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.