Monday, June 30, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

E.A.G.L.E. C.L.A.W. ... caw caw!

It's magnificent, isn't it?
At the 9-to-5 the "employee of the month" award is called the E.A.G.L.E. C.L.A.W. It originated as a way for the account and project management teams to show their appreciation for the other groups. The recipient gets a ridiculous trophy that gets passed around all year, accumulating one totem from each winner. Surprisingly, last month, I was the recipient of this honor!

Also, as part of the award, you get your face Photoshopped into some creepy background. The hilarious thing is that when I first saw this I was trying to figure out how they got a high school photo of me. Because I looked REALLY similar to that back then. I mean, REALLY SIMILAR.

I hate being the center of attention—which probably makes no sense coming from a guy that has fronted bands, and climbed on bars during karaoke and loves throwing quips out in the middle of meetings. But in all those cases I get to control the attention, and when something like an award unexpectedly pops up I end up blushing and hemming and hawing and stuttering and looking totally goofy.

But I have to admit that winning the award actually did mean a lot to me. I truly enjoy where I'm working and I love that the people I work with genuinely enjoy what they are doing and truly enjoy each other's company. So to get a tip of the hat from my peers did make me a little, figuratively,  misty eyed.

Today I pass the award on. I was honored to have it towering over my desk for the last month but it's time for someone else to bathe in it's glow. And what did I add to it? A button from my failed presidential campaign (but that was O.K. because I'm cool with the guy that won).

Thursday, June 26, 2014

An unexpected summer jam, courtesy Grimes.

I liked Grimes' last album and thought it was an interesting and unique take on the state of R&B and electronic pop at the time. She's got new material coming out this year and I admit I wasn't really expecting much until I heard this "throw away" she reportedly wrote for someone else that wasn't used so she's just giving it away for free.

NOT what I expected. Now I'm stoked to see what she's got up her sleeve. This could be pretty fucking cool.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wedding planning. If it's a war, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing. Say it again!

Last week Mich (a.k.a. GalPal, but at this point writing GalPal feels weird) and I went out for a drink after work because things were already getting stressful on the wedding planning front. We had started with a destination wedding in mind but once we started adding up the money for that and a reception back home we figured a local wedding with he reception on the same day might be cheaper and less stressful. Nuh uh. We've only been engaged a brief amount of time and I could already see the weeding planning was set to spiral out of control. There is no reason to be super stressed at this stage in the game.

So we met, and I told Mich there was no reason to freak out already and if that was happening we had to reevaluate what we were doing. I already think it's fucking insane to spend what is the equivalent on a downpayment of a house for a single event since the magic of the day dissipates—from what I've observed—pretty much immediately. So if you're going to lay out any large amount of cash it's important to do it for you. And no one else. And we were already losing sight of that.

So we reevaluated, refocused and came up with a different wedding blueprint. Well, let's call it a sketch of a blueprint. There's still a ton of wrk to be done, but after taking a step back to take a second look and change our course towards a direction that was 100% for us, this feels a lot less stressful.

I've heard too many people smile knowingly and slyly, saying, "The wedding planning is like a war, and if you survive you are meant to be together." What a fucking crock of shit. If setting up a day to celebrate your union is supposed to be a war then either you shouldn't be together or you really need to work on your teamwork. There's a difference between forming a united vision and presenting a united front. If you're doing the former and not the latter, then I think you're doing it right. At least that's how we're approaching it now.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sneak preview of a little bit of Oates with a friend.

Photo by me.
I'm still editing photos from Sunday's Hall and Oates show, but here's a sneak peek. I don't know who this saxophonist was but he loved mugging it up anytime he could possibly be called to the front of the stage!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Do we still need each other? I think we do.

I don't usually, but Saturday night I sent out a two part Tweet, one of those things where if you don't read them together you might misconstrue the meaning. I avoid this generally, believing Tweets should almost always be self contained, but I had been drinking since 3 p.m. and wasn't going to take tat much time away from paying attention to Guided By Voices' live set to sweat out how to edit the sentiments below to under 140 characters.

You see, it was during Guided by Voices' set that I realized that almost every "classic" and "ground breaking" and "seminal" band revered by the indie kids—which is actually now the mainstream, we can admit it—would have disappeared without the support of music writers back in the day. It's just one of those things that's easy to forget.
Anyway, carry on.

Friday, June 20, 2014

A weekend packed with music.

Hello, ladies.
I hope you're weekend is as fun as mine is going to be. I'm seeing Radioactivity and Bad Sports at The Empty Bottle tonight. Tomorrow it's Geronimo! and Guided By Voices I'm most looking forward to at the Green Music Festival. And then Sunday I'm taking in a lovely Hall & Oates show.

Gonna be a nice string of shows!

So, what're you up to?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

HowAboutWe for Couples ... is a ripoff.

I joined HowAboutWe for Couples a few months ago because the date packages they sold seemed interesting. And I've had a few nice nights with GalPal because of them. But I've had more problems with their system than successes and today I hit the end point. We bought a Honey Butter Chicken date because it promised an elusive and much coveted invite to the Sunday Dinner Club as well.

No invite ever arrived.

I reached our to HowAboutWe today and got this response:

"Thanks for writing in. The Supper Club is very secret and hush hush so you'll need to go to the restaurant and specifically talk to them. Mention HowAboutWe when you attend and they will let you know the details. There is almost certainly a waiting list."

We already attended the date, and none of this was said ahead of time. This was the final insult; you don't sell a service or a promise and then fail to tell people how they can take advantage of it.

Needless to say I've cancelled my membership, but I still have hopes for that Supper Club invite I was promised that I paid for. We'll see what happens, I guess.

UPDATE: The Honey Butter Chicken / Sunday Dinner Club people appear to be the stand up folks in this situation and have reached out to me to hold up their end of the deal. So, they gained my customer loyalty while my HowAboutWe for Couples membership will remain cancelled.

UPDATE 2: The Honey Butter Chicken / Sunday Dinner Club folks made good on their word and were incredibly classy about it the whole time.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Dancing in the street to no music.

I will never be able to listen to this song or watch this music video the same way ever again.


[h/t Slate]

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dig into Dead Stars' 'Slumber.'

Video still via Dead Stars' Facebook page.
Dead Stars, a little band out of NYC I've been digging for the last year or so, finally released their full-length debut and if you dig guitars and melodies and indie rock circa 1994 that was still only on college radio and not storming the charts behind Nirvana, I think you will dig this. I wrote about their new video today and what I say there it pretty much encapsulates my view of the album as a whole. I like these dudes so much that I'm scheduling my birthday vacation around a stop they finally scheduled in Chicago to play The Empty Bottle on July 2. If they're coming through your town go see them, becasue if they're even half as good live as on record we should all be in for a good tour.

Listen to the album below and download it if you like what you hear.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Meet The Beatles. Really, re-meet them.

Photo via The Beatles' Facebook page
I've been reading Revolution In The Head, a song by song breakdown of The Beatle's catalog, and have been listening to all the music as I read about it. This has led me to the question: why do so many Beatles-esque bands sound staid and sterile while the actual Beatles still sound so innovative and unexpected, even today?

The answer is actually pretty simple. Obviously you're dealing with an extremely rare alchemical reaction of just the right four guys getting together to make music. But I think that the enforced simplicity—it took EMI forever to upgrade their studio, forcing the foursome and their producer and engineers to get inventive—along with endless studio time to find the things that worked within the simple technology afforded them took amazing song into a completely weird and unexpected area. Conventional wisdom has cast The Beatles as the "good boys of rock" over the years but in fact they were the weirdos, making crazy sounds and melding them with a pop sensibility that both shocked and entranced listeners.

And now, one of my favorite Beatles songs. And to anyone that is under the impression Ringo Starr couldn't drum, just try to keep up with this.

Friday, June 13, 2014

'Tomorrow' today.

My review of the new Hushdrops double LP Tomorrow is up. This is an album that took ten years to make and it sounds like it. Definitely worth repeated listens to soak it all in.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


Yes, this is a ridiculously hilarious band photo.
Working on a review of the excellent new Hushdrops album. Give it a spin to prep yourself for the words it'll inspire.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Youth Culture and the value of hating how normal we've become.

I really dig Mixtapes since they play the exact perfect blend of pop and punk that hits me so satisfyingly right between the eyes and through my brain down into my heart. Ryan Rockwell, co-singer and songwriter in the band, keeps busy with solo side projects but most of them are pretty divorced from the sound of his "day job" band. Recently he branched off and started Youth Culture, releasing their debut album I Hate How Normal I've Become as a pay-what-you-want download. The group's bio describes the genesis of the album:
This album started when Ryan Rockwell had alot of things to get off of his chest. After sinking to a low he never though he'd get to, he came out on the other side and made this album.
So what's the result? It's an album that definitely leans more to the pop side than the punk side without ever sacrificing the rock in between. Rockwell has always been a straightforward songwriter, attacking his subject matter head on, and this album is no different. But there's a new emotional level at play here, and that make listening to the album feel different than his other stuff. It's hard to convey properly, but I think it's the difference between singing what you believe versus singing what you feel. This is a "feel" album, for sure. And one of my favorite—and totally unexpected—albums so far this year.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Where is my fucking summer?

June is not the time you should feel like you're suffering from the onset of seasonal affective disorder due to low temperatures and dreary skies. It feels like Chicago is trying it's best to remove the one thing that has kept me from just moving the fuck out of town.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Tankboy concert shirts.

I'm a ways in and will certainly post the final results here when done (and no, I feel no reason to inject a comma into the body of the sentence yet because the way I write it is eaxactly how I want it read in your head) but I'm in the midst of a project wearing and photographing a different concert shirt every day I wear a t-shirt. Want to keep up? Find #TankboyConcertShirts on Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter or (if we're connected there) Facebook. 

I have a lot of concert t-shirts. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Hot spot.

Dang, I love having a desk right by a window but DANG if that sun isn't like a heat ray laser focused on me until around 11 a.m. or so!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

All editing, no writing!

I've been trying out new contributors for the Chicagoist A&E beat and between that ton of unexpected editing, a last-minute interview I set up and helped edit with an international ballet star,  and a heavy workload at the 9-to-5 I've had no time to write for myself (or the site, even). The only thing keeping me from totally despairing over the situation is just how energizing the new writers are and the notch quality of the output I've been editing have been.

So there's that!

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I can't say enough bad things about Best Buy.

Let's just say that company has ruined my last couple of days through subterfuge when I purchased an insurance plan, shoddy gear to fulfill a lesser insurance solution, and basically creating multiple hours that were a pain in my ass with only a partial solution successfully in place. 

To offer a small point of comparison I'd like to mention I had to deal with Comcast in person at one of their physical locations—waiting in a line that curled in on itself inside their office to make room for all the people waiting—and next to Best Buy it was a lovely experience. 

Did I also note I've been a loyal Best Buy customer for an astonishingly long time and this experience has truly soured me against the notion of ever giving them another dime of my money? Yeah, that too. 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Creepin' me out, deep into the night.

Recently I saw American Horror Story: Asylum was on Netflix, and while I caught the first and third seasons of this horror anthology, somehow I completely missed season two! This confounds me all the more since I think this is probably the best of the three seasons, even if—and I think I'm only a couple episodes from the end—the ending feels like it's veering off into less solid territory than the first 3/4 of the series. But when I'm dealing with pulpy, creepy stuff I can make do with a crap ending as long as most of the ride there is fun. And this has been a fun ride.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Sick day.

I can't tell you, or convey just how appreciative i really am, that I work at a job that actually allows you to take a sick day instead of expecting you to be on call 24/7 with no hope of recovery.