Friday, August 29, 2014

Bowie's in space!

Mich took me on a mystery date to the Adler Planetarium last week for their Bowie After Dark event. Basically they his little cutouts of David Bowie throughout the grounds, had Heaven Malone DJ Bowei related tunes, and renamed everything to be Bowie themed. It was kind of silly but totally fun. There was a photo booth that we of course couldn't resist utilizing and we took advantage of the opportunity to take the "cosmic" shot above.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My little brother is 40 today.

Read that title. I mean, what?! When I turned 40 I admit I felt kind of confused, because to me 40 was always such an old person adult age, yet there I was, totally not the person acting like an old person adult. So the fact that now one of my younger siblings has hit that mile marker it makes me feel absolutely ancient! Don't you love how i turned your birthday into something all about me, Jason? Kidding!

40's a good age—I hope my brother's enjoying his entry into a new decade.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Photo tips fer yr iPhone!

Thanks to Caleb for passing this along. No arm selfies, here I come!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Ughh, Your Parents Are Here have a song!

Last week I mentioned enjoying the hilarious rivalry unfolding between Riot Fest bands Ughh, My Parents Are Here, and Ur Lineup Sux, Bro, and now we have more new music from both bands. Ur Lineup Sux, Bro released a new song this morning building on the single they released last week. But to me the exciting news is that Chicagoist nabbed the premiere of the first single from Ughh, My Parents Are Here!

Dig both new songs below.

Monday, August 25, 2014

When 90% of music blog posts =in your feed reflect press releases that just arrived in your inbox, there's a problem.

The title pretty much says it all, doesn't it? And it explains why I find it so painful to keep up with most music sites nowadays. I wonder if the average reader is aware just how little that's printed isn't directly sourced from publicists and labels. I mean, sure, I refer to press releases to help me craft content but outside a straight up announcement—and jeez, usually even within the context of one—I try to add a little something of additional value. Otherwise what's the difference between a music writer and something like PR Newswire?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Ur Lineup Sux, Bro vs Ughh, My Parents Are Here.

I've really been enjoying the (online? IRL?) rivalry between Riot Fest bands Ur Lineup Sux, Bro and Ughh, My Parents Are Here. It's looks like Riot fest has been enjoying it too.
Anyway, it looks like at least one of the two bands has actually released a single! Download it and enjoy some weekend music.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

R2D2 for ALS.

I don't think you can top this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ride the bucking BRONCHO!

Photo of BRONCHO by Jaret Ferratusco.
I thought BRONCHO's last album was nice but it never really sunk it's hooks into me. That changes with their forthcoming new LP, Just Enough Hip To Be Woman. Holy crap is this some white hot rock and/or roll shit. Caught in a timeless inter-dimensional portal where Parker Posey's '70s bully meets her '80s Party Girl, this album brings on the party while throwing up the '70s riffs.

Fuck that wasn't a bad last line. I'm totally using it when previewing their Riot Fest appearance in Chicago. Can I do that? Or would I be plagiarizing myself? Can you plagiarize yourself? is this a whole 'mother discussion? Yes. Yes it is.

Well, BRONCHO is plagiarizing no one. They may be tipping their hat at a misread of influences but this teenage bedroom stadium rock is a blen that is 100% them. The album's out on September 16 and I suspect you'll want to add it to your collection.

Like I said, BRONCHO's playing Riot Fest so I'll see 'em in September, but if they come through your town I recommend seeing them.

Now, rock out to the songs below and tell me they don't both leave you grinning like you did the first time you discovered what happened when you covered fried dough with powdered sugar and shoved it in your mouth.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who are The Hawks (of Holy Rosary)?!

The Hawks (of Holy Rosary).  Photo credit Angela Michelle
I've been catching up on a lot of music listening now that I actually have a few weeks' breathing room between festival shows. I've even set up a spreadsheet to help keep better track of initial thoughts as I work my way through the musical back log. Every year I intend to keep track from January 1 on through to December 31, but this is the first year I've even started a spreadsheet so I'll take that as a huge step forward!

A lot of bands are starting to sound the same to me—2014 is definitely the years some younger bands discovered '90s indie rock and other discovered the groovier strains of psychedelia—but one band that immediately vaulted over the mix was San Antonio's The Hawks (of Holy Rosary). Here is a band I really want to see live. Wait, let's consult my hastily scribbled notes, captured on a train platform, upon listening to their album What Team Am I On? for the first time.
Songs have one lead singer but lots of gang vocals. Loud but fun, almost a sense of the whimsical at times, but also seriousness. I dunno, what if you mixed loud emo bands that actually knew how to have fun with the exuberance of The Format, only with sloppier guitars? This? That'd be good. So this is good.
Yup, seems right. What Team Am I On? does it's best to keep from being easily pigeonholed, but that doesn't make it feel scattered, it just makes it feel like the band is constantly looking for new ways to engage you and themselves. I have a feeling these folks are a blast live so hopefully they make it up to Chicago sometime soon.

Stream their whole album below and if you dig it, go ahead and buy yourself a copy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Look's like you're finally going to get to hear Tom Schraeder's 'Gush!' and it's about time!

Photo and design by Isidro Hurtado, image courtesy Tom Schraeder.
Last February my friend, and rather talented musician, Tom Schareder sent me an album he'd just completed. I listened to it and was blown away. It was a fully realized work of art and, to my ears, a stunning accomplishment. I shared my thoughts on the album with Tom and then waited for him to announce it's realize.

And waited.

And waited.

I would play the album for friends and they would all immediately want to know how to get a copy. "It should be out soon," I'd say. "It's been done for quite a while."

And then I waited some more.

Finally I asked Tom what the hold up was and he admitted he'd pretty much decided he wasn't going to release the album, but that my enthusiasm (I presume partly) influenced his decision to move forward, master and release Gush!. And in true Tom fashion even that took a while. The man will perform spontaneously anywhere at any time but his track history of releasing stuff quickly isn't the greatest. Nut whatever! Gush! is finally coming!

You can hear a taste of what so excited me below, and if you like it the please pre-order the album (email Tom at hisegoinfo [at] gmail [dot] com to receive a download September 1) or buy tickets to his show at the Hideout coming up Friday and receive a download that day.

Friday, August 15, 2014

OK Go time!

OK Go at Metro in 2010. Photo by me.
It's been over 4 years since I last saw OK Go? How is that possible?! Then again, they were basically a non-stop touring machine for forever so I can get why they'd take a little time off. I've heard snippets of their new album and can assure you this downtime has certainly allowed the group to reenergize and come back at full power.

Can't wait to see them tonight!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My growing shoe collection. My growth into becoming a sophisticate.

My first, true love.
For years I've basically worn a single type of shoe: Doc Martens boots model 8699 Bex Sole.* Technically I guess you could say I wore two types of shoes since I have always had a pair of sneakers for the gym, but I always wear those until they're falling apart and they rarely saw any action outside the four walls at the center of my workout universe.

And now, rather unexpectedly, I find I am virtually swimming in shoes! For my birthday Mich bought me a pair of Converse low-top sneakers to wear out and about. What? No boots?! I wasn't sure how I'd like it, and upon first putting them on I was trying to figure out what that weird feeling was under my foot. Oh! It was the ground! I hadn't felt that through the soles of my boots, ever! However, after my initial shock, I found I actually enjoyed working my new Chuck Taylors into the occasional appearance in the outside world. And wherever I went minds were blown. "Tank!" people would say, "Where are your boots?! What has happened to you?"

I was suddenly a man with choices when it came to dressing up my feet.

A few weeks ago some PR folks at TOMS reached out and asked if I'd like a pair of their shoes. No strings attached. Heck, why not? So I said yes and a few short days later my shoe collection had swollen to the massive number of three as a pair of Black Canvas Men's Paseo Mids showed up in the mail.

I love my boots, but this has actually opened up a whole new world to me. I might even buy another pair of running shoes to wear outside the gym. How crazy is that?!

Gotta admit, these TOMS are pretty spiffy.
Of course this new life of mine has experienced a few growing pains. First, as I mentioned with the Chucks—and discovered to also be true with the TOMS—when you wear shoes that are not boots you feel everything on the ground. I began to feel like I was walking around barefoot. It wasn't unpleasant, it just took some getting used to. And I've also noticed the traction on the TOMS aren't so awesome and occasionally have to catch myself from sliding into a split as I hurry along a train platform or attempt to bound up some stairs. Overall though my new kicks are pretty comfy and my feet—while they too still love the protection and sturdy confidence of my Docs—have grown to enjoy lounging around in the new choices of footwear they find themselves ensconced in every couple of days.

Who knows what will happen next? Will I suddenly start wearing a style of shirt that doesn't begin n the letter "t"? Will I begin matching my socks to my belt (which would necessitate me wearing more than one color belt)? The possibilities are endless!

*God help me if they ever discontinue this style.** Growing shoe collection or not I would be fucked.

**By just saying this I think I jinxed myself since I can no longer find the style on the Doc Martens site***. Nooooooooo! :(

***You HAVE to be kidding me. I sent them an email asking why I couldn't find the boots on the Doc Martens site and do you know what? They actually are now discontinued. Fuck.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"You people will never know the comfort of parachute pants!"

The '80s: the neon happiness you've been presented is a LIE.
Man, life was hard in the '80s. And so many of you are blissfully unaware of the difficult times we had to weather in that decade. So many folks have such a rosy view of that decade, either because they were born during it or long after its end.

Thank god Kevin Bacon participated in this PSA to set the record straight. So if you do remember the '80s, this is a nice reminder of those horrific times. And if you don't remember the '80s or though it was a totally tubular awesome time? It's time to get schooled!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

What's there to say?

What can you say about a death of someone you never met yet still felt like a gut punch upon its reveal? Not much. So in the wake of Robin William's far too early death, I'll simply refer you to an interview he did on the WTFpodcast that Marc Maron has re-posted. It's a wonderful listen, even if there's a section near the end that will probably drain the blood from your face, but I think it's perhaps one of the most open interviews he ever did.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Yesterday Mich and I did nothing. Well, we did venture out for a brief walk to secure ice cream cones, but other than that we just lounged around, watched TV, discussed some wedding stuff and did nada else. It's been a hectic summer and we realized this was the first lazy weekend day we'd had in months.

We loved it.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Ten years, huh?

Two dashing gentlemen.
I don't even mark this day on my calendar, but I know I'll always be reminded of it when it comes. Ten years ago my dad died.

Some days it feels like far more than ten years ago. Sometimes it feels like decades. Sometimes it's hard to imagine what it would be like with him around. And then other times I feel like I just saw him last week, or will see him at a family get together next month. And then it hits me I'll never see him again. At least not on this plane.

Ten years is a tough marker but I think the pain is even a little sharper than I expected as I plan my wedding and I realize my dad would have loved to see that day come. And I know he would have loved my wife to be and maybe the things that hurts the most is the knowledge that he didn't live long enough to see his first born become truly happy and fall deeply in love.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

How did I miss this slamming tune and not share it with you?!

According to Soundcloud this new Diarrhea Planet tune they recorded for the Adult Swim single series is almost a month old. How is that possible?! How did I not hear of it, much less stumble across it plastered across every music blog i the land? Unacceptable!

So I am immediately rectifying the situation and sharing it with you so you don't have to suffer through life without this song for another second.

Somewhat related: It's always awkward when I try to turn people onto this band becasue, y'know, the name. But everyone I have introduced to them has walked away having fallen in love with the band's sound so don't judge a band by its scatological cover, O.K.?

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Betcha didn't know just how indie Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles really were, eh?

In the early '80s I was working in a comic book shop (underage labor FTW and holy shit they're still open!) when the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics came out  and I always wish I'd had enough money to buy those early issues. While they became a bit of a pop culture joke it's hard to convey a) just how cool they originally were and b) how they basically created the indie comic book market. Man, I'm pretty sure I have sketchbooks of my drawings trying to rip off the style of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, which itself was totally biting the style of Frank Miller. I also remember videotaping the original cartoon series because I and every other comic nerd I knew were so stoked that something so subversive had made it onto TV. And then sat slack jawed as we realized just how lame they had been made to appeal to the mainstream. Oh well.

I was reminded of all this after this nifty little mini-history of the whole TMNT phenomenon that Vulture put together.

Will the new Micahel Bay movie be any good? My guess is it'll be his finest work yet, becasue it can't be that hard to top crap like Transformer and Armageddon (though I am NOT happy that April isn't in a yellow jumpsuit)!

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Too much party!

I took Friday and Monday off to tackle Lollapalooza and come into the office today to discover ... our summer party is today!

I know, I know. I'll suffer through it. Hee.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Jon Oliver on native advertising is smarter than you might think.

"No longer are we asking ourselves [...] are we violating church and state, whatever that was..."
— Time's CEO.. Whoops.
Watch the video below. It's great. If you've never quite understood what "native advertising" is and why there are currently media wars over how to properly utilize it, this is a fine primer.

That said, my friend Scott had some issues with it. And I think some of his issues were valid. Scott's a super smart guy and his biggest complaint was that Oliver focused more on Buzzfeed than anything else, and by doing so cheapened his argument by picking too easy a traget, but I didn't feel quite the same way.

The bits of interview footage with Joe Ripp, the Time Inc. CEO and Meredith Kopit Levien of The New York Times was a pretty good argument expanding the native advertising argument past the Buzzfeed level. 
 This issue is simple: native advertising is fine if it’s clearly marked. But the folks running the media companies don’t want it clearly marked because they know it will then be passed over as an ad. And you know that sentiment can turn negative if a native ad is particularly effective since then people feel tricked. And yes, that’s the snake eating its tail and even I don’t have a surefire solution on how to fix that, yet. 
 Personally I think the OitNB piece fell in the category of a good native ad with but much does not. I’ve seen a few things on Death And Taxes that doesn’t even include a tiny “sponsored by” line. And almost every client I’ve worked with was resistant to creating native advertising that is actually meaningful to a reader because, basically, they just want their brand messaging reinforced and can’t understand why average joes don’t want to hear that. 
But you know that already.

Another year, another Lolla, and another Monday where I sit at home exhausted.

Separate levels of wristband access couldn't pull our love apart!
I can't believe at one point I used to not take the day after major music festivals off. How did I even function?! I mean, I have today off but have still worked most of the day wrapping up our fest coverage. I didn't even have breakfast until 2 p.m. It's the first year in many I only had regular media access and while I certainly missed some of the perks of the more VIP treatment—mostly taking a cart from one end of Grant Park to the other over hoofing it—I still ended up having a blast. Despite many of my reservations about the fest at the get-go. In fact I was seriously considering not going for quite a while.

This year I took a slightly different approach to covering Lollapalooza and I couldn't be happier with the results. It's hard to cover something like this in a way that I feel truly connects with the average reader but the team did a stellar job of bringing multiple viewpoints, actual insight and the ability to write something substantial on next to no sleep! The Chicagoist peeps who participated are the best and I owe them. I think you should read everything we wrote!

First, start off with our Lollapalooza preview and also see what performing artists were looking forward to seeing that weekend, then move on to our recaps of the whole shebang over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I have my usual "wrap up" post tomorrow and I'll link to that too once it's live.

What are you waiting for? Get reading!