Oct 29, 2009

np: "Sleepyhead" - Passion Pit

Okay, this song is a little old now, but it just snuck up on me this afternoon and revealed itself as one hell of a great little tune. I found Manners, the debut full-length by Boston's Passion Pit, to be fairly spotty on initial listen. It seemed like the type of bedroom synth-pop being done by lots of other bands in more exciting ways. Spinning it again after some time off I'm finding it a little stronger, none as much as this particular track. Swirling, joyous, and whimsical - a hard combination to pull off without sounding too twee, Passion Pit nails it though. A great beat and a solid hook, but its the tinny chipmunk thing winding throughout that seals the deal for me.

Oct 28, 2009

np: Muse - "Unnatural Selection"

I'm beginning to wonder if I'm one of the last non-diehard fans to "get" Muse. I keep reading review after review of the new album, The Resistance, ridiculing the band for taking themselves too seriously and for lacking a sense of humor. Really? I mean, are these critics listening to the same band? I'm thinking the critics are the ones lacking a sense of humor, since they seem to be the ones completely unable to "get" this band. Of course Muse are over the top. Of course the lyrics are ridiculous sci-fi hysteria paranoid technobabble. That's entirely the point. I firmly believe that Matt Bellamy and the boys are perfectly aware of how ridiculous they are. That's what makes them so damned lovable. They aren't a great band, no. But they fill that stadium-packing niche that Billy Corgan abandoned nine years ago to go... well, whatever the hell it is he decided to go. Muse don't play rock shows, they put on spectacles. And in an era of record label cutbacks and shrinking budgets, what could be more antiestablishment than wanting to perform rock music laced with clarinet solos (clarinets for god's sake!) while dancers hang from helicopters skids? That's awesome. Embrace the ridiculousness.

Oct 27, 2009

np: "The Ego's Last Stand" - The Flaming Lips

I've known for a couple weeks now that Embryonic is a pretty great record. What I discovered last night, however, is that it is also a great record for walking around in the crisp October air contemplating the curveballs that life throws us. See, yesterday I found out that I was going to become yet another statistic in this stagnant American economy. I was laid off from my job yesterday afternoon with very little notice and tossed into the uncertain freefall that is unemployment. After a few hours of letting things sink in and talking things over with my wife and family, I decided I needed to get a little air and went for a walk. I instinctively reached for my iPod and threw it into my pocket on the way out the door. After tying my shoes, I popped the earbuds in and started scrolling through the 'Artists' tags... and... well, shit. Now what. What do I want to listen to? An old favorite? Something uplifting? Something soothing? Distracting? Eventually I settled mainly on the last option and figured this would do the trick. Did it ever. It was almost (I say almost, because I don't know that I could EVER pick the perfect song for the perfect moment even if I had years to plan it) the perfect thing to listen to as I walked around the neighborhood. And not just because Wayne was singing "see the leaves / they're dying again" as I kicked my way through piles of them. The whole air of uncertainty and confusion resonated very deeply within me, particularly these lyrics to the third track, "Evil":

I wish I could go back / go back in time
But no one ever really can go back in time / go back in time
Oh I would have shown you / those people are evil
And they'll hurt you if they can
I never understand

Not so much the "people are evil" part (although, yes, there was a little of this too), but more the "I never understand" lament. I didn't understand, hell I still don't. It was one of those moments during which music helped me to gain a deeper insight into what I was feeling, even if I hadn't had time to explore those feelings fully myself. I won't say The Flaming Lips made me feel better about my situation, of course they didn't. But they didn't really make me feel any worse either. They just made me feel, and that felt pretty important in the moment. And really, how much more can we expect from music?

Oct 16, 2009

np: "Spank-A-Lee" - Herbie Hancock

Two updates in one evening, wow! Actually I just wanted to do a little plug for a very good friend of mine, Dan over at Cubicle Dad. This very brave soul has decided to tackle the 2010 Chicago Marathon for a variety of reasons and I suggest you head over to his site to follow his journey. Here's wishing Dan nothing but encouragement and success as he embarks on this year-long quest, I certainly have tons of respect for anyone strong enough to tackle a marathon. Hell, the thought of driving 26 miles in downtown Chicago gives me pause - let alone running them! Good luck Dan!
np: "Butterfly" - Herbie Hancock

Rumors of this blog's death are completely untrue! Please ignore if you hear any of them. As I was pretty much expecting, studying for my ARE is eating up nearly every non-working, non-sleeping minute I have and something had to fall by the wayside - and I decided updating a blog that hardly anyone reads would be the least painful cut. Anyway, the ARE is progressing well and I'm hoping to be wrapped up by next March. Hopefully that doesn't mean that via//chicago will sit unloved in the corner, I plan on trying to squeeze in an update or two because I certainly haven't slowed down on my intake of great music. 2009 has unleashed some wonderful things that I hope to delve into on this very page. So consider this a promise of things to come. For now, I'm back to studying.