Friday, January 28, 2022

Want a sneak peek at some of my best music of 2021 list?

I contributed a couple Chicago-centric entries to the Third Coast Review's music writers' favorite albums of 2021 list. So while I still work on my own "best of 2021" list, you'll at least know three of the albums that will appear on it if you read the entry.

Check out the whole thing, and then hop around Third Coast Review to check out the website's brand spankin' new redesign! It's nice and elegant and a lovelier reading experience for visitors overall.

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Pixel Grip delivers those groovy, underground, late-night vibes you might be missing.

Photo by Alexus McLane
I was digging around for something to share with you and realized I had completely missed writing about the release of Pixel Grip's album ARENA last year. Yipes! Because this was an album not to miss, in my humblest of opinions.*

The Chicago trio of Rita Lukea, Jonathan Freund and Tyler Ommen beat the pandemic blues by trying to create an underground dance club in your ears. The result is a groovy, dark collection of pulsing synth bombs that sounds like a very hottt and sexy dance party populated by every variation of freak under the sun. And there's a laid-back kinda vibe that still has a non-stop energy moving it, and my hips, forward. 

Any time I need "a night out" while being trapped indoors, I've popped this on and it always delivers. So, better late than never, I implore you to check out ARENA and get in touch with your underground dance diva today.

*I mean, I even tweeted about 'em last year, partially so I wouldn't forget to write about the album! See?

Friday, January 21, 2022

Digging deep with The Dollyrots

Photo by Jen Rosenstein
I was looking and the first time I wrote about the Dollyrots seems to be right around 2007, and I made a pretty obvious-to-me Josie and the Pussycats reference about the band that is probably less arcane these days than it was back then. I also remember it being one of the bands my pal Chip Midnight wrote about quite a bit back in the Donewaiting days. And their most recent full-length laded on my Best of 2019 list of albums.

Today the duo of Kelly Ogden and Luis Cabezas released Down The Rabbit Hole,  a collection of various singles, b-sides, covers, and general miscellany that I've been plowing through all morning. And lemme tell ya—my Friday has been glorious so far as that soundtrack powered me through the morning.

Give the new collection a spin below, and as always please do feel free to snag the digital or CD versions of the album. The band is planning on hitting the road this spring, starting with a show at Reggie's in Chicago ... and I hope things are feeling safe enough by then because I really wanna catch The Dollyrots live in 2022!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Movin' right along!

Some days ya just need to check in, say hi, and let everyone know everything is O.K. Well, as O.K. as things can be, these days.

So, hi!

Lessee, where do we go from there? New year's resolutions? Nah, never really been my thing. Although I do think this year if I resolve to do anything, it's to do more of the positive stuff that's gotten me through the last couple of years. So some reading, quite a bit of writing, a LOT of walking, and generally trying to be a decent, kind human being. 

You can pretend I'm reading along with you!
While I'm not particularly happy to have been living such a solitary existence, I can at least appreciate that it's given me plenty of time to work on all the fun* little things inside me that broke over the years. So I guess this year will be more of that, and hopefully some kind of return to "normalcy" that includes seeing friends I haven't seen in literally years now and hopefully getting reacquainted with the notion of live music.

Do you have the slightest idea what it's been like for someone who saw hundreds of shows a year to become someone who can count the concerts he's seen in the last two years on one hand? It's weird. It also makes me wonder if there's a place for me in that world any more, or if it's time to resign myself to being an outdated old.

O.K., I think we all know the answer to that last one. There are some things I don't know if I'll ever be able to fully leave behind, and while a pandemic curtailed my live music experiences, I'm not gonna allow it to eradicate concerts from my life.

It sounds strange but I've hit the point where I have so much I want to write about, I'm having a hard time prioritizing and winnowing down and finding a way in to a lot of stuff so it doesn't just tumble out in a jumble.

So what's 2022 hold for this here little website, as it enters its TWENTIETH** year of existence?

We'll find out! But if you guessed "more writing about music and bands mixed with a few personal posts and whatever else catches Jim's fancy" that's probably a decent thing to lay money on, if you're the wagering type.

*Mostly not fun, but I'm trying to not get too heavy. And it's all been worth it.
**I know! WHUT? Even weirder when you consider this site sprouted from the Tankboy email newsletter that started in 1995 or 1996? Every once in a while I hit landmarks that show how incongruous my own experiences in the digital realm are compared to most others my age. It's weird.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Prepare to be entranced by the magic of windfyre steel with Power Paladin.

Photo by Eva Alexandra 

In the past year or so, as most other music hit the pause button, I noticed that the output of metal albums did not decrease and I found they started to be one of the music genres that seemed less impacted by the general state of the world.* My working theory is that since metal tends to hew to a time-honored approach to music that operates outside most external trends, as the world turned into a dumpster fire, the genre nonetheless thrived.

Like I said, a working theory. I'm not saying metal doesn't still pull inspiration for all over the place, simply that the execution tends to hew to long-standing formulas, even within each subgenre. But I've also tended to be more a generalist in the last decade or so, so I'm in no way trying to pretend like I'm the expert here—just thinking out loud.

Which brings us to Power Paladin and their debut With The Magic Of Windfyre Steel. First—that name! That title! You know exactly what you are in for, and Power Paladin delivers. I mean, this is jubilant power metal, man. Old school stuff. Operatic and over the top ... yet, oddly refreshing! They may be from Iceland—Reykjavic—and Paladin is all about mining those early-Iron Maiden / latter-NWOBHM vibez, only adding even catchier hooks.

It all just freaking rocks. Sample "Creatures Of The Night"** below—it hits all the buttons described above—and then move on to the rest of the album if that tickles your interest. And it will.

*FYI, yes I am absolutely looking forward to the day when that intro line or a version of it doesn't seem necessary in so many reviews.
**I was tempted to share album opener "Kraven The Hunter" since it is full of Marvel comic books references and fucking rawks, but I know not all y'all are comic nerds. 

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

An optimistic note to start the year.

This was the first time in far too long that I felt I ended the year in a better place than I was when it began. While 2021 was pretty terrible overall on a global scale, my own life started an upward trend after too many years of feeling stuck in neutral. So based on that, 2022 is already off to a promising start! 

I hope you felt that way too.