Thursday, December 28, 2017

Direct Hit!

This band has gotten me through a lot of rough moments this year. And it's ironic it was at one of their shows I hit one of my lowest points. But they've helped keep me going. I can't recommend this album enough.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

As the end of the year approaches...

I know most folks are off this week, so I don't have much to say. But I do know I'm not going to miss 2017.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Taking it easy this week.

So here is a golden oldie of Pickle being adorable.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Extended vacation!

For the first time in my life I'm working for a company that is actually closed between Christmas and New Year's. Yay! Happy holidays!

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What does the future hold?

Like you, I have no idea what the future holds. But I do know there is no way 2018 could be worse than 2017, so there's that.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Here's a change from the usual pace—a little something more tender from Burkes.

I literally know zero about Burkes aside than the fact they’re from Chicago, sent me their EP in October, and it took me until yesterday to finally listen to it. Sorry dudes!

If you’re looking for any easy classification, I might describe them as mid-tempo power pop, if you believe power-pop can actually be mid-tempo. It’s sweet and delicate stuff but never feels like it’s going to crumble in on itself—there’s enough of an internal rhythmic drive to keep things clipping along. The singer also has a tender voice that's still self-assured enough to maintain some interesting stuff in the tenor range.

It's all a little mellower than I tend to trend, but for the end of the year it's a nice change of pace.

The opening tune on their self-titled EP should be enough to let you know if this is your thing or not. I get the feeling they’re pretty early on still, as far as the existence of the band is concerned, so I’m curious to see where they go from here. They don't seem to have any shows planned, but they've played Burlington and Beat Kitchen so keep an eye on those scenes.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Thank you...

I know 99% know this as the theme to The Golden Girls, but man, the original full-length version is such a jam. My hat's off to Boing Boing for originally posting this so I had something lovely and unexpected to stumble across today.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Get garage glam punk with Affordable Hybrid.

Photo by Johan Björklund
I was going through Ye Olde tankPHONE (which is getting slower by the day, so thanks for that Apple and iOS 11!) and came across this 7' from Swedish punk glam garage outfit, Affordable Hybrid.

It was hidden in my 2016 songs playlist. I do a playlist for each year both to help me make an actual list of my favorite songs and to have things I know I immediately like whenever I DJ. Of course, not I only DJ once or twice a year, so that's not as important. And, come to think of it, I don't think I did a favorite songs list last year, so ... I guess I don't even know why I still keep these playlists!

Obviously this tune fell through the cracks and I never ended up writing about it or DJing with it. But I'm glad I did keep it in that folder but it's just the right thing to help get me through the rest of this Monday.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The United States of Pop, 2017 edition.

I've always really enjoyed DJ Earworm's mash-ups, and while this year's "United States of Pop" isn't quite as awesome as previous years—let's face it, it was a pretty weak year for pop—he makes the best of it and still manages to crank out another, well, earworm.

Stream or download via the above player and let's all go POP!

Spoiler alert: I sobbed through the entire final quarter of this movie.

I was lucky enough to catch a screening of David Bowie: The Last Five Years when it played CIMMfest last November, and it is just as excellent and heart-breaking as you'd expect it to be.

I can't wait to watch it again when it finally hits HBO next month.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A Diamond not-so-in-the-rough.

Hannah Diamond
PC Music popster Hannah Diamond just surprise released a new EP, Soon I won’t see you at all. It’s a lovely little glittering piece of pop that feels like a blast on sunshine shooting across the tundra. The best part about it? You can download the whole thing for free.

On a dreary Midwestern day this slice of shiny and sleek music feels like the perfect antidote to the winter blahs.

You can listen to the opening tack below, but I’m not sure why you’d do that when the whole EP is available for zero dollars.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Nefarious Fat Cats helped me remember that rock and/or roll is meant to be loved.

Photo by Patrick Houdek
It's been a rough year, and sometimes I start to doubt whether I really have much to say about the rock and/or roll anymore, but Sunday's show at Liar's Club reaffirmed my belief that rock can save your life. (So can a DJ, but that's neither here nor there.) The Nefarious Fat Cats (Scott Lucas, Jake Burns, John Haggerty, Mark DeRosa, Herb Rosen, and Joe Haggerty) played a benefit for KT's Kids at Liar's Club Sunday night, and I can't remember the last time I had that much fun being in the middle of a raucous crowd that was just so in love with the music.

Here's a taste of what it was like.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Surprise! It's Lemuria!

I think Lemuria is one of those bands that's kind of just always been around that I never really got around to checking out. They're surprise releasing a new album, Recreational Hate, this week and I had a chance to listen to it this morning. I can assure you I'll be checking out more Lemuria in the future!

The band made the announcement on their website:
Thanks to everyone who took a gamble and purchased the "secret LP" we put up for sale back in August. We're excited to unveil that the LP you ordered is our new studio album, “Recreational Hate”.   Your trust and subsequent purchase enabled us to achieve some great feats with this release, including working with the 4-time Grammy winning producer and engineer Chris Shaw. We chose to work with him, in part, for his very eclectic discography, including the Weezer “Blue” album, Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Ice Cube, Wilco, Public Enemy, Modest Mouse, A Tribe Called Quest, Ween and Lou Reed.  You also gave us the opportunity to launch Turbo Worldwide, our new record label and home base for all things Lemuria.
Folks  that ordered blind are getting the album this week. Everyone else will have to wait until February of next year.

Crunchy guitar hooks and a variety of song treatments with interesting little musical touches really made my day this morning. And further makes the case for not putting together "year end" lists until the year's actually ended! If you dig The Rentals or early Weezer I think you'll dig this.

Check out the first single below, and you can get the whole album on their website once the pre-order goes live. It's really good.

Friday, December 08, 2017

It's been a week!

There have been highs, there have been lows, and there's been much to think about. But the one thing I'm certain of is that I am ecstatic it's Friday!

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Debbie Harry and Joan Jett in a video together? Hell yes!

Joan Jett helps Debbie Harry out at the anchor desk in the new video for Blondie's "Doom Or Destiny" of this year's Pollinator. And it kicks so much ass!

Also, if you haven't checked out Pollinator yet, you really should. Blondie is one of those bands who aren't phoning it in post-reunion, and would instead prefer to create albums that, well, still ick ass.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

MAMA makes the grade.

MAMA, photo by Amanda Olbrys from their Facebook page
A friend recommended I check out Chicago’s MAMA a few months ago and I went in without having checked out any of their music ahead of time. Sometimes I like to be totally surprised, and I definitely walked out of the show surprised.

They were playing in the back room of one of Logan Square’s diver dives, so I was expecting to hear some sloppy but good garage rock. Instead I was treated to something that had far more in common with someone like Thin Lizzy—all manic drumming, tight guitar lines, and vocal melodies anchored by hooks galore.

So of course as soon as I went home I bought their entire catalog on Bandcamp.

Their first releases have the core of what makes the band great, but I think last year’s Eye In The Sky is where they found the perfect balance between abandon and precision that I saw in that bar that night a few months ago.

The group is playing LiveWire tomorrow night (Dec. 7). If you bring bring in a non-perishable food item for the Greater Chicago Food Depository you can check out the show for free. Otherwise there’s an $8 cover. However you gain entry, I highly recommend you do. If you can’t make the show, the band gigs pretty frequently so I’d join their Facebook page so you can check them out next time they play.

Here’s some music to convince you. But it’ll be seeing MAMA live that’ll make you a full convert.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

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

When I'm feeling blue, looking at this adorable photo of Sasha the Cat helps.
Yeah, this was a miserable month for me. I'm pretty certain November 2017 will long be remembered as a personally really dark period. Because of that, when I did listen to music, which wasn't terribly often, I tended to go straight for comfort food.

I wish I could say I'm optimistic December will be different, but considering the current state of things, coupled with what appears to be the appearance of absolutely miserable winter weather, I'm not getting my hopes up.

As always, here’s a guide to my rating system.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in October 2017: 19

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 1

Number of those releases that rated 4-6: 14

Number of those releases that rated 1-3: 4

Highest rated album: Charlotte Gainsbourg’s Rest took the title this month.

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: Telthon’s The Grand Spontanean epic punk opera caught me totally off guard. You should check it out too.

Most surprising discovery: Ana Scent’s slinky electro pop was recommended to me by a friend, and I ended up enjoying it quite a bit. They only have 3 songs right now so I’m curious to hear more.

Monday, December 04, 2017

I've barely touched my email or social media since last week.

I've been on vacation since Thursday, and have avoided most things digital over that time. Since Chicagoist shuttered I've been feeling like maybe I don't have to be so plugged in all the time. But that also means I've been spending a lot of time with "me," in my own head, without the immediate escape that would be offered scrolling through my feeds. There's a lot going on right now and I think it's better if I do focus on myself. It's much harder work, but I think I'll be better for it.

Naturally, I'll always keep up on my weekday posts here, but if you notice a little (or a lot) less of me in other digital corners, now you'll know why.

Friday, December 01, 2017