Friday, December 30, 2016

Was 2016 the worst? In many ways, yes. But...

More moments like this in 2017, please.
I won't even attempt to touch on the litany of tragic events that made 2016 such a difficult year publicly. And I certainly don't feel like going into the darker personal corners of the last twelve months. But I will admit that despite much of the misery there was also lots of personal growth and new opportunities that are setting me up for a brighter future in the longterm, even if the short-term will carry plenty of their own struggles.

So with that in mind, I think 2017 is where, collectively, we need to pull ourselves out of the fetal position and approach life with a new hope, a dedication to being actively involved in local communities in positive ways, and an acceptance that we can only truly have responsibility over our own actions, so only worry about what you can do personally.

Of course I won't judge you harshly at all if you want to cast one final "good riddance!" to 2016. Have at it, and then forge ahead!

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Get energized.

I think we could al use a blast of positivity, so let's all fall back into the sheer glee of this golden oldie. I hope you find the vibe infectious and it brightens up your day, if even for only a few minutes.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Looking for a ray of light or two, please.

2016 really seems to be refusing to go out with a flurry of body blows and bad news.

All the more reason to look at ensuring 2017 is filled with new hope.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

What a way to spend a final week off!

Mich was struck down by some sort of death virus last week, and now it seems it is my turn to suffer. Ah well, you take the good with the bad—at least I have a valid excuse to just sit on the couch and binge watch TV, right?

Monday, December 26, 2016

Happy holidays from The Kopenys!

Hopefully most of these have been delivered so I can finally share this here!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Video of the year.

For so many reasons, none of which I probably really need to go into here. I can finally admit that I don't think I shed as many tears over a death since my dad passed as I did when Bowie left us. And of course I later realized that the emotions stirred up by Bowie's exit were directly related to emotions connected to my dad. But it took a while to figure that out.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Well that was fast!

I can't really go into detail, yet, but I got some exciting news today. It reminded me that events happen and are aligned in timing for a reason. And if we can just simply accept that then we tend to move forward at a greater velocity than we thought possible.

In other words, you just gotta have faith.* So to make up for the inscrutable—by design—words above, let's balance them with something a little more silly and fun.

*Non-denominational. Just "faith."

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Last night a DJ saved my life. Oh wait, that was me.

Ten years ago I lived around the corner from a bar my two friends had just opened in Logan Square. The Burlington became my second home for quite a few years, and I still have an extremely soft spot for the joint.

Of course now most of my friends who used to rage ten years ago now have kids or—like me—have finally settled down into some semblance of a normal lifestyle sans the late nghts, which means it's rare to gather that whole crew in a single spot at any time. However last night our friend Brent was in town, so Lizz who sued to sling drinks on Tuesdays back in the day hopped behind the bar for a guest stint and I hopped back into the DJ booth.

Of course, we're all older, so whereas in the past we would would've carried on until the sun came up, last night most of us headed home closer to 11. It was nice to DJ for a while, play a few new tunes and a few that would've been in the regular rotation way back when, and then leave at a reasonable hour.

Here was the soundtrack to the party.

Setlist from The Burlington, December 20, 2017

Peter Bjorn and John - Second Chance (RAC Mix)
Car Seat Headrest - Just What I Needed / Not Just What I Needed (Original Version)
Holy Fuck - Lovely Allen
Colony House - You And I
Vanessa Paradis - The Future Song
Kishi Bashi - Hey Big Star
York Street Hustle - We Can Work It Out (DJ Apt One Edit)
Notorious B.I.G. - Party And Bullshit (Ratatat Remix)
Urban Dance Squad - A Deeper Shade Of Soul
Field Music - Terrapin
Stars - Cherry Baby
Badfinger - Baby Blue (U.S. Single Mix)
LCD Soundsystem -All My Friends
Darryl Hall And John Oates - Head Above Water
Led Savy Fav - Let's Get Out Of Here
Cheerleader - On Your Side
The Hollies - Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
INXS - Heaven Scent
Superchunk - This Summer
Spacehog - In The Meantime
Starfucker - Biggie Smalls
Wolf Gang - Lions In Cages
Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Drop Out Orchestra Edit)
David Bowie - Golden Years
Genesis - Turn It On Again
Daniel Wade - Back Home For Christmas
Blur - On Your Own
The Atomic Numbers - In Your Power
Jay Bennett - Replace You
Pink Floyd - The Gold It's In The...

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Many, many moments with OK Go.

OK Go at The Metro in 2010, photo by me.
Last night's Colbert re-ran OK Go's appearance on the show from a few weeks ago. "The One Moment" was our wedding recessional music, which would get me teary eyed enough, but my own history with the band goes back to their early days as an art-pop group whose flyers were absolutely everywhere you turned in Chicago, usually hyping shows at The Empty Bottle. And I remember the local backlash from the indie underground when they got signed to a label, which is really funny since years later they would abandon that label and go a DIY route that most indie bands have abandoned.

The band is filled with true artists with restless minds, which explains their run of mind-bending and astonishing videos. The only downside is that most people know them as "that band with the videos" and not as the great songwriters and stunning live performers they are. Their music is the backbone of all they do, and they are a rare band who has gotten better and better with each new album instead of delivering diminishing returns or treading stylistic water.

I'm sure you've seen the video for "The One Moment" by now (but if for some reason you haven't, you really should watch it), but this live performance of the song helps deliver on the emotional power of the song powered by the sheer exuberance of a band that is doing the think they love most in the wold—playing music that delivers on the feels while still making you want to hop around with abandon and a big ol' smile on your face.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Power-pop for your holiday!

Daniel Wade just released a holiday single for free / pay-what-you-want. It's been almost three years since his amazing series of EPs was released so it's a welcome opportunity to hear some new music from the guy.

"Back Home For Christmas" is, predictably for him, blessed with killer hooks and a ton of energy. This is a worthy addition to any holiday playlist, so stream it or snag it below!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Rockin' my turntable in 2016!

It's live! My favorite 20 albums of 2016.

This year I haven't looked at any other lists yet*, but the early feedback is mine has a nice mix of the known and unknown so please head over to Chicagoist and check it out!

*And now that mine is done I can head over to finally dig into Rob Mitchum's spreadsheet and marvel at his stats skills.

UPDATED: I added a lovely collage at the top of the post, constructed courtesy The By Gods.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Whole again!

It is shocking how, once you are forced to drag an old computer out of storage, how poorly it performs. Which drives you to buy a new computer.

But then you wait forever and what feels like ever for the new one to arrive (because outside your phone you have almost zero tools to get much done online so you're stuck with more basic correspondence and not much else (which actually ends up not being all that bad since it kind of forces you to unplug from anything that isn't more essential to the things you need to do now and today)).

But then the wait is actually over!

And you sink comfortably into reorganizing years of files on a new system, swearing that this time you will keep everything nice and tidy and organized and impeccably backed up only to have the new machine erase all your iTunes playlists and you remember that nothing is perfect, not even the brand, brand new.

And life returns to normal and you are fine with that.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

You & I & I & You.

I don't know much about Colony House—looks like the last time I got an email about the band was 2014—but it looks like they have a new album coming out next month. I stumbled across this video wile channel surfing and the tune has me hoping for a January of dance rock. But that's not why I'm sharing this; I simply love the start-stop rewind storytelling the video employs. In some ways it looks super simple but I found it really inventive.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Sometimes funny ha-ha is also funny hurts-hurts.

Courtesy The Second City
Check out my review of the brand new Second City mainstage show that opens to the public this Thursday. I am interested to see how much it morphs during its run to grapple with our currently unusually turbulent political and cultural landscape. It feels a little like, many of us, its still finding its way.

Thursday, December 08, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Let's listen to an uplifting tune part 2.

Here's another tune to motor you through the week.

(I might've shared this recently but who ares, it's great.)

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Let's listen to an uplifting tune part 1.

For the next few days, let's just gorge on some musical comfort food. Here's the first installment.

Monday, December 05, 2016

A special couple making sweet music together.

Thanks to Sam for sharing this shot of Mich and I DJing our own wedding party at The Hideout.


*We were having a blast, trust me.

Friday, December 02, 2016

A new podcast worth adding to your probably already overstuffed feed.

Mike Watt
I listen to a LOT of podcasts. Thank goodness for 2X speed, right? So I try not to add new podcasts to my subscriptions all that often any more.

However every once in a while I test drive a new episode here and there from unfamiliar sources, and ever once in a great while I ended up getting sucked into not only subscribing but digging through a library of old episodes. Which is what happened with the Culture Creature podcast.

This episode with Ian MacKaye drew me in.

This episode with Mike Watt won me over.

This episode with Jesse Michaels totally surprised me. (Funny how little I know about the underground musicians I idolized in my late teens and early twenties, huh?)

Dig in and enjoy!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

I reviewed a bunch of new music.

Well, a bunch of new-ish to brand new music. I wrote up words about Sleigh Bells, Mike Watt, The Weeknd, Sting and Taylor Hawkins.

Obviously I've been hiding under a warm blanket of guitar rock for the most part. Thank god The Weeknd album came out to remind me that there is still some cool stuff going on in the world of pop as well. In a year that lacked even a Song Of The Summer™ I was beginning to worry.

Anyhoo, read my reviews, if you please.