Friday, March 26, 2021

Spring awakening in the brain.

Weird things have been happening in my brain, and I realized my personal creative sparks were returning and I didn't quite recognize them any more! During the pandemic I've had to protect what goes on inside my head from becoming too overwhelming, and quite honestly my 9-to-5 has gotten pretty much all of my creative focus. And that's O.K.! It's been my lifeline over the past year and at least kept the creative juices flowing! But on my recent long walks the origins of short stories are starting to unexpectedly pop up, and music ideas, and illustrations have started building in the brain and leaking out through my hands, and (UGH!) even lines of poetry that'll probably turn into lyrics at some point are making an appearance. I've been keeping tons of notes and voice memos of disparate thoughts over the last year to keep the idea machine going, but I'm beginning to see the old doors crack open again, revealing an endless landscape of infinitely engrossing opportunities for exploration. And the connections are starting to make sense again.

So that's good.

What about the music writing, Jim? Didn't you say you'd keep that up just to keep those muscles working? And yes, it's coming. But I don't think I can quite explain how much my own relationship to music (and the arts) has changed in the last 3 years. I didn't even notice it until I had, you know, a year pause from any music writing that had any sort of actual deadline. I just lost the fire. So yes, I kept trying to turn you onto new stuff over the past year but also yeah, it'd gotten really emotionally hard. I've been doing this for over 30 years now, and most folks have problems keeping it up for 3 months, so I think I'm allowed a period of reflection, right?

So I thought of throwing in the towel. I mean, are my opinions relevant or valuable at all any longer? But that's obviously a leading question, since obviously I think they are both those things and I wouldn't be writing this otherwise.


I was thinking about the fact that my first email newsletter started 25 years ago (and introduced "Tankboy" to the world, so no, the nickname has never had any connection to Old School or drinking or any of that and if you're still confused you can read this) and then came this blog and nowadays everyone has moved to email newsletters and are moving back towards blogs, so I'm so far ahead of that game by never leaving it'd be a shame to do so now!

So, I'm not going anywhere, and there's gonna start to be a lot more to come!

Thursday, March 04, 2021

It's a "Winter Western" with Local H and friends!

Whenever I get to my best-of list for 2020, Local H's LIFERS is one of the few albums that snagged its spot early and never let go.* So while I'm still agonizing on how to cut it down to 20 entries—and I will, sometime this month, I sweartagawd and am setting a deadline to force me to make some hard choices when culling albums—this tune is definitely on an album that will definitely make the list and this video is definitely not what I expected and definitely far more entertaining because of that. 

I mean, this video combines the talents of four artists I really respect and enjoy—Scott Lucas and Ryan Harding, Juliana Hatfield, and  Rachel Lichtman—and extrudes them through the filter of iconic imagery from a massively successful children's television show to create something simultaneously very now and very always. And very entertaining.**

*I believe I personally have two copies of LIFERS that I purchased, in addition to the promo sent before its release, so my money is literally where my mouth is with this one.
**It's The Electric Company. The massively successful children's television show I'm talking about is The Electric Company. I was just trying to be grandiose and/or funny and I'm not sure that phrase was either, but there you go.

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Looking back on an amazing Alex Lahey album I totally missed!

This amazing photo via Alex Lahey's Facebook page, and how could I NOT use it?!

I was going through ye olde tankPHONE over the weekend, digging through old playlists for albums I might be able to finally delete and open up a little space, and of course instead of finding stuff to cut I stumbled across artists I had lost touch with and ended up adding more than I deleted.

Alex Lahey was one of those artists, and as I rediscovered 2017's I Love You Like A Brother on my phone I wondered what happened to Lahey.

I was sent a couple earlier releases from  Lahey when they came out but I had forgotten all about her and a little digging revealed she had been far from quiet the whole time. I must have fallen off whatever PR list serviced her 2019 album, The Best of Luck Club, so even though I missed that one a quick listen to some of its content had me spinning the album on repeat ASAP. So the end result was that I had the pleasure of discovering a fantastic "new" album to add to my collection!

It's also an album that had I heard it in 2019 would have had a pretty good chance of ending up in that year's best-of list. Sample a few of the tunes Lahey has made available from that album below, and then I think you'll find yourself doing the same thing as me, feeling you just have to own this album.

And me? I think I may have to check out some of the other releases of Lahey's I missed out on over the years since I last wrote about her. Wait. What, I've never written about Lahey before?! How is that possible?!

My bad! Go listen to and buy all her music so I don't feel so badly about waiting this long to tell you about this fantastic Australian import!

Monday, March 01, 2021

Big Kids wants to thank you...

To reassure all that things are fine around these parts despite a dearth of posts in the month of February—I mean, c'mon, we've been locked down for almost a year so...—here is a fun song I stumbled across. 

It's a song from a Chicago eatery thanking patrons who have decided to support them.

I do not have any personal experience with Big Kids, though I have confirmed they do indeed appear to be a Chicago restaurant, but after hearing this song I will have to pay them a visit when things open back up even more. 

Also, private to the Big Kids crew, maybe include a link to get food from y'all from the Bandcamp page. Just a suggestion!