Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Empires turn to their Mr. Brightside.

Chicago's empires used to work the Muse / Radiohead angle pretty hard and while I enjoyed that I still let them drop off my radar. Recently they popped back up and have decided to change it up and follow in The Killers' footsteps and I gotta admit I kind of love the result as heard in their latest single. They just released a video for the tune, "How Good Does it Feel," so peep it and let me know what you think.

If you dig it, they're on tour so maybe they're playing your town soon. I saw them a month or so ago and they've grown into a really solid live band.

Dead Stars throbs and "Crawls" with life.

Photo by Danny Krug courtesy the band.
I really wanted to post this on Chicagoist but keep holding out hope Dead Stars will expand their summer tour and travel farther west than Cleveland to play Chicago this summer. If they don't make it out, I'm still planning on reviewing their album for the site when it comes out in June, so it's not like I won't write about them at all on Chicagoist, right?

Too much inside-my-head-baseball there. My apologies.

I wrote about Dead Stars just about this time last year, earmarking them as one of my favorite unexpected discoveries of 2013 until that point, and their debut full length Slumber does not disappoint. It's all '90s indie-rock guitar jams—big slabs o' sound—and I love it. And just like the bands they emulate, who cherry-picked the stuff they liked best of their heroes and mixed it all together, they take the sounds they love and smear them all over their own canvas to make something that's their own. The band just released "Crawl" from the forthcoming LP and I think you should definitely give it a listen, and download it for free, should you so choose.

And yes, you should so choose.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Back in the swing of things.

It's been a day, and it looks like it's gonna be a night too, so here, I'm just gonna take a moment to take in this picture.

Ahhhhhhh. I feel much better now.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A contrast in aerial views to illustrate a variance in moods.

Welp, we're back from vacation, and to illustrate my mood upon our return I figured I'd show you views from above, one of which was snapped by my camera yesterday and another that was snapped today. First, yesterday's view...

Taken from the mirador at Las Palapas in Playa del Carmen
That's the resort we stayed at. Yup. So green and so thickly covered by trees you can barely see there's a resort hidden under all that vegetation. And now, today's view...

The view from a second story porch in Bucktown.

Friday, April 25, 2014


Can you believe I never snorkeled before? I hadn't! And it was—aside from a brief Open Water did our boat forget us moment—amazing! We sailed around in a catamaran and hung out on an island with some beautiful beaches and basically just had a really great day.

After this last winter the weather here is causing me to seriously question my sanity for choosing to live in Chicago when places like this exist!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Really, really unplugged.

The resort we're staying at is really removed from everything. It's smack dab in the middle of a bustling section of town, so we're not removed that way—though the grounds are so lush you don't see the city at all—but the rooms have no phones, no TVs, no  internet. In fact there's almost zero internet at all around here and the few times we find a signal it's pretty weak so we have to make a couple minutes online really matter. It's taken me a few days but I went from being annoyed by the seclusion to really starting to enjoy it. It's been so long since I traveled like this, probably over a decade, that I completely forgot what it was like.

O.K., back to the beach!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

United ... well,sucks.

I won't go into detail here, but United basically ruined our first day by piling on the morning stress. All their reps were polite, I'll say that, but polite while screwing up your trip and then fumbling almost every step of the way doesn't really help in the end.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Vacation: Day 1!

I usually avoid writing about my vacations while they are underway for fear of too publicly telegraphing the fact I'm out of town. Friends still check in on our house frequently, but why poke the hornet's nest that is the possibly unsavory types who might monitor media for temporary vacancies? So this time around i'm just gonna write each day and save the drafts, publishing once I get back!

Today is a pre-vacation vacation day. Packing and pampering. Tomorrow the actual fun begins!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Finish line.

I made it through the last few weeks. And now, siiiiiiiiiigh. [relaxin']

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Record Store Day can bite me.

I wrote a "fuck Record Store Day" post here, but got through it and decided it would actually fit on Chicagoist (after a little bit of helpful back-and-forth with Lisa to make it a little stronger and a little less rant-y). So go read it now.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The '90s never died.

Speedy Ortiz. They rock.
Seriously, I'm beginning to think the '90s are what the '50 were to the '70s and the '60s were to the early '90s. Confused? don't be.

Proof point: I'm at a show and actually know someone else here my own age to see a band whose members are half our ages. Why? Loud, indie rock guitar. Speedy Ortiz. And they are good.

But there are a lot of bands riding the Sub Pop / Matador cresting wave of sound. And they are all young. And you know what? i don't love them because I'm nostalgic, I love them because they are loud and joyous and not taking a single goddamn ironic stance on a single goddamn thing. They just want to make noise that makes your blood sing.

Sometimes these bands veer towards the inscrutable, but often that's because they are trying to find their way, not because they are purposely trying to lose you as they hide in a corner that allows them not to make a statement.

It's refreshing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Monday, April 14, 2014

Boys in bands like the same songs, sometimes.

O.K., so Lorde, I kind of got burned out on her super early (not knocking her talent but the album as a while sounded a bit too slick for my tastes at times but again I totally respect that despite having high powered producers and all she managed to make something pretty unique and different that still managed to sell, like, MASSIVELY) but a few weeks ago Keep was all, "Dude, this song of hers is GREAT" and then he played "Team" and I found I was inclined to agree which was funny because a little bit after that I saw Local H play the song and thought "Wow, that cover really works" and then earlier today Scott actually sent me an MP3 of them playing the song and it had an accompanying video and you should watch that here right now.

Friday, April 11, 2014


Steve is happily munching on a green bean I just gave him.
So as you can see above, a few weeks ago I got to hang out with Steve the Sloth. Sloths are adorable. And now this video is spreading all over the place, and rightfully so. Sloths!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

"How was Kathleen Hanna last night?"

The Julie Ruin at Lincoln Hall. Photo by me.
I went to see The Julie Ruin last night and today a friend asked me how it was. I previewed the show, and their album is pretty great, soI had high expectations for the show. And I had a really good time and was buzzily glowing in its aftermath.

The next day I'm sitting here thinking about what I loved about the show and realized at one point I kind of just wished Kathleen Hanna would have just done stand-up or a monologue because her banter was hilarious and at times touchingly direct. They are a fun band and it was a good show, but I just kept waiting for them to explode and that never really happened. The energy on the album seems like it'd be easy to translate to stage but I guess it isn't. At times they sounded more like The B-52s more than anything else. I mean, EARLY B-52s, which makes sense, since this is definitely more a party band.

As you can see I was in the thrall of Kathleen Hanna directly after the show last night, raving to friends about it, but as time passes the buzz wears off and I can actually evaluate my actual experience and look at it more critically. At one point I went outside for a cigarette during their set, which means I probably wasn't actually as enthralled as I thought I was. Which is why maybe critics should rush home after a show and write a "review" right away in order to just get it up ASAP, instead of giving it some time and writing an actual review.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Tuff Tamale believes that 'Boyz Don't Cry'!

Keep's released a few raw, rough demos we've recorded in the past but today is the first time we're putting something out officially as Tuff Tamale that was recorded by actually mic-ing the drums and guitars and multiple vocals and all that stuff. We contributed a cover to a friend's compilation of Cure songs sourced from mostly regional artists. We did "Boyz Don't Cry" and while Keep made us change the way we were playing the day we recorded, I'm happy with the slightly off-kilter quirky result. Our friend doing the compilation offered to let us record in his nice studio but we went with our own DIY, though reasonably polished, approach.

It's me and drums and backing vocals with Keep on guitar and lead vocals. I like it. And our track leads off the collection! Listen below and download it for free. I hope you dig it. If not, there is a bunch of other cool music on the compilation for you to listen to and download for free too!

Annnnd, I just noticed the liner notes for the page the song page is on:

Fueled by MANG-O-RITA, Jameson, Capri cigarettes and Swedish Fish, Tuff Tamale DOES make boys cry.

Just say NO to MONG-O-RITA!

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

I sat at my desk all day and felt I was harboring a golden secret.

Believe it or not I'm kind of an internalized person at work and not big on talking about my personal personal life. Sure, I crack wise and will talk about shows or cool events, but I just kind of figure that's conversation that entertains and who doesn't like that? But even I'll admit, the news from this weekend is the kind of thing I just want to run around and tell everyone in the office, but instead I just sit here knowing only the people that sit directly by me have any clue how much my life changed in just a few days.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Really big date night!

It's still super fresh, and I don't really think I even feel like writing about it even though I am very very excited about this new development in my life, and I'm still processing a million different things both expected and unexpected, but GalPal and I had a really good date this Saturday night.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Keep on chooglin.'

It's been an insanely busy week, but I'm over halfway through and haven't expired yet so woo hoo for that!

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

If you hated the How I Met Your Mother finale, blame yourself, not the writers.

Yes, How I Met Your Mother should have ended a few years earlier, but the ending was always going to be the same. I mean, jesus, they filmed it 9 years ago, so the writers were always working towards the finale you all saw. get that? The mother was always going to  die and Ted was always going to end up with Robin. ALWAYS.

Feeling betrayed? That's your problem, not the show's. In fact, HIMYM was the un-Lost: it always knew it's ending and just took too long to get there while Lost had no fucking clue where it was going. In that light, yeah, blame HIMYM because they could've wrapped the whole thing up years ago. But again, blame yourself for watching the goddamn series when it sped downhill. Me? I stopped watching years ago and just tuned into the finale and you know what? I don't feel I missed a thing.

And anyone who thought the heart or tone of the show was different than what they experienced in that finale hasn't been paying attention.  Well, more likely they were reading things they wanted to be true into the show without recognizing that the bro-ness of the characters wasn't a veil hiding something deeper. Which bro-ness I found totally fine because the show created enough humor, and stumbled across the occasional insight into the human condition, I could forgive it that.

People hating on the finale apparently seem to have missed these simple basic facts about the show the whole time and are unable to forgive themselves, or the series creators, for that mistake.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

This is how you handle an Internet firestorm.

Somehow, Stephen Colbert managed to address every facet of the issue of #CancelColbert intelligently and hilariously, without resorting to throwing the poor Comedy Central community manager or PR person, who sent out the original Tweet sans context, under the bus.