16
Jan
16

Nashville, The Features, and Skulls…

Your favorite artist consistently turns out new records. They have a sound and overall vibe you’ve come to expect. But they don’t stay the same. They’re always tweaking who they are as an act. Evolving helps them to stay in the game. Why make the same record twice? Each record presents itself a new opportunity for the listener, too. And when that opportunity is a visit to their hometown for a rock show, you bite. If you’re lucky, you string along a few friends to jump start the night. Or in my case, the weekend.

You take away the music, you remove so much; the trips, the random conversation, an unexpected local showing you the town, impersonating Prince amongst Nashvillians, etc. I learned on that first trip outta state to see a show that those opportunities should never be turned down. Ever. The show is the final destination, but it’s the journey leading up to the gig that creates timeless memories. Last weekend in Nashville, I was part of a modern-day classic in the making.

An act not featured enough on this rarely breathing blog was The Features. Why? It was once said they’re too tough to put into words and whatever was said wouldn’t be doing the band justice. Shit, no doubt it’s a tough endeavor. See them live, get lost in their records, it’s a fair statement. The truth? It’s the best band you’re not spinning. A quartet stringing together anthems of love, longing, family, and anything else that in the end really matters. Those themes are backed — formidably — by melodic sunshine, aggressive and danceable grooves, and a  passion and energy always ready to jump off.

My attendance at shows isn’t what it once was. And forget the now a days it’s quality over quantity, because at one point, rarely was I not at a show that was worth noting somewhere or generated conversation tomorrow and a week later, too. The objective of catching quality, intimate live music hasn’t changed, nor has the desire for antics — this past weekend further corroborates this. But today, priorities have evolved and every moment of this experience is special. Nothing is taken for granted. I got into music to be entertained aurally. Over time, I realized it’s so much more than something to hear. The Features and Nashville gave me a reason, countless, really, to continue to be a fan of music and every other opportunity and experience it creates.

05
Jan
16

An Epiphany…

Recently, I had over two weeks time to reacquaint myself with music. Nothing really has changed around here; music still drives my day — sure, its frequency and where and when I listen to it is different than when this blog had consistent posts. Not only do I get crabby when I’m hungry, it also happens when my day has been silent. With that time though, my day’s soundtrack was filled with classics, 2015 cuts, and hell, I even stepped into the world of the Beatles. This consistent listening simply made me happy. It drove me to want to go digging and find something new — forget that once you turn 33 you’re done enjoying new shit. I took the time to be an active listener and hear something that’s been there forever but really take the time to understand it. The phrase, “You like the beat and don’t give a damn about the lyrics” wasn’t uttered more than once here for no reason. Something hit me though this morning — odd timing with the topic of this post — that something as simple as hitting play on a favorite song or record can make you smile. Right now, I realized is a fuckin’ great time to be a music fan.

The accessibility of music helps. Although, if I had to pick truly why this resurgence in music recently hit me would be my time invested over the years curating what aurally sounds good has paid off. I, we, maybe even you, are fans of quality, worth hitting repeat on music. Music I know can jump start a day; turn some bad moment shit into worth noting that everything is going to be all right and maybe even great; give you a reason to hop on a flight to see an act you’ve been hungry for;  or, simply bring a day to a smile inducing close as you hit the lull playlist that someone else didn’t create, I did. And then the Internet goes ablaze with an official announcement from LCD Soundsystem on an imminent tour and new record. A band that was so much more than something to hear. They, and countless other acts, created instantly classic experiences. Like 20,000 fortunate folks, I was there. Madison Square Garden and LCD Soundsystem created a dizzying experience. Hell, I can be seen on the full concert DVD. I returned from that weekend, one that was filled with partying, rocking, and most importantly, living and wanted to make a change. That show and what it brought, set me off. I wanted to step away from where I was residing and find a way to make living in New York City a reality. It was short lived, fortunately. What’s transpired post that decision to stay local is beyond words based on my former self.

The letter itself, even if what is being promised didn’t become a reality, makes me proud to have been and still a fan today. It’s this section though that further corroborates how I felt this morning and most likely will continue to feel as 2016 starts with a bang:

the only thing we can do now is get back into the studio and finish this record, and make it as fucking good as we can possibly make it. it needs to be better than anything we’ve done before, in my mind, because it won’t have the help of being the first time. and we have to play better than we’ve ever played, frankly. every show has to be better than the best show we’ve played before for anyone to even say “well, that was good. i mean, not as good as they used to be. but, you know. it was good.” we know all that. which is healthy for us, because it means we go back to war, like in the beginning. for us it was always war, but now it’s really with ourselves.

31
Mar
15

If I only knew being a concert technician was an option…

Earlier in my life I had to pick a profession, perhaps a trade. Ultimately, something that would afford me a living of some sort. Awhile back, like yesterday and today, music was at the forefront of my thoughts, and when it came time to pick something to focus on in school, I wanted it to be music based. The kicker though, my musical talent was nil. So the thought of entering into the business on the business side of things was perhaps my only choice. When this life altering decision time presented it self, the industry was almost at the point of a radical overhaul due to the internet and what it was — at the time — slowly doing to physical record sales. I decided against it and chose something radically different. Fast forward a decade plus and for most artists, stepping out on the road and performing live gigs is how one makes a living. Enter the concert technician.

A working professional doing what they love. For a very respectable wage, too. The Wall Street Journal shares an excellent write-up on what we all used to know as the roadie and how this gig has evolved. With so many artists having to tour, and for many, tour extensively, there is a great demand for tech production crew gigs.

Roadies: Unlikely Survivors in the Music Business

 

29
Mar
15

25 Years of Local H…

Historical topics that pique my interest are captivating. A narrative written in autobiographical-like form, one that I feel almost eternally invested in, becomes an essential consumption. It’s a feat to last in the music game. You and your band released more than one record, you’re ahead of most. You’ve found enough grit and semi-success to last a decade, congratulations because you’re doing something right. The former Chicagoans of the Year, Local H, on the verge of unleashing their 8th LP, Hey Killer, have survived 25 years. But if my speakers and I are the judge, survived isn’t what Local H has done, they’ve thrived.

The band gets the significance of this milestone. On their Facebook page, they’re offering up stories of the past, studio tweaks, demos not many have heard, and tidbits on how certain songs became to be. As of now, they’re up to “Pack Up The Cats”, their third full length released in ’98.

Before “All the Kids Are Right” became the perfectly crafted story song it is, Scott looked to none other than Cheap Trick for inspiration and took his already written “Lead Pipe Cinch” and reworked it. Below, one example of the brilliant historical artifacts on display as the best duo in the game invite you to experience 25 Years of Local H:

 

 

28
Feb
15

This is what happiness sounds like, according to Matt Mahaffey…

The iPod is no more. You and all your friends stream music. There is no more peering into someone’s soul by picking up their iPod or music specific device to see what aurally pleases them. The next best thing in 2015, the playlist. Right? Prince’s protege, Matt Mahaffey, or the music impresario behind sElf, has curated a happiness playlist. It’s 27 tracks deep and contains safe, Mahaffey-like picks like Beck’s “Hollywood Freaks” and Prince’s “17 Days” —remember this? But keeps us guessing by including hair metal meets AC/DC “Shake Me” by Cinderella and none other than Fatlip with his Knight Rider inspired “Cook” track.

A brief Q&A session with Matt.

22
Feb
15

Local H’s The Misanthrope…

 

The hardest working duo in the game, Local H, are unleashing their 8th LP in April, Hey Killer. Through their Pledge Music campaign, we’ve been sprinkled with a song here or there; snippets are rather appetizing and keep up the anticipation. The public can now take in their hard hitting “The Misanthrope”. Not one hint of Scott slowing down, and their new drummer, Ryan, hits harder than your mom after you failed her again.

 

21
Feb
15

There’s Ecstasy in My House…

My collection is lacking in dance music. What that genre even means today is beyond me. At one point, it was electronic based exclusive. A pulsating beat and sharp, shimmery synths was an automatic gravitation for me. Operators, Dan Boeckner’s latest musical offering from his prolific band creating ability, has birthed a dark acidic house banger, “Ecstasy In My House”,  that screams at you to either move, or simply reach for the repeat button. Shit, around here, it’s been both.

It hits you with its arpeggio charge, seeps inside of you, and is a duration that lets you find your groove and roll with it. The rumor is that when this quartet graces the stage, the sounds that are emitted from their instruments take control of the listener and cause people to make babies. Twitter hasn’t failed me yet, so realistically, I want to believe this. This is shaping up to be Dan’s best project since Divine Fits — that was his last. He’s that good….




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