Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Listen to this "ringtone" and read this stuff about not writing stuff as I accidentally actually write stuff, though not the stuff I intended. Or did I?

Photo by me.
This is what procrastination looks like.* There's a show preview I've had percolating n my head that I keep putting off, and there's a show review that I have tons of notes on but just can't bring myself to crank out. I have a post on "how to survive being unemployed" I have a personal deadline of Friday to finish. I have most of my "favorite albums of 2018 (finally!) list that I just need to finish fleshing out and formatting. It's just that there's a bunch of really exciting stuff going on in my life right now, and I think that's contributing to my inability to focus on these things.**

There's a difference between writer's block (nothing is coming! what should I write?!) and this. This is not a terrible problem to have. But it is a problem and one I've gotta lick in the next 12 hours. So while I tackle that, here's a song about young love that feels very real, if a little dark. I imagine this is a reasonable facsimile of what goes on in the head of one struck by that almost crippling infatuation that accompanies the first handful of romantic partners. It also manages to showcase both the vulnerability and the sometimes overpowering paranoia that state tends to cultivate.

It's also worth noting this is one of my favorite brand new bands of the moment.*** Which reminds me, I've gotta write a more robust piece about them in the future as well! Oh well, back at it...




*No, not the photo above this line. I just picked that because I like it. Funny thing about the photo is that it's a fine detail of a larger image I plan on writing about at another point of time as an example of beauty in unexpected places, but that's really beside the point. All this writing is what procrastination looks like. But you knew that.

**What could it be?! I'm not telling ... yet!

***Funny, how when you avoid writing you sometimes end up writing despite your initial intentions, huh?

Monday, October 14, 2019

That time I "sang" with Les Savy Fav.



Les Savy Fav played the Frenchkiss Records 20th anniversary party over the weekend, and to promote it the band got together to play "Let's Get Out Of Here" on Late Night With Seth Meyers. Why "Late Night" in particular? It certainly didn't hurt that the 8G Band's Syd Butler is also the bassist in Les Savy Fav and the founder and owner of Frenchkiss Records. Synergy!

Their appearance reminded me of a memory I had largely forgotten. Years ago Les Savy Fav was playing a street festival in Wicker Park, at a time when indie bands I actually liked were just starting to infiltrate and take over those bills from the usual regional cover bands. During the set, singer Tim Harrington ran through the crowd towards the open door of the building right next to the stage I happened to be standing next to, and as he passed me to run through that door he handed me his microphone. I stood there confused for a half second before deciding I wasn't going to pass up this opportunity and immediately started to improvise vocals over the vamp the band was doing as Harrington ran rampant. Eventually he popped out of a window of one of the apartments on the second floor and everything went completely bonkers. I kept singing until he finally came back down to collect his microphone and they finished the set.

And I was left with a pretty fun story about "that one time I was the singer for Les Savy Fav."

I dug through the Chicagoist archives and realized one of our writers actually wrote about it in our round-up of our favorite music moments of 2011, so I'm not crazy. It actually happened.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

This "Roadkill" is filled with super tasty licks from People Years.


I admit I went back and forth with that headline. The joke was just too easy, so I hope you'll forgive me.

So, People Years. The four gents in the band are based in Birmingham, Alabama and apparently each member plays in a bunch of other bands as well. I've never heard of any of the other bands, but that's not surprising—I'm not really well versed in the Birmingham scene. But if People Years' debut single is any indication of what the Birmingham scene is producing, I need to get far more familiar with it.

"Roadkill" takes it's sweet time to build up over the course of its six-plus minutes. Things start out spacey until the drums kick things up a notch at the 45-second mark, and then things get even more interesting as a David Gilmour-esque guitar line that would fit right in on Pink Floyd's "Breathe" continues to suggest a spiraling inner journey that tugs against the brisk beats. Dreamy vocals kick in around 2 minutes later, and then the tune dips and grooves swoons and crashes into a thundering crescendo. Just strap in and listen—the lyrics are minimal so this is really one of those compositions that's pretty wide open for you to create your own space within.

The band's debut album is still in the works and isn't due until early 2020—assuming we're all still around by then—but this should wet your whistle for what's to come.



If video is more your thing, then you can watch the accompanying video below. Personally, I prefer it when my mind runs free on songs like "Roadkill," but to each their own!

Wednesday, October 09, 2019

Big sounds from a Tiny Desk courtesy Charly Bliss.

Photo by Beth Eisgrau-Heller/KEXP
We were trying to remember a show from last winter we were both at, and K kept telling me, "You know their name. They're your favorite band! You played them all the time when we were in my car back then!"

We finally remembered the band in question was Charly Bliss, and based on how much I have listened to them over the past few years, K categorizing them as my "favorite band" seems accurate, even if at the time my brain immediately leapt toward the groups with longer histories I'd usually jump to based on that description.

Charly Bliss recently stopped by the NPR studios and today they've released their own contribution to the excellent Tiny Desk Concert series. So, everyone, enjoy this unconventional show from my favorite band!

Friday, October 04, 2019

Which Joker is your Joker?

I just saw the new Todd Phillips movie Joker, and I have thoughts, but I'm not going to share them right now.* But it did get me to thinking about what people expect when they encounter the Joker in either print or film.

I think it's safe to say that for most people, the way they expect the Joker to behave is heavily influenced by the manner in which they first encountered the character. That would explain why folks have such strange feelings about each incarnation.** If it doesn't hew to their initial imprint, they're going to view this or that Joker as intrinsically "wrong."

For me it was the 1973 story "The Joker's-Five Way Revenge" by Neal Adams and Dennis O'Neil. Until recently I didn't even realize this was the first time he really returned to the comics as a homicidal mad man after years and years as more or less comic relief, albeit of a criminal nature, in the comics. To my little still-forming mind—I had to be between 6- and 8-years-old when I read it, probably in one of those miniature DC digests I habitually begged my mom to buy from the grocery store magazine section—this Joker was CUH-REEPY. And I loved it.***

Over the years, I've absorbed the other Jokers, and it's no surprise the ones I like the best are the Jokers of The Killing Joke graphic novel and the film The Dark Knight, since both of those share quite a bit of DNA from that 1973 Joker that first caught my eye.****

Anyway, "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" just happened to pop into my head again on my way home from viewing the Joker film, and I just wanted to revisit it for a second (and recommend it to you on the off chance you've never read it).

How about you? When did you first encounter the Joker, and is that still the image you hold all other appearances of the character to?


*One, I'm still digesting. Two, I spent a lot of time over the last month avoiding all spoilers, so I don't want to be the one to spoil it for anyone else. I will say I think all this handwringing over its violence or possible uptake by far right groups or any of that other stuff is overblown. Will idiots adopt its tale as their own? Probably, but I don't think that's a fault of the film. Idiots will twist anything to suit their purposes, in my experience. I can say that Joaquin Phoenix is terrific, even if he still doesn't top my list of favorite Jokers.

**Speaking of strong feelings, I am still confused over the fact many will espouse Mark Hamill as the definitive Joker. However I was never really into the Batman animated series, so that just goes to underscore my point. Why would I think he's the best? In my mind, he's the last one I' would've encountered in the role! He does do great voice work though. Can't argue against that.

***A few panels have always stick with me; the Joker's face seen through a shark's jawsJoker about to crush an unconscious Batman's neck but holding back because that would ruin all his fun, a final scene of him beaten by Batman's fist with dirt and sludge dripping off his face, and of course that amazing opening shot of him driving and laughing (seen within this post).

****They are also both amazing portrayals of the character that just about everyone agrees upon, so it's not like I'm making any grand statements here. Duh.

Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Hood Internet returns!


My Hood Internet buds have resurfaced from their hiatus (not like neither has been musically active at all under other guises, but THN is obvs their most famous face) with a video of 50 songs from 1979 mixed into a single supercut. They promise additional years every Thursday through the rest of October.

Get down and dig it!

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Need a pick-me-up? Cruise on down "Paradise Drive."

Gotta be honest, these folks do look like they know how to have a good time!
Just a quick hit of musical dopamine for you today. Flamingods' "Paradise Drive" off this year's Levitation is an undeniable groove that would probably get you pulled over for a speeding ticket, but hopefully its sunshine vibe bouncing out your car's speakers would compel the officer to tear up their ticket book and join you in a get-down dance party on the side of the road.

Naturally, cowbell plays a prominent part of this formula.

Try it out and tell me how it goes.