Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Get caught up in Ten Million Lights' "Red Tornado."

I can't remember how I stumbled across Saturna. It was probably when I got their excellent single "Pop Rocks" off one of Largehearted Boy's daily downloads a decade plus ago. Unbeknownst to me, one of the band members was regular Tankboy reader and alerted me when a couple folks from Saturna had started a new project called Ten Million Lights. Their  music was a little more on the dreamy shoegaze side, while Saturna was a little more rocking, but I dug both projects.

Ten Million Lights released their self-titled debut in 2010 ... and then didn't do anything else. Until this year when they released a new single and EP. That I completely missed, until Ryan from the band emailed me yesterday with another new single they're releasing ahead of their sophomore effort, Sour Oranges, out next month.

All this build up is to say, it sure took you folks long enough to put out a second album! Talk about taking your time.

Ten Million Lights have changed their sound a bit, adding more straightforward hard rocking and chugging guitars to the dreamier elements of their earlier music, with a dash of the poppier muscles they flexed in the Saturna days. If "Red Tornado" is indicative of this slightly new direction then Sour Oranges will probably find a welcome place in my music collection.

Check it out for yourself and let me know if you agree.

As a matter of fact, if you live in Portland, you can go to the band's record release show at The Fixin' To this Saturday, March 24. If you do, let me know how the rest of the album sounds!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

How much new music did I listen to in February 2018? Let's find out!

Whoops. Took me a while to get to this, huh?

Not only is March almost over, but I listened to a pitifully small amount of new music last month. February was rough—especially that whole flooded basement thing—so I think I retreated into older, comfort music. I also played Sloan’s 12, like, a bajillion times. But hey, at least I finally got around to putting this together!

Don’t worry, March is already shaping up to be much better numbers-wise.

Revamped rating system is here.

Total number of new/upcoming releases listened to in February 2018: 17

Number of those releases that rated 7-10: 2

Number of those releases that rated 5-6: 1

Number of those releases that rated 3-4: 14

Number of those releases that rated 1-2: 0

Highest rated album: Surprise, surprise! Sloan’s 12.

New band I’d never heard of that caught me off guard: Moaning’s self-titled debut is worth checking out. If you’re reading this on March 20, you can check them out at The Empty Bottle tonight.

Most surprising discovery: Juliana Hatfield Sings Olivia Newton-John was truly delightful. It could have been twee or ironic, but it’s just  straightforward, loving covers.

Monday, March 19, 2018


Seeing Stefon on SNL this weekend was slightly bittersweet. He was my ex and mine's favorite character so seeing him reminds me of her. At the same time the segment was so laugh-so-hard-until-you-cry funny that it was a high point of my weekend. And they managed to get a Seth Meyers joke in there too! So it's good to know that in that universe, Stefon and Seth are still a couple.

Cruising around and checking out David Bowie's favorite spots in L.A.

Pat Smear and Dave Grohl do exactly what the title of this video suggests: they drive around and check out a bunch of David Bowie's haunts around L.A. I guess this ran on Playboy's website a few years ago, which is why I obviously totally missed out in existence until now!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Get amped and rev up your day with HotLips Messiah.

I don’t know what’s up with me; I slept really poorly last night. And I even made a concerted effort to get to bed early since I’ve been fighting a nagging low level cold all week long. How can I get rest and get better if I can’t sleep?

Even Pickle the Kitten is conspiring against me! Just as I dozed off for the dozenth time, she came upstairs around three in the morning and started click-clacking and meowing all over the place. Why is this odd? Pickle never comes upstairs! Nice move, Pickle.

So, you know what that means—I need a really rocking Friday tune to get me amped up for the day! But why stop at one tune? The always rowdy HotLips Messiah is playing Liar’s Club tonight, and though I probably won’t be able to make it I’m gonna let their 2015 EP soundtrack the start of my day.

If you dig it you should check ‘em out tonight!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Getting there.

I keep worrying I’m going to have a heart attack and no one will realize it for days since I live alone. Any time my chest tightens I’m convinced it’s time, which of course leads me think my arm is getting numb and the anxiety just builds. Does this happen to everyone? Or am I just a weirdo? Even as I write this now my chest feels like it’s being squeezed, but I’m probably just getting worked up over nothing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my mortality lately, and the choices I’ve  made and what I’ve done with my life thus far. I’ve accomplished a lot, but being middle-aged forces to to really evaluate your position in the world and in relation to the people around you. I think of mistakes I’ve made in relationships and how I don’t want to repeat them. And I'm getting there.

And I don't want to have a heart attack.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Kill yr television.

I can still play this album over and over again and never get tired of it. I remember seeing them open for Jesus Jones, running into the bass player at the bar after their set and telling him he reminded me of my friend Jim.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


So Mich blocked me across her social media a while ago, which is totally understandable if a bit unnerving. But then yesterday I realized someone else I had been close to unfollowed me across a bunch of platforms and restricted access to their Facebook as well.

I'm obviously great at making friends.

So I blocked them. And you know what? It was liberating!

Social media is a useful tool, but it can also be an emotional distraction that keeps us tethered to unhealthy habits. This was one tether that felt really good to break. Hopefully sometime in the far, far future I can unblock them and we'll be friends again, but for now this felt really good.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Broken cheek.

So two years ago I was outside Double Door and completely passed out on the sidewalk. In retrospect it was probably a mixture of not eating and getting too little sleep. The staff was awesome, and took care of me, and called an ambulance, and all that fun stuff. I hadn't even been there all that long so it definitely wasn't a case of me being over served or anything! I thought I was fine but the next day I had quite the shiner and I realized something was definitely wrong with my cheek. Ever since then the cheek bone just below my left eye has been super sensitive and i don't think it ever healed quite right.

The lesson here? Get more sleep and don't forget to eat at least three meals a day!

Friday, March 09, 2018

Now you can hear 1/4 of Sloan's new album!

My number of listens to Sloan's new album 12 is almost embarrassing. Let's just say I have been listening to it A LOT. And now, luckily for you, they're released three of the album's 12 songs to stream ahead of its release on April 6.

The whole thing is ridiculously good.

Get a little "Closer To God" with Wilder Maker.

Wilder Maker's new album Zion isn't out until July, which is a shame since it seems like the perfect soundtrack for that gently gliding of Spring into Summer. The airy and buoyant melodies reel lazily out at their own pace, one song clocks into a wonderfully building ten minute opus that remains entrancing throughout,  and its one of those albums that makes the most sense when you strap in and just listen to the whole thing from start to finish.

Since you can't do that quite yet, the band did just release the first single off Zion, "Closer To God." It's a good sample of what to expect, even if it a little more conventionally poppier than some of the other tracks on the album.

The band is on a short tour this week, making their way to SXSW, so if you're attending the festival you might want to check out one of their shows to hear more of the new album before it comes out.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Get animated with Superchunk

Superchunk's new album What A Time To Be Alive is absolutely fantastic. If you haven't listened to it yet, their new video should convince you to dive deeper in a minute and a half.

A new promise.

My writing can hurt people and that makes me feel terrible. Long ago I stopped writing negative music reviews—aside from the occasional high profile major releases—because I think time is better spent turning people onto music they should listen to than dissing music.

I should have thought to apply that same maxim to my personal writing as well.

I work through things by writing, and I've always been public, but I admit I forget that other people aren't public. And have no wish to be. But I lost sight of that and deeply hurt someone. And I'm horrified by that. And unendingly sad that a person I really respected never wants to have anything to do with me again. Rightfully so.

It's been a rough few months but that's no excuse. So I'm never letting that happen again. I'm saying this publicly so you can hold me to that.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Get sucked into the howling vortex that is Archie Powell & The Exports tonight.

Tonight Archie Powell & The Exports (who for some reason in my head I always call Dirty Mike and the boys, not because they do questionable things in people's cars, but because they are so tight knit ... and funny) play The Empty Bottle. They're opening for the rowdy and genuinely unclassifiable Juiceboxxx—who should be pretty entertaining—but Archie and the gang are the reason I'm heading out tonight.

The Exports put on one of those shows where you're sure the band is telepathic, mostly to keep Archie from flying off the stage. Every time he seems about to lose it and spin out of control, something about the keys or the drums seems to reel him back in and there's a sort of a mental acrobatics in play that really makes you appreciate how a band band functions.

(My old band was similar. Maybe that's why I'm so enamored with these boys.)

Their earlier albums more accessible, but it's their last album that really won me over. When I wrote about it for Chicagoist I said:
Archie Powell & The Exports' new album, Back In Black, is aptly named. It's the sound of a howling vortex sucking naked emotion down its funnel and sharpening it into screaming songs. The first time we listened to the album, we pictured it as being inside someone's head who was in the midst of a blackout. The thoughts race unconstrained and with no vision of what's coming in the future. It's the sound of what happens when you abandon your boundaries without realizing the price you'll pay the next day.
So you can see why I immediately related to it. Listen to the album below and then get tickets to see them tonight if you're in Chicago!

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Hear the siren call of Hot Snakes.

It's a dreary day, I've got a couple things on my mind, and I'm a little bummed I'll be missing the Chicago Media Bowling League playoffs tonight. So I've been trying to figure out what to write about all day that will pick both you and me up. Luckily for everyone I was listening to my albums of 2018 playlist and the new Hot Snakes, Jericho Sirens, came up.

The album's blast of furious strumming and galloping drumming was just what I needed to hear. For a band who hasn't hit the studio in 14 years they certainly don't seem to be resting on some sort of lazy nostalgia here. The album isn't out until March 16, but if you were smart enough to grab tickets (I wasn't) they play Thalia Hall in Chicago on March 9.

Get sweaty and crank up the sneak peek below of what to expect to Jericho Sirens when it drops in a few weeks.

Monday, March 05, 2018

The horizon looks bright.

It's been a really weird last couple of days, but in a really good way. Oddly for me, it's nothing I can really talk about right now—I know the irony in that statement coming from a guy who has a tendency to overshare. But it's all good stuff. Getting through the flood definitely filled me with a new sense of balance, and a number of other recent positive developments have also given me a rosier view of the future. It's been a pretty dark couple of months so this is a welcome change in perspective. I KNOW it sounds like a terrible cliché, but sometimes you really do have to go through incredibly rough times to appreciate what the world has to offer outside of its challenges.

I went to a party with a friend over the weekend, populated with people I had never met, and had a really good time. It reminded me to get out of my comfort zone, and that hanging out with other adults who have pretty much zero in common with me is a healthy thing. I think over the last few months I've probably retreated too much into familiar settings that haven't been the greatest as far as growing and moving forward. I don't have to give those things up, but I'm learning I shouldn't lean on them so heavily.

In completely unrelated news, here's my favorite ad from last night's Academy Awards broadcast.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Flood! Part four!

So my basement has been torn apart, but at least all the flood damage has been taken care of and anything that could mold or cause further damage has been torn out. Insurance is all lined up to help me out, so that's good too.

The last week and a half has been challenging. There were times where I thought I was just gonna lose it. But the thing about an event like this is that you come out on the other end realizing, "I handled this." And it fills you with both confidence and balance. And that's a good feeling.

I had help, to be sure. Photogal has been great support through the whole thing, and was there to keep me moving forward when I thought everything was just too overwhelming. But for the most part I had to handle everything myself. I didn't ask for this, but there was no way around it, so I just soldiered on.

I'm in my mid-40s and adulting is still hard. I don't think it actually gets easier at any time, but you do build up the skill sets to deal with disaster after disaster. Because if there's one thing you can count on in life, it's that there is gonna be another disaster.

But hey! I made it! My basement's in a shambles but it will be rebuilt. The hardest work is behind me. And for at least the next couple of days I will be lulled gently to sleep by a dozen fans and industrial dehumidifiers humming away in the background.

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Let's get physical!

I am so excited for everyone to hear this album when it comes out in April!

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

"Party" doesn't mean getting blasted, it means affirming life.

The new Andrew W.K. album You're Not Alone is truly amazing. It is huge. It is loud. It is metal. It is pop. It is really long. It is the perfect length. It is the kind of album that if you're going to wait over a decade between "proper" albums is the perfect return to form. It is an album with spoken word interludes that are actually worth listening to. It is exuberant. Literally, exuberant. It is the absolute right soundtrack for troubled times to help you realize that there is a reason times are troubled and they won't always be that way. It is fun. It is moving. It is honest. And no matter how silly you think Andrew W.K. might be on the surface, it is deadly serious, and seriously fun.

It has been playing non-stop on my tankPHONE since yesterday, and I don't see any need to stop playing it anytime in the near future.

Get it when it comes out Friday. Can't wait until then? You shouldn't. Stream it here.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

An example of how remarkable a voice Michael Hutchence was gifted with.

Photo via the Michael Hutchence Facebook page
I had no idea a cover of INXS' "Never tear Us Apart" by Bishop Briggs was on the Fifty Shades Freed soundtrack. It's just as over-the-top and bombastic as you'd expect, and while I grant she has a powerhouse voice, it just ends up feeling like a sterile exercise that feels more like bullhorn karaoke than anything else.

"Never Tear Us Apart" seems to be enjoying a moment, since Apple Australia also commissioned Courtney Barnett to do her own cover of the song for one of their commercials. It's more successful, primarily because she takes the route of the tender acoustic ballad. But that's also a route that I feel has been taken a little too frequently so it ends up being nice, but doesn't really make much of an impact. But least I will credit her for trying to mine the pain that sits squarely in the middle of the song, and interpret it in her own genuine style.

Now contract both of those with the original. I don't think any member of INXS would ever claim their version is exactly subtle. It's supposed to be a massive, sweeping ballad that teeters into the domain of the overwrought. But what saves it is Micahel Hutchence. The man learned his trade singing in smoky Australian bars and managed to develop a style that could combine real belting volume, with nuanced delivery and a genuine aching sexiness. If you've ever tried to sing this song you quickly realize how difficult it is to pull off with any genuine panache.

There's a sway and swagger and sensuality at play that only Hutchence could achieve. Yet I've taken his delivery on the song for granted for years, and it wasn't until these recent covers that it made me reconsider and realize just how singular and unique his voice was, and brought all that long dormant pain since his passing rushing back through at the loss of his singular talent.