Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Bastien Keb's 'Organ Recital' is a dusty and tender slice of future-funk-lite.

Photo by Max Finnis
On Organ Recital, Bastien Keb fashions a funky soundtrack for a forgotten era. Maybe "forgotten" isn't the right word, since the music on this album feels like a mushy mash of various idealized timespans, where maybe the music developed along a slightly different path than it did in our world.

So let's call this "cool stuff from another dimension," since to me Organ Recital also sounds like a soundtrack to a future season of High Maintenance that will never happen. And its rubbery, woozy, sexy vibe may act as if it's unsure of itself, but that's only because Keb knows if you stick around past the first song, he's got you for the whole run. And as that run progresses, things actually seem to get progressively more chill, making this a lovely album for a late weekend afternoon outside, supine in the shade.

Enough words; this is one where just listening to it is probably the better bet when it comes to convincing you of its merits. So tap below and listen away!

Friday, July 22, 2022

In Chicago and looking for some weekend activities?

Keeping it short and sweet today, but I did a little piece on Local H ahead of their headlining set at Wicker Park Fest this evening. So check that out (and go to the show, if you're up to it)!

Tomorrow, The Handcuffs—who I also recently wrote about—play a show at Liar's Club with TAFKAV and Poison Boys. I can tell you from personal experience two of the three bands are a dependably awesome time when they play, and I listened to a few Poison Boys songs and think they'll more than be able to deliver the goods. I mean, I haven't seen them play yet, but all signs point toward them being a raucous good time and an excellent fit.

Good times ahead, I hope!

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Ian Blurton's Future Now's new album fits perfectly, just like a ... 'Second Skin!'

Photo by Rick McGinnis
The first time I played Second Skin, the new album from Ian Blurton's Future Now, I wasn't sure I was in the mood for heavy tunes. Then Blurton and crew proved to me that their heavy tunes are right for just about any time.

Second Skin opens with a taut rocker to set the stage before the title track kicks in with its 7+ minute journey through mind-twisting landscapes driven by this hard-charging bunch. The group may be a quartet, but the sound they emit could come from a rock and/or roll army and it was from this point on I was hooked and just strapped in for the ride. 

The swirl of sound laps upon the shores of multiple genre tweaks and turns, so as long as you're a fan of well-constructed tunes, most played at maximum volume without sacrificing shades of delicate melodic shifts, this will hit you directly in yr soul-ar plexus and leave you—quite happily—gasping for air.

In short? Second Skin's got a real lived-in feel while striving toward epic heights, so I think there's a little something here for just about anyone of any age. The album's out tomorrow, and you can either snag the CD, vinyl, or digital copy from the band; or turn to their label if colored vinyl is more your thing.*

*I opted for the color spatter version of the vinyl. In case you were curious.

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Post-staycation check in!

When exactly did I turn into such a nature boy?
As mentioned last week, I didn't "go" anywhere for my vacation, but I still packed a lot into it. And yes, I did manage to blow up my routine enough that by the end I was truly growing relaxed and enjoying—you guessed it!—the ability to spontaneously pursue whatever I felt like doing. And while that was mostly just keeping on the move, general freedom from the more constricting views of time really does help me recalibrate and emerge refreshed.

A handful of highlights included, but were absolutely not limited to, the following:
  • Did a lot of walking; my apologies to anyone who's FitBit friends with me since I kind of blew up the leaderboard with over 60 miles of walking in the first week off work alone
  • Got a bunch of original art framed (and realized it was the first time in my life I was getting something framed as opposed to everything in frames on my walls right now having been a gift at some point in the past) 
  • Visited the Chicago Botanical Garden and wondered why it had taken me so long to visit and holy heck I'd buy a membership if I thought I'd make it out that way often enough ... but it's gonna be a regular spot to visit for me in the future!
  • I got my first haircut in almost 2 years, and while I honestly never expected to grow my hair out again so it seems like I should enjoy it before it's all gone. So while it's still long it feels so light and bouncy on my head now that layers of frizz acting as velcro have been removed. And a HUGE shout out to my stylist since she has to deal with a customer who doesn't wash his hair or use any hair products, but still wants his naturally curly / wavy hair to behave and look nice, and if you think that's "simple" I think it is the exact opposite
  • I went to the beach! Maybe I'll eventually learn how to dress for the beach
  • Spent more time regularly talking to my mom than I have in years. Spent time with my entire immediate family on my actual birthday. Hung out with my mom even more after that, and I am really enjoying being able to see my family more often (though I still self-test for COVID before seeing my mom, because mom must be protected at all costs!)*
  • Bought a new phone and absolutely abused the wide-angle lens (because it is totally normal to do that for the first week of having a new lens, right?)**
  • Bought tickets to a few concerts I wanted to attend and skipped all of them due to my personal discomfort with the current COVID variant spike, but I felt good about at least trying to go and still being able to financially support those acts, even from a distance
  • Spent a lot of time in neighborhoods both familiar and new as I wandered the city on certain days with no defined path or end point and it was so refreshing and freeing to move about unconstrained by time or expectations
I think it's that last point that sums up the true highlight of my staycation. After years where time has felt both meaningless and oppressive at the same time, approaching it from an unstructured direction devoid of real-world pressures helped redefine my mental relationship with time in a healthier and more sustainable direction. So, despite not getting more than a couple dozen miles outside Chicago at any given time, I feel this vacation was a total success!

*An aside: I did notice that when I was masked in an enclosed space I was often the only one, but that was fine by me. Though in those situations I've been increasingly harassed by non-mask wearers for wearing one ... which I absolutely can not understand.
**Was secretly happy I didn't have the new phone until after my Botanic Garden visit, otherwise I might still be there shooting pictures of all the amazing tableaux.

Emergency Sloan post!

Stop the presses!* There have been rumblings for a while now that Sloan might be nearing completion of their 13th album, and this morning it was confirmed finished and we got our first taste of what to expect when its released later this year! The album is titled Steady and the first single RAWKS.

You can pre-order Steady (out Oct. 21) right now. Me? I already reserved my purple vinyl version of the album. Can't wait!

*Check back tonight after 5:30 and the post that was originally scheduled for today will be up. This has been a true emergency rock and/or roll broadcast.

Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Mid-staycation check in!

It's just a 15 minute walk from the front door of my apartment to here!
Hey there! Been quiet around here, huh? There is a reason for that—I am on vacation! Well, technically it's a staycation, but...

One plan for my vacation was to map out a rough list of goals but leave lots of room for spontaneity, since that's something that has been in very short supply for me since the spring of 2019. If it makes sense, I'm trying to blow up my regular routine so I can rebuild a new routine that fits better into this new reality that includes the potential for actually seeing people again (and takes into account my personal feelings of safety*). And while daily posts here were in the running of those initial goals, I eventually jettisoned the idea since it felt little too regimented for what I'm trying to accomplish during my time off.

But hey, clearly I had to check in! And now you know why I've been so silent for an extended spell. The funny thing is, it's so ingrained in me to not discuss an upcoming vacation since it could alert stranger danger of an unattended house but obvs such a tactic is not really needed if your vacation has you staying at home. So next time I'm gonna go silent during a staycation I'll be sure to mention it ahead of time!

*As of today at least, I've still not caught COVID and while I'm sure I eventually will, I am really trying to keep that at bay for as long as I possibly can. Hopefully I didn't just jinx myself for publicly admitting I've not caught COVID yet!