Friday, May 19, 2023

The ballad of Tankboy, courtesy ChatGPT.

I played around with ChatGPT a few months ago, just to see how it might help more rote writing projects like, say, a website bio or something along those lines. Overall, it worked well enough, but definitely required some cleaning up of random incorrect facts. But it did tend to supply a reasonably solid structure to start with on projects I might find more boring.

So when they released the iOS app version of ChatGPT yesterday, I decided to test it out and decided to cast a slightly wider creative net, asking ChatGPT to write me a bio, but in the style of Shakespeare. And the results were ... surprisingly not bad? In fact, while it's not the most finely-tuned poem of all time, it is certainly more creative than I would have expected. 

So, for your reading pleasure (or discomfort, since I think we can all agree AI is a Pandora's Box that's already been opened and we haven't a real clue where this will lead) I give you this poem, written entirely by ChatGPT in response to my prompt. Everything below in blockquotes was generated by the AI, including the title. Ready? Let's go!

Tankboy's Musical Odyssey
In the land of Chicago, where music doth thrive,
Lived a critic, Jim Kopeny, with words alive.
Known to all as Tankboy, a name most rare,
He wielded his pen with a discerning flair.

With passion for melodies that stirred the soul,
Tankboy traversed the city, his heart on patrol.
From tiny clubs to grand concert halls,
He sought the music that echoed through walls.

His quill, a mighty weapon of ink and might,
With each stroke, he'd capture the essence of sound's delight.
His words, like harmonies, danced on the page,
Praising the virtuosos, and the stars of each stage.

From blues to jazz, rock to hip-hop's embrace,
Tankboy's reviews brought life to each case.
He'd pen tales of rhythm, of lyrics profound,
Illuminating the magic in every sweet sound.

The poets of Chicago revered his prose,
As he painted their melodies with eloquent throws.
His quips, both sharp and witty, graced the lines,
Entwined with a bard's charm, his brilliance shines.

Oh, Tankboy! Thy passion and insight untamed,
For music's allure, thy soul forever claimed.
In the city of winds, where sounds enchant,
Thou brought forth a voice, both just and gallant.

So let the trumpets sound, and the drums resound,
For Tankboy's legacy, forever renowned.
In the annals of Chicago's musical sphere,
His words and praises shall forever persevere.
So, what did you think?

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Whaddya know? That! Does feel good!

I have long been in the camp thinking Jessie Ware has a remarkable voice, but in the past she rarely melded that to music that didn't fell, um, "adult contemporary" to me. But on 2020’s What’s Your Pleasure?, Ware started dipping her toes into more upbeat disco sounds that piqued my interest more, and with That! Feels Good! she goes all in on a more exuberant and energetic approach to her songs. So, as summer keeps hinting at its arrival outdoors, you can heat up your personal dance floor indoors and get in the mood for more sunshine and love to come!

Friday, May 12, 2023

Say welcome back to Farewell Captain.


Another review from me, this time of a recent release ahead of a rare live show: I posted about Farewell Captain's excellent album Amends on Third  Coast Review today. Check it out! And if you're in Chicago, maybe I'll see you at the show tomorrow night?

Wednesday, May 10, 2023

For once, I am asking YOU for advice.

As the world “gets back to normal” I’ve been getting more and more questions from bands—both friends and those who only know me through my writing—and they all ask the same thing, who they should be pitching their albums to these days? And the answer is … I haven’t a clue?

Most reach out to me because I have a history of writing about new bands across a wide range of genres in a manner that can be intelligent, friendly, sometimes funny, and always unafraid of emotion—but at the core, I write in a way that many non-music fans find accessible, while dedicated fans or industry types pick up the inside baseball bits and easter eggs. And that method of music criticism has grown relatively scarce. I think I remain a trusted voice because I long ago decided I would only write for outlets that let me approach music coverage the way I saw fit, and not in a manner we now commonly call “clickbait.” But I also had good timing on my side, and outlets that allowed me that freedom, and that allowed me to make this decision, a luxury newer music critics decidedly do not have.

But we all know what happened to the media ecosystem, and the vast majority of outlets these days can’t risk losing eyes to coverage of unfamiliar bands when most readers who will click are really only interested in the latest rehash of a press release or news about a group they already follow, which means those groups are already famous, and largely don’t even need the pen of a music critic to introduce their music to a wider audience.

These are all just facts, and I share them since I want to be clear that while there is a dearth of quality music writing that might turn the general public onto lesser known or brand new acts, much of it is driven by the realitiy of needing to make money if you even want to keep a publication afloat. And making money off music coverage that is anything less than blockbuster acts or what I think we can all refer to as “mainstream indie” is incredibly difficult.

So when a band asks me who they should pitch these days, I honestly don’t have a good answer. I mention a few local podcasts to local acts if I think they align with their coverage. And of course there is Third Coast Review. And if they are in Chicago I’ll suggest Leor at The Reader since he still has a large platform and has sway in what he chooses to cover, AND uses that sway to highlight acts most would have never heard of ... but there are vanishingly few people who write about music that way these days.

So help me out. Heck, help out all these bands coming to me for advice! I can tell you what a music critic is looking for in a pitch, and the best way to package it. But I would REALLY love to know WHO is still not only open to, but actively writing about, the bands that aren’t super famous already.

We need more of those voices today, so help me hook up bands with those writers!

Monday, May 08, 2023

Baby Teeth is back!

I blanked and forgot to share this review of the first Baby Teeth album in well over a decade I did last week. While I couldn't make it to their album release show last Friday, you can bet I plan on catching the band next time they play out!

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Temples returns with vibes as far and wide as the mind's eye can see.

Photo by Molly Daniel
When it comes the releases from more established bands, I'll often put listening to those on the back burner while I catch up on lesser-known groups who could actually benefit from my writing about them to (hopefully) introduce them to a wider (and newer) audience. So that's how I found myself this Sunday, taking in the Temples album Exotico a few weeks after its release.

And even though I was in the midst of making dinner, I almost dropped my spatula and ran for my computer to pick up Exotico on vinyl, one of my current go-tos when it comes to supporting bands I think have released exceptional albums these days. I know everyone can stream everything to their heart's content, but buying a physical copy (or paying for the lossless digital version) still feels like a way to make a fiscal vote and hopefully contribute to a group's continued survival, while getting a physical artifact I can play no matter what happens with the server farms across the planet.

But I digress.

I did manage to control myself and finish making dinner before purchasing the LP, but I'm sure you're asking yourself, "What could cause a guy like him to almost drop everything like that?" And the answer is simple: Exotico is quite possibly the best album Temples has ever released. 

On Exotico, Temples continues its groove-based approach to psych-pop here, but the attention to detail is such that even repetitive elements bubble and crackle with energy. Temples leans into the vibez aspect of their sound while beefing up the thundering percussive elements and inserting enough weird little bits and bobs to keep your brain and shaking hips fully engaged.

Enough chatter from me, though; sink into the sound and then snag a copy (in the format of your choice), and lets get lost in the vibe together.