with external CD drives.

I am old school and still not only own an external CD drive, I use it often! Despite a very long history with the digital side of things, I still prefer hard physical media I can keep, long after a subscription service dies, or a corporation or artist decides they no longer want you to have that thing you bought digitally. Or worse, they update the version you bought digitally to "improve it" without you knowing, often with less than stellar results.

Of course, before today, I never quite knew what to do every time I'd find a slice of ham in there. But now I do, and you do too. Whew!

[h/t Boing Boing]

Monday, September 14, 2020

Hi there, how're you doin', how're you holding up?

The author believes in leading by example.
There is another wave of great new music arriving on everyone's "shores" that started a few weeks ago and shows no sign of abating in the next few weeks. So be on the lookout for some great new stuff to add to your listening rotation (and perhaps your permanent music collection, hm?) coming up from me in the next couple weeks. Hopefully some stuff for Third Coast Review too!

So that should take care of your ears and soul, at least a little bit. I also keep vacillating between whether to share some of my inner struggles during these times. I was like, "Does anyone really care, and even if they do, am I doing anyone any good? Or am I just making everyone even sadder?"

Well, I sat and thought about it and realized just how many personal pieces I've been reading by other writers, even those that tend to keep what's on the inside out ion the public eye. And no matter their background, every story shared made me feel less alone. And it helps me recognize which thoughts are just anxiety monsters out there to get in your way, so I can brush them aside toot sweet by thinking them through and doing a little slow breathing to get grounded again.

See, even that last sentence might help someone out there, no matter what their situation may be.

For instance, I had an excellent weekend. It was maybe the first weekend since this all started that actually felt too short! And all I really did was walk about 10 miles each day, and help set up a yard sale with some friends on Sunday. Being around others, even at a distance, was exactly what I needed.

The only downside is once I got home each day it did suddenly feel even more barren and empty than usual. So Pickle the Kitten probably got more attention than she wanted, and eventually I realized the feeling was just a passing thing and tomorrow was another day and I wasn't going to be so isolated and alone most of time forever. And neither will you. 

So, that helped. And the takeaway is that there is still so much out there for us all, we just have to be patient and do the right thing for everyone's health in order to get there. And we will!

SOMEWHAT RELATED: I have an honest question—how is your relationship with music nowadays? Are you constantly listening or not at all? Binging old favorites or discovering new acts? Throwing everything on shuffle or consuming albums at a time?

I'm curious and would really like to know!

BONUS CONTENT: I can't ask you to kick off the week without a song after all that, now can I? So please enjoy this incredible return to the music scene from my previous kickball teammates. If they are truly back in action, then that's one more thing we can notch as good in the good v. evil column for 2020.

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

'Never Not Here' from Dead Stars is truly better late than never.

This is an old photo, but I used their new one already, and honestly? The folks in the band still look the same.
What's worse: forgetting one of your favorite bands released an album in 2020, or writing about their eminent album release months ago and then totally forgetting about it?

Yup, the pandemic is not just allowing lesser known artists to slip under my radar, I'm missing out on stuff from acts I love! And Dead Stars definitely fits into the "love" category. And their latest LP Never Not Here was released in February. So I immediately bought and downloaded it Monday night as soon as my mistake was revealed.*

In an era where many band are taking their cues from '90s indie rock, Dead Stars have always shone a little more brightly. Their songs are a little tighter, and their guitars chug along balancing a sprightly groove with darker chugging undercurrents. And the vocals rely on melodies you can actually whistle or hum, which helps move them further up the ladder in, in my humble opinion that is often lacking in music that flirts with shoegaze and pop at the same time.

Never Not Here keeps up the good fight and keeps Dead Stars near the top of my list of contemporary faves right now. I think you'll find there's a space for them on your list as well.

*I do have to admit I'm bummed I never had a chance to buy the limited edition CD release of the album—bands are getting inventive outside of vinyl!—but that's the price you pay for losing track of a band's release!

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Just because you're outside a lot doesn't mean you don't still need the great outdoors.

Photo by meeeeeee!

I, like many, walk a lot nowadays. All over the place. And it's a primary activity for thinking and moving time along instead of sitting and stewing. So I've been outside more this summer than probably any summer in my adult past.

But yesterday I went to the beach and almost cried at the sight.

In Chicago, the lake is a living thing, and we draw power from it. I swear that's the truth. I may live in a city, and love the city, but my nature boy needs feeding too. Luckily, if I take a bus straight down the street from the end of my block it takes me right to the northern section of Lincoln Park that borders Montrose Beach. Yesterday was the first time I'd done that this year, and the first time I saw a large body of water since last year. Easily.

I made the trek fully expecting to turn around and go home once I got to my destination if crowds were large or things seemed unsafe. There was a huge police barricade reading "Park Closed" to drivers, but other than that the scene was pretty mellow and there was lots of space to stay far, far apart. The beach itself is fenced off, so I acted like a grown-up and viewed the water from a distance, and that was plenty for this beleaguered soul.

It's not that we don't see green and blue nature things in the city, but they are almost always framed within the contrasts of the city. So a park is lovely, but its boundaries are easily visible, and the experience it offers is more oasis and less full retreat. So when you can envelop yourself in a park or a beach and the only sign you're in a city is the skyline in the distance, it is a different  type of nourishing experience than simply setting out there and taking in some fresh air.

So, that's it! I went to the beach! And, given how cold and dreary this morning is turning out to be, I made it in the nick of time!

Monday, August 31, 2020

'Cobra Kai' is suddenly everywhere!

I am fascinated by the stunning success of Cobra Kai since it started running on Netflix. While many viewers are discovering a show they didn't know existed, and the timing couldn't be more perfect for reviving a classic, the show has actually been out there in the wild since 2018.

Most pieces I read about the show when it debuted in 2018 framed it as a sentimental piece of IP with some interesting story arcs that complicated the binary approach of good vs. evil in the original movie.* And that is all absolutely true, but was less than persuasive when convincing critics and fans the show was worth paying for.**

So why is the show an amazing success now since it was viewed more as a curiosity when it originally aired?

The obvious answer is timing. Duh. Sentimental IP updated for our times is exactly the prescription for escapist pandemic viewing.

But I think the actual answer has more to do with Cobra Kai's relative freedom in finding its storytelling legs within the format of a (relatively) little viewed YouTube program. Seeing it as as a bingeable whole, many of those earlier episodes make much more sense as the series found its stride. In other words, it had the luxury of faltering outside of the intense gaze of the mainstream and was able to find its way more naturally. You know, just like TV shows used to be allowed to do—ha!

Whatever the reason, it's a huge hit and it's starting to approach, if it hasn't already surpassed, that "everyone is talking about it" level of social discourse. The really great thing about this show though? It's one of those viral successes that took a long time to get there, so there's a lot to support its continued relevance in the public eye instead of fading away in a week.


*Another unintended bonus of the current moment is that since the show has been around a few years, you can dig through pieces to learn more at your leisure and don't have to depend on a handful of sites rushing out with their definitive hot takes.

**I am definitely in the cohort that originally missed the series because I was too cheap to pay for a YouTube subscription, despite the positive word-of-mouth at the time.

Friday, August 28, 2020

Making waves on the future Oceanator.

If anyone can guess the reference in the title, you get a cookie.

Also, you clearly need some fine tunes to see you into the weekend. So allow me to introduce Oceanator to your ears! Elise Okusami's music project is directly rooted in '90s indie guitar rock, often reminding me of Bettie Serveert, with enough of a promising new voice to separate not from sheer tribute.

I've been sitting on this album for a few months, so I can confirm that it does hold up under repeated listens and its charms grow stronger instead of fading.* So throw this on, sit outside, and enjoy he weekend!

*Seriously, having time to actually digest new music and figure out whether it holds up over a span of weeks vs. a 24-hour turnaround for a post makes a huge difference when it comes to confidently recommending something.**
**I almost reflexively added a smiling face emoji here!

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Who else recently found themselves in this situation?

I know I got very close to doing this exact thing about two months ago, but held out for an actual appointment with my stylist. Next time around I may follow in Jack Black's footsteps...*

*I mean, if the majority of my human contact is still video conference calls and rare trips to the supermarket in a few months, I may as well!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Awakening old passions.

Sketch by me circa 1995-ish?
I've been getting really into comic books lately. Back in prehistoric times I was a huge comic book fan, amassed a rather large collection over the years, and even originally intended on becoming a cartoonist, believe it or not. I was lucky enough to work in a comic book store during the '80s explosion—roughly from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles blowing up through the whole Watchmen / Dark Knight / comics-for-grownups revolution—but my interest fell as the '90s came in and the scene looked far different.

I kept up with old loves between then and now, picking up books collecting various runs or storylines and occasionally sampling new content to see where things were going in general. But from 1990-2020 most of the new books I read were the indies and not the mainstream superhero stuff. I didn't suddenly turn into a snob, it's just that the superheroes had gotten so convoluted they no longer spoke to me. No judgement!

Over the last year or so I've gradually been exploring more and more new stuff, and when the pandemic hit it only took a few months for that spark to catch and turn  into a new, fiery passion.

More on that later, as well as what Ive been reading that really blows my mind, but it's been nice to return to familiar ground no longer feeling the itch of the collector, instead occupying the mental space of the inspired observer. It's also spurred me to return to ancient sketchbooks to try and remember how I got to the point I was then, artistically, and how much of that I can still salvage and how much has been replaced by decades by new muscle memory when it comes to sketching.

Blah blah blah to most of you, I know. But this is exciting news to me!

Monday, August 24, 2020

A mystery with some bite to it!

I made an alarming discovery recently: my dentist has disappeared.

Strike that: BOTH my dentists have disappeared!

It's true! I went to my 6-month dental check-up—after rescheduling it numerous times since last Spring for obvious reasons—and found the office now consists of 2 dentists I've never seen before supported by what appears to be an entirely new staff. True, in modern medicine practices change hands and that is to be expected,  but when this happened no one thought to update the practice's patients of the change.

"He's on the case!"
At first I didn't notice. I had a different tech doing my teeth cleaning, but I figured with a pandemic going on that in itself wasn't all that strange. When the tech asked me if I grind my teeth in my sleep and had ever considered getting a mouthguard to wear at night ... I informed them I did grind my teeth, and did have a mouthguard, and that it was created by their dental practice.

But hey, sometimes the tech doesn't read your history and that's also understandable. I keep the same doctors the same over the years for most of my healthcare needs because I want at last one person who's aware of my history to see me each time.

When the dentist came in and wasn't either of the people I've seen there in the past, I asked where they were and was told rather abruptly they were no longer with the practice. The new dentist poked around my mouth, conveyed a few notes to the tech, and said it was nice to meet me and left the room. When the tech asked if I wanted to schedule my next cleaning I said I'd wait. Then they asked when I wanted to schedule a filling for my cavity and I said, "Wait. What cavity?"

Apparently the new dentist had identified a cavity that needed filling but neglected to tell me about it. I said I'd call to schedule that later since it was news to me.

So, what happened?

The whole thing seemed hinky and after some anecdotal stories from friends I decided this situation was not on the up-and-up.

As I mentioned, the main reason I've used the same dental practice for over a decade is to track my oral health over time, and the main dentist was just the absolute best. One of those rare practitioners that blended down-home charm with wicked smarts. As time went on, I'd occasionally see a different dentist in the practice if mine was out, and that's how I discovered my second dentist, who was essentially a younger version of my main dentist. when it came to being up-to-date on the latest medical practices and still maintaining an excellent bedside manner.

And now both those dentists were gone. I have to do some digging and get some answers!

POTENTIAL SPOILER: In the interest of full transparency, I wrote this draft 2 weeks ago, just after the this alarming discovery came to my attention! Since then I have done some digging, and have gotten. a few answers, so this is a mystery that will have a conclusion. I'm not just yanking your collective chain with a quandary that will never yield answers! So ... stay tuned!

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Breaking the tedium.

I'm taking tomorrow off work, and am determined to do something that will finally break the tedium of every single day feeling exactly the same. I woke up Sunday and flipped open my computer, ready to work, because I honestly thought it was Monday. I didn't do anything over the weekend any different than any other day, so I guess it's no surprise that actually happened.other than me (and Pickle) for over three months, and I can count the number of in-person interactions with friends and family on one hand since this whole thing began in March.

This shocked me.

This shocked me primarily because time is passing and I feel I'm having no impact on the world outside my 9-to-5 responsibilities. Heck, I'm barely even watching much TV any longer. It's mostly reading books, walking, or listening to music. Or sitting still for minutes at a time at night before I realize I've been stuck in neutral as I tried to decide on the next thing to do. And deciding doing nothing is actually not all that terrible in that moment.

But I am so used to doing something. Lots of things, in fact. So many things!

But I'm getting used to slowing it all down and managing my pace since I'm in it to win it in the long run, now. And I'm thankful for the time I've had to reflect and focus on making myself the best person I can be.

But it is getting a little lonely, lately.

Monday, August 17, 2020

An inspirational Monday tune for you.

Art by Chadwick.
I listened to my copy of situationchicago last week, the massive double album whose proceeds will go to help support the survival of live music venues in Chicago. It is an eclectic mix of acts that covers all the terrain from free jazz to R&B to anthemic indie rock to just about everything you can imagine squeezed wherever it will fit. So that means everyone will walk away finding at least a few (though I predict it will actually be a lot) of good tunes to expand their musical horizons.

For me the outta-left-field sleeper track of a contribution comes in the form of Anthony Gravino's "Oh My God," which manages to feel simultaneously desperate and hopeful at the same time. I don't know much of anything about Gravino beyond his name as a recording studio talent I've seen on quite a few local releases, but this song certainly makes me wish he'd record more of his own stuff!*

Happy Monday!

*Huge apologies if we've met, sir, since we run in the same circles, but my memory ain't always the greatest in instances like this.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

I still believe we can come out the other side of all of this a better society.

I’m parking this here because I want to expand upon it later. But I’ve been trying to find any positive outcomes of the tribulations that have landed on everyone due to the pandemic. I admit that  “finding the positive” in an event that has killed hundreds of thousands and upended the lives of 99.9% of the world’s population seems impossible. But I had to find something to hold onto, so…

If things hadn’t grounded to a halt in March we all would have kept on the non-stop treadmill of work/home/school/what-have-you; too busy to really take stock of the world around us. The routine so many of us undergo just to maintain daily living is relentless, isn’t it? And even though the pandemic added hours to my own work day, the steep decline of entertainment options outside the house left me with lots more free time to think about actually changing the things I see wrong around me than I used to.*

People who depend on the old way of doing things want to keep the status quo. The notion of taking advantage of this pause to make positive change is anathema to them. That’s why so many people in power are so desperate to ignore the health catastrophe around us, hoping that if they just open everything up, and fill people’s lives with their old routines, things will eventually get back to normal.

That’s just evil, since it’s built on the supposition that additional deaths are regrettable but necessary sacrifices for the greater good. That’s just not true. At all.

So let’s take advantage of what have become clearer lines of action to improve the world around us. This is a truly dark moment in U.S. history, but I believe we can emerge from this ordeal as a stronger community, focused on supporting each other rather than continue to throw up barriers between each other. I have to believe that.

RANDOM THOUGHT: When news of the coronavirus started to break, I and so many others took no real note of it because we've lived through a number of similar health scares in just the last two decades, and each came and went without disrupting so many lives because the people n power did their jobs and kept on top of any outbreak. Virus outbreaks never seemed like a big deal—always landing in that mind frame of "I wish other countries had as good a system to keep people safe as we do so they suffered less during these things." It was simply unfathomable to me that the U.S. even had the potential to bungle a response top an outbreak as thoroughly as the current administration in power. But here we are.

*I also am aware that people who are out of work right now are spending as much or more time looking for another job or just trying to eke out benefits from the antiquated unemployment system of whichever state they live in.

Monday, August 10, 2020

'In The Air Tonight' is the reminder you need we can all be genuinely and pleasantly surprised by the most unexpected things and that's terrific.

I was woken at 3:56 a.m. by a NotifyChicago text alert there was ongoing police activity in the Loop, Mag Mile and Gold Coast. And today's news in general, across many topics including that one, has only gotten worse since then. So I'm sharing this video, on the off-chance you either missed it (in which case you are in for a real treat) or you've seen it and just need a reminder of the authentic joy and wonder that can accompany genuine discovery,

Friday, August 07, 2020

Revisiting a familiar feeling long thought lost.

Something odd happened this morning—I woke up really excited for it to be a new music release Friday!

Two of my favorite musical artists, Hushdrops and Ryan Allen (of Extra Arms), had both earlier announced new music drops for this morning, and they just happen to be on Bandcamp on a Friday that the platform is not taking its cut of music sales, so all dough goes to the artists. The Bandcamp thing is just icing on the cake though. I still woke up excited.

I was so excited that Allen hadn't even made his album available yet when I purchased the first new Hushdrops EP, Endless Summer, in 6 years. Luckily but the time I had finished downloading that, Allen's solo debut Song Snacks Vol. 1 was available as well. So zip, zoom, bang that vinyl was purchased and the download began!

Clearly I'm not reviewing either album right now since I've barely had time to listen to them, much less fully digest them, but so far both are excellent. And for once My anticipation and expectation were both paid off, handsomely.

And since it's a Bandcamp Friday, I also took the opportunity to buy the vinyl compilation situationchicago since its jam-packed with groups both big and small dedicated to raising money to save the independent music venues in town.

After it was all over I was left with a feeling similar to the one I used to get when I'd grab a bunch of albums I'd been looking forward to at a midnight record store release party. So, since I can't celebrate this with people IRL like that, this will do, for now.