Monday, April 30, 2018

FAN the Industrial-pop flames with "Velour."

Photo by Gael Herrera
FAN is the one-man band helmed by Meric Long, who you might recognize from his other band The Dodos. And while his new project shares many of his The Dodos' melodic methods, he mostly trades in his guitar for synthesizers to create multi-layered throbbing waves of sound that effortlessly carry you along.

The first time I listened to Barton’s Den it was a little mellower than I expected, but the second and third times revealed that the songs were actually driving pretty steadily ahead at a quicker pace. The synths have the effect of creating a sense of aural drag and I think that’s what tricked my ears the first time. This ain’t mellow, kids.

And then I hit the penultimate song of the album, "Velour," and almost wanted to dance around the room. It’s a it’s all roiling sound that is close to Industrial, but Long’s sweetly delivered vocals turn it into pure pop instead of something that might grate. It’s my favorite track on the album, amidst an already strong collection of songs that will win just about anyone over.

Super big plus is if you dig "Velour" too, you don't have to wait until the album's release on May 4 to hear the whole thing! If you buy the CD or vinyl versions you get an MP3 download of the entire album immediately. Sweet!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Speedy Ortiz sounds particularly exciting on 'Twerp Verse.'

Photo by Shervin Lainez
The new Speedy Ortiz LP is out today and it is something you should not sleep on. The band has tightened their sound and kicked up the melodies, and you can definitely feel the influence of singer and guitarist Sadie Dupuis' synth-heavy side project Sad13.

Don't worry, it's not like the band has gone all slick on you, but Twerp Verse is a big step forward for the band's sound. It could be because it's a completely different album than the one they had planned to release. Apparently after election day the group realized that the "strictly personal or lovey dovey" material they planned on recording was no longer all the relevant given the outcome of the Presidential race.

I'm sure I would have enjoyed that album, but it probably wouldn't have sounded as ambitious as the material they ended up writing afterward. Enjoy the album below and if you're in Chicago you can see them on May 12 at Subterranean.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Is it Friday yet? No?! Well then, here's something to cheer you up until then.

Kylie Minogue stopped by Seth Meyers' show last night and I somehow missed it despite watching Late Night just about every night. But I haven't been sleeping the best this week, so lately I've been conking out during his monologue and then waking up an hour or two later.

First she played the first single, "Dancing," off her excellent new album. Which is above. THEN, as a web extra, she did a re-worked more rockin' version of "Can't Get You Out Of My Head." Which is below.

Man I hope she tours the States behind this current album.

Getting back out there.

Still under construction but getting there. :)
Once you get over the initial paralyzing fear you’ll be alone for forever and ever, dating in your 40s is actually much different than I expected. In a good way.

(And let me be clear: I'm talking about actual dates and NOT entering into the hook-up culture. I'm sticking with dates.)

Over the last 20 years, two major relationships occupied almost all that time, so my singledom has come in slivers, and dating is way different now than when I was last single! I remember meeting girls through Twitter, but apps dedicated to dating were definitely not a thing.* I’m also older now, so even the way I approach dating is pretty different than when I was in my 30s or 20s.

I know I’m probably more open-minded about potential dates now than I thought I was when in my mid-20s. I have gone on dates with people both older and younger than me, and with both longtime friends and complete strangers. Single moms seem totally cool. It’s not a prerequisite dates live in the city. And while in the past I tended to date people with connections to the music world, I’m really enjoying the broader spectrum of backgrounds I’m encountering. And I've gotten way more open to letting things go slow and hang out with a couple different people instead of trying to lock down a single relationship right away, which was definitely a pattern in my past behavior.

So I’m starting to enjoy being single, finally. I still have some mourning of my marriage and other stuff to work through, and I'm certainly not saying I don't get deeply sad at times, but after months where everything seemed a little too dark I’m definitely feeling more comfortable and optimistic about my future.

In fact the only downside to dating is that it can get expensive. And between the divorce and the house issues I'm definitely feeling the pinch —so I have no idea how millennials can afford it!

*Speaking of dating apps, I can’t understand why so many people don’t write even the briefest of bios, or use photos that are only extreme close-ups or shots of groups of people. And I finally had my first ghosting experience thanks to a dating app, but that was O.K., it didn’t bother me. Just the price of admission to dating in 2018, I guess.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The lengths through which people will go to escape the news.

"Erasure" is one of my favorite songs off the new Superchunk album, What A Time To Be Alive. I'm honestly a little surprised it wan't the first single! But now it's out and the band has released a video for the tune that takes an inventive approach to our current news cycle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

These Idle Hands will get you dancing.

This photo is almost a decade old, who knows who is still even in the band at this point!
The Idle Hands are from Ireland but now based in Minneapolis. I was introduced to them years ago by my friend Skip when I was booking The Note, and they were honestly one of my favorite groups to come into town. They also definitely fall into the "why weren't they huge" category that always mystifies me when a band is this much fun.

I happened to be listening to their albums over the weekend and the band let me know that their final EP was up on Bandcamp so check it out below. I thought the band had broken up but they actually have a few shows coming up under a different name so I don't know how many of the original members are still involved (though you're out of luck unless you live in Richmond, VA or Camden, UK), so I'm happy to see some of 'em are still in action. If you dig the below, their earlier full album is on Spotify.

Also, their new project is The Stress Of Her Regard (which I think they told me about a while ago and like an idiot I forgot) so that's definitely worth a listen too.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Returning favors.

I was able to do something nice for a close friend that has been really supportive of me the last few months. They've been there every single time I needed them so I has happy to have a chance to actually return the favor. That, on top of another really good weekend, has me in the right mood to kick off the week!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Get wonderfully weird with Post Animal.

Photo by Pooneh Ghana
I was gonna write something in a more personal vein today, and while it wasn't a bummer topic, it was a little more serious than today's lovely weather deserves. Then I remembered the new Post Animal album was coming out today so I decided to say something about that instead.

Post Animal is one of those Chicago bands I never paid attention to, and until now was primarily known as the group "Steve" from Stranger Things was in. (He's not anymore, but I believe he did play on the new album.) So I, like an idiot, kind of wrote them off as more of a gimmick thing. My mistake.

They also seem to hang out with the Twin Peaks dudes, which makes total sense given their sound. Anyone who has seen Twin Peaks live knows that the recorded version of that band is a far more polite version of the pandemonium of their actual stage shows. Post Animal swims in a similar lane, though they definitely skew more towards '60s hard psych-pop (that's a thing, right?). Their new album, When I Think Of You In A Castle, showcases a band at the height of their current powers. Or maybe this is where they've always been? I dug through their back catalog and there isn't a whole lot of variation on their sound, so maybe they were pretty fully baked from the get-go. That said, this is definitely the strongest collection of their songs.

Post Animal is touring a lot through June, so I'd recommend seeing them if they come through your town. Unless you live in Chicago, which is already sold out, so you're out of luck.

Check out the album and throw the lads a few bucks to download (or buy a physical copy) if you see fit.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Believe it or not, Beach Bunny's got me interested in "Sports!"

It's gonna finally be warm outside today! So let's break out some beach pop!

I was digging through the bill VARSITY is playing on at The Empty Bottle for their record release show Friday, and decided to check out this tune by Chicago band Beach Bunny.

Judging by their band photo they look impossibly young, but their music is super catchy and super accomplished. Much like the Hatchie track I shared yesterday, their sound definitely has deep roots in '90s indie pop, something I'm a total sucker for.

I was digging through their discography and from what I can tell, the band started out as the solo project of singer/guitarist Lili Trifilio, but the single below and their most recent EP feature a full band. It's all pretty good stuff though, so if you dig "Sports" you might want to tour their whole collection as well.

I have plans on Friday night, so I don't know if I can make it to the show, but if I do you can be sure I'll get there early enough to check these folks out. And if not, I'll definitely be at their next show!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

"Sugar & Spice" and everything is all right when I listen to Hatchie.

Things have finally been going well in my personal life lately, but this unending winter is still taxing me emotionally. So the timing of this music video couldn't be more perfect. Chip tweeted a recommendation to me yesterday that I might dig this song by Hatchie, and he was so right. Dreampop in a firmly '90s vein that still manages to sound bright and sunny.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

The Darkness rocked.

Photo by Simon Emmett
Some days I just don't know what to write, especially since I've made the conscious effort to let a lot of things that had been weighing on my just float away. So instead, go read my review of The Darkness show I saw last week.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Pretty excellent weekend.

Good times. Good hangs. Lots of music and good people. After the last couple of weeks this weekend was exactly what I needed. Thank you to everyone I ran into or talked with. I don't even care that it's the middle of April and it's snowing outside!

And now, a chimpanzee riding on a segway. What a classic.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Wussy bring on the aliens in our midst.

Photo by John Erhardt
The new Wussy album just sort of chugs pleasantly along for the most part. It's made for nice background music at work. I've never seen them live but I can envision these tunes being really amped up in a club.

Anyway, the one track that really jumped out at me was their cover of Twinkeyz' "Aliens In Our Midst," a hard driving rocker that seethes with paranoia, but doesn't prompt actual anxiety.

It's almost like you want to go, "But of course there're aliens in our midst, dude, what are you freaking out about?" And then that dog with a human head from Invasion Of The Body Snatchers pops out of the bushes and goes, "Duh."

O.K. that doesn't really track lyrically but it's the vibe I got.

What Heaven Is Like comes out digitally next month and physically in June, but you can pre-order it through the player below. Get on it.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Saw The Darkness last night...

Here's a blast from their past. Review to come on Third Coast Review. I've seen this band so many times—from their first U.S. tour with a show at Double Door (with The Webb Brothers opening (?!)), through shows in other cities, up until last night's gig at Park West (easily the weirdest venue I've seen them play but oh-so much fun!)—and I still haven't tired of their over the top true embrace of showmanship and rock and/or roll.

Some call them ridiculous; I call them ridiculously fun. Hell, I might steal that line for my review.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

It's National Pet Day!

I mean, how could I live without little Pickle?!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The Aces hit the spot.

This weekend was particularly taxing in ways I'm actually not going to go into (gasp!) but my friend Marcus recommended I check out The Aces, figuring that might cheer me up ... and he was right!

The band includes sisters Cristal and Alisa Ramirez and their friends friends McKenna Petty and Katie Henderson. They definitely rock in a HAIM vibe, so if you’re looking for sunny pop this will hit the spot.

The band is on tour opening for X Ambassadors and hits Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom on April 27.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Just an observation. Happy Monday!

Home warranties are great for major mechanical breakdowns (like a furnace) but not for emergencies (like needed to immediately change your locks or getting a plumber out to stop your basement from flooding).

Friday, April 06, 2018

Happy Sloan day!

I can't even tell you how much of a healing tonic Sloan's 12 has been over the last month or so, and you can finally hear the whole thing! Go snag yourself a copy and thank me later!

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Been a week.

I have a cough that I just haven't been able to ditch, so matter how much Theraflu I take.

It also means I've been tossing and turning and unable to sleep and probably spending a little too much time on the Facebooks as a mode of distraction from not feeling well. In fact I think I might need a Facebook break for a while. We'll see how that goes, but it certainly can't hurt.

I had a long phone call with a friend this evening and they pointed out a few things I had been blind to, and it was an incredibly helpful and kind thing for them to do even if parts were tough to hear. I'm not a bad person, but they helped me understand how I can be a better person. I think I'm finally ready to let go of the stuff from my past that's gotten in my way and look into the future. I'm kind of excited about that!

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Way too much Scott.

I love this song but if I ever saw that many Scotts I'd freak out. One is plenty. (I kid, dude.)

Was trying to find the late night talk show performance of this with Wes on guitar but can't seem to find it anywhere. Anyone have it? I think my only copy is on VHS and I ain't digging through boxes to find that.

Monday, April 02, 2018