Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Sad Park brings a big ol' smile to my face (and ears)!

Photo by Alice Baxley
Hot diggity-dawg, every once in a while I throw on an album sent to me and fall immediately into love with it. 

Sad Park's No More Sound has everything that drives me wild: loose arrangements that sound sloppy while nailing every beat, groove, and accent; vocals that feel like they're authentically searching for the next "right" note but you discover that's actually an illusion and the singer is intending every syllable whether it's behind, ahead of, or directly in the pocket; and songs stuffed with so many hooks you lose count and just ride along the rising rush of excitement that powers this album from start to finish.

It’s a loud and rowdy smear of sound guaranteed to bring a smile to yr face every time you give it a spin.

Basically, it freaking slays.

It looks like Sad Park is currently on tour (though, sadly, it appears I already missed their Chicago stop) and, based on this album, they sound like they'd be an amazing live act. If you happen to catch them, let me know if I'm right!

Monday, August 07, 2023

The pleasure of the unexpected should be embraced, not guarded against.

A photo of me taking a photo, by Nora
I’ve been back from my European trip for almost a month, and have still found myself unable to get into all the photos I took and start organizing them. I’ll open the folder they’re all in, take a look, get overwhelmed by all the already amazing memories, and I put it off for a little while longer. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll eventually get to see highlights, and I hope they don’t come so late that people are annoyed instead of inspired by all the sights. Aw, who’m I kidding—it’ll be the the latter.

I was thinking this morning about the big list of things we made that we wanted to do, mentally comparing it to the list of things we actually did do. And you know what? I don’t regret a single thing we didn’t do, and am ecstatic that our schedule was packed with so many planned and unplanned discoveries! This is of course something I knew, but hadn’t really encountered in a really long time, so it was incredible fun to re-learn how rewarding spontaneity can be!

So if you’ve got a big trip coming up—and judging by most folks, it does appear that the travel bug has bitten just about everyone again now that we seem to feel more comfortable managing COVID risks—you should definitely go into it with a solid plan. But leave room for that plan to change, and I think you’ll have a much better time than holding yourself to a rigid itinerary.

Again, you probably already know that, but (like, me) you may have forgotten you know it.

Friday, August 04, 2023

Bandcamp Friday is here! Need a few recommendations? Check out Skating Polly, FOOTBALLHEAD, The Criticals, and Tamar Berk!

Skating Polly
Chaos County Line 

Skating Polly is a power trio grounded in Oklahoma comprised of Kelli Mayo, Peyton Bighorse, and Kurtis Mayo. Their first album in five years, Chaos County Line, is a spawling and unexpected double album that hops genres and production but feels so adventurous it never feels bloated and I never got bored. Keeping in mind I already dropped that loaded term of "double album" I think the constant engagement it offers is key to the unstoppable rush of pleasure I felt as the record skipped and adventured through every interesting sonic left turn they felt like taking. All the while, this trio is giving it their all, and it sounds / feels like it!

Overthinking Everything

While FOOTBALLHEAD began as a solo project, Ryan Nolen has since teamed up with Adam Siska and the Chicago duo's first full-length Overthinking Everything sounds like the product of a full band, allowing a much fuller sonic palette in which to play. There album leans primarily towardstraightforward, hook-filled, chugging rockers, but a few tunes take a turn toward the delicate ... and, yes, occasionally dips into full-on emo territory (which is not all that surprising given the make-up of the group). In the end Overthinking Everything is a quick sharp blast that's over too soon, and leaves a lot of room for future explorations from the group.

The Criticals
Front Door Confrontations

Hailing from Nashville, The Criticals specialize in that gusty brand of rock that plays equally well in sweaty, small bars or hipster-filled small clubs. Its roots rock with a power-pop vibe, rolled through just enough grit and grain to roughen up the edges and make the tunes stick in your head. One note I also took while listening was that The Criticals sound "like looooong-distant cousins of The Features," so if you're familiar with that group (or saw my recent piece about them) it might hep you connect the pieces even faster. 

Of course, the fastest way to connect the pieces would be to give it a listen and pick up a copy for yourself.

Tamar Berk
tiny injuries

O.K., so this album isn't actually out for another two weeks, but I've heard it and can heartily endorse it as a Bandcamp Friday pre-purchase. (The vinyl in particular is quite lovely!) I plan on doing a more full review closer to the release date on Third Coast Review, but tiny injuries continues Tamar Berk's return to her "sonic roots" of super-hooky guitar rock after years exploring other avenues with different projects. That's led to her last three albums uniform excellence, and tiny injuries is perhaps the best, and most fully realized, effort from her yet. 

I've always known Berk had "it," but I'm super excited to see she also finally seems to to believe that as well, understanding and embracing the personal power of her talent while being unafraid to explore it. (In my humble opinion) I think Berk finally trusts herself enough to embrace that bright spark of individuality I saw in her eons ago in her original band Starball.) Pre-order tiny injuries now!