Archive for April, 2020


Late Slip’s “Strike”

We’re all in Zoot suits, sauntering like a pack of Reservoir Dogs when a leisurely jazz swing wafts from a dimly-lit, smoky basement level club. Inside, I can slow down, casually be, and take in the sounds of a song like “Strike”, a surprise single kicking off my Release Radar. Late Slip, a twangy No Doubt meets Nancy Sinatra derivative, recruited So-Cal’s soul revivalist Nick Waterhouse to float you to an old fashioned era. Late Slip’s Chelsea Nenni initiates the flirtatious back and forth as she seductively invites Nick to “strike while the iron is hot”; Nick matches her needs and desires as he croons with emotive, sexual innuendo, “Oh, the coffe’s percolatin’ in the pot/so, you better come over if you need something hot”. Relax, hit play, and start your weekend with this concise, smooth-sounding invitation to meditative lust care of Late Slip and Nick Waterhouse.


P.J. Soles From the Bunker

You rocked the vote! The people made it be known that Local H will raucously storm through their ’04 record Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles this Friday at 9 CT. A record with “California Songs”, a catchy, yet venomous ode to lovers of the coastal state and their knack for boasting how wonderful they’re doing. Most live sets include this track. It’s catchy, has an opportunity to shout expletives, and speaks the truth. Witnessing Local H outside of Chicago leans heavily on past singles and staple songs you’ve heard before. Other P.J. Soles songs are rarely part of a set.

2004 isn’t far removed from what some consider Local H’s heyday: the 90s where a few singles saw heavy radio play. Throughout this smart, ferocious record, the theme of failure and lack of relevance permeates. On the concise, blistering “Where Are They Now?”, a heavy-hitting drum pattern loops as Scott shouts in staccato bursts, “You’re never, you’re never, you’re never gonna get it!”; 83 seconds later, this attack bleeds into the floor stomping “Everyone Alive”. A fast-charging rocker assuring Scott’s peers, “I’m alright, I’m just fine, I’m alive, I’m alright.” Perhaps this back-to-back introduction to Whatever Happened to P.J. Soles is a knock at his band never hitting the marks his previous label expected.

These times are presenting us with opportunities to witness music in a unique manner. It’s been over a decade since Local H ripped through these 14 songs from front to back. On “Heavy Metal Bakesale”, through explosive fuzz, Scott vehemently shouts, “How are you gonna live at 40?”. Let me tell you, Scott: On Friday, from the comfort of my chair, I’m going to rage with you and Ryan, have an excellent sightline, and be in bed by 10. Thank you.


Other Music

“Per square meter, it probably had more interest value than any other shop I’d ever been in in the world.”

I once visited New York City for a live show and returned from this Long Goodbye to research how to relocate. That NYC experience was life altering due to the people, their energy, and genuine adoration for music. This same feeling came over me after screening Other Music, a 90 minute documentary on the East Village’s beloved record store that shuttered in 2016 after 21 years.

The allure of a well-curated store is real. Other Music was a community, one the owners and clerks created using face-to-face interactions; these experts were your Discover Weekly and Release Radar. If you were an amateur listener, or were a prolific crate digger, this staff had your ear’s next step. Many smile-worthy moments abound in this film: one such is when a disguised Benecio Del Toro saunters into the shop and says, “After a while they get to know your taste, and sometimes I just come here and say, ‘Pick ‘em.’” In our digital times, we do the same with our streaming platform of choice. Though there is no emotion, nor passion tied to these algorithmically generated playlists. OM’s staff performed these recommendations with heart, free of disdain, and not because they’re on the clock, for reasons only so many can understand.

A smart record store highlights albums or releases worth your time. Handwritten notecards adorned the shelves of Other Music full of judiciously insightful Twitter-length sales pitches; you can feel the genuine excitement and fervor as the film shares numerous cards with the audience. The clerks either had degrees in journalism and literature, or they simply had music coursing through their veins. A card’s imagery and almost ability to hear the album internally was awe-inspiring.

These times are impacting record stores. Luckily, this excellent film, and a few choice others, are doing what they can to lessen the burden of locked doors and a cease of music fans consuming their collections. I dare you to watch this and not yearn for this period I miss oh so well.

Other Music


LP Election Year

Local H rip through Lifers from the Bunker

What’s your go-to band doing during this period to keep you engaged? Local H, a formerly elected Chicagoan of the Year, continues to perform virtually as your favorite venue’s doors are shuttered. When their latest expansive rock record Lifers debuted last week, the eruptive duo took to their Bunker and played the record in its entirety via their social media channels. And now, Local H wants you to vote for one of their eight other albums to furiously storm your living room when they plug back in on Friday, 4/24.

When 12 Angry Months was on the brink of release, Local H played a week’s residency at Chicago’s Beat Kitchen in Roscoe Village. This tenure consisted of one album per night and a bonus b-side evening. Since we can’t step out and into a dingy rock club, Local H continues to passionately let us experience live music. This time, the fans are in control of the setlist. Think hard, ponder what you haven’t heard lately, or perhaps ever; then let your voice be heard.

Vote here


Hit ‘Um Wit ‘Dat 11 Minute Version…

If you’re lucky enough to get into a groove, perhaps a flow, one of production and creativity, that’s winning. But if you’re not alone, surrounded by dependents, the ability to transcend their interruptions might be next to impossible. “Murphy’s Law – Murphy’s Big Dub”, the trippy, celestial dubbed version from Manchester’s funk disco creator Roisin Murphy lets me breathe. The re-imagination is a welcome change from its original. Normally I wouldn’t require this 11 plus minute dub, but because of the current times, my environment isn’t letting me breathe, at least a song can help me find a rhythm of focus and output.

Release Radar is an eclectic mix. It’s a schizophrenia of sounds, a collection of extremes fading in and out in no thematically sane order. This stay at home mandate has inhibited my ability to focus. A song that simmers and gives me space to think, while motivating me through funky shimmers of disco pulse, initiates concentration and begins the production process.


Sunday Best (Live)

This quarantine provides silver linings. Pause for a few seconds, perhaps a minute, and think on them. The music fan is thriving in a unique way: more time to absorb a record, you are working from home and spinning what you want, and virtual live shows from your favorite artists’s homes. This is an opportunity to experience a solo set, maybe unplugged, and if not unplugged, a song not included in their nightly – concert- set. Scott Lucas is taking full advantage of this time: He is consistently playing live sets via Local H’s social media channels.

Local H, a band 30 years in the making, recently released Lifers, an 11 track record full of fury, emotion, whip-smart lyrics, and sounds exploding through the alchemy of Scott’s guitar and Ryan’s maniacal, mechanized drumming.

“Sunday Best”, a gentle anomaly of a song that touches on life and death in an emotional melodic package care of strategic finger picking by Scott. Lifers is punching harder than most with killer riffs, powerful, extended noise experimentation, and smart compositions to warrant repeated listens as you comb out new, inventive details; “Sunday Best” makes you scratch your head, contemplate how this fits, and realize Local H continue to be here for a reason.


Communal Listening

A quiet room is missing something. Even when sharing rooms with family, I gravitate towards the speaker and system to drop the needle. A soundtrack is essential for a complete atmosphere. My repertoire of genres had to expand out of necessity, I had to find wife approved sounds for communal listening: nothing brash, definitely not specced for the club, nor anything I would normally listen to at an ear deafening volume.

A varied catalog provides more to pull from when listening independently, hosting a soiree, or sharing the kitchen with my wife. And thanks to this week’s Release Radar, Spotify provided “Dying to Believe”, an electrified pulse of driving guitars, female fronted witty, self-deprecating vocals, and summery harmonies care of Auckland’s The Beths.

An exuberant quartet creating confectionary power pop instantly accessible to the casual listener. The Beths wield energized guitars concocting melodies that bring out the best in us, creating a shimmering sunshine induced smile. Their formula is fun, it’s expertly composed, and for me, it’s sure to be approved. At a reasonable volume of course. An excellent lead single to their forthcoming Jump Rope Gazers LP due July 10th. Please share with a loved one….


Local H are Lifers

How many of your bands are still out there? I mean, out there, doing live shows, daily quarantined mini sets, and releasing records when everyone else is pushing back their new art for the right time? Shit, not Local H – who still to this day are the hardest working act out there. No, whoever you’re thinking of is not. Scott, and his Animal-like drummer Ryan, are continuing to push themselves physically as they tour like machines, sonically as they collaborate with Steve Albini, and creatively as the prog rock influence spawns songs longer than most anything they’ve created.

Lifers is their 9th official studio release and coincides with the 30th – three decades! – anniversary of Local H. Not many acts can state they’ve been in the game for that duration; any fan can attest there hasn’t been a stale release yet. Scott had this to say about their latest release:

“When the re-release of the White Album came out a few years ago, I became re-obsessed all over again. One aspect that really hit me about it (this time) was how it’s not really a concept record — but it feels like a concept record. I wanted to do that with LIFERS. This might be a concept record about the end of the world. Or it might just be a party record with loud guitars and cowbells. ” 

Tonight, Thursday, Local H are performing a virtual record release party on their Facebook and YouTube. Mask up, plug in, and let’s do it LIVE!


Monthly Discovery Playlist

This blog originated out of back and forth emails. There was a period where lengthy, multiple paragraph messages were shared numerous times per week. Music was the focus. Those emails evolved into this blog. And thanks to the blog, today’s medium for back and forth banter: Group text.

I share a monthly playlist with my music thread. The expectation of this curated playlist is simple: add what you’re feeling and keep it short. Streaming is disposable enough, I want my playlist to be experienced in its entirety.

Sure, a strategic themed playlist shows more thought; but I strive for eclecticism, why not keep my listeners guessing. Put some headphones on, hit BLAST, and strap in.


All In It Together…

I need some sunshine, perhaps a ray of hope. These times have a temporary shadow of doubt cloaked over them. What will continue to permeate through is music and its ability to enrapture. Even though shit is awry, I rise with an extra bounce in my step on a Friday morning, it’s New Music Friday! Spotify’s Release Radar is bound to share something worth hitting repeat on; perhaps a track to discuss with friends instead of dark, depressing news, or highlighting an artist I missed.

On Twitter, Naval Ravikant said, “For the first time in human history, the entire world is focused on one problem”. Musicians are aware of their powers at a time like this, we need them for their ability to distract us from the noise. “All In It Together”, the latest grainy delivery from experienced uplifter Mavis Staples features guitar and backing vocals by Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy. Its message is so essential today: Care for yourself and others as we all trudge through this period.

Mavis shared her thoughts upon its release:

The song speaks to what we’re going through now—everyone is in this together, whether you like it or not. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what race or sex you are, where you live… it can still touch you. It’s hit so many people in our country and around the world in such a horrible way and I just hope this song can bring a little light to the darkness. We will get through this but we’re going to have to do it together. If this song is able to bring any happiness or relief to anyone out there in even the smallest way, I wanted to make sure that I helped to do that.

Through solidarity and diligence, this to shall pass. I’m hunkering down with new releases, old classics, and even dipping into the Beatles. Masks or not, I continue to hit play and use music to provide a much required solace in our current times.



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April 2020