Thursday, December 31, 2015

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

2015 is almost over...

I'm seeing a lot of people that feel like 2015 was an awful year for them. They want to kick it in the ass. And while I do think 2015 was a years with lots of dark news saturating the media—and that won't get better in 2016 since sensational sells—in general it was a good year. People started to react against immediate outrage. People seems to be trying to connect with each other again (well, most people). So I have hope for the new year. And I don't think, all said, 2015 was a bad year.

I mean, for me in included a marriage, so I have no complaints!

Monday, December 28, 2015

I always make this one same mistake.

I fly right after christmas to get home so I can work as much of the week between the holidays. And every year the airport is bonkers, even though I get there at 5 a.m. At least I've flown so much now that I don't really get nervous about huge lines and slow security, because I have yet to actually miss a flight because of either.

Thought right now we're in the middle of an ice storm, and that did almost keep us from taking off. But I got in just under the wire!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Happy holidays to you from me and my family!

I hope Santa brought you everything you asked for; you deserve it!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

On 'political correctness."

I was an early opponent of "political correctness" as the term rose to become dogma while I was in college in the early '90s. And I am a LONG time liberal. I had multiple piercings. I kissed dudes. I wore dresses. I had super long hair. All pre-Internet, which meant not only was I an outlier, outside my handful of friends I was completely alone in the world with no broader support community.

This was all way back when you'd get pummeled and spit on (and I was, both) for being an outlier. Even with all that, I thought the early usage of "political correctness" was broad-minded bulllshit (with good intentions—attempting to right longstanding wrongs) that ultimately proved to be so over-corrective it was pointless.*

My own tiny personal sample set for this conclusion? You can't be an emotionally accurate, honest writer while self-censoring along politically correct guardrails. Political correctness is often an excuse for failing to delve into real issues and discuss and try to solve gray areas that warrant free discourse, and it's an excuse wielded too far widely.

However, arguing against political correctness does not mean you have agency to be a racist, sexist bully.


*AN ASIDE, SPURRED BY, BUT NOT CONNECTED TO, THE ABOVE: Also, any generation that thinks they're the first when it comes to free self-expression including gender fluidity is a generation of idiots. Those front lines have been long fought, and the fact they're now fought so freely in the mainstream is a testament to previous generations, not some new initiative.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Getting in that holiday mood.

It's been a bust week, but that just means I'll be able to truly enjoy the looooong holiday weekend. I hope you do too!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Three day work weeks can feel like forever, so let's lift our spirits with Beach Slang.

Photo by Craig Scheihing
Philadelphia's Beach Slang have been getting all sorts of critical attention for their kinda sloppy but super energetic and raw take on bar band pop. With a DNA closely matching the threads of early Replacements material it's easy to see why even the stodgy, older music writers are falling just as hard for the se guys as the younger crop of scribes closer in age to Beach Slang.

Simply, Beach Slang makes music that makes you feel young. Is it because their approach is timeless? Youthful abandon tempered by a healthy dose of talent so that even the messiest of compositions still thrums with life and a weird, blurry focus? Perhaps. Or perhaps Beach Slang doesn't make you feel young so much as they make you feel alive. I think that's more accurate.

I suspect the band's full-length debut The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us will probably make it onto my top 20 albums of the year list. But even if it doesn't, it is one of the best things I've heard in 2015. Listen to my favorite track off the album below and click through to hear more or buy the LP.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Diving "Headfirst" into Secret Someones to avoid any 'Star Wars' spoilers.

Been tearing through albums today as I avoid the internet and possible Star Wars spoilers. Some of it has been painful because a couple ands I'd sort of been sitting on, certain I'd enjoy them, were letdowns.

Secret Someones was not one of the letdowns.

This NYC quartet writes big ol' sing-along chorus power pop, injecting a dash of New Wave melodic sensibilities while still keeping the gears firmly shifted into rock and/or roll.

The only quibble I could possibly have with these folks is that, at 16 tracks, their self-titled debut feels a little long; there are six acoustic renditions of songs that appear earlier on the album that seem rather superfluous. It feels like some label exec was all like, "Well, let's try these more stripped down and see if we catch some AC radio attention," which seems weird but I can see it. Then again, it does also do a nice job of displaying just how well constructed the songs are even after you take away the roaring guitars and driving drums.

In some ways they're like a real-life Josie and the Pussycats (plus one dude). Anyway, enjoy.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

24 hours from now I'll be doing something I at one point thought I'd never do.

I'll be watching a new Star Wars movie. And it won't leave me feeling betrayed and pissed off as I exit the theater.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

'I Want To Run' too!

The new Mates Of States EP that came out earlier this year was a welcome return by the band after being largely absent from the music scene the last 4 years or so. Brevity is their friend and by releasing only 5 songs, the tracks never turn boring or overlong.

The clear standout track is the exuberant "I Want To Run," all rushing synths and vocals that sound formed by smiles built on actual and pure happiness.

It's fucking beautiful.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Let the Quiet Hollers flood over you.

Quiet Hollers, photo by SarahWilde
Quiet Hollers are out of Louisville and sound like it (in a good way). Their self-titled sophomore album was engineered and mixed by a guy that's worked with My Morning Jacket, Murder By Death, Grace Potter, and White Reaper and sounds like it (in a good way). Actually, just look at the band photo above and they sound exactly like you think they would (still, in a good way!).

Listen to the songs below and you'll see exactly what I mean (in a good way).

Friday, December 11, 2015

Our company holiday party was last night so there will be no post today.

I will say most of the company DID make it into the office today, because we are a dedicated—if fun-loving—crew.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The closerlook holiday video is up!

Another exciting year and another creative video! It was a lot of fun working with the whole team on this one. Can you spot me in the video and pick up on the running joke my character carries through?

Also, doing an animated video is possibly more stressful than working on a live shoot. Kudos to our director Dan Pedersen for pulling quite a few days of very long hours to make sure our story came to life!

After watching the video visit our website and download some holiday screensavers. Also, we're looking for good people to join our team so check out our job openings too!

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Album number 540.

Laura Stevenson, photo by Kenneth Bachor
I've been keeping a spreadsheet of all the new albums I've listened to this year, partially to help with my year end list at the beginning of January and partially to help me remember what albums not in my top 10 made an impact on me. As the year draws to a close I'm still trying to ingest all the music that was sent to me (if you send it, I'll take the time to listen) and one of the nice byproducts of this is the discovery of bands I've been sitting on for months. Like I said, I'll listen to everything but things do get pushed back in the queue.

So while many feel December is a dry period, for me it means I'm stumbling over all kinds of great albums! Case in point: Laura Stevenson's Cocksure. It's a super catchy and accessible blend of rock and pop, but she's got a bite that keeps things from feeling formulaic or middle of the road. And her songwriting is so fully realized that I broke into a wide smile halfway through the album's opening track. And that smile grew wider on tracks three and four and five and so on as I realized this wasn't an album with one good song and a lot of dross, but a bunch of great songs with no filler.

I can't find any streams to embed, so you'll have to make do with a video instead. You'll still fall in love with the song.

Aw heck, she's so good you should watch both videos she has for the current album!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Flying way under the RadaR.

RadaR's second single "Confidence" is one of those I could never really figure out how to write up on Chicagoist. They weren't coming through town (they appear to exclusively tour the East Coast close to the home in Washington D.C.) and I couldn't find another hook to justify a write-up. Which is a shame, because it's just this sort of unexpected, totally under the radar (no pun intended) gem that makes music writing so rewarding: you know people are going to get turned onto something they probably would have never heard and their lives would be just a teeny bit less colorful for it.

So let's add a dash of color to your day. And don't hate me when you're humming this under your breath a few hours from now. You'll learn that's a good thing.

Friday, December 04, 2015

Run for the hills! (Or at least the rolling hills of Michigan.)

Mich and I are taking a quick trip up to Michigan for the weekend to celebrate her birthday a little early since it falls in the middle of next week. It's also out first road trip in our week old new (used but honestly looks and behaves like new from whatI can tell) car.

Road snacks, here we come!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

A must read.

Matt Taibbi's recent editorial / opinion / essay is titled America  Is Too Dumb For TV News but it could have just as easily been titled America Is Too Dumb For News. And the blame for this goes all around. Creators and consumers are both guilty for the current state of media.

There has to be a way out but fuck if I know what it is right now.

Anyway, read the piece.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Let's hear it for Hiccup!

Via the Hiccup Facebook page
Let's keep this a short and sweet and punchy as the music I'm about to tell you about.

Hiccup's debut single is grunged out power-pop heavily reminiscent of The Smoking Popes, IMHO. The Brooklyn trio escapes all the darker clichés of their fair borough and claps together something sunny and sharp. The 2 songs are over too quickly—clocking in at just over 4 minutes—leaving you panting and hitting replay while you hope and wait for more singles to flow in the near future.

Listen to the single below and if you like it I think you'll find $2 is a more than fair price to hand over to the band in exchange for your ownership of said songs.*

*I definitely mean "said" not "sad" so don't go writing to tell me I made a typo.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Can't shake this feeling.

Despite my staying in and barely leaving the house for most of the holiday weekend I still managed to catch a cold. And I feel like crud. It's the kind of cold that just makes you feel bad enough that you feel lousy without actually making you feel so lousy you can't function.

Add rain, and wind and the fact that it's dark at, like, 2 p.m., and you have a recipe for a season that is seriously sucking the life out of me like it's never done before.


Friday, November 27, 2015

Boo Black Friday.

If you had to work today, I apologize. I spent the day at home, spending zero money, and thinking any business that made folks work, especially if that shift started after dinner yesterday, is an evil business.

In this day and age, when everything is ridiculously cheap year-round thanks to velociraptor-ish sales techniques, this should now actually be a dale that doesn't celebrate sales, but instead appreciates sales-people ... and gives them the day off.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Obligatory thanks.

My family. that's what I'm thankful for. No matter what, they are always there, and supportive. Despite me being a screw-up from time to time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Can we get some Bowie up in here? Not yet? This'll do.

Listened to this album earlier today and this song is totes pseudo-Davey Jones. Holding me over until the actual Thin White Duke's album drops next year.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Some well deserved R&R is on the near horizon!

It's been a rough couple of months so I'm very looking forward to the extremely short work week that's upon us (in the U.S)! Of course every short work week seems to require the same number of hours as a regular work week, but I can handle that with a few days of doing nada facing me head on. In fact, I say BRING IT ON!

If you have time off this week as well, make the most of it. Promise me you will! It will fill me with warmth and joy.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Thursday, November 19, 2015

I want to eat a million candy bars.

Of course I know I can't but that doesn't stop me from wanting things.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A quickie from The Wet Darlings

The Wet Darlings are from Columbus, OH, proving that city is still turning out some unexpectedly good rock bands. I'm happy the scene is still hopping!

They're in town December 5 to play Double Door, and this pair of tracks from Beautiful Things, released last summer, should help you decide that's a show worth attending.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Heady nuggs reminds me the days the Lips truly rocked the 'Clouds.'

The Flaming Lips are releasing an extended version of Clouds Taste Metallic, their final album as a "rock" band before their later-'90s transformation in toe three-piece. I remember seeing them on the tour for this album and was just blown away, but apparently that tour also blew guitarist Ronald Jones' mind because he left the band afterward.

You can hear hints of where they would go, and while Zaireeka is the true bridge between the group going from guitar band to a more "symphonic" affair, Clouds definitely has nods in the direction the band would eventually go.

I've been listening to the reissue and while I owned 99% of the first  of the 3 disc set it's nice to have the b-sides and rare stuff from the period collected in one place. The true gem in the 1996 recording of the band playing a full show in Seattle. It brought back so many memories, and as the live version of "The Abandoned Hospital Ship" explodes into the drums I can almost see all the swirling holiday lights that decorated their stage exploding on at just that moment. And in true Lips fashion the recording is overdriven and far from pristine, so it actually feels like their live sets of that era.

The guitar tones Jones could coax out still sound otherworldly and so fucking massive, and they are even more so in the live set. And I still don't know how one guy make that much wild sound live and onstage despite seeing it happen in front of my eyes a number of times.

Listen to the band reminisce about recording the album below, and grab it when it comes out (CD/digital on November 27 and vinyl on December 18).

Friday, November 13, 2015

This season is taking a lot out of me.

Is it the early dark hours? The realization that the only "vacation" I had this year was planned around one of the most stressful (if also joyous) experiences of my life? Or is this just the ol' early onset winter blues?

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The power of pug.

I am slammed today so I'll just urge you to listen to this.

And then click this.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Bowling is both painful and glorious.

We won!
I am sore. Sore, sore, sore. I feel like someone took a crowbar to my lower back and punched me in the butt about ten dozen times. Throwing 15- and 16-pound bowling balls after not doing so for months will have that effect on an aging body. Or so I discovered.

Our team has participated in the Chicago Media Bowling League for years, but it wasn't until late last season that I actually started bowling instead of just using the night as an excuse to watch beer and mingle with fellow writers.* But circumstances sort of dictated the team needed me after some personnel changes and I discovered I actually enjoyed it and didn't completely suck at it. We'd even occasionally win a game!

Last night the Media League kicked off the new season and now I'm the team manager. Weird, huh? Even weirder is that we won our first match of the year! I even threw out the very first roll of the season, but that was more due to everyone looking at each other across the lanes wondering if it was actually time to start or not. So I just rolled.

I'm such a rebel.

And now I'm paying the price, popping Advil, and hoping that by next Tuesday I won't be wincing every time I release the ball.

*There's also a softball league but that tend to attract more of the account side of the Chicago media landscape, meaning things can get SUPER competitive, so I don't really participate in that.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Heat up this Stove.

Steve Hartlett of Stove, photo by RJ Gordon
Stove is the new project from Steve Hartlett, formerly of Ovlov. I say "project" instead of "band" because all of Stove debut, Is Stupider, is performed entirely by Hartlett under the nom de guerre Stove van Borden. Not that you'd guess it was a one-man band on the album itself since it sounds like a group of dude's bashing away at a bunch of guitars and drums in the studio. Usually something like this would give itself away with perhaps a bit too much precision, but things here are gloriously sludgy. There's a give and take in the songs that makes it feel more organic.

There's a heavy '90s vibe at play here too. I know, shocker! I hear a lot of early Creeper Lagoon at play here, buttressed by a thick wall of slightly discordant guitars, whose overall effect is creating a heavily melodic space that surrounds the tasty central core of Hartlett's writing. One listen to "Wet Food" (below) and I think you'll get exactly what I'm talking about. He uses that effect pretty frequently throughout Is Stupider and it works every time.

While the album was a studio project, Hartlett has hit the road with a full band to promote it, and they come through Chicago to play Subterranean on November 13. If you look at listings you will see that's a night currently with a ridiculous amount of good shows going  on, but I seriously recommend checking out this up-and-comer.

Monday, November 09, 2015

What happens when The Weeknd blows up?

The Weeknd, image courtesy PAX
It's been years since I last saw The Weeknd play at Lincoln Hall—I missed his Lollapalooza set this year since he played opposite Sir Paul—so I was curious to see how he's progressed since going from indie unknown to Billboard chart superstar selling out arenas.

He came through town Friday and I was on the fence about attending until some folks at PAX, one of the tour sponsors, reached out to see if I wanted to see the show with them. Mich had missed the Lincoln Hall show, and had since become a fan, so I decided to take them up on it. They'd created a vaporizer with The Weeknd—and I'm already a fan of their Juul e-cigarettes—so maybe I'd get one of those and get to see a cool show. I didn't get a PAX, I may just have to buckle down and buy one myself, but it did turn out they put us up in a suite at The United Center, so we definitely got the cool show.

So how has The Weeknd weathered the transition to mainstream superstar? He's done it well. Maybe a little too well for my personal tastes. The show was big, filled with gasp-inducing lighting and the like, but it didn't really feel like it truly filled the space. His songs are best when they're oppressive, and they can be so even when the instrumentation is incredibly sparse, but I just didn't feel fully engaged. So much so I actually dozed off during the center section of the set!

The final third of his performance was more of what I'd hoped the whole thing would be, and when he launched into "Can't Feel My Face" I assumed we'd hit the high point of the night. But I was wrong, and two songs later "The Hills' blew the roof off and literally melted off our collective face.

I get the feeling The Weeknd is still trying to figure out how to completely navigate the waters of being massive while still being a boundary pushing artist, and I do believe he wants to be Prince or Michael Jackson big. Friday's concert showed he's still got a ways to go in order to achieve that proper balance, but given his accomplishments in just a few short years I bet he's going to get there.

Friday, November 06, 2015

Workin' for The Weeknd.

Going to see this guy tonight. The last time I saw him was at Lincoln Hall. I'd say he's gotten a little more popular since then...

Thursday, November 05, 2015

Alvin & the Chipmunks go goth.

I recommend clicking through to the artist page for the full set of tunes slowed down to purple drank meets Sisters of Mercy speed, but this is a good sample of what to expect.

I find it oddly pretty, actually.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

By god, The By Gods!

The new album from The By Gods just popped into my inbox. Their debut placed on my favorite albums list of 2014 so I'm looking forward to hearing what the follow up sounds like, especially since they've expanded from a power duo to a three piece with Natalie Pauley joining original members George Pauley and Tye Hammonds.

Last time the group was supposed to play Chicago they got screwed by a shady promoter that allowed them to drive all the way here from Nashville without telling them the show was cancelled, so I'm hoping that doesn't put them off from playing here in the future. Especially when this first single points towards the band still maintaining the excellence of their debut album a couple years later.

Monday, November 02, 2015

Buzz it up, Lazy Legs.

Lazy Legs is out of Chicago. The trio—guitarist/vocalist Michael Tenze, bassist/vocalist Laura Wagner, and drummer Nick Piontek—work the shoegaze pop tip pretty well on this debut single. They're working on their first album and thus far this is the only hint of what they'll sound like, but if they can sustain this approach the group shows promise.

Since I know so little about this group I'll reserve further lyrical waxing and just leave you with the same fleeting taste I've experienced.

Mysterious? Yes. But I'll allow it.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Happy Halloween, RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!

This video is just absolutely hilarious. When it came on TV this morning Mich started laughing so hard she could hardly get out the words, "Come here and see this!"

If you're in Chicago this Halloween, there is a TON to do, and you have extra time to do it since we gain an hour Saturday night! An extra hour of Halloween? Yes, please!

Anyway, here is  a list of concerts I recommend seeing today and tomorrow, and here is a huge list of other events going on over the weekend for you to consider too.

This is SO my favorite holiday.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

I feel bad for this guy because I can totally relate.

This video has been making the rounds, but this version is my favorite since it appears to keep the original audio. This has certainly happened to me in the past and I'm sure I've reacted similarly...

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Why should be excited by a free Textbook?

Because this is a Textbook that rocks! If you dig Midwestern power-pop with a rough edge this is right up your alley. It came out last year but the boys just decided to make it a free download for a limited time. Get on it!

Friday, October 23, 2015

The kinda Friday that makes you feel like the workweek was well spent.

As I zoom home via the public-est of transports the city has to offer I slump lazily in my seat, gratified at a week that was really busy but never overwhelmingly so, marked by projects I was happy with turning out even better than I expected. Working hard is never difficult when you actually like what it is you're doing, and this week certainly reminded me of that.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Cubs.

I'm no huge sports guy but I did grow up with WGN being my only connection to Chicago for the many years I traveled across the country to different destinations as my family moved when I was a kid. I was born here, but didn't grow up here. So based on that, the Cubs became the default team I would cheer for. Well, outside of the Cal Ripkin Jr. / Eddie Murray Orioles of the late '80s since I lived in Annapolis at the height of my baseball card collecting—and mostly final sports—phase.

So I was rooting for the Cubs, even though I secretly feared that if they won it'd remove that one thing that made them unique in all of baseball.

Of course I was in the very, very small minority with that worry.

But the Cubs didn't win. They lost. And usually that would spark a wave of anger in Chicago. But this time it was different. Every fan I know was proud of the team. For once their loss wan't viewed as the fault of management for gutting a team. Instead the team's leaders were credted with finally starting to invest and build a team that had room to grow and develop. The fact they made it to the playoffs this years was a bit of a surprise, but i suspect it won't be so shocking when the same thing happens next year.

And the best part is all the hardcore fans I know who usually lick their wounds in the winter months are actually walking with heads held high, sporting viably optimistic hopes for the future. For maybe the first time in a really, really long time.

Also, look! I wrote a post about sports! Whaaaaat?!

Nothing is impossible.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

'Back To The Future' Day is finally here!

To say that Mich loves Back To The Future would be the most extreme definition of an understatement. She's been waiting for this day—the day Marty and Doc Brown actually land in the future—for what feels like forever. I wish I could throw her a party and give her a day off work and turn this into her own personal national holiday so she could just wallow in all things Back ToThe Future and enjoy this moment.

After today Back To The Future will no longer be something in the future, it'll only be in the past, so she should get everything out of this day that she can.

Of course now there's the very important question of which timeline are we in? It's 2015 and the Cubs could actually make it to the world series, while at the same time a blonde hotel magnate with a bad combover is rising in power. Mich investigated the question in great detail, so read all about it.

Great Scott! I can't believe it's actually here! If you've been looking forward to it as well, I hope this day is everything you'd hoped it would be too.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How about some light psych for your Tuesday?

Tl;dr? Boogarins is Brazil's answer to Tame Impala.

A little more meat? Boogarins spins out light psych that's fit for either warm summer day or early fall evening. There's a sadness in their new album Manual (out on October 30) that tugs at the listener. An ache and longing for something different. Much of the albums feels more like a sigh of resignation, so maybe it's engine is actually that inward turn?

The band has also said that the 2014 World Cup that took place in Brazil left them feeling disillusioned since the people's sport did so little to actually uplift the lower class communities in their homeland. Considering the album is sung in Portuguese I can't really say if that's reflected in the lyrics or not, but their is a heaviness to the music that wold support that reading.

But again, these are transitory feelings. To these ears the heaviness and resignation ultimately functions more as a soothing sense of submersion that any act of depression.

Monday, October 19, 2015

'New World Towers' is the new Blur documentary we needed.

This looks very cool. The new Blur documentary New World Towers hits UK theaters on December 2. An international release is planned but there are no details on that yet. I need details!

Since they skipped Chicago this will have to do as far as me seeing the band live this year.

Friday, October 16, 2015


Today couldn't come quickly enough, this week.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Throb throb throb.

I've done two rounds of physical therapy and even paid for a massage last week in hopes of somehow solving the chronic pain along my back and right arm, and another visit to a specialist this afternoon has me no closer to resolving the problem. It looks like the next step is electrocuting my arm to make sure the issue is back related. Yay!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What to do in Chicago this week!

I'm still busy bt if you have free time, Mich has been spearheading a new twice-weekly post at Chicagoist rounding up events you might want to check out. Here is this week's! 

They go up every Monday and Friday, so make sure to visit the site and take them all in!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Busy week ahead!

Juggling a jillion things already has me looking forward to quitting time on Friday. Let's go!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Kids Interview Bands interviewed one of my favorite Chicago bands.

The Kickback are on the road promoting their excellent debut album and during an Ohio stop they took some time to sit down with Piper for an excellent interview.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

The weather outside is delightful, so why do I feel frightful?

It's almost torture that a day is as beautiful a day in October as this one. Both because you just know that the next day won't be nearly as wonderful and the day after that will probably have you chattering your teeth, even in direct sunlight. And of course, I'm feeling under the weather and still can't shake that, so I can't fully enjoy the loveliness that is outside. Blerg.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Don't try this at home.

Or, rather, do! Via IMDB (and stumbled over as I watched 2001:A Space Odyssey as comfort food last weekend):
Rock band Pink Floyd was at one point approached to perform music for the film. However they turned it down due to other commitments. Yet they retain a connection with the film: much like The Wizard of Oz (1939) and "Dark Side of the Moon", it is said that Pink Floyd's song "Echoes" from the album "Meddle" can be perfectly synchronized with the "Jupiter & Beyond the Infinite" segment of the film.
 Here's how to set it up and what to look for once you've started.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

As usual, Kylie saves the day.

I've been feeling under the weather and rundown all day, so to pep me up I've been listening to Matthew Perpetua's massive mix surveying the music of 1989.

Forget the fact that's basically the soundtrack of my senior year of high school so the sentimental rush has been hitting me in waves as I listen to the tunes. Instead let's focus on how I totally forgot this Kylie Minogue song came out that year. And you know what's even more remarkable? It's aged incredibly well!

So put your hand your heart and dance along with me.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Friday, October 02, 2015

Big Freedia helps Elliphant add some serious swagger to 'Club Skunk Now'

Mich and I are famously always out of town when Big Freedia comes to play Chicago. But not this time! Big Freedia's got a show at Bottom Lounge on November 10 and the guest appearance in this video only makes me more excited to finally get a chance to catch her on stage!

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Dirty Ghosts skips the sophomore slump.

Photo by Liz Caruana
Finally got around to listening to the new Dirty Ghosts album this afternoon. I'm saving a slightly longer review for Chicagoist—most of my reviews there are now going to be in Quick Spins round up form so I can package a few together at a time—so look for that next week. The tl;dr of it is the band is still really good at putting together rough edged "underwater soul."*

The album is out tomorrow but you can stream the whole thing below. That should convince you to shell out a few bucks for it, right? They're on tour and I recommend catching them, since their live show is a little more Joan Jett than you'd expect.

*A term I coined when their original Biz 3 publicists sent me their original demos in '09. His reply was, "Thank you for not saying “lo-fi” -- that drives me nuts!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I fell in love with a robot.

This is for the rare subgroup of people that read this site that aren’t already familiar with Alex Garland. 

Garland wrote The Beach, which was later into a movie by like-minded filmmaker Danny Boyle, which led to the two collaborating on two films I think are great, 28 Days Later and Sunshine (the latter film being one I can watch over and over again without ever tiring of it). Garland made his directorial debut earlier this year with Ex Machina, a movie that puts the scene and philosophy back at the heart of a term like science fiction thriller. And it is a thriller.

I watched it last week and immediately ordered it on Blu-ray, and watched it again earlier this evening, discovering that while the surprises and twists that can only be delivered upon the first viewing were now absent some of their power, the film as a whole resonated more powerfully. The subsequent viewing allowed me a bit of detachment from the action, giving me the freedom to focus more on some of the subtexts and story bits I missed the first time around.

If you haven’t seen it, you really should. It’s a stunner. Check out the trailer, though do so knowing the exposition in its first couple lines doesn’t actually happen in the movie—the film deals with exposition far more gracefully and intelligently.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

I'm a drummer in a wedding band.

Well, not really. But if I was, I'd probably end up looking an awful lot like this....

Monday, September 28, 2015

What if Bleachers' debut was reimagined by an all female cast?

What if Sara Bareilles, Charli XCX, Carly Rae Jepsen, Tinashe, Lucius, Elle King, Brooke Candy, Rachel Antonoff, Sia, MØ, Susanna Hoffs, and Natalie Maines all tackled songs from Bleachers' Strange Desire and made them in their own image? Imagine no more!

usually I wouldn't just cut and paste soething from an artist, but since is my personal site and In really like what Jack Antanoff has to say when it's in his own words, here's the full skinny on this album.
“terrible thrills vol. 2 
i love female voices. i wish i had one. when i write songs i typically hear things in a female voice and then match it an octave lower so i can hit the notes. that's why so many bleachers' songs are sung so low. i could change the key but i like things sounding like a male version of what in my head was a female-sung song. I've always written this way. so with that in mind i wanted to release a version of my record that spoke to how it was written and the ways i originally heard it in my head before i recorded and sang it. i think it's important for people to know where the songs come from and why the songs come out sounding the way they do. i hear my music as my interpretation of a song I'm writing as a female in my head, so i wanted to make that a reality with the artists who inspire me to write in the first place.  
i first had this specific idea 6 years ago when i was making the 3rd steel train album. that's why this is volume 2 --- because volume 1 happened for the self titled steel train album. the "terrible thrills" concept is something i see being a thread through different bands and projects i do. its non specific to any band or record - it's just speaks to the way i hear music. i think every record I make should have a female companion record to go with it. 
the process making this was all over the place. some artists fully recorded and recreated the versions, some i worked with them on. the collection is completely bizarre thing for me to listen to because it feels so personal as to how i write. it feels like the part of my process that I'm suppose to keep to myself or something and hearing it in headphones is utterly strange and wonderful. 
one more note on TT is that this is and was always meant to be free for everyone to hear. this project took a year and tons of recording sessions and through that we all felt very proud that something as intense as a full album could be given to the people who bought the original work as a further look into it. I've loved how the strange desire record cycle has grown and changed constantly over the past year and a half. as i write this from the studio where I'm making the second bleachers album, i see terrible thrills as the final chapter for strange desire. ok- enjoy it!! talk soon”
Download Terrible Thrills Vol. 2 for free, right now! 

Yeah, you have to do it through Google Play Music, but whatever. Download each track individually once you snag the album and you can listen to it free of Google's player.

Friday, September 25, 2015

My Cruel Goro make me want to go go go.

My Cruel Goro hails from both Italy and Iceland—though I have no idea which members of the trio are from which location, or if the fact their bio says the band is from "Iceland-Italy" means one of them is suspended halfway between the two at all times.

The band practices the kind overdriven super-buzzy pop-rock explodin' kind of music that pinpoints the back of my head and causes fireworks to explode on the insides of my eyelids. It's super fun stuff that is over far too soon. In an age where most bands release too much music, it's rare to run into one that leaves you literally, and yes I'm using that correctly, wanting more.

Here's hoping their self-titled debut EP, which you can snag for free below, is actually just testing the waters and there's already a lot more in the can ready to run with. Because I'm already playing these three songs to death.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

A footnote to my choice for Song Of The Summer.

Via the artist's website
No sooner do I weigh in on what my choice for Song Of The Summer is—read it now if you haven't yet!— than one of my new favorite podcasts, Switched On Pop, goes ahead and dissects that same song quite wonderfully!

I'm going to assume they did so once they saw how much I liked it and then rushed the post up.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Summer's officially over, so what was it's song?

Sunset Voyage, photo by Robert Boake
I wrote up a piece about the Song Of the Summer frontrunners, disputed the one that Billboard crowned as the winner, and offered up my own (correct) choice. Check it out.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

More unreleased Triple Fast Action stuff? Yes, please!

Triplefastaction's original promo shot—how very '90s! Photo by Gene Ambo
Triple Fast Action (or as I always typed it, Triplefastaction) was one of my favorite Chicago bands. I was just getting into the scene and my girlfriend at the time knew of few of the guys. I of course was immediately suspicious. These were guys in a band so they must be after my girl! I hoped they were terrible. And then I heard them on a compilation she helped to put together, and that song, “New Goo,” wasn’t amazing, but it was enough to prove to me they weren’t going to be terrible.

They put out a single for “Revved Up” and it kicked ass. And then their debut album came out and while there were indulgent moments—more indulgent than I had expected after seeing them live—it to kicked ass. And then a second album came out and it was better than the first, even if they had jumped ship from a Major Label to an Indie, I still viewed it as a huge step forward.

So of course they broke up. And Wes Kidd (guitar/lead vocals), Brian St. Clair (drums), Kevin Tihista (bass/vocals), and Ronnie Schneider (guitar/vocals) went their separate ways.

Over the years I’ve hoped they’d regroup, but it appears the epic show they played at The Metro on May 24, 1998 was truly their last (a show I still have fuzzy memories off due to too many bears, but the sight of every touring guitarist they ever had joining them onstage for "Superstar" is forever etched in my brain).

In the early aughts I emailed their Wes since I’d heard he was burning CDs of their unreleased recordings an b-sides, so he graciously emailed me one, and that was the last time I thought I’d hear anything “new’ from the band.

Well, stumbling around the inter webs today I realized the band, or someone affiliated with the band, has a Soundcloud account and has been not only posting tracks off that CD Wes sent me, but they’ve also been posting stuff I’d never heard before! This is very exciting, even if it is all really old stuff from 1994 and earlier. But who cares, to me it’s new Triplefastaction!

I’ve collected the tracks that weren’t on that CD Wes sent out below, but I recommend going to the full page for more goodies, including album tracks.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Ryan covered T-swizzle and it's AMAZING.

The history of rock and/or roll is dotted with people reinterpreting other people's songs. Hell, The Beatles and The Stones built the genesis of their musical legacies on the backs of the bands they took all their original references from. In fact, most of the time they were building off their influences, those influences were contemporaries of theirs.

So the idea of Ryan Adams taking his cue for his latest album from another contemporary like Taylor Swift isn't that strange. Except for the fact that this contemporary muse built portions of her career on the back of his output. So the snake has officially eaten its tail.

 But a step back.

Let's do a simple math equation—Taylor Swift = Insurgent country + Pop + I don't give fuck all about what is supposed to sell or not. Which sounds a lot like Ryan Adams at certain points in his career. Add to that, Swift has admitted that Adams was a huge influence and once you're faced with his whole album cover at her vaunted grasp towards mainstream fame you'd be forgiven for thinking, nay screaming, "What the fuck?"

Is this a joke?


One listen to Adams' 1989 proves two things: a) he's able to channel any source material and make it sound good, and b) with Taylor's material he's got something he can make sound great. All of Swift's melodies make it through, but Adams adds a melancholic tinge to all of it that, surprisingly, hearkens back to Swift's earlier days. All the sheen is stripped off in favor of the heart that lies beneath. And, while an album of covers, may stand as Ryan's masterpiece.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Not to sound like a cliché, but...

...this Friday could not come soon enough. I have a lot going on, on a number of levels, and though it all am battling these killer allergies I mistook for a lagging summer cold for weeks. I never get hit by allergies this time of year, but this has knocked me on my butt. Every morning I wake up and my eyes don't want to open, feeling swollen shut, and each limb feels like it's moving through a pool of thick gel because I'm so logy. Sooooooo—yay Friday!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

This made MY day.

Now go read my review and listen to The Kickback's excellent new album.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Read ALL of the Riot Fest coverage.

The Prodigy, photo by me
Festival season is over. Long live festival season. TL;DR? Riot Fest caped off the summer with a triumphant move to a new park that not even rain and muddy fields could make soggy or soften.

Longer read? Try these out.

Monday, September 14, 2015

And with that...

...the summer music festival season draws to a close. And I survived another year. Amazingly,

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Beard rock? We Hunt Buffalo rock.

Photo from the We Hunt Buffalo Facebook page
Their press release quotes another publication describing the stoner anthem architect as "beard rock." The phrase made me chuckle, but I know what they're getting at. If you don't you will once you hit play on the track below, a teaser from their new LP Living Ghosts, out September 25.

When I first started listening to this album I at first thought it was a little cartoonish but it grew on me really quickly. Taking root and making itself at home, almost without me noticing. Like a slowly encroaching beard...

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Monday, September 07, 2015

Holiday off.

I need a vacation. An actual vacation. Mich and I really need to get out of town for a day or two. Really.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

"It's A Mess," so let's just power through it.

Well blow me down, The Atom Age!
Had you ever heard of Oakland's The Atom Age? Nope, neither had I. Their publicist descibes them as "energetic, unhinged 60’s Punk and R&B," which is actually pretty accurate when thought of alongside a likeminded predecessor like, say, The Delta 72, only with a 45 played at 78 RPM. They also bear more than a passing resemblance to The Hives, which ain't exactly a drawback either.

They just released a new album, Hot Shame, whose lead track can be streamed below. I was poking around and while I didn't get an email about it, it looks like they're going on a short tour next month, hitting Chicago's Beat Kitchen on Oct. 5.

No word if they'll be wearing those eyepatches though.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Friday, August 28, 2015

The goat, he digs the art!

This is going on in my neighborhood this weekend, and while the increased foot traffic is annoying I like the fact that it is a chance for artists to move their wares. But the reason I'm posting this is purely related to the fact that I find this poster really playful and inventive. I love it!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Dude, you’ve tortured us for years by not releasing it. It’s time that changed. I’ve been really patient, so c’mon, pretty please?

I mean, until then I’ll just have to make do with the recently expanded version of the soundtrack streaming below, but I’d like one that’s on my phone that I can listen to hundreds of feet underground. You know, in case I get trapped in a cave in, or down a well, or something like that.

Would you really want to deprive me of these sweets sounds in that situation, Mr. Wedren?

Do the right thing, Craig, RELEASE THE SOUNDTRACK!


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

I've been staring at this blank screen.

Sitting on the couch, listening to podcasts and trying to find inspiration to write something, anything, and realizing there's too much swirl and twirl right now for me to grasp any words being tossed all about my head. So instead I'll just write this. This anything. Because it's something.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Tenement joins the punk opera movement. Kinda. At least their ambition mirrors it.

Photo via Tenement's Facebook page
I heard about Tenement on the New York Times Popcast a few months ago and it took me a while to actually get off my ass and track down the double album they released in July, Predatory Headlights. There seems to be a new onrush of punk rock double albums lately, which means the genre has moved onward to its prog-rock phase, finally! I kid, I kid. Part of punk rock is all about eschewing boundaries, and while Tenement's sound is far closer to early '90s indie, in my mind that makes them more punk rock than 98% of the Warped Tour bill. This trio does things their way and are SO underground that they live just a few hundred miles north of me yet I'd never heard of them. Then again, my house party days are mostly behind me so I guess that's not that unexpected.

Forgive my prattling on.

Anyway, I admire the band's striving to record something so sprawling, and it mostly works. The problem with a double album is that unless you have a really great concept paired with an incredible collection of songs, the thing in its entirety can occasionally be a wearying affair. And some of the experimentalism on Predatory Highlights trends toward the solipsistic. But there's enough killer to offset the filler,* and the track below is one of the best on the LP. (UPDATE: Since this was first written now the whole album was up, so pick and choose what you like!). Give it a spin and if it tickles your fancy plunk down a few bucks for the whole thing.

*I'm totally using this phrase again when I write a review for something else. It's too good to only use once.**

**It's been used a thousand times already, hasn't it? And I'm just foolish enough to think my own brain was special enough to spawn it, right?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Looking forward to seeing friends.

It's been a rough couple of weeks on a number of levels, but this weekend offers the promise of seeing many old friends on Saturday we haven't hung out with since our wedding party, as well as the chance at a quiet Sunday either brunching or just being mellow. The next two weekends are jam-packed with BIG MUSIC SHOWS and stuff like that so I'm looking forward to a weekend of reconnecting and relative normalcy. My batteries need it.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Too hot to consider different perspective on 2 hot topics?

One-sided outrage needs counterpoints so let's not call these hot takes, let's call them controversy deflators, or at least brief attempts to show how perspectives change as you view situations from slightly different angles than the current outrage-o-meter seems capable of doing.

*Live article is here, but I linked to that PDF because there's been some editing to soften it since it was originally published.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Have you heard ... The Struts?

The Struts
The Struts are straight out of Derby in the U.K., and they traffic in a classic rock, rowdy, glam animal sound that is more than a little reminiscent of Slade. They look kind of obnoxious, like the sorts of dudes who actually wear multiple scarves and floppy hats as a regular outfit—stagewear as street wear, per se—but I don't really care. I'm willing to overlook these things as long as the band keeps churning out their party anthems.

The lead off single off their latest release,  Have You Heard, is below. If you like it, snag the EP and immediately fire up track four, "Where Did She Go," and envision it's inevitable rise as a stadium sing-along.

The Struts play Schubas on September 15 and I predict it will be a wild fucking show. I'm not missing it, that's for sure.

UPDATE: The show moved to Lincoln Hall over two nights now, with the first night sold out, so get tickets to night number 2 now!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Non-stop development.

I've been struggling with all th new construction in our Bucktown neighborhood. I mean, Wicker Park and Bucktown jumped the shark over a decade plus ago, but there seems to be a new movement ripping up all the remaining property in favor of eyesore after eyesore. And it reached critical mass a few weeks ago when I noticed a building that was already modern was being demolished to make room for another building that looked almost exactly like it, only with one additional floor.

Look, progress is one thing, but this is ridiculous. But hey, what can you do? In reality, unless you're made of money and can afford to buy up all this stuff yourself? Nothing. Oh well.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Two stoners on a stage.

Photo by pooneh ghana
JEFF The Brotherhood's Wasted On The Dream is another LP I just didn't get around to writing about more fully. But, I mean, what is there to say? They're write stoner metal pop. And they do it well. O.K., this time around they bring in a few compatriots to flesh out the two man band set up, including  The Raconteurs Jack Lawrence on bass the whole way through with guest appearances from Beth from Best Coast and a few of the Diarrhea Planet dudes, and it sounds all the more swell for it.

The song that I keep returning to is the one that sounds least like them though. The whole record is solid but there's something genuinely yearning at the heart of "Coat Check Girl" that makes the song feel like its the first time Jake's looking everyone in the eye while delivering the lyrics.

Tell me if you can see what I mean.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Pop pick-me-up.

Fort Lean has a bit of a Brit-pop sound mixed with NYC downtown fashion rock. Does that make sense? A bit of a Killers delivery too. Their debut, Quiet Day, came across my desk in April and I'd been sort of sitting on it, not really sure if there was anything I could say about it that would feel fresh and new. And now that months have passed I realize that, aside from the opening sentences, I don't, really.

But while I have nothing really novel to drop about the band, they're definitely worth your attention. And if you haven't enough time to listen to the whole LP, then the two tracks below are certainly the most essential. But I suspect that once you listen to them, you'll find time for the other ten when the album comes out in October.

*Yeah, I got it in April because it was originally going to be released in June ... so I have no idea what happened there. Just stop reading this footnote and listen to the music already!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

I need a pick me up. Thanks Radkey.

Photo by Vinny Dingo
I'm not super familiar with Radkey, but folks seem to like them. Their new album—out in two weeks—is O.K. and sounds like what I imagine Glen Danzig would sound like if a) his voice was still in good shape and b) if he could write hooks. The tune below if the best song on the album, and just the kind of thing I need to get me through the end of today.

They're on a loooooong tour right now, so look for them coming through your town. If you're in Chicago they play Township on October 10.

tour dates