Wednesday, May 31, 2017

While we're feeling nostalgic...

I mentioned Arlo got a lot of play over the last week or so, but I was just traipsing through my account and realized the Direct Hit! got A LOT of play over just the last weekend.

Here's the album to help soundtrack your own summer when you need a pick-me-up.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Sgt. Pepper's at 50.

Image via The Beatles' Facebook page
I’m not even gonna dip my toe into the never-ending argument over the merits of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band versus other records in The Beatles’ catalog. I do know it was the first vinyl album I ever bought (along with the KISS Ace Frehly solo picture disc), so it obviously means a lot to me on a personal level. At the time we only had a full stereo system with no headphones—this was the late ‘70s, after all—so I didn’t realize that the stereo mix was all hard-panning and not “true” stereo.

As the years progressed and I graduated to the wide world of the cassette Walkman, I realized just how crazy the mixing sounded on Beatles albums. I actually found it pretty cool … until I started DJing and realized how weird the songs sounded if the speakers were in wildly different areas of a room. This prompted me to switch the mixer to mono whenever I wanted to play a Beatles song.*

So enter this 50th anniversary of the album, rebuilt and remixed by Giles Martin from master tapes, many of which were original and not the bounced-down versions needed to fit as many tracks into a mix. The result is truly enjoyable, expanding on my memories of the album while beefing up the sound a touch and adding the touch of true stereo to help unify all the bit and pieces into a united whole instead of splitting them between ye olde ear holes.

NOTE: The bonus material is for hardcore fans only. The various takes of the songs as they grew into their final shapes are interesting, but in no way essential. So if you want to take them in my suggestion would be to stream them and not waste your dough on the deluxe version of this reissue. The single CD new mix of the actual album is 100% worth your dough though.

*This was long before the mono mixes were ever available to me. Or, more accurately before I even realized they existed!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Is this going to be the summer of sickness?

I'm coming down with something again. For a guy who was always pretty hale and hearty, the fact I've been ill so often in the last year or so really has me starting to doubt my immortality!

Friday, May 26, 2017

Remember Arlo?

My friend Bernie kew the guys in Arlo and took me to a few of their shows. I was an instant convert to their wild performances, full of crackling energy and undeniable power-pop hooks.

Stab The Unstoppable Hero was the album that most closely approximated their live sets, but even it can't fully convey what an amazing live act the band was.

Here are two tunes from that album to help you kick off the long holiday weekend.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Harringtons are blowing my mind. Yours is next in line.

The Harringtons are a power trio out of the U.K. Yeah, blah blah blah, so what?

Here's what.

They are a trio of teenagers channeling explosive hooks with straight roots to the family tree The Who planted decades before this kids were even born. But it ain't a tribute; they're just tapping into the vein. Their debut EP CHANGE IS GONNA COME is one of those short blasts of pure chaotic euphoria that raises my pulse to levels that tease on a threatening heart attack.

In 14 minutes these impeccably coiffed fellows deliver four salvos that, at their age, should not be a fraction as potent as they are. This is the equivalent of walking into a American VFW hall only to discover every wall is lined with amps surrounding a singer whose veins are thrust inches from his neck while he strains to stay in key.

It's a physical force.

It is a blast of fun.

Below a taste of an early version of one the band's songs. On the EP it carries even more weight and attacks with a barely contained chaos that will scrape a wide smile across your face. Since their album isn't due until July 14, this will have to do for now.

Get down on your knees and pray right now that someone more flush with money than I hears these sounds and bankrolls a trip to the U.S.A. for the band, because, I for one, can not wait to hear what this maelstrom sounds like in a fucking live setting.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fifteen years of Tankboy on Blogger.

Regular readers should be familiar with these characters from over the years.
Huh, the month of May seems to be rife with digital anniversaries for me. On May 24, 2002, the very first post appeared on this little site. It was a repurposed email from my Tankboy mailing list* at the time, and I was just testing out the waters.

It’s funny to think that this site has been around that long, outlasting blogging booms and busts, and just sort of trucking along. I never stuck with a single format, mixing MP3 postings with band and DJ promotion, and. cultural reviews. Well, I guess it always has had a single format—it’s always been a journal. And I have to admit I don’t know what drove me to do something like this so publicly at the beginning, or stick with it as long as I have.

Now it’s just a part of me.

A brief trip through those early years is sometimes painful but mostly amusing. In 2003 I decided to start writing a post every weekday and don't think I've missed a day yet.** It’s sometimes uncomfortable to have a pretty complete record of the things I’ve gone through over the years. In some ways I am so different, and in others it is shocking how little I’ve changed. But that’s the same for everyone; I just happen to have a kind of public accounting of it.

Anyway, whether you’ve been with me from the first post or just started reading yesterday; thanks.

*The precursor to this blog was the original Tankboy email, which—I believe—started in 1996. It was a regular summary of thoughts, recommendations, and whatever caught my fancy that I sent out to a slowly expanding network of readers. It started with AOL chatroom buddies and people that had college email addresses, and grew from there. So, in a way, I’ve been regularly “blogging” since 1996. I wonder how many people that read my stuff nowadays weren’t even born then. Mind-blowing.

**I could be wrong. It's possible near the beginning I did skip a day but I'm not sure, and I'm not going back to count. Let's just all agree that the posting has been unusually regular for a really, really long time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Elf Power just keeps trucking along, god bless ‘em.

Elf Power, photo by Sandra Rek
Elf Power, the Elephant 6 affiliated ensemble, has been going strong for over two decades, and while I haven’t really kept tabs on them as much in recent years I did finally get a chance to listen to their just-released Twitching In Time LP.

And it was an unexpected delight. Terrific.

The band’s gentle ‘60s pop is still rubbing shoulders with the lighter of psychedelic shrouds on the new material. Something about it just sounds heftier and more present this time around. I found myself listening to it as background music only to find that whatever task it was soundtracking had moved to the background instead as the music moved its way to the center of my attention.

Unfortunately the band only played a teensy number of tour dates to support the album, so there’s no way for me to see how this stuff translates live. I’ll just have to let my imagination keep running free.

UPDATE: They just posted a bunch of new dates since the original email I was pulling that tour information from!* They play Beat Kitchen in Chicago on July 18!

Naturally, the band decided to release a video for the album’s least accessible tune, "Watery Shreds," and has no music streaming on the Soundclouds or Bandcamps. Accessible or not, it’s still a fine song, though not super indicative of what you can expect from the majority of the new album.

*Good thing I double-checked before hitting publish!

Monday, May 22, 2017

The return of 'Twin Peaks' has been amazing, so far.

There are plenty of hot takes and think pieces out there covering the first couple episodes of Twin Peaks: The Return, so I won’t ad to the pile. I’m really just enjoying allowing the show to wash over me.

A word of advice to fans and new arrivals: don’t call the show “slow.” It’s moving at it’s own pace. And it definitely does not feel beholden to make too much solid sense of previous continuity questions. And, honestly, if you don’t dig it, don’t watch it. It isn’t for everyone: don’t feel bad!

The new season feels far more like a David Lynch movie, than David Lynch exploring the medium of television, which is a big difference from the last time he directed the show for TV.

I am loving that Lynch wrote and directed every episode—it’s offering the show a surreal continuity, and while I don’t expect firm answers to ever come from the guy, I do feel like he has a firm vision of just what he wants this run to be. And I am in for the long haul!

Friday, May 19, 2017

One dozen years and counting with Chicagoist: or, watch me get all kinds of mushy.

From an actual 2009 Chicagoist post. No kidding.
Twelve years ago today I started writing for Chicagoist.

Twelve years.

I can still remember sending Scott Smith my first email answering the call for a music writer. And his invitation to do so,  including the ask that I keep writing under the name Tankboy. At the time the new wave of online journalism was still young and the idea of working a "brand" that was already established through years of writing under that name elsewhere still seemed valuable. And the funny thing is I don't regret it, no matter how many times I meet people and say, "My name is Jim Kopeny [blank stare] ... I also write under the name Tankboy for Chicagoist."

"OOOOOH! I know who you are! I've been reading you forever!"


So now I'm creeping on turning 45 and more people than not call me Tankboy.

Thanks Scott.*


Chicagoist was one of the first truly original—strike that. THE FIRST truly original-voiced Chicago blog** that—amazingly—maintained some sort of focus despite channeling a dizzying number of truly talented yet insane voices at the time. There were no rules. And we broke them all.

And we still do.

Things are obviously different. Twelve years in most eras would be a long time but in today's media environment that's like saying my genesis with Chicagoist was started sometime in the 1880s. (And that was true even before our current hyper news cycle that's launched into overdrive over the last 6 months!)

One weirdo and one guy that hired the weirdo. Circa 2006.
But Chicagoist is still it's own thing. And it's a thing I'm still proud of. It has managed to not turn into a carbon copy of every other media site trend despite watching countless others do just that over the years. How amazing is that? I  am still deeply proud of the site and amazed at how lucky I am to write for it.

Thank you Jen. Thank you Jake. Thank you to every other editor and writer I've worked alongside over the last twelve years.*** Especially the folks that sent in their initial emails wanting to write for the site, worked with me,  and then gave me the pure joy of seeing you go on to incredible other opportunities after your Chicagoist tenure.

Thank you.

And thank YOU for reading the site all this time. I write because I have to—because if I didn't I would explode—but I get the most enjoyment when YOU walk up to me and let me know something I posted on the site mattered to YOU, and got YOU out to a show or event, or helped YOU become a new band's biggest fan. Or got YOU to an event or to care about something, or change a friend's mind about something.

Thank YOU.

Oh yeah, and I met my wife because of Chicagoist.

I am such a lucky dude.


*I actually mean that. Thank you, Scott.
**Chicago Metblogs and Gapers Block were great, but I'm biased. Chicagoist just had it.
***The list is a mind-boggling list of talents. Oh my gosh, SO MANY AMAZING WRITERS.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Chris Cornell.

I shit you not, stomping around a friend's kitchen in 1991, long hair flailing, un-ironic flannels, boys and girls blending together, me DJing with cassette tape and blasting "Searching With My Good Eye Closed" and feeling invincible and like the world was fucking ours. OURS.

1992 at Tinley Park with even longer hair screaming "OUTSHINED OUTSHINED OUTSHINED" into I don't even know whose face.

Then—lost the plot. What the fuck? "Black Hole Sun" puts me to sleep.

Years later. Just moved back into Chicago. Run into the band at Danny's and dance-offs and long, drawn out discussions of Barry White bootlegs ensue and everything is right again.

And then, just no.

Then, conflicted. (And my take NOT well received by fans.)

Then the last time I saw him just fuck yes, again. I could feel my hair creep down my neck as those flannel sleeves cinched my waist. One of the last remaining old school primal rock forces.

These are the things I'll remember.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Seriously, this has gotta stop.

Remember when the news cycle at least started to slow down after 5 p.m. most days?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Do the kids even understand the weirdness?

Did you used to gather in a friends dorm room to watch each new episode of Twin Peaks in college? I did. It is, of just about any TV show, is impossible to convey just what a true aberration this show was at the time.

There was nothing like it that had ever made it through to the mainstream before.

It was nightmarish yet darkly funny. Surreal and hypnotic. A madman's fever dream on network TV. Truly a WHAT THE FUCK phenomenon. I know nowadays a series opening on a pan over a dead body feels cliché but when Twin Peaks started it was genuinely horrifying and confusing. So it's hard to get across just how wild Twin Peaks was. Hell, now "Lynchian" is practically an accepted adjective to define a now accepted aesthetic but back then? Lynchian simply meant THIS IS FUCKED UP AND WHAT IS HAPPENING.

I stumbled across this Flying Lotus remix yesterday. It's everything that Twin Peaks was not; a predictable rehash that breaks no new ground. But hey, it's groovy and will help you kill 3 minutes while you eagerly await the premiere of season 3 of Twin Peaks this weekend.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Hall And Oates ... a band I've seen a bunch I never thought I'd see a bunch.

Tonight's Hall And Oates show was pretty great. It flagged a little in the middle—definitely the longest set I've seen them turn in the numerous times I've caught them live—but I was impressed by their fearlessness to mess with their own "classics." My personal highlight? They turned "I Can't Go For That" into a 15+ minute Philly soul funk epic.

It was pretty amazing. Thanks to their and the Tears For Fears people for setting me up pretty last minute. It was definitely worth the drive to the suburbs to catch a show on a Monday night!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Took a sick day.

Threw in the towel. Took the day off work. And while I still worked half a day—time waits for no one—I still managed to also sleep for the other half of the day. And it was exactly what the doctor ordered!

Now, I'm not going to push my luck, and am heading straight back to bed. But man, do I feel so much better now.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Falling behind.

Do you ever look at your unlistened-to podcast feed and feel filled with anxiety?

Oh, that's just me being a weirdo?

Never mind, Carry on.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

I tried to listen to the new Black Lips ALL day today...

But I never got more than 30 seconds into a song. Not because they weren't good, but because I was so busy.

THAT SAID the snippets I heard were weird, wild, and not what I expected. So, tomorrow.

Wow, that's some inside baseball dorkiness, huh?

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

I feel like a wreck.

I feel like this building looks. Another sad demolition in Bucktown. 
I should have called in sick to work yesterday.

I definitely should have called into work today.

But I couldn’t.

There’s too much going on. I’ve never understood people that call in sick when there’s a deadline (or in this case, deadlines). I don’t judge them negatively. In fact I think I actually envy them a little since the rational response to being sick is staying home and 90% or the time I don’t respond rationally. Actually, those people are clearly smarter than I am.

I guess if I don’t think I’m contagious then I reckon I’m no threat to others’ health, so why should I take the day off?

Whatever, I’m just griping because I feel so cruddy. Maybe tonight I’ll get a good night’s sleep, finally burn through this things and wake up feeling 100 times better.

We’ll see.

Monday, May 08, 2017

'Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2' is a total nerd flick.

Is it as instant winning as the first Guardians Of The Galaxy? I don’t think it could be. But it’s still wildly entertaining, and unafraid to pick in plenty of ephemera to please the fans of comic book deep cuts. There are a ridiculous number of Easter eggs, and I’m sure I only caught a fraction of them.

Oh and I’m not gonna lie—I got teary-eyed at points. Because I am a big softy.

Anyway, that’s all I got for today. I’ve been under the weather since yesterday and it’s only getting worse so yippee yay me!

Friday, May 05, 2017

White Reaper!

It's no secret that White Reaper's The World's Best America Band is one of my favorite records this year. And tonight I will have a chance to finally catch them live. I am so excited! I feel like a frickin' teenager. It's ridic.

Here is their newest video. It may be the slowest song they've written, not that I'm holding that against them. It's still pretty great.

UPDATE: When they played this Beat Kitchen went bonkers and it carries an unexpected power in a live setting. Just an FYI.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Date night!

Since I was out of town earlier this week, and Mich is out of town this weekend, tonight is date night!

We really need to schedule more of these ahead of time. It’s funny how much less often we go out nowadays. And it’s not like you have to go out of the house for a date, but it sure helps to do just that if you actually want to carve out time to do something more exciting than deciding which movie to stream or what series to catch up with.

Not that I don’t think both of those things can be awfully romantic. They can be!

Wednesday, May 03, 2017


We were in and out of New Orleans in just about 24 hours. It's pretty impressive how much business you can get done in such a brief window of time.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Sixty minute tour.

I'm in New Orleans for a client meeting and had a lucky chance to get out and show a co-worker a brief glimpse of the city outside our hotel. We ate beignets, drank chicory coffee and took in some of the architecture.

I really love New Orleans. We used to come down here at least once a year—usually off season—because we just love the town's vibe. I think Mich and I need to book a longer stay down here again so I can gain 10 pounds eating good food and doing nothing much else aside from walking around and maybe taking a tour or two.

Monday, May 01, 2017

How much new music did I listen to in April 2017? Let's find out!

Looks like April was a little slower as far as plowing through the new music queue. I was on vacation for part of the month, and spent most of that time reading instead of listening. I’ve also made that new pact with myself to slow down the firehose, so maybe this is an effect stemming from that as well?

I mean, this is still more music than the average fan, or even critic, listens to in a month, so I’m not exactly beating myself up. I do admit I’m beginning to question my practice of listening to every album all the way through instead of skipping the ones that are obviously not going to hit home with me. It’s the same problem I have with books; I can’t just bail a few pages in, and end up feeling like I’m required to fight through t the bitter end.

Part of the reason I listen to things all the way through is in hopes of discovering a single gem of a song on an otherwise lackluster album. I may have to refine this practice, but for now it stays in place!

Anyway, here are the April stats!

The guide to understanding my rating system is here, if you're interested.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in March 2017: 57

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 5

Number of those releases that rated 4-6: 38

Number of those releases that rated 1-3: 14

Highest rated album: Gorillaz - Humanz (Shocker! Not.)

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: What Gives - Feel Good. I'll write more about this Chicago band later, but RIYL: all things Weezer, pop-punk, emo-pop, power pop, big crunchy guitars—but all those things inclusively and not all of those things exclusively.

Most surprising discovery: I knew Sweet Spirit's St. Mojo held promise, but I admit that it kinda gave me a left hook. I listened to it when I first got it and was, like, meh this is good and fine. Then gave it another while writing a preview of their Chicago show and something just clicked. Goes to show why if something shows promise you should always give another listen.