Friday, January 29, 2016

Dead Stars dodge the sophomore slump. Nay, they stomp out the sophomore slump!

Dead Stars' debut was one of my favorite albums of 2014. Heck, I liked the guys so much I actually used their show at the Bottle that year to double as my birthday party because I wanted to turn my friends onto them.

Their new album Bright Colors is out this March, but I already got an advance copy and it's been keeping other music I probably should be listening to out of rotation. But it's just so good. They don't mess with their formula at all, but they don't feel like they're treading water either. It's still firmly rooted in loud, fuzzy indie-pop a la mid-'90s Matador releases, but it still doesn't feel like a nostalgia trip either. Nothing makes me happier than when a band releases an album I love, and then follows it up with one that might be even better (but, really, they're both great).

Listen to one of the first singles below, and I urge you to pre-order the album right now so you can have it the second it comes out. I mean, c'mon, with the amount of music I listen to you're gonna trust me on this one, right?

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Over the hill?

My youngest brother turned 40 yesterday, which means all my mom and dad's kids are over 40. That's kind of a weird feeling. None of us look that old (good genes?). The only thing that would possibly betray my siblings' ages is the number of kids they have. Me? I just DJed a 3 a.m. bar last Saturday, so I'm still kind of in limbo. I mean, granted, that was the first time I've DJed in years, and compared to my past social habits I'm a relative homebody now, but still. I just don't come across as someone approaching his mid-forties.

Age is a weird thing.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men.

I had read long ago of the teenage David Bowie's early publicity stunt appearing on TV as a member of The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Long-Haired Men, but I had never actually seen it for myself ...and now I can! And you should too.Simply amazing.

[h/t Advertising Age]

Monday, January 25, 2016

Setlist: DJing Liar's Club On Saturday, January 23, 2016.

I've spent MANY< MANY HOURS in this booth in the past.
It's been a really long time since I last DJed publicly, and even longer since I DJed Liar's Club. Saturday was supposed to feature the triumphant return of Kevin Tihista and his long running dance party, but he had to leave town unexpectedly for a funeral. So since there aren't a ton of people in Chicago that can satisfy both Liar's Club regulars and the Saturday night more mainstream crowd, I was called out of semi-retirement. However I didn't relish the idea of a six-hour DJ set right off the bat, so I called on my old partner Rudy, who gamely stepped in (and but the end of the evening reminded my why we made such a good duo in the first place).

The crowd was great, no one was super pushy when it came to requests (and I believe we filled every single one throughout the night) and the night ended up being a ton of fun. I can't see DJing super regularly again, but I'm open to the occasional gig. Once I shook off the initial cobwebs I had a really good time.

Interested in what I played? Here's the full setlist from my end. Heavy on crowd favorites, it didn't stretch too many boundaries, but Saturday's at Liar's Club are about having a good time and getting people to dance, and in that, we totally succeeded.

Set 1 - Early Warm-up
David Bowie “Star Man”
David Bowie “Diamond Dogs”
Beta Band “Dry The Rain”

Set 2 - 11 p.m.
Queen “Don’t Stop Me Now”
Justin Timberlake “My Love (Diplo Mix)
Clash “Lost In The Supermarket”
The Killers “Somebody Told Me”
A Tribe Called Quest “Scenario”
2pac “California Love”
Depeche Mode “Just Can’t Get Enough”
Erasure “A Little Respect”
Jackson 5 “I Want You Back”
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “American Girl”
Outlast “Hey Ya”
Rick Springfield “Jessie's Girl”
David Bowie “Modern Love”
The Weeknd “I Can't Feel My Face”
AC/DC “She Shook Me All Night Long”
Taylor Swift “Bad Blood”
Sweet “Ballroom Blitz”

Set 3 - 1 a.m.
Sir Mix-A-Lot “Baby Got Back”
Daft Punk “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger”
Madonna “Like A Prayer”
Dexy’s Midnight Runners “C’mon Eileen”
Kenny logins footloose
Prince “Kiss”
Culture Club “Karma Chameleon”
Duran Duran “The Reflex”
Bay City Rollers “Saturday Night”
Police “So Lonely”
Blur “Girls & Boys”
Pulp “Common People”
Young MC “Bust A Move”
Bob Seger “Old Time Rock & Roll”
Guns ’N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine”
The Cure “Just Like Heaven”

Friday, January 22, 2016

New music from Cheap Trick!

Check it out! If you dig it, you can also downalod it for free (link in the post)!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Berkeley Bowie.

By Berkeley Breathed.

I meant to post this cartoon a while ago. I think it's pretty great.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Chicago I love you but are REALLY REALLY bringing me down.

Figure 1: Sasha's demeanor throughout the entire range of events in this post.
Here is what's happened in the last 24 hours since we returned to Chicago.

Stepped off plane, immediately froze and regretted not still being in Mexico.

Arrived home to discover our water pipes had frozen. It's been subzero the last week so we understood why this might happen and were not terribly upset since this was probably an easy fix. We live in a coach house, so when the pipes freeze it's usually in the basement of the three-flat in front of us since our water supply passes through their basement. No biggie.

Figure 2: Thawing the pipe.
Only they changed the lock to the basement of the three-flat last summer and forgot to give us a new set of keys. All our neighbors were asleep.

Now we got upset.

We wrote a note, posted it on the door, and hoped someone would read it and let us in. One kind neighbor did just that, and we got into the basement around 9 a.m., whereupon I started working on thawing the pipe while Mich ran to Home Depot to make a copy of the key, and pick up insulation for the pipes.

After some diligent work we have the water flowing in our place and I run a victory lap in the freezing cold having decided we earned the treat of driving into work after this minor inconvenience. Mich gets home and is also happy we have water, then heads to put insulation on the pipes before we leave.

Two minutes later she's back in our house yelling "There's water everywhere!" A pipe in the basement has burst.

Figure 3: After thawing the pipe. Whoops!
There is no universal cutoff for the building. I won't go into the particulars, but after trying to find it ourselves, waiting for a plumber to show up who admitted he couldn't find it either, then exploring a bunch of other options including getting the city to shut off our water (turned out they are understandably backlogged with similar calls for help due to the weather) we decide we need to refreeze the pipe further up from the break so the plumber can replace the piping.

Freezing the pipe needs special gear and will roughly double the cost of the repair. Our landlord gives us the go-ahead. We wait another hour for the special equipment to show up. The second plumber finally arrives and we are in business!

Only we're not. After an hour of trying to freeze the pipe it's apparent the water is flowing too fast to create an ice plug that will cease it's flow. But it is slowing down from a gush to, well, a slightly smaller gush. Our plumber friends decide they are going to do the repair "on the fly," and just try and get it done quickly enough that they don't get completely drenched since option A and option B (and to be honest C, D, andE) that's been attempted hasn't been wholly successful yet.

Mich and I decide we probably don't want to be around for this.

Figure 4: This is what it looks like when you intentionally freeze a pipe. So you know.
Twenty minutes later the plumbers triumphantly announce the leak is fixed! But hoo boy is the plumbing old so our landlord should probably get a lot of work done. But at least our problems are solved for now. After slowly turning the water back on—apparently when welding pipe the pressure can get thrown off and they wanted make sure no valves or faucets exploded (?!)—we pay the plumbers (happily, I might add ... this was a bonkers tough job) and finally relax.

We immediately start discussing when / where / what our next trip to a warm climate is going to be. Seriously consider total relocation. Collapse into a heap.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A simple truth about flying I don't think most people understand.

Flight attendants are not there to serve your every whim. They're there to keep you distracted, and safe, and stop you from flipping the fuck out while you're flying 30 thousand feet above the earth.

They are doing you a favor, so treat them with respect.

Friday, January 15, 2016

I'm REALLY trying to stay offline.

I'm on vacation, and even though I paid $120 extra for a data plan for use in another country I'm really trying to stay offline. The data is more for use in finding places to eat, and mapping my way around curving, hilly streets that I'm only just now starting to remember how to navigate.

It's hard for me—I'm the kind of person that like to keep up with everything all of the time, and respond to emails quickly, and generally feel like I am up-to-date with everything.

But I'm trying. Really trying.To stay offline.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Far, far away from anything.

I'm in San Miguel de Allende.And I have mild altitude sickness. Which I was warned about but didn't think I'd get since I was a-OK the last time I was here about 10 years ago.

However there are much worse, less beautiful places to be altitude sick. So I'll take it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Tears. Bowie. And my dad.

I was at the Sound And Vision tour in Tinley Park. It was a concert my mom argued against me attending (he's too young!) and my dad insisted I go to (it's David Bowie!). His insistence wasn't built on a longtime fan stance, I mean he know who Bowie was, but I think my dad saw the confused kid identifying with someone that said it was O.K., nay AWESOME, to be confused.

(Cue tears. Literally. In a United Lounge. 96% 0f these people are working on spreadsheets and tears are streaming down my face.)

So I'm at the show. It's my first time seeing Bowie. My friend Julie just got me high (and I was never a stoner but it seemed right at that moment) and I walked to the concession stand for a soda. While waiting in the endless line (I think during the awful opening set hat consisted of a woman in a corset singing atonally while she beat a piano; something the crowd only put up with out of respect for Bowie) I felt a tap on my shoulder.

It was my dad.

At the time he was between full time gigs. It's far too long a story but he'd gone from the upper reaches of the white collar world to not understanding the politics that lifestyle entailed* only to fall like Icarus as the fallout from other people's bad business deals. This particular day he was piloting a limousine that delivered some front row folks to the show, and they had an extra lawn seat, so they gave it to my dad so he could enjoy the show while he waited for them to need a ride home.

So, technically, the kid that was super rebellious, and fought his parents pretty much every inch of the way between the ages of 8 and 23, saw his first David Bowie show with his dad.

We never really talked about it. I assumed my dad wouldn't be familiar enough with Bowie's full catalog to say anything of interest to me, and I assumed anything I said to him would be inscrutable. That was my mistake.

Whether or not my dad was familiar all Bowie had done, he knew enough that Bowie's work meant an enormous deal to his teenage son.

(Tears again. KEE-RIST.)

I should have shared just how deeply important that small courtesy was to me at the time, and reveled in the fact that, unlike most, my dad and I saw David Bowie together.

ADDENDUM: I keep reading everywhere that David Bowie was a "misfit" or an "alien." Those people are getting it wrong. He was so deeply human, and so deeply inquisitive. He was fearlessly exploring our subconscious, not from outer space.

*Something his son is still guilty of since I try to never assume ill intent and 56% of the time I'm wrong; there was ill intent.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Rockin' my turntable in 2015; these were my favorite albums of the year.

Read my full list on Chicagoist. Go ahead, do it! There's a playlist with sample tracks from each album at the end so make sure you read all the way through.What do you think?

Monday, January 11, 2016

In shock. No words.

The only positive thing about today is seeing just how deeply David Bowie touched so many people's lives.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Thursday, January 07, 2016

David Bowie's birthday is tomorrow.

I've been listening to his new album non-stop. Can't wait to share my review of it with you tomorrow!

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Classic pop with The Classic Kids.

Photo via The Classic Kids Facebook page
I'm still trying to decide if my 2015 favorite albums list should be 20 or 25 entries, and already good 2016 music is piling up. Actually, it started piling up near the end of November but i've been trying to not listen to any of it until now. (I caved in a few instances, but whatever.)

The Classic Kids' debut EP Forever Strong—out later this month—already has me stoked about the new music this year. They describe themselves as retro-pop, but all that means is that they play catchy rock with a decidedly '80s influence. The guys are all in their early 20s, so I'll fogive 'em for thinking their sound is all that retro. But if they were opening for Bleachers it'd be a prefect pairing, if that gives you a better idea of what they sound like.

Actually why not just let you hear what they sound like? "Just Begun" is easily the standout track on the EP, but the other three songs are no slouches when it comes to hitting the correct pleasure centers. I'm curious to hear what a full-length from these guys would sound like. If they could keep up this quality across twelve songs that'd be impressive.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Here's something I thought I'd never see!

We're in fifth place! Team Chicagoist is doing pretty decently this year. Though we may slip a spot next week since we lost to Touchvision tonight. Sadface. We rolled a good game but they rolled better (we lost one match by only three pins!).

Anyway, bowling has been great this year; an excellent opportunity to keep up with a bunch of the staff and mingle with other media peeps. It helps keep us all in the loop. And bowling is chill since it's mostly writers making up the teams.*

It's a great way to spend a Tuesday night.

*Media softball can get a little brutal since a bunch of those players come from the ad side of the business and they tend to be a little more, um, on the competitive side.

Monday, January 04, 2016


Pickle the Kitten has the right idea.
I realize I've been  a little quiet over the last two weeks, at least in this space, but c'mon! Give me a break! It's the holidays! All I've wanted to do is imitate Pickle the Kitten (see above).

But holidays are over, so I suppose it's time for me to get back to work.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Starting it off right!

Last night Mich and I had an excellent dinner, partied with some good friends, had the good sense to get home at a reasonable (post-midnight) hour, woke up sans hangovers or bad moods or any regrets, meaning we've started off 2016 on a positive, high note. Here's hoping this is a harbinger of what the next 365 days will bring!