Monday, June 20, 2022

Halle Berry ruled the RAZZIE awards almost 20 years ago and she deserves some credit for that!

First off all, I definitely remember hearing about Halle Berry winning a RAZZIE for Catwoman, but I had never actually heard her 2005 acceptance speech until this morning. If this speech had been readily available and easily shared when it happened, I think people would have spent far fewer years teasing Berry for playing the role.* She was clearly in on the joke, incredibly game, absolutely hilarious, and it seems she still feels that way.

The RAZZIE awards are basically the trolls of the movie world, and I hold no love for them, but I applaud Berry for taking them on in person like this. So while I still think Catwoman is an awful, awful, awful, unwatchable film, I have tons of respect for Berry—I just wish I'd seen this speech years ago! 

The real fun starts at about the 2:20 minute mark, but the whole thing is worth your time.

[credz to a rerun of HDTGM for cuing me into this speech!]

*YouTube was just being introduced, so maybe this speech just missed the cutoff before people started regularly using that platform? Either that, or it was widely shared and I somehow completely missed it? Either way—the speech rules. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Bright, summery sounds from Los Saints lighten up a sweltering day.

Photo by Stu Alfano
It's hot in Chicago right now, as we jumped straight from a long dreary stretch of cold weather into a cauldron of a heat wave. But hey, that's Chicago! We could always move somewhere nicer, but we never will.

But if I was gonna move, San Diego is a really nice spot to live, with its beaches and mild but sunny weather. At least it was like that the one time I visited. But if I lived in San Diego, it would also mean I'd've already heard of Los Saints before a few weeks ago! So their latest release Welcome To Confusion is my belated first exposure to the band.

Welcome To Confusion's a sharp and concise EP driven by clean guitars with a fleeting kiss of distortion, and dreamy vox. I'm finding it incredibly perky and peppy stuff; but more like a summer strut and less a full-fledged party. And it's definitely a good time.

Give Welcome To Confusion a spin below, and if you dig it you can pick up the album from your preferred retailer!

Friday, June 10, 2022

It's O.K. if you're finding reentry a little bumpy!

Hi there! Just a quick non-music check in! How're you holding up? We're in a weird stretch where everyone wants to behave as if the pandemic is behind us which a) ignores the fact we're still in a pandemic (even though I realize risks are far lower today than two years ago) and b) as people rush to return to "normal," those of us that have been largely isolated for the last two years may be feeling a little anxiety about reentry.

O.K., maybe a lot of anxiety. Much of it based in a simple conundrum: if you don't live with anyone, the last two years have been incredibly isolating, and even someone like me that had a really robust social existence in the beforetime has absolutely no idea how to reintegrate into the world as it exists now. And people who have been living "normally" for much of that time seem unable too understand why some of us feel completely out of step with the world outside work. (I've mentioned it numerous times before, but thank God I had a job I loved when the pandemic started, since that focus and those people were essential to me keeping busy with purpose and staying sane.)

So it's perfectly fine if you're feeling the same. 

I'll share that I have been more socially active this week than I have been in a very long time—seeing friends for a birthday on Sunday and heading into the office to hang out with colleagues IRL on Wednesday—so the tide is changing! And yeah, it's a little awkward at times since the ol' brain is used to running faster and not having to slow things down to, you know, carry on a discussion outside of my head. But I'm noticing that the time it takes to acclimate to other people shortens a teensy bit the more every time I push myself outside the house to attend a social gathering of some kind. So if you're worried about constantly sticking your foot in your mouth because you're out of practice—you won't. You'll be fine. Just keep it up!

Thursday, June 09, 2022

Post Animal's inspired 'Love Gibberish' is familiar, magnetic, and magical.

Photo by Kevin Allen
Post Animal's last album Forward Motion Godyssey was released in 2020, meaning the band was another in a long line of musical acts on the cusp of a tour that never happened for an album that could have vaulted them to the next level. But instead of just wallowing and feeling sorry for themselves, they started recording various home demos and finally came together at the family farm of one of the band members to capture the album, reportedly over ten days. I don't know about you, but that sounds like one of the better ways to spend some downtime.

And spend that time well, they did! Their new album Love Gibberish, released last month, sounds like a band reaffirming their sound while plumbing the depths of influences from previous decades to help provide structure. Unexpectedly, these influences were more along the wavelength of Supertramp or Toto or any number of mid-'80s rockers slightly past their prime.* And yes, I know that many of the acts I name here eventually suffered from the plodding tempos and over-worked studio tricks of that era.


Luckily for us, Post Animal works from the ethos of keeping what works, tossing the fluff, and adding their own magical touches, so Love Gibberish tends to sound like an album from another time, but it's a time that never existed. There isn't a beat of self-indulgence to be found in any of the tracks, even though the music is lush and washes over you with such force that if the initial beats don't get you, the insistent undertow of thew band's sound will draw you in, no matter how much you resist. And in this case, I think you should be glad that resistance will hopefully prove futile.

Post Animal is coming back to their hometown of Chicago to play The Metro this Friday, June 10. You can snag tickets here OR try your luck and enter the giveaway Third Coast Review is running for the show(after you read Julian's excellent review of the album, of course.)

Friday, June 03, 2022

Time to snag two high-energy releases out today—Extra Arms and Supercrush!

It's Friday, it's sunny, and summer is still settling into Chicago. And I've got two killer new releases to recommend today! I'm keeping this quick because I have a hard time believing you won't be interested both albums if you simply listen to one song a piece. You'll have to hear the rest, So today, instead of going into detail about what makes these releases terrific, I'll just let the music speak for itself.

First up is the new album from Extra Arms. While Ryan Allen has tirelessly been releasing a number of albums and EPs since the beginning of the pandemic, What Is Even Happening Right Now? is the first proper Extra Arms release since 2019. And it slays—buzzy guitars, crunchy drums, and what appears to be a bag filled with roughly a zillion hooks, Allen and company are back in full and marvelous face-blasting form.

Supercrush did release a full LP in October 2020—it also slays—but have been largely silent since then. (Who could blame 'em? October 2020 sucked. But that album was great and wasn't heard by enough people!) But I woke up this morning to see they released a new EP, and man-oh-man is Melody Maker pretty dang good too! 

Is there a genre called turbo-charged slacker power-pop? If not, this should help define that movement. 

Thursday, June 02, 2022

A collaborative benefit album that actually works as an album!

Photo by Midnight Piper Forman
I know a lot of musical acts found different ways to weather the first phase of the pandemic, but this project from Erica Dawn Lyle and Vice Cooler took a few chances and really stands out as one of the better experimental uses of some unexpected downtime. Lyle was all set to play guitar, and Vice Cooler was to be the drum tech, for the much-anticipated Bikini Kill 2020 tour. Clearly that didn't happen.

So instead the duo set about making what would become the Land Trust: Benefit For NEFOC compilation—and I'm honestly fascinated to learn more about the intricate details of the process—but it appears Cooler would lay down a drum track, send it to Lyle to add guitar lines, and then hone that into a song. When they had a few songs in good shape, they started to reach out to an astounding array of guest vocalists to help complete the songs with the duo. And I do mean an astounding array of vocalists, including Three Ks of indie rock royalty on different songs: Kathleen Hanna, Kelley Deal, and Kim Gordon. And for the youth, we have a huge number of up-and-coming musicians, including the absolutely-worth-all-the-buzz combo The Linda Lindas. But seriously, every guest vocalist slays on this collection; not a weak link in the bunch.

The strangest thing about this compilation is ... it doesn't sound like a grab-bag of ideas at all, but instead functions as a pretty solid album. Despite the large canvas of collaborators, the entire project maintains a consistent musical viewpoint, even as each songs bends around the strengths of a different singer. 

I can't tell whether this began as a benefit album or developed into one as the project evolved, but however it happened, this is the rare benefit album that actually works as a whole while generating funds for a good cause, the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust (NEFOC). Are you as unfamiliar with NEFOC as I was? Probably! According to the press release:
NEFOC is an Indigenous and POC-led grassroots organization that seeks to connect POC farmers to land to grow healthy foods and medicines for our communities. We plan to accomplish this by acquiring and returning land to Indigenous nations and respectfully connecting Black, Asian, and Latinx and other POC farmers and land stewards to land while centering and respecting Indigenous sovereignty.
The full collection is out tomorrow, so you can sample a few songs today and pre-order it, or just snag the whole thing tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

REVEALED: How to get Radiohead to record a new Radiohead album

Photo by Alex Lake
So this is partially tongue in cheek* but it does appear that the best way to get Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood to team up and record a new Radiohead album is to record under a different name.

I mean, come on! The Smile sounds more like latter-era Radiohead than some actual latter-era Radiohead songs do!

This is perhaps not exactly breaking news. And it did take me a while to actually listen to the album since I worried it was just gonna be another noodly affair with ethereal vocals avoiding any semblance of a hummable melody. But nay! This stuff is (relatively) catchy! And—yes—sounds like Radiohead!

I bought the album on Bandcamp** after hearing it, so have no clue how many songs are streaming to those who haven't, but whatever is showing up for you in the player above should help make my point.

So smile, it's like we've got a new Radiohead LP in 2022!

*Or should that be "tng in chk?"
**I'm pleased to see more and more huge acts releasing their stuff on Bandcamp as well as all the other usual streaming outlets. Smart move!