Dec 30, 2004

np: "old red eyes is back" - the beautiful south

still working on a rather large end-of-year 2004 recap, but just wanted to pop in and throw a couple thoughts at the proverbial wall here. it was a huge music-related Christmas for me, with the iPod finally making its way into my life. the verdict after having it for a week? fantastic. i've found myself creating excuses just to listen to it... for example - i would usually crank up the old stereo system with the big Pioneers for cleaning around the apartment, but last night i was bopping around to Basement Jaxx pumping through the earphones. yeah yeah, i know - but its the best i can do until i go out and pick up some of the accessories i need. since i'm about 2 years too late for jumping on the iPod revolution, i'll save you all more pointless gushing about its magnificence. in addition, the greatest mom in the world hooked me up with the Nirvana box set. after working my way through it for the first time, here's a couple comments:

- it's much better than i expected it to be, especially after hearing most of the Outcesticide series back in college. it's wonderful to have this stuff all in one easy place (and what a package - props to the designers) and the sound quality is much improved on much of the stuff.

- the DVD is little more than a curio, i would have liked to see some more live footage or even some of the band's videos. hopefully a DVD release of Live! Tonight! Sold Out! will happen soon.

- the Leadbelly sessions are fucking phenomenal.

- kinda disappointed that the final studio versions of compilation songs like "I Hate Myself and Want to Die" or "Sappy" weren't included. i was hoping this box set might eliminate the need to track down worthless shit like the Beavis and Butthead disc.

- i think it's criminal that the studio version of "You Know You're Right" wasn't included on here. which means i'll still have to shell out for the Greatest Hits disc from two years ago. damn.

other music related gifts included the Jay-Z/Linkin Park mash-up disc from the little bro (verdict: meh, but it is Jigga...) and the 3 Imaginary Boys reissue (v: fantabulous, i can't wait for the rest of the reissues) from the girlfriend.

Dec 22, 2004

np: "heartbeats" - the knife

ok, so keen observers might notice that my Top 50 Singles list from last night changed slightly. this was because somehow i unintentionally misplaced two of the singles that were destined for the list from the start. so, just to keep things honest, "17 Years" by Ratata and "Mary" by the Scissor Sisters were bumped off the list and "Lean Back" and "I Miss You" were added higher up. i apologize for the error, but at least i caught it before too much time had passed.

and the part i'm sure you have all be waiting for with baited breath... (or at least since you've exhausted P-Fork's list)... here's my favorite albums of the year

Top 50 Albums of 2004
50. !!! - Louden Up Now
49. Comets on Fire - Blue Cathedral
48. Ghost - Hypnotic Underworld
47. Liars - They Were Wrong, So We Drowned
46. The Datsuns - Outta Sight/Outta Mind
45. Jason Molina - Pyramid Electric Co.
44. Morrissey - You Are the Quarry
43. The Cure - S/T
42. The Reputation - To Force A Fate
41. Mission of Burma - ONoffON
40. U2 - How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb
39. Guided by Voices - Half Smiles of the Decomposed
38. Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles
37. Ambulance LTD - S/T
36. Seachange - Lay of the Land
35. A.C. Newman - The Slow Wonder
34. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose
33. Elliott Smith - From A Basement On A Hill
32. Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans
31. Mastodon - Leviathan
30. Wilco - A Ghost is Born
29. Ted Leo & The Pharmacists - Shake the Sheets
28. The Killers - Hot Fuss
27. Scissor Sisters - S/T
26. M83 - Dead Cities, Red Seas, & Lost Ghosts
25. The Hiss - Panic Movement
24. The Libertines - S/T
23. The Hives - Tyrannosaurus Hives
22. Secret Machines - Now Here is Nowhere
21. The Icarus Line - Penance Soiree
20. Green Day - American Idiot
19. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes
18. Devendra Banhart - Rejoicing in the Hands/Nino Rojo
17. The Walkmen - Bows + Arrows
16. The Drive-By Truckers - The Dirty South
15. Sonic Youth - Sonic Nurse
14. Iron & Wine - Our Endless, Numbered Days
13. Snow Patrol - Final Straw
12. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free
11. Dizzee Rascal - Showtime
10. Interpol - Antics
9. Madvillain - Madvillainy
8. The Ponys - Laced With Romance
7. The Futureheads - S/T
6. Brian Wilson - Smile
5. Junior Boys - Last Exit
4. Kanye West - The College Dropout
3. The Arcade Fire - Funeral
2. Franz Ferdinand - S/T
1. Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News
np: "this boy is exhausted" - wrens

pretty accurate song title for how i'm feeling tonight, although completely unintentional. so i'm sure anyone who had ever read this blog with any regularity had begun to wonder what happened to it. well, the answer isn't very simple... in fact, a combination of factors led to the lack of any updates at all for over four months. the main one being a massive computer problem that resulted in the loss of my internet connection at home for over a month and a half. needless to say, that month and a half broke me of the desire to update this site on a regular basis so i didn't exactly dive right back in. throw in an overload at work and a lot going on in my personal life, and this blog just got delegated to last on my list of things to do. but have no fear loyal readers, i'm back and ready to tackle this thing again with gusto. and what better time to jump back in then right at year-end list time? yep, its that time of year and like any other semi-serious music geek i've compiled my own lists of what i thought was worthy of hearing in the year 2004. tonight i'll start with my list of Top 50 singles, to be followed tomorrow by my list of Top 50 albums and sometime before the new year and narrative wrap-up of the year that was 2004.

and so, without further ado....

Top 50 Singles of 2004
(please note that i use the term "single" a little loosely here, as not all of these may have been officially released as singles but i feel that they made a significant enough impact on 2004 to be included in my list)

50. "Bridging the Gap" - Nas f. Olu Dara
49. "I Luv the Valley OH" - Xiu Xiu
48. "Game Over (Flip)" - Lil Flip
47. "Over and Over" - Nelly f. Tim McGraw
46. "Goodies" - Ciara f. Petey Pablo
45. "Chewing Gum" - Annie
44. "Mosh" - Eminem
43. "Tipsy" - J-Kwon
42. "Michael" - Franz Ferdinand
41. "Yeah" - Usher f. Lil Jon & Ludacris
40. "1980" - Estelle
39. "High Come Down" - Junior Boys
38. "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - Green Day
37. "Stand Up Tall" - Dizzee Rascal
36. "Lean Back" - Fat Joe & Terror Squad
35. "Portland, Oregon" - Loretta Lynn & Jack White
34. "Irish Blood, English Heart" - Morrissey
33. "Lose My Breath" - Destiny's Child
32. "Take Your Mama Out" - Scissor Sisters
31. "Yeah (Pretentious Mix)" - LCD Soundsystem
30. "I Believe in You" - Kylie Minogue
29. "Can't Stand Me Now" - The Libertines
28. "American Idiot" - Green Day
27. "Galang" - M.I.A./Diplo
26. "Slow Hands" - Interpol
25. "Run" - Ghostface f. Jadakiss
24. "I Miss You" - Blink 182
23. "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" - The Arcade Fire
22. "Lua" - Bright Eyes
21. "I'm A Cuckoo" - Belle & Sebastian
20. "Matinee" - Franz Ferdinand
19. "Drop It Like It's Hot" - Snoop Dogg & Pharrell Williams
18. "The Rat" - The Walkmen
17. "iGeneration" - MC Lars
16. "This Love" - Maroon 5
15. "Mr. Brightside" - The Killers
14. "Breathe" - Fabolous
13. "Heartbeat" - Annie
12. "99 Problems" - Jay-Z
11. "Move Ya Body" - Nina Sky f. Jabba
10. "Burn" - Usher
9. "Crown of Love" - The Arcade Fire
8. "Me & Mia" - Ted Leo & The Pharmacists
7. "Jesus Walks" - Kanye West
6. "Dry Your Eyes" - The Streets
5. "Somebody Told Me" - The Killers
4. "Float On" - Modest Mouse
3. "Toxic" - Britney Spears
2. "The Show" - Girls Aloud
1. "Take Me Out" - Franz Ferdinand

Aug 5, 2004

np: "kicking the heart out" - rogue wave

well i've finally reached the point in the year where i feel completely behind on new music for 2004. this happens every year at some point, i just realize that i'm not getting close to hearing everything that i would like to hear. but, hey, i do have a job and a life (somewhat), so it was bound to happen sooner or later. and since i'm not one of those lucky critics getting sent free shit all the time, i gotta settle for what i can realistically get my hands on. regardless, over the past week or so i've been completely overwhelmed with reviews, articles, and talks about all these cool records i've not heard yet. i'm sure even as far back as February i was only hearing about 1/50th of the music out there, but at least i felt like i was on top of everything i wanted to check out. so this Rogue Wave album is one of those ones that i felt i needed to check out. not too bad, but nothing is really jumping out at me on the first listen. nice enough for background listening i think. for now, though, i think i'll once again resign myself to the fact that i'm simply never going to hear all the music i want to hear... and that's ok. not like i don't have plenty to fall back on as it is.

Aug 4, 2004

np: "scream" - del cielo

show review: del cielo, crap engine, starlike collision @ big horse lounge, wicker park

sometimes you just dread going to watch a friend's band play. not that you don't want to see them, but knowing that you are going to have to sit through a couple other shitty local bands first. last night was one of those nights... i was tired, it was a tuesday night and i had to get up early for work the next morning. but out of dedication i journeyed down to the hipster haven of Wicker Park to watch them play. the Big Horse Lounge is a cool little bar, hidden behind a take-out Mexican place on Milwaukee Ave. definitely one of those places you have to be looking for in order to find. but hell, two dollar PBRs can make any bar just that much cooler, so i was satisfied. yeah, i suppose drinking PBR is a symptom of a hipster or something, but fuck it.. i just like cheap beer. anyway, the bar slowly gets a little more crowded as people start to file in, attracting a pretty decent crowd for a Tuesday night... including none other than Elizabeth Elmore of The Reputation (and formerly of Sarge). and with that, the rock began.

first up was Washington D.C.'s very own Del Cielo, a trio of very talented ladies. imagine a slightly tamer Dischord sort of sound fronted by a very charismatic lead singer. unfortunately the sound was a little shitty for the first part of the show, so the lyrics were hard to make out. but she more than made up for it with facial expressions that really connected her to the audience. meanwhile, the drummer bashed her kit with a vengeance - throwing every ounce of energy she had into each hit while the bass played stood there looking cool and collected, smoothly fingering some powerful basslines. it was a short, sweet, killer set... i wish i had been a little more familiar with the songs before seeing them, but it really left me wanting to hear more.

next up was the ill-named Crap Engine, a surprise addition to the bill but a very worthwhile one nonetheless. this Chicago quartet brought some funky new-wave garage rock that really got the crowd moving. a solid rhythm section laid down some tight grooves while the two guitarists brought out the "punk" in post-punk as the lead singer sang about love and lost love. the lyrics were nothing to write home about, but Crap Engine was more about the groove than getting a point across. they kept the crowd moving with songs like "Love is Making Babies" and a funkdafied cover of "Surf City". they were a very pleasant surprise for a band that i knew absolutely nothing about beforehand, and one i will check out again if i ever get the chance.

i won't get too much into the Starlike Collision part of the show, since they are the friends that i went to see and i am terribly biased - but i'll just have to say it was the tightest set i've seen from them in a long time. the high number of shows they've been playing lately has really resulted in a confidence that comes across throughout the whole set. guitarist John threw himself into his solos, drummer Peter looked like he was punishing his kit, and lead singer Justine wowed the crowd as usual, turning a lot of converts onto the band - especially during her solo acoustic tune. not to ignore the always solid basswork of Sarah, its almost impossible to believe she's only been playing for a couple years. i guess thats what practice and dedication can do for you. anyway, despite my bias.. the crowd really seemed to get into Starlike and hopefully a few more were converted to the rock. check them out if you get a chance.

so it turned out to be a very fun night, with the two bands i'd never heard before really blowing my preconceptions of "shitty opening bands" out of the water. keep an eye and ear out for any of these three bands, well worth the time and money to check them out. Del Cielo are currently on a short tour around the country, check out the dates on the website i linked to above. Starlike Collision is always playing around Chicago and the burbs, keep an eye on their site as well to see when they will be bringing you the rock. as for Crap Engine, i don't know... i wasn't able to find much info on them on the net... but if any of you know anything about the band, let me know.

Jul 12, 2004

np: "c'mon c'mon" - the von bondies

tonight's now playing brought to you by the reinstated, streaming WOXY. oh hell yes, i was really starting to miss that station. but with the exception of that news, not a whole lot new and exciting musically for me right now. kind of slowed down on the new purchases lately, but not so much that i couldn't pick up that awesome new Fall comp, 50,000 Fall Fans Can't Be Wrong, which finally allows me to bask in some of the more recent work of Mark E. Smith and the gang. i'm diggin'. as an update to the Project AZ that some of you regular readers might remember - it's still going. made my way to the 'N' section now, getting ready for a long string of NIN resulting from my college obsession with Trent. but yeah, the New Pornographers? perfect summer driving music. fo 'sheazy.

summer movie season is upon us, and i am fully slacking on seeing the hot joints as per usual. i made it out to see the surprisingly awesome Spiderman 2 last week, but i've yet to see Dodgeball, Anchorman, or Farenheit 9/11 - all high on my must-see list. it's pretty sad when both of my parents have seen the new Michael Moore movie before me, but they both highly recommended it. hearing that from my dad doesn't surprise me, as he's a huge Democrat, but my mom's usually been pretty supportive of Bush so i was a little surprised to hear her saying how much she liked it. she was fully aware of Moore's spin-doctoring, but she still says it's going to make her think twice about who to vote for in the election. and, hell, isn't that what the movie is supposed to do? i need to get out there with a quickness.

Jun 12, 2004

np: "hong kong fury" - the datsuns

today has been a pretty eventful music day for me. i've been listening to probably two of the best rock albums of 2004. yes, i am aware it's only June, but these two are THAT fucking good. both albums are the bands' sophomore releases and i can honestly say that i wasn't expecting this much hotness out of either of them. the first, purchased on a whim with a Border's gift card this morning, was the jaw-droppingly good Penance Soiree by The Icarus Line. this is like the ultimate statement of where rock and roll should be at this point - i could taste the beer and sweat and heroin just seeping through my speakers. i don't know much about the band, but this just reeks of real rock and roll. its dirty, nasty, groovy, sweaty, stanky, and just plain rockin'. if i had to draw some sort of parallel for the unitiated, it would be to some celestial being throwing Brian Jone's era-Stones, Iggy and the Stooges, a young and hungry Guns N Roses, and a whole fucking lot of drugs into a giant blender and hitting 'puree' for about 3 minutes. this shit is absolutely album of the year worthy. check it.

the second album is another huge shocker... Outta Sight/Outta Mind by New Zealand rockers, The Datsuns. probably best known for "MF from Hell" which broke onto a lot of stations in the post-Strokes garage-rock feeding frenzy. they pretty much got ignored and lumped into the third-tier of garage bands with The D4. the debut album was pretty decent, with my personal favorite being "Harmonic Generator". the band didn't really click with me until i finally watched the bonus DVD that came with the American release of that album and saw the energy these guys brought across live. but this band did something right in between albums, as this new one finds them bringing some serious fucking rock. you can definitely smell the Zep influence all over the place, but on a much more subtle way than, say, the genre raping of Jet. guitars scream and squeal all over the place as the rhythm section nearly pounds you into submission. this album probably has some of the best drumming of any of the current garage rock bands. unfortunately we here in North America have to wait until September for the release, but those of you with ways of hunting it down - its well worth a listen.

well, thats enough of hyping the rock for me, i'm gonna wind down the night with the new Corporate Ghost Sonic Youth DVD.

Jun 8, 2004

np: "let them eat war" - bad religion f. sage francis

yeah, another band of mine managed to sneak up a new release on me completely unaware. i remembered hearing that Bad Religion was working on a new album, but i had forgotten about it until i saw it sitting on the rack today. i snagged that one with a quickness though, and i am glad i did. i've been loyal to BR even through some of the not-so-great albums of the late 1990's, but the joy i've gotten from them since i picked up Suffer over a decade(!) ago kept me loyal. the first time i saw them live was at Soldier Field in Chicago, opening for Pearl Jam. yeah, a strange place to see a punk band for the first time, but they did an excellent job considering the circumstances (i.e. the majority of fans not giving a fuck about them, the 95+ degree sun beating down on them while they played, etc). i was blown away, with "Fuck Armageddon, This is Hell" being a personal highlight. ANYWAY. the band suffered a slight decline in quality over the latter half of the '90's as they toiled away on a major label and the punk scene got overrun with poppier fare for the younger generation. but two little things brought this band raging back to life - the return to being solely distributed by the Epitaph label and said label's head Mr. Brett returning to the fold. the last album, The Process of Belief, was a pretty huge step up after the last two albums on Atlantic, both returning to their roots while still retaining some of the expanded repetoire that they had built over the years. the album combined their political ideology with that certain spark that had been eluding them, producing arguably their strongest album since Stranger Than Fiction. the latest, The Empire Strikes First, continues the groundwork laid on TPoB and proves that Bad Religion is one of the best twentysomething punk bands still in action. maybe it wasn't due so much to the return of Mr. Brett or the Epitaph logo, but more because the state of the world seems far more conducive to a Bad Religion album than the late 1990's did. obvious topics like the war in Iraq (the title track, "Let Them Eat War") and the decline of the social fabric ("Social Suicide", "All There Is") are present as expected, along with new attacks on the Catholic priest scandal ("Sinister Rouge") and reality television ("Los Angeles is Burning"). after a shaky start to the album, featuring a gothic choir snagged from Davey Havok's house, the album charges through the next 4 songs in less than 10 minutes while Greg Graffin spews his always intelligent poetry over some of the fastest drumming and guitar-shredding the band has done since the '80s. about halfway the band throws a slight curveball by adding an unexpected guest vocal shot by underground hip-hop phenom Sage Francis. while experimenting with huge guest stars isn't new to the band (remember Eddie Vedder on recipe for Hate?), its the first time a guest has fit so well with the band's sound. instead of opting to just quiet the guitars and pound out a hip-hop beat for Sage to drop his lines over, they band charges full speed ahead and moves over just enough to allow him to jump aboard. while a anti-war track from Bad Religion and Sage Francis isn't exactly the most shocking thing in the world, it's surprising just how well it works. the band continues to explore some new sonic textures towards the end of the album on tracks like "Beyond Electric Dreams", but the passion and fire never fades away. or maybe i'm just old and it's a comfort in these doubtful times to hear an old voice angered anew. nah, it really is a good fucking album.
i figured anybody reading this would probably be inundated with talk of the Sonic Youth, !!!, or Velvet Revolver albums this week, so i thought i should mention something that might easily get overlooked amongst this week's purchases. so yeah, if you've ever been a BR fan - check this out.

Jun 4, 2004

np: "learning from mistakes good (not fun)" - alejandra & aeron

a friend of mine sent me some tracks from this album tonight, with very little explanation of what it was. just that i would like it. he was right, but it wasn't until i did some research on the album to find out a little more about it. from what i could gather, its comprised mostly of field recordings of one of the guys' grandmother singing and other household noises mixed with various other sound effects and software tweaks. once i learned that, i approached listening to the songs much differently. it struck me as a deeply personal recording, the aural effects enticing you to the grandmother's voice at times and at other times reminding you that life is still going on around you. it almost makes you feel like you are sharing her life with her - from daily food preparation to an evening song on the back porch. it's truly an intimate experience that i would recommend to anyone fond of field recording/found sound type of "music". for anyone interested, these tracks i'm talking about come from the album Bousha Blue Blazes, on Orthlorng Musork.

May 31, 2004

np: "a good man is hard to find" - sufjan stevens

so it's a little early to be a the true halfway point of the year, especially with the number of solid releases due out in June - !!!, Wilco, Sonic Youth, etc - but since i had some time this weekend i sat down and compiled my Top 25 albums of 2004 so far. the results:

1. Kanye West - College Dropout (Roc-a-fella)
2. Franz Ferdinand - S/T (Sony)
3. Modest Mouse - Good News For People Who Love Bad News (Epic)
4. Madvillain - Madvillainy (Stones Throw)
5. The Streets - A Grand Don't Come For Free (Vice/Atlantic)
6. TV on the Radio - Desperate Youth, Bloodthirsty Babes (Touch and Go)
7. Iron and Wine - Our Endless, Numbered Days (Sub Pop)
8. The Ponys - Laced with Romance (In the Red)
9. The Walkmen - Bows and Arrows (Record Collection)
10. Morrissey - You Are the Quarry (Attack)
11. Ambulance LTD - S/T (TVT)
12. Loretta Lynn - Van Lear Rose (Interscope)
13. The Hiss - Panic Movement (Sanctuary)
14. Mission of Burma - ONoffON (Matador)
15. Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles (5 Rue Christine)
16. Seachange - Lay of the Land (Matador)
17. The Reputation - To Force a Fate (Lookout!)
18. Ghost - Hypnotic Underworld (Drag City)
19. Gift of Gab - Fourth Dimensional Rocketships (Quanuum)
20. Snow Patrol - Final Straw (Universal)
21. RJD2 - Since We Last Spoke (Def Jux)
22. Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly (4AD)
23. Sufjan Stevens - Seven Swans (Sounds Familyre)
24. All Night Radio - Spirit Stereo Frequency (Sub Pop)
25. The Beta Band - Heroes to Zeros (Astralwerks)

May 28, 2004

np: "it's all around you" - tortoise

so i've heard Tortoise referred to as "the band for hipsters who are afraid to like jazz", and whatever, that may not be far off the mark. but there's nothing better than dropping some Tortoise on in the middle of the week when you come home from a night out drinking with good friends and you have to work too early in the morning to rock the fuck out. the new album is no exception. not that i'm afraid to like jazz, i'm just too intimidated by it. i own a handful of Miles and 'Trane albums, and i enjoy them immensely, but whenever i step into the jazz section at Tower - i just get blown away. i suppose that's what it would feel like to step into the "rock" section if you've spent your entire life ignoring it. so many choices, so little time. so for now, i choose to mostly ignore jazz - not out of dislike, just that there's so much damn good rock music for me to choose from that i'm never left thirsting for something more. maybe that will change when i get older, but for now... when i need that downtempo "chill" shit, it's all about the Tortoise.

May 26, 2004

np: "slither" - velvet revolver

despite the worst band name i've heard in years, i'm very much looking forward to this album based on the two tracks i've heard. Weiland's always had an excellent "rock" voice and getting to hear Slash and Duff together at any time is a treat. the songs remind me a little of early STP, but with a guitarist that knows what the fuck he's doing. not that DeLeo was a bad guitarist by any means, he just can't shred like Slash. the album has to be better than Audioslave anyway.

May 22, 2004

np: "irish blood, english heart" - morrissey

for someone who's never heard much of Moz's solo work, i am really enjoying this album. just as overdramatic and over-the-top as i expected, but there's some very solid tunes on there. the clincher for me, though, was that killer first single. i didn't know he could put out such a, well, rocking single like that. boom, bam! and it's over in 2 and a half minutes before you even knew what hit you. yeah, the political Moz thing usually bores me, but if he could wrap it up in a killer riff like that more often i wouldn't even care. "First of the Gang to Die" is another catchy tune that took me by surprise and really helps keep the album from getting dragged down towards the end. but after several listens, i think "Let Me Kiss You" is sticking out as a personal favorite. "but then you open up your eyes / and you see someone that you physically despise / but my heart is open / my heart is open to you", i mean - who hasn't felt like that before. you know, sure i'm not your type.. just shut the fuck up for a minute and kiss me. who the hell knows, maybe it's just that ol' loneliness creeping up inside again thats turning me on to the Moz.
and in sad news, the day finally came. WOXY is now off the air and the net. i've come to find in the past week just how much of a blow that would really be when i couldn't stream it anymore. when i couldn't figure out what i wanted to listen to, it was just so easy to pop into the site and hear a lot of music i enjoy. yeah, there are a lot of other stations that play some of the same music, but i've yet to find a station with as high of a hit:miss ratio of my own tastes that was as high as WOXY's. let's hope something solid will come along and fill the void. speaking of radio stations, i know it's Clear Channel and all - but i am somewhat interested to having something like Indie 103.1 hit the waves here in Chicago. if you've gotta deal with them anyway, might as well pick the lesser of the evils.

May 12, 2004

np: "fit but you know it" - the streets

i'm loving the hell out of this new single. catchy as all hell and some pretty funny lyrics that seem to ring out very true for some girls i've known. i'm just sitting through my first listen of A Grand Don't Come For Free, and so far i'm enjoying it. there aren't as many great songs that jump out at you right away like there were on Original Pirate Material, but i have a feeling this is a grower. the storyline is a nice touch, it's cool to hear an album that tackles a tale over its entire length without resorting to skits to push it along. Mike Skinner is a wonderful lyricist, that's for sure.

May 10, 2004

np: "spaceboy (alternate version)" - smashing pumpkins

so yeah, most people that know me know that the Pumpkins are my all-time favorite band. awhile back i was hooked up with a download of the ultra-rare Mashed Potatoes boxed set that Billy put together years ago. i've been hooked on it all day, and this track in particular reminds me what i love about this band. this version is a little more country and a little more psychedelic than the original version. if i was one of those cool mp3 bloggers, i'd hook y'all up with a download but i'm not that awesome. but yeah, this box set is full of live stuff, demos, alternate versions, and just a lot of Pumpkins goodness from about '89-'94. the era that i still consider to be when the Pumpkins were at their creative peak. it's just sinking in to how obsessive i've been about this band at various points in time. probably the only band that i've gone to such great lengths in order to get new shit to listen to. it seems that at some points Billy almost reached a Bob Pollard-like level of output with great music. it's a shame to see how much he's tapered off in the last few years. Zwan was an amazing live band, but the bald one was never able to capture that energy in the studio, resulting in a mediocre disc that i can't even remember the last time i pulled it out. yeah, you may remember me hyping it up back when it came out, but i think that was more from the excitement of seeing them live so much then. my liking for that album has diminished quite a bit in the past 16 months. and from what i've heard of his recent solo performance, i'm not going to be too terribly excited about what's coming next either.

May 6, 2004

np: "lady godiva's operation" - velvet underground

man, this is one fucked up and creepy song - even by VU standards. but i like it. the VU love today has been inspired by the newest book i've been reading, Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. it took me some time to get into it, but its turning out to be a fascinating read. early on there was a little too much "who slept with who" gossipy shit for my liking, but it's really quite an interesting document of the early days of punk. much love for detailing the early years of VU, the Stooges, and the MC5 and for not starting at the obvious 76-77 era. it really gives you a feeling about the true dirty, nasty roots of what was to become punk rock. i'm also really looking forward to delving more into the Heartbreakers and New York Dolls after reading this. definately worth a read if you come across it.

May 5, 2004

np: "glitterball" - seachange

tonight's now playing song comes courtesy of WOXY, a great station out of Ohio that sadly seems on the verge of going away for good. sure it's not as indie or eclectic as most of the college stations out there, but i've always found it to be pretty dependable whenever i tune it in. i'm really going to miss it if they do end up shutting down internet broadcasting as well.
just got done watching the season finale of The OC, and i have to admit i'm going to miss my regular dose of drama every Wednesday night until Season 2 rolls around. blatantly obvious ending to anyone that's seen the last couple eps, but it was still pretty well done for a FOX teen drama. i think the last 10 minutes were an example of the strong suits of the show - knowing when to have the characters just shut the fuck up and let the images and a well-chosen song tell the story. sure, the musical interludes are nothing new on prime time soaps, but tonight's really managed to help move the story along and provided a fitting ending to the season. probably helps that they chose Jeff Buckley's "Hallelujah", rather than another poorly done Rooney tie-in. so now my Wednesday evenings are completely freed up once again, to join every other night of the week.

May 4, 2004

np: "big sur (live at SXSW)" - the thrills

i found this little EP for cheap when i went to Tower, so i snagged it as i seem to be one of the few people to openly express a love for their California-sunshine pop. the music's stands up pretty well live, but it doesn't really offer many surprises from the album versions. still a decent little EP. i had planned on picking up the new Beta Band and the new Mission of Burma while i was there, but i balked at ONOffON when i saw the "sale" price of $16.99, considering it's going for 10 bucks on Matador's website right now. so it looks like i'll have to be doing some e-shopping a little later tonight.
while i was running tonight i was listening to one of my two favorite recent releases by a Chicago band, this one being the debut from The Ponys - Laced with Romance. it's a great little garage rock album, from a band that knows just how to meld their influences into a unique overall sound. check out "Chemical Imbalance" or "Let's Kill Ourselves" if you wanna get a taste for the rock action coming out of the Windy City right now. the other recent Chicago release that i've been digging on comes courtesy of one of the nicest and cutest girls in the indie rock world these days, Elizabeth Elmore. you might remember her from her days in the mega-hyped Champaign band Sarge, which sadly split up in 1998 after starting to generate a really strong buzz. these days she's fronting a new band, The Reputation, who just dropped their second album To Force a Fate on Lookout! Records. it's a great album, full of Elmore's brilliant lyrics and just the right balance of jaded and lovelorn imagery. but i highly recommend you check the band out live if you get a chance, they put on a hell of a show and they manage to rock the fuck out. i've been fortunate enough to see them several times so far, and i've yet to leave a show without a huge smile on my face. although the last time that might have come more from my conversation with the lovely Ms. Elmore than anything else. hopefully they'll be heading back out on the road shortly, but for now they've got a handful of dates here in Illinois, ending in Champaign where they will team up with Braid in their first reunion gig. god, that takes me right back to Champaign house parties in 1996.

Apr 27, 2004

np: "embers and envelopes" - mae

listening to this one on suggestion from a friend, pretty good upbeat emo tune. wait, did i just say upbeat emo? yeah, i did. it's not a bad little song, and today i've been all about the more optimistic songs. "Float On" got some massive airtime during the commute from hell home tonight. i will never understand how closing one railroad crossing can fuck up every road within 25 miles, but tonight it took me damn near an hour and fifteen minutes to go three fucking miles. ah well, such is life in the suburbs. i just sometimes wish Chicago would put as much of an emphasis on inter-suburban mass transit as they do to and from the city. even one looping Metra line around the burbs would work wonders i think.
i picked up the new issue of SPIN today, because you gotta give props to any U.S. rag throwing the Moz on the cover in this day and age. much to my surprise, this year's edition of "The List Issue" was actually pretty entertaining. i haven't checked out the Pope of Mope's interview yet, but i'm looking forward to perusing it later. i never got into the Smiths when i was younger, mostly due to never even hearing them until college and being so not impressed with what i heard at the time. hey, i was young and stupid. since then i've come around to enjoy them, mostly after picking up The Queen is Dead on vinyl for a couple bucks last year. i never bothered to check out the Moz's solo stuff... but that new single kicks my ass and definitely makes me want to check out more.

Apr 25, 2004

np: "fine without you" - alkaline trio

well i'll sit here to convince myself it's true
if you keep on telling your friends that we're through
i've got nothing here but loneliness
holes in walls and a bleeding fist
my head is pounding like a pillow, like a Big Black song
well my friends and i try to tell me you're gone
i won't listen to myself or anyone
you got on a place and off you went
and you're never coming back again
i'm trying to convince myself it's true (convincing myself)
i'll be just fine without you
i'll be here telling myself it's true
well i'll sit here to convince myself it's true
if you keep on pretending to have no clue
that i'd kill for you and eat the flesh
give you the heart and burn the rest
one thousand miles ain't shit to walk
if i'm walking to hold you
i'll be just fine without you

damn you Alk Trio, damn you. you go ahead and release this new stuff two weeks after i get my ass dumped. thanks guys. but seriously, i don't know how i managed to know nothing about this new split album with One Man Army. one of my all-time favorite bands releases some new material and they only way i notice is by noticing it out of the corner of my eye as i walk through Tower. i must be slacking in my old age.
so last night was that kick-ass 80's party, thrown in honor of the lovely and talented Justine of Star*Like Collision and the anniversary of her birth. good times were had by all, with a packed house rocking out to SLC originals and 80's covers galore. highlights included the group sing-along on "Sweet Child O'Mine" and "Just Like Heaven". yours truly was rockin' the John Bender of The Breakfast Club look. luckily i scrapped the Don Johnson look planned, as i would have made about the fifth Crockett in the house. there were some fine women fully decked out in the 80's gear, and the most dead-on was the girl with the Flashdance sweatshirt and the crimped hair. i had nearly forgotten about the motherfuckin' crimped hair.
prior to the party, i headed down to Wicker Park for WLUW's second annual Record Fair. lots of skinny hipsters in trucker hats came out, along with the mandatory creepy older record collecting nerds. memo: before you are going to be cramped in next to people filing through boxes of LPs in a sweaty gymnaisum - rock the Speed Stick. shit was rank. i picked up a handful of LPs - a Buffalo Springfield retrospective, a Windy and Carl album, Get Your Ya-Yas Out, Theatre of Pain, Shout at the Devil, and picked up the !!! "Pardon My Freedom" 12" from the nice dudes at the Touch and Go booth. it was a good way to spend a Saturday.

Apr 20, 2004

np: "ten thousand times a minute" - xiu xiu

i don't remember if i've mentioned my extreme interest in Xiu Xiu before or not, but it's reared its ugly head again tonight. fucked up music for a fucked up weather evening. i hesitate to say i'm a huge Xiu Xiu fan, but i've heard pretty close to every song they've released so far. it's a bit like watching a car wreck, you sure as hell don't want to be too close to one, but you really want to stick around to see what crawls out of the twisted wreckage. Jamie Stewart and his revolving band of cohorts have a way of packing each and every song with sounds that just completely fuck with your brain. dissonant machinery squeals, hammering keys, choked vocals, everything and the kitchen sink. not to mention the lyrics, as fucked up and insane as they come. i walk away from each Xiu Xiu album feeling a little disoriented, a little twisted, and a with a lot of thought. it makes you wonder if the pain or emotions you are going through could ever turn you into a screaming, squawking maniac. it's hard to classify this stuff as an enjoyable listening experience, but certainly worthwhile. in the very least you will come away with a new viewpoint on exactly what qualifies as music. yeah, i could get that from some drone-rock or some minimalist ambient music, but none of that manages to convey the emotion like a Xiu Xiu song. forget "emo", this is some of the most emotional music being made right now. if you are looking for a taste of Xiu Xiu, but want something a little more accessible, i would recommend "I Luv the Valley OH!" off of the latest release Fabulous Muscles.

Apr 19, 2004

np: "girls on film" - duran duran

i have no fucking idea where this came from. this sudden urge to hear Duran Duran. i've never really been anything close to a "fan", but i've enjoyed a tune or two in the past. but suddenly this weekend i found "Rio" dancing across the sands of my mind over and over again, and for some reason i quite enjoyed it. imagine my surprise when i walked into Border's today during my lunch hour and saw Greatest for $9.99. i snatched that shit up with a quickness, and jammed that motherfucker on the drive home tonight. nothing like some pure pop sugar to make you forget about all of your problems. then i get home, check my e-mail, and find an invite to a birthday/1980's party this Saturday night. what the fuck, right? but yeah, i'm looking forward to it. i need to get drunk, dance to cheesy synth pop, and flirt my ass off.

Apr 14, 2004

np: "lucky charm" - jets to brazil

All that I can ask is forgiveness for what's past.
You know who I am, but will you know me in the end?
I know it's too late but wait for me to turn around.
I'm almost home, so if you're leaving, walk slow.

i guess its just the way i've been feeling this week, but i never noticed just how fucking sad this album is. nearly every song on Perfecting Loneliness pretty much lives up to the name. yeah, i've pretty much been alternating between cheesy, depressing stuff (The Cure, Adore, whiny emo) and stuff to keep me from thinking (NOFX, Eminem, Lil Flip). luckily it's been a pretty slow week for new releases, so i don't really feel like i am missing much by just burying my head in my collection. it amazes me just how much an hour-long conversation can take up an evening, without talking to her at night my life's been quite a bit more boring when i get home from work. i'm still running three times a week, but that really only can take up so much time, you know? it's been hard not to call her all week, but especially tonight during our usual conversation after The O.C. gets over. and goddamn, did tonight have to be the night when both Ryan and Marissa and Seth and Summer had to be getting along well and making out all the time? christ, where's the drama? damn them for not having the balls to kill off Luke, what purpose is he going to serve now that the Julie Cooper storyline is done? god, its quite scary that i'm devoting this much thought to that show. i suppose it's better than the alternative trains of thought.

buried in this really shitty weekend one good thing did happen, i was able to score a ticket to the third Pixies show at the Aragon in Chicago. i'm excited as hell, but it's kinda hard to get THAT excited for a concert that won't be happening for another 7 months. damn.

Apr 8, 2004

np: "trip dude delay" - black dice

this EP wasn't really what i was expecting, but i guess its not horrible. apparently its the soundtrack to some art installation or something if that sort... very spare and ambient in an Eno-ish sort of way. the first track is fine if you are in the mood for 12 minutes of crickets, random tamborines and bells, and the sound of large animals snoring. i like this, the second track, a little bit better... random rumblings and fade ins and outs. heh, wish i could explain it a little better than that, but words are failing me tonight, because...

THE PIXIES ARE COMING TO CHICAGO! i knew it was bound to be announced sooner or later, but just seeing that in print on Pitchfork and hearing the ads on the radio have me hyped as all hell. i know the chances of me actually getting tickets are almost zilch, what with the show being at the Aragon and the demand for this show destined to be sky-high. it's nice to dream though.

i've taken a break from Project AZ for the past few days, catching up on some of the 2004 releases i've not given enough attention to. i'm definately digging the new Modest Mouse, "Float On" has got to be one of their strongest tracks ever... even if it has been featured on a FOX teen drama. i've also been really enjoying the new Iron and Wine as well as the new Oneida release. Sam Beam's added production on this new album works very well, and he is still a master at casting a spell with his simple tunes. but my favorites of the year so far have got to be the Kanye West album and Franz Ferdinand. the FF album is definately my favorite debut album since Turn On the Bright Lights. it's nice to see a band actually live up to all the hype, i'm not even close to growing sick of that album. every track is a winner.

Apr 5, 2004

np: "messenger" - blonde redhead

the redhead was another in a long list of bands that i always meant to check out, but never got around to it until now. i had frequently heard "no-wave" and "Sonic Youth" thrown out quite a bit when describing the band in the past, and that always intrigued me. but apparently not enough to actually go and buy an album or anything. so when i started reading some very positive reviews of the new album, i decided it was finally time to put and end to my apathy. and damn, this is some pretty good shit. not at all what i was expecting, but i of course have learned through a little research that this album doesn't sound so much like the old stuff. either way, its a worthwhile listen. very dreamy and atmospheric, without resorting to played out tricks of shoegazer and electronica. check it out.

Project AZ continues, as i journey my way through the 'D' section of my collection this week. one of the biggest surprises of this whole project so far came on the drive home from work tonight when i popped in 1990's Sex Packets by Digital Underground. most people remember this for being the album that birthed the "Humpty-Dance" and told us all that we should "Doowutchyalike", but what came as a surprise to me was just how well this album has stood up after nearly 15 years. it does sound a little dated, but the group was pushing the whole P-Funk thing a little further than most rap groups of the time, and that keeps it from being stale after so much time. "The Way We Swing" and "Rhymin' on the Funk" still pack a hell of a wallop, despite the lyrics and delivery that Nas needn't lose any sleep worrying about. the whole "Packet" theme towards the end of the disc detracts from the experience a little, but the opening half of this album is enjoyable as hell.

and yeah, a post today just wouldn't be complete without a mention of Kurt. ten years already? damn. it seems like only a couple years ago that half of my dorm floor was gathered in my room watching a tape of the MTV Unplugged performance, rendering us all speechless. Kurt's true beauty and fragility really came across that night, and we were all reminded of what a great loss it really was. who knew Kurt could get across even more feeling when he wasn't screaming with the amps turned up to 11? and as cliche as it may sound, i think there is a generation of us (like it or not) that will always remember where we were when we heard the news. no its not as romantic as say a JFK or a Princess Di, but it was one of those events that tied in closely to where we were as a group. many of us were stumbling into college, clueless and excited at the world in front of us and drunk on opportunity. it's a stretch here, but not vastly different from the "alternative" scene that we latched onto out of the need to belong to something more. it truly felt like we could accomplish anything in those heady days, but an event like Kurt's suicide shocked us back into reality. "alternative" was nothing more than another "scene", a "happening", in an industry with a long history of "scenes" and "happenings". Kurt's death reminded us that our musical heroes were only human, no different from those who scribbled Nevermind's lyrics into notebook after notebook during another boring class. and it all seemed to kinda deflate shortly after his death, didn't it? music seemed a little more hollow and empty for a time, as we slowly realized that the millions of grungey-come lately's just weren't going to fill the void. electronica replaced grunge as the "next big thing". and we all continued to stumble, just a little more grounded in reality this time. nothing was forever, we weren't going to change the world, and "alternative" was nothing more than a marketing scheme. maybe we knew this all along, maybe we didn't. it was just a vague sense of something in the air, something bigger than ourselves that we could latch onto and mark our generation as different. but hell, we were young and naive - these things happen. oh well, whatever. nevermind. it doesn't seem to be trendy these days to be a fan of Nirvana, just check many of the message board postings lately, dismissing him as "overrated" or "untalented". but i'm imagining that there are a lot more of you out there than are willing to admit, that in some small way Kurt Cobain and his music impacted what you listen to today. and that counts for something, doesn't it? for me, Nirvana led to Sonic Youth led to Pavement led to Touch and Go Records led to Slint led to millions of other bands that i most likely never would have bothered with if i hadn't embraced Nirvana with the zest of youth. so yeah, Kurt, i do miss you. i still think you are a selfish bastard who took a loving father away from a beautiful young girl, but i do miss you. the sun is gone, but i have a light. the man is gone, but i will always have the music. thanks Kurt.

Mar 24, 2004

np: "float on" - modest mouse

yeah, i'd think i would be all on some hyped up good mood shit tonight, what with the dramacity of a an all new OC tonight and brand new Modest Mouse spinning on the player - but no. one of those long weeks that you can literally feel sucking the life right out of you. work is crazy as hell right now, which isn't really a bad thing, it just leaves me drained as fuck at the end of the day. i was hoping this whole new running program of mine would help increase my energy and just help ease some of these shitty days, but i suppose that doesn't happen on the days you don't actually do it. and yeah, apparently getting all excited about the six month mark with the girlfriend jinxed it or something. i'll spare y'all the boring details, but let me just offer a word of advice. don't try to squeeze someone out of your life on that whole "passive" tip. just because it's easier for you to sit back and let things go without saying anything about it, that doesn't make it any better for the other person. you may think you're "letting them down easy", but you aren't in the least. maybe i'm misreading things lately and she's just stressed as fuck - but i'd like to think that after 6 months i'd at least deserve to know something's up. so, i guess my words of wisdom for the night are to make sure that person you love knows that you do love them. and if you don't, let them know something. don't just leave them hanging.

Mar 19, 2004

np: "he-war" - cat power

no witty insights on this one tonight, just happens to be what's crankin' out of the ol' 100-disc changer at the moment. nothing much exciting going on this friday, so i'm just relaxing and recovering from the week. just got back from Tower where, thanks to the new batch of Matador Mid-Price Classics, i picked up Yo La Tengo's I Can Heat the Heart Beating as One and Mogwai's Come On Die Young for 20 bucks. yeah, i know i should already have both of those - but actually the YLT was a replacement for one that got jacked from me back in college. it's currently in the hands of an evil ex or one of my old roommate's not sure which. although if it was the ex who had it, it's most likely been recycled back into another collection via some used shop somewhere.

so Kid Rock, huh? it was a fucking excellent show. he pulled out every single rock and roll cliche in the book, but managed to pull most of them off. it was quite the interesting crowd, i'd estimate the average age to have been about 30-35. i've never seen so many West Coast Choppers t-shirts in one building at one time. apparently there's few concert options for the Harley riding crowd these days, so Rock's recent turn towards Southern Rock has gathered them up by their collective mullets. i knew we were in for an exciting night when that song about "play me... mountain music" came on and 85% of the crowd started drunkenly singing along. Kid Rock was in excellent form though, working the crowd for all they were worth - yelling "Chicago!" at every chance he had to grab the cheap pops (copyright Mick Foley). no surprises, he played all the hits and a couple new tunes - one was a downhome blues jam finding Rock listing what he would do if he were president (turn the churches into strip clubs and play Skynyrd on every station, for those that wondered). minus points from me for the "fuck Clay Aiken and a Radiohead" line though. don't compare the two, please, but it did get huge cheers from the crowd. including the drunken "woo-hoo" guy behind me that added his commentary, "yeah... fuck Radiohead! Woooooooo!". two things really grabbed my attention during the course of the show - Rock's instrumental prowess and Steffanie Eulenberg's vocal skills. Steff is the moster drummer behind the kit, who was bashing away like a motherfuck the entire night. but the big shock was when it came time for Rock to slow things down for the baby mammas and sing his mega-hit, "Picture". since Sheryl Crow was nowhere near the Allstate Arena, the female vocals were turned over to Eulenberg - and she sang the fuck out of that song. much, much better than the Crow version methinks. during an extended jam, Mr. Ritchie did the rock star trick of taking a turn at every instrument on the stage for a solo. but this wasn't your typical "watch me fumble a few chords out of this thing" solo, he actually played each one very well - particularly the slide guitar and the keys. he followed this up by kicking it old school and hopping behind Uncle Kracker's turntables to rock the steel wheels. overall, it was a fun experience. pure unadulterated, visceral, aimed at the groin, redneck, loud as fuck, rock and roll fun. note to hipsters: the irony level was off the fucking heazie at this show.

Mar 9, 2004

np: "no distance left to run" - blur

shit, this song comes close to choking me up every single time i hear it. its not one of those tracks that i associate with a certain time or event in my life, but somehow this song almost always makes me a little sad. speaking of sad, sorry to neglect you my poor little blog, i swear there's not another. it's just that sometimes i need a break. it's not that i don't love you anymore, i just need to concentrate on some "me" time now and then. i think it only makes us stronger, dig?

this month's excuse is my new training program, if it can be called that. one of my (belated) new year's resolutions was to run a 5K sometime before the summer is over. i needed some strong goal in mind to get my lazy ass up off the couch and working out again on a more frequent basis. so i found this "Couch Potato to 5K" running program and i dove right in. three times a week i run/walk for 30 minutes, with each successive week increasing the amount of time spent actually running. it must be working rather well, since i've not grown sick of it yet nor have i given up in frustration. granted its only been 4 weeks so far, but thats longer than i've lasted in a lot of other "programs". in fact, i downright look forward to my workouts - it really is a stress-reliever.

and stress relief is something i've really been needing lately, as work is gearing up to go all hectic stylee in the next couple of weeks. its good though, because i'm getting put in charge of a decent sized project. i've been involved in the design from the very start and i'm looking forward to seeing it through to completion. i hope i don't jinx it though, as its not exactly a done deal at this point. but not to worry, there are several more good projects coming down the pipeline.

i'm looking forward to Friday night, as it will see me rocking the fuck out to that long-haired son of Detroit, Kid Rock. laugh if you must, but i have a feeling he's going to put on one hell of a motherfucking show. i'll let y'all know, so you don't lose any sleep wondering. heh.

in other semi-big news, the girlfriend and i hit the six month mark last week. that may not be much to most people, but given my dating history, its a pretty significant landmark for me. and i couldn't be happier.

Feb 25, 2004

np: "the ocean's nerves" - songs: ohia

first and foremost, i apologize for the lapse in posting. i was out of town for most of last week, but that really doesn't account for missing almost the entire month of February. a quick few things that are on my mind.

i spent a good chunk of last week at a work conference in Madison, Wisconsin. decent enough little college town, i really liked the way the campus actually interacted with the downtown area rather than shunning it. such a huge change from the "we don't belong here" notion of the U of Illinois campus. great record shops down on State Street, specifically Ear Wax and B-Side. the latter of which i picked up the new Oneida, Sufjan Stevens, and the Pyramid Electric Co vinyl at. tiny store, but great selection and some of the better prices i've seen at an indie store in a long time. check it out if you are ever in the area.

Project AZ is continuing in full force, despite the little break tonight. this week so far has been all about the Beasties and the Beatles.

the new Liars album is fan-fucking-tastic. don't let the morons at Spin (F) or Rolling Stone (1 star) tell you any differently. i'm especially enjoying "Hold Hands and it Will Happen Anyway", "We Fenced Other Gardens with the Bones of Our Own", and "Broken Witch". well worth a spin or three.

my mom is hooking up my brother, sister, and i with Bulls tickets for this weekend so we can celebrate the bro's big 1-5 (shit, he's gonna be driving soon). unfortunately we're missing LeBron by one game, and instead we'll have to settle for watching them take on Golden State. at least there's a fair chance we'll get to see them win. i haven't been to a Bulls game since the dreadful 12 win season, so at least things can't possibly be worse than that time. won't be half as dope as getting to see Jordan's return game in Indy after the first retirement though. that was pure luck, and one of the most exciting games i've ever seen.

recognize my bowling skills. at least in the tenth frame. two games last weekend at Diversey River Bowl resulted in six strikes for me - all six in the 10th frame of both games. apparently i've only got game under pressure. that night was also notable for the first time i've ever see anyone bowl a full 10 frame game and end up with a 15. i didn't think it was possible.

a belated shout-out to USA for that excellent Traffic miniseries. shit was tight.

the last three days have also been witness to me seeing movies at the opposite ends of the cultural spectrum. Eurotrip on Saturday night and My Architect last night. Eurotrip was about 10 times funnier than expected, despite (or due to) nailing every European stereotype in the book. and you've got to give at least a little credit to a film not afraid to shy away from Hitler and Pope gags. My Architect was phenomenal, with some breath-taking shots of Louis Kahn's work and some excellent interviews with people brought to tears over his life's work. think architecture can't do that to people? talk to some of the people behind the Bangladesh capital, Kahn provided them with the best tribute to new-found democracy they could've asked for. it was also a treat to have the director on hand for a q & a afterwards. best of luck to you at the Oscars Nathaniel.

with that, i'm off to bed. gotta rest up for The OC tomorrow night.

Feb 4, 2004

np: "cherry blossom" - air

yes, Project AZ continues tonight with lots of AFI and some decent undie/backpacker hip-hop courtesy of my man Aesop Rock.

speaking of Aes, i picked up the new issue of Spin last night - the one with the mega-awesome picture of Justin Hawkins of The Darkness on the cover. it was the annual "bands to watch" issue, with a pretty decent list that contained some of the bands i've just been discovering lately - Franz Ferdinand, My Chemical Romance, and Snow Patrol (lots of good bands coming over from the UK these days). but the thing that pissed me off was the huge feature on undie rappers like Slug of Atmosphere, Aes, Sage Francis, and Busdriver. it was a decent article and props to Spin for bringing attention to some very worthy rappers. but why in the fuck did they have to introduce it with a huge splash-page introducing it as "emo rap"? seriously. does everything have to fit into some neat little marketing niche for them? i can just imagine how many people were turned off to that article just by seeing "emo" splashed all over it. way to fuck up an interesting feature.

Feb 3, 2004

np: "hole in my soul" - aerosmith

why am i listening to this pretty unremarkable in any way song? well, it's part of my new project for the new year. Project AZ as i like to call it. after hearing person after person tell me that i probably have more music than i can possible ever listen to, i decided to find out just how accurate that is. well no, because i know i really don't have THAT much music. i just decided it was time to go through my collection and listen to everything, from A to Z. it's not going to be a straight through, listen to nothing else until i'm done kind of thing though. i'll still spin my new purchases and listen to other things now and then, but for the majority of the time i will be working my way through my collection in order.

today was day 1, and i learned a couple of things. first of all, does anyone ever need to listen to two Bryan Adams albums back to back? i think not, not even when one of those is the greatest hits collection. to be fair, getting through those two was not as painful as i thought it was going to be. he's held up surprisingly well compared to some of the other '80s male singer/songwriter types. but 18 Til I Die was a clunker, on the real. it was fun to follow him up with Ryan Adams though. seriously, Ryan should give up his issues and go ahead and start covering some Bryan tunes. especially since "This House is Not For Sale" has a guitar lick that sounds suspiciously like something off of Bryan's "Let's Make A Night to Remember". very interesting.

other than the duelling Adamses, today has been filled up with !!! and more Aerosmith than any person should have to hear in one day. i've got a weak spot for the boys, but small doses work much better.

this should prove to be an interesting project, so i'll continue with updates as i go along. although i'm starting to really wish i hadn't gone through such a huge Black Crowes phase several years ago, those couple of days are going to drag.

Jan 28, 2004

np: "take me out" - franz ferdinand

some pretty good garagish rock out of the UK, think a little louder version of Interpol. at least that's my feeling after a quick listen. worth a look if you are into Strokes, Stills, Interpol, or any of that new wave of NY rock.

so tonight i was standing at Tower trying to decide between picking up the new Twista album or the new Elbow album. i've been digging what i've heard of Twista's jawn so far and the Elbow has me quite intrigued. so which did i choose? neither. i went old-school style and picked up the reissue of Echo and the Bunnymen's classic Ocean Rain. i've always loved "The Killing Moon", especially since the excellent use of it in Donnie Darko. so i decided to take a chance on this reissue, filled with 8 bonus tracks. why not? haven't gotten a chance to listen to it yet, but i'm looking forward to checking it out.

i also finally got around to picking up that Spike Jonze Director's Series video, and damn is that thing awesome. loads of classic videos including some i had forgotten that Spike had made (Pharcyde, Breeders). took my right back to 94-95 when i was watching MTV all the fucking time. it's well worth the price of admission. besides the plethora of his videos it also includes several short films, interviews, and a beautiful booklet containing more interviews and some of Jonze's conceptual drawings and writings.

so the Super Bowl is this weekend, huh? nearly forgot. seriously, i think this is the least i've ever cared for a game in years. yeah, i'll be watching, but probably more for the commercials than the actual game itself.

Jan 26, 2004

np: "jezebel" - iron & wine

according to the tracklisting on Pitchfork, this isn't a track on the new album. apparently there are two different versions of the album to be called Our Endless Numbered Days floating around out there right now. rumor has it that one is actually stuff left over from the first album and EP home-recording sessions that may someday see release. let's hope so, it's good stuff and i'd love to see it as an official release.

i've really been digging on the new Phantom Planet album today, it's growing on me more and more with every listen. these aren't the kind of melodies that jump up and smack you across the face, but rather subtlely let you know they are there and then crawl into your brain. after the first listen i wasn't digging it as much as i did The Guest, but the more i listen to more i like it. it sounds like the boys went back to the garage and cranked the amps to 11 to prepare for this one.
np: "self conscious" - kanye west

hip-hop album of 2004 right hurr. at least if it's released in this current form. i guess all the samples haven't been cleared yet, so its possible there some changes before it actually hits the streets. which includes the awesome L-Boogie sample on this song, it works wonders. probably about the only good thing that's come out of that atrocious Unplugged set of hers. this kid has got some mad flows though, in addition to his top-notch production. check out the Def Poetry Slam acapella version of this song for further proof of his lyrical skills.

in other news the new D-12 jawn is supposed to drop sometime this spring, complete with guest spots from G-Unit, 50 Cent, Obie Trice and production work from Em, Dre, and the Neptunes. sounds promising, and hopefully it can build on the somewhat shaky foundation of the first D-12 album. that was a really spotty album with a few excellent moments, but i don't think it was quite as bad as some people make it out to be.

2004 is less than a month strong, and in addition to The Fall i've already been introduced to another outstanding band that i wish i had checked out before. a friend hooked me up with the first album from Orange Juice this weekend and i've been enjoying the hell out of that album, especially lead-off track "Falling and Laughter". its somewhat refreshing to hear a little optimism coming out of the dark post-punk early 1980s. it's a very strong album overall that leaves me hungry for more from this band.

Jan 24, 2004

np: "rich" - yeah yeah yeahs

it's snowing outside again today. winter in chicago has finally decided to kick into full gear over the past week or so, going from extreme cold to a solid day of snowing yesterday. thing is, we maybe got two inches during all that, but it was still enough to turn my 35 minute drive home into an epic three hour plus journey. christ. and now tonight i'm supposed to be heading into the city to a party, but i don't know if i'm even going to be able to park by my friend's house or not. which would mean a 20 minute drive, followed by a 45 minute El ride, topped off with a 20 walk to the apartment. the things we do in the quest for socialization and alcohol. but it's friends i haven't seen in ages, so i'm looking forward to going.

so i've decided 2004 is going to be the year that i try and get into some bands that i've always meant to, but never gotten around to checking out. and the first name on my list was The Fall. i've been a Pavement fan since Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain came out, so i've heard and read plenty of references to Mark E. Smith's band. the question was, just where in the fuck to start? Tower only had about 15 different albums from all phases of thier career. great. then i stumbled across Totally Wired: The Rough Trade Anthology in the import section. $20 for a two-disc overview of supposedly the band's most fertile period, according to AMG. i figured it was a decent starting point. so far i've only listened to disc one, and i'm somewhat impressed. being a fan of bands like Sonic Youth, Pavement, and other slightly off-kilter bands has somewhat jaded me i suppose, as i'm not totally blown away by it. it's not exactly something that hasn't been tried before. but as is often the case in music, historical context has to be taken into account. when i stop to think that this anthology covers the very early 1980's, it puts a whole new spin on what i'm hearing. must have been pretty impressive to folks on the Fall tip back in the day. Smith's cynical delivery takes some getting used to, but it works when put up against the constantly shifting music behind him. i don't know if this is going to turn me into a rabid Fall fan or not, but i'm certainly not regretting the Monopoly colored Jackson i shelled out for it.

the new turntable is definately having an effect on my music buying habits, as could be seen by my recent trip to Record Breakers. seeing as they were both cheaper and cooler to look at, i picked up Do Make Say Think's Winter Hymn Country Hymn Secret Hymn and Explosions in the Sky's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die Those Who Tell the Trust Shall Live Forever. for some reason that epic post-rock stuff sounds much better on vinyl that compact disc, or maybe that's just me wanting it to sound better. regardless, much props go out to the folks at Constellation Records for all the hard work they put in to make beautiful packaging for their releases. i'll definately be ordering more from them in the future. while i was at the Breakers, i also picked up Ride the Skies and Wonderful Rainbow by Lightning Bolt, great shit right there.

Jan 11, 2004

np: "english girls approximately" - ryan adams

i know i've talked about my love for this man, but i have to re-iterate it after reading Pitchfork's latest bashing of the man in the Love is Hell EPs review. no it's not Heartbreaker, we all know this. and we know he's probably not going to ever come up with another one to top that album's sense of brooding drunkeness at three in the morning. and i'm fine with that. i enjoyed the hell out of Gold, that one ended up in my top 5 for 2001. Demolition was pretty solid for what it was, leftovers and outtakes. lloR N kcoR was another solid album that captured Ryan at his full-on wannabe a rockstar best. yes it was derivative as hell. but so are The Darkness, The Rapture, and a whole slew of the latest indie-approved rockers. but apparently it's only cool if it's derivative to the point of being ironic. there's no irony in Adams' unabashed love for rock and roll in all its' forms. dude just wants to rock sometimes, and if it sounds that good i'll allow it.

Jan 9, 2004

np: "jabberjaw" - phantom planet

it's really a shame that right now this band is only known by the masses for The O.C. theme song and for the Rushmore star/drummer. because this is one of the better pop-influenced rock bands out there right now. it's the timeless kind of garage rock that doesn't fit in with any recent kind of trend, and that's a very good thing. upbeat without relying on pop-punk conventions, songs about love without being emo, and hip without even trying - this is a band that deserves Strokes level success. sure, i've heard the whining that they're just a bunch of rich models and actors, but when the music is this good who gives a toss? like Julian Casablancas didn't come from the world of privilege. anyway, the new self-title album hit stores this week, check it out. they've also got a new live DVD out, but i didn't have the extra scratch to toss that in my basket this time.

i've also been doing a bit of garage-rocking lately, of the early 1990s variety, courtesy of Mono Men and The Mummies. i first got wind of The Mummies thanks to this review over at the underrated Stylus site. sounded quite intriguing to me and some quick investigation into the band led me to the Estrus Records page. this looks like THE place to go to check out some more recent garage rock, and i'm wondering how i've managed to avoid it this long. anyway, if you are at all interested in checking out either of these bands, i'd have to suggest seeking out "Stronger Than Dirt" by The Mummies and Mono Men's cover of "You're Gonna Miss Me" - both great songs.

Jan 7, 2004

np: "eruption" - van halen

sometimes you just gotta rock out and air guitar like a motherfucker, know what i'm sayin'? hell yeah. and before that it was The Cars debut album on my now fully functional turntable. how excited am i about that? turns out that in addition to a new needle, the player was also missing the counterweight to keep the arm up. so i ended up having to pull a MacGeyver and tape some random sockets from my tool set onto the arm to get the thing working properly. love my ghetto style. but it works, and right now that's all that matters.

in other news, i wanna give a mad shout-out to Star*Like Collision, a very fun band from here in the Chicago burbs. full disclosure time though, i used to date the bass player and i'm friends with everyone else in the band - so make of this what you will. i caught them this past weekend and they put on the best show i've seen so far. lots of energy and some great new songs, courtesy of Justine. if you like upbeat rock with female vocals, ala The Repuation, give these guys a look. there's two songs available to download on the site, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. anyway, if you happen to be in the Chicago area and see a flyer for them, check it out, they'll show you a good time.

alright, short update tonight, i gotta go work on my air solos. peace.

Jan 2, 2004

np: "the new year" - death cab for cutie

happy new year folks. let's hope the double-0 quattro brings nothing but joy, happiness, and a Bush free White House for us all.

the new year so far has been recovering from a nasty hangover - damn you Sam Adams, damn you and your Winter Lager to hell. i've spent the day eating a nasty, greasy omelette and watching about 3 hours of Living Colour eps on FX. damn that shit was funny, and it's not nearly as dated as i thought it would be. except for the clothing, what the fuck was up with the neon fashion statements in the early '90s? but seriously, i haven't seen that show since it was originally on the air and it was a nice diversion from the dueling bass drums in my head.

last night was one of those rarities in the post-college world, a drama-free party where everyone seemed to have a good time. no fighting meatheads, no crying girls, no couples arguing - just plain drunken fun. and not to get too Velveeta here, but being able to kiss the only person in the world i wanted to be with at midnight made it a perfect night. 4 months and she's not sick of me yet. holla.

actually the last week has been damn good, on nearly every front. i had my annual review at work, which went very well and ended up with me getting a raise. not to mention the relationship front, let's just say that those three little words were exchanged. and no, i didn't pull a Ryan from O.C. and respond with a "uh, thanks?". it's just been so fucking long since i've heard that from someone who actually meant it.

so i raise my cup of water to you all (rehydrating and shit) and wish you all a most excellent 2004.