Friday, January 30, 2015

Fueling up with Cafeine.

Xavier Cafeine, photo by Elias Tahan
I feel like the same thing happened around this time last year, but my inbox has been bursting with some great fucking music over the last week or so. Most of the albums are coming out late February or March, so as tempted as I am to spill all of the beans I will refrain. But I will continue to give tastes of the truly outstanding releases to get you excited for their imminent arrival!

Xavier Cafeine in Canadian and performs under the simple moniker of, wait for it, Cafeine. He's already a few albums into his career, and one listen to New Love—out on February 17—means I'm going to have to track down his older material STAT. New Love bristles with energy and power pop of the most caffeinated degree. The tunes make you want to dance one second and then pogo all over the room the next.

This is fan-fucking-tastic. Vroom vroom life affirming stuff that makes your heart go pound pound pound.

Apparently Xavier just moved to L.A. so here's hoping that scene doesn't suck the magic out of him, but I kind of suspect he's up to the challenge.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Crushing on new music from Colleen Green.

Photo by Eric Penna
I'll save my more comprehensive thoughts on the new Colleen Green album I Want To Grow Up for a full review on Chicagoist when it's released later next month. However I can tell you that the album really excites me. Green obviously has a big '90s album collection, and this LP see her turning her guitars to 11 for most of the record, while her sweet vocals cut through the noise to deliver biting lyrics wrapped in huge hummable melodies. There's a healthy dose of early Veruca Salt and Juliana Hatfield going on here, so if those bands are your thing, then I Want To Grow Up will hit all your pleasure centers.

Here are two songs for you the stream or download so you can see just how right I am.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Nowhere to go but up.

Sometimes clich├ęs like that title are painfully true.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

This is just one of those bleak days.

The music in my ears is huge and bouncy and full of the energy that affirms life is worth living yet my mood is still flat and my eyes gaze towards a horizon that seems constantly shrinking further from view. I suppose if I sat complacent this could be mistaken for despair but it is instead proof that I am endlessly optimistic as I ceaselessly rush towards that faint horizon, seeking answers and hopeful I'll find them.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ask every sentence a question.

Photo by Tim Hamilton
One of my co-workers turned me onto the Tiny Sense of Accomplishment podcast hosted by Sherman Alexie and Jess Walter, and I've burned through all of them up until the present. I admit to not really having been that familiar with either author* on the podcast, though once I learned Alexie wrote Smoke Signals I realize I at least heard of something one of them has done, but the conversations they have about writing are great.

While I think they toss out a lot of great little nuggets, the one that hit me the hardest was Alexie's admission that when he finishes a first draft he goes back and asks a question of every single sentence, forcing it to prove its worth. That's a hell of a pressure test. And I admit I do not think I have the ability to bring that much rigor to, nor do I really think I would want to, my prose.**

However I think it's great advice for marketing copy! I write a lot about healthcare and in that instance I think its incredibly helpful to question every single line, and make it prove its worth, as well as make certain its balanced out by appropriate explanation and information. In fact I think that when I'm mentoring younger writers in my industry that is exactly the sort of golden nugget that can help move someone fem writing copy that misses its mark to writing copy that shines and does exactly what it needs to do with great efficiency.

Tip of the day—learn it, live it!

*I know, I know, What?!
**Which is probably what will forever mark me as a really good, but never a great writer of fiction? I guess time will tell.

Friday, January 23, 2015

My 20 favorite albums of 2014!

It took me many hours and some tough decision-making, but the list of my favorite albums of 2014 is up on Chicagoist. Check it out!

Also, worth noting, three of the albums on my list came out in late December—one reason it took me a while to write this is that I wanted to make certain my enjoyment of them wasn't simply reflexive and immediate—further making my case for not doing these kinds of lists before the actual end of the year.* Vindication!

*Double vindication, actually, since I have read many a piece handwringing over the fact that D'Angelo, in particular, would have easily topped this or that publication's list had only they not already been published.

Thursday, January 22, 2015


My top 20 of 2014 is almost done. ALMOST. But while putting it together I looked through a decade's worth of past lists and was shocked by just how much I'd write about so much of anything and everything that captured my fancy in those lists. As in, I would create sub-categories upon sub-categories to draw out as many entries into the list as I possibly could. Now I struggle to find 20 albums to recommend that I am confident that I myself will still be stoked about next year and three years after that and so on and so on.

I am optimistic though. Next year will be—

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


The TV show, not the RHCP album.Anyway. The show's addicting. And somewhat troubling for a number of reasons that we shall not explore here. But I can tell you this: whilst I pity our hero in this epic cable poem, I do not idolize him. And his missteps are too familiar, hearkening back to a behavior of men that is more appropriate for 30 than 40+.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

New JSBX!!! Check it out!

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, photo by me.
Man, it's a good day for unexpected tunes. First Giorgio Moroder and Kylie Minogue release a gem of a Disco 3000 tune, and now, along with word they have a new album coming out later this year, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion has dropped a video to offer a sneak peek into what they've got cooking. Peep "Do The Get Down" right about now.

The new album, Freedom Tower - No Wave Dance Party 2015, is out March 23.

'Friends' intro sans music but with realistic sound effects is puh-retty creepy. But I still love 'Friends.'

Say hello to a fresh crop of new nightmares!

I do find this subversively hilarious but we have been binging on a near non-stop run of Friends episodes courtesy Netflix, and it is remarkable a) how well they've held up and b) just how strong the series was right out of the gate. It was always in our rotation—I remember watching the initial episode with my roommate at the time Jim, and a few other friends since we all gathered every Thursday for NBC watching—and I remembered being won over from the get-go but assumed history had made those initial memories rosier than they actually were.

But they were rosy!

And the show was really good!

And even a bunch of slacker / punks / artsy-fartsy yuppie hating like the crew I was gleefully a part of at the time could fall in love with the show. Especially Rachel Rowr! Still!

[h/t Death and Taxes for the video]

Monday, January 19, 2015

Zero samples cleared, all beats classically tasty.

I know nothing about Christopher "Coolout" Davis, but I do know these loops and mini-compositions based on Motown tunes is a pretty solid listen on a cold winter day if you'r looking to heat things up a little.

Go for it.

Dig it? Then check out his latest album (I can find) of original compositions. They're kind of all over the place butI kind of like that looseness.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Who's ready for a three-day weekend?

The off thing about the holiday season is that despite the office being closed quite a bit you still never feel like you're able to catch up. So I'm using the next three days to do just that and return to my 9-to-5 desk reinvigorated and refreshed next Tuesday morning.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I'm so balanced!

Though, c'mon, if we're really being honest, shouldn't chaos be a couple points bigger in that world cloud?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My mood is lifting.

I think the winter grays are finally starting to recede. I think my minor meltdown on Monday cleared my head and left me open to more positivity. Sometimes you just have to drive the harmful humors from my blood in one great spurt in order to allow all the light to flow in.

Or something new age-y like that. Maybe it's just the stricter diet I've adopted that's making me feel more invigorated. Whatever the reason, everything's coming up Tankboy!

To celebrate, here is a picture of Sasha the Cat stalking a pizza box (as Mich and I look on, kind of).

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Getting back to my roots.

We have a Sonos in the office and during Beer O'Clock on Fridays we play good time get-down music on the system while we all unwind from a busy work week. I downloaded the app so I could DJ remotely from time to time and as I was scrolling through my tankPHONE looking for tunes last Friday I realized just how little good time get-down music is on there! There's plenty of good music I love, but it appears my personal sensibilities have migrated towards weirder guitar rock or super mainstream pop that turns the more discerning members of our crews' faces white due to blood draining from their cranium and leaving them faint with disgust.

I gotta get some pure fun back into ye olde tankPOD, STAT.

Monday, January 12, 2015

A little decency goes a long way.

Click on this to enlarge, print it out, and use if needed!
One of my resolutions has been to try and maintain a sunnier attitude about things but between the one-two punch of slipping and sliding over un-shoveled walks to get to a train filled with rude passengers set me off this morning. In regards to the CTA ride, I'm beginning to realize that the majority of my issues I have with my commute has nothing to do with the agency but with passengers who just can't seem to follow basic guidelines of civility when it comes to traveling with other human beings in an enclosed space. I'm not saying the CTA doesn't have it's share of fuck-ups, but I am willing to acquiesce the fact that most of my negative experiences stem from boorish behavior from fellow travelers.

The shoveling snow thing? I have lived in Chicago 20 (?!) years and have never owned property myself yet have managed to ALWAYS shovel the walk in front of the building I am living in. ALWAYS. And despite it being the law that your walk be clear whether or not you actually own the building people still argue and claim it's the city's responsibility. "I pay taxes! And I'm expected to shovel a public walkway? That's bullshit!" these people say. And these people at that moment expose themselves as selfish jerks. "I'm busy! I have a life a responsibilities that are more important than getting rid of some snow that's just going to be replaced with new snow before long!" they claim. Which makes they even bigger self-centered assholes.

So here is my plea to every person reading this: you are better than that. Chances are if you're reading this you're already the sort of person inclined to want to do the right thing, and I'm willing to bet the chances are even larger you already are. I'm not sure how we get the rude and the self-centered to do the right thing, but I think it probably starts with setting a good example. Right? There is hope, right?

Friday, January 09, 2015

Warmer climes?

Even with all of this we are still cold.
Sweartagod, this might be the winter that does me in. Yesterday I woke at 3 a.m. and discovered we had no water. None. I called the city and their people actually showed up within an hour but determined the issue wasn't municipal, nor was it actually in my house. It was probably in the three-flat in front of us. Apparently the reason I've never been able to locate our water meter is because our water comes in through that building and is piped over to our place! I didn't have keys to the other building's basement though, so the city water guys couldn't go in to try and help me find the problem, which was above and beyond what they would have been required to do, but were being so awesome they offered to help any way they could.

An hour later Mich actually did locate the keys to the three-flat's basement and I looked all over but couldn't locate the problem. So we called our handyman. Hours and hours later—and a little tutorial from our handyman on just how our water got over to our building—we figured out the tenants accidentally left the basement door by our pipe open and the cold was enough to zap us. A space heater and 45 minutes later? We had water again!

But seriously, this cold weather is the fucking worst. I feel like the pipes freezing—something that hasn't happened to me in the 20 years I've lived in Chicago (20 years?!)—is the iced up straw that could break this camel's back. I wonder if I can convince my company to open a satellite office in California or Louisiana or ANYWHERE THAT ISN'T FROZEN 70% O FTHE TIME.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Happy birthday David Bowie.

I'm glad I've seen Bowie live a few times. I'm sad Mich hasn't. I'm glad he surprised everyone with an album that was really good two years ago. I'm sad that he hasn't done so again. Yet.

Mostly, I'm glad that in 1990 my dad stood up for me when I wanted to wait out over night for tickets to see my first Bowie show and then, due to a completely random set of circumstances, ended up at that very same show, shocking me with his presence in the beer line. This would make Bowie the first and last real rock show—outside of the one time he saw my band play at the Avalon—we attended together.

Happy birthday Bowie, sing a song for my dad.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Polar Vortex Two Electric Boogaloo.

Technically this isn't a polar vortex but it is eerie how this deep freeze is hitting the same time last year's did. And it IS freaking cold. However since everyone was so scared of the weather, my commute in was smooth and easy. Silver, frosty lining!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Two years ago a hole opened up in my life and never quite closed back up.

This was one of the first times two of my favorite girls in the world met.
Betty the Beagle ran off to that playground in the sky two years ago today. She had a long, good life and her little body just couldn't keep it up. I still miss her. I've had folks ask me why I don't get another dog, but I just can't. I don't want to. In fact, way back when, Betty found me. A random stop to play with some animals at the Anti-Cruelty Society turned into a day long affair ending with my adoption of a beagle that would, truly, go on to be more famous than "most of the musicians slogging through the local scene." She chose me far more than I chose her, and there will never be another dog like Betty, so I can never replace her. Will there be room in my life for another dog in the future? We'll see. We'll see if I'm lucky enough to get chosen again.

I miss her every day, still.

Monday, January 05, 2015

New year's resolutions.

I don't really do resolutions. This year that might have to change,

Friday, January 02, 2015

Too many 'Friends.'

I think I've lost Mich to the Friends Netflix vortex. Halp!

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 was pretty good to me.

This time last year I was ready to kick 2013 to the curb with great disdain. 2014 was much, much better. A job I love with people I really like, an engagement to the woman I can't imagine my life without, and less claw scratches and more purrs from Pickle the Kitten all contributed to the last 12 months being pretty great!

2015 is really going to kick ass!