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Friday, January 31, 2014

A Cure For What Ails You...

You know you want one

We need to bring back the cocktail hour.

I don't mean getting wasted on shots. I don't mean absently draining a glass of pinot grigio while you stare at your iPad.

I mean taking an hour at the end of the day, sometime after work and before dinner, and having a drink 

Okay, maybe two, but that's it.

I mean having a drink with some character and history. A Tom Collins. A Rusty Nail. Or get your Don Draper on and have an Old Fashioned. Maybe, like The Dude, you can abide with a White Russian. 

If the day or week have been particularly trying, Bond with a vodka martini --- shaken, not stirred.

Sip, don't gulp.

And I don't mean alone. With other people. 

Greet them heartily. A handshake is a must. Hug, if you want. Kiss, if you dare.

Have a conversation. Tell a story. Tell a joke.

(Whatever happened to jokes? Smothered by political correctness? Or did we Tweet the wit out of ourselves?)

Talk about something unrelated to how you make your living. Talk about your kids. Re-live a glory day from your youth, or from yesterday.

Finish your drink. Maybe have another. But only maybe.

Say your goodbyes. Wish everyone well. Say, "See you next time".

Shed the day like an old skin, and move on to dinner.

Until next time.

Who will join me?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Best of January, 2014

It is Super Bowl week here in NJ.  For the first time ever the big game is being played in a "cold" weather City.  The irony is my beloved Seattle Seahawks are participating.  Ok, beloved might be a bit strong.  I am not one of those body painting, stats obsessed, maniacs.  Let's just say I have an allegiance to them.  I have followed them since a little past their inception (1976.)  For whatever the reasons they were broadcast a lot on the East Coast way back when.  The old AFC West battles were mesmerizing to me.  Don Coryel's Chargers.  Madden's Raiders.  Dan Reeves Broncos.  And my boys (and their dazzling colors and raucous Kingdome.)  I even looked past Brian Bosworth and the 12th man's wave.  Sunday they battle one of those old rivals, the Broncos, will battle them for pro sports greatest prize.  

I don't get too worked up over it.  Its a) kinda cool they are in it and b) even cooler that the game is about 20 miles from my house.  But I have no interest in all the hype.  I mean seriously, a toboggan in Times Square?  Its a little much, no?

What bothers me most is how the host State is (again) short changed.  It's easy to talk of corruption, mob hits, swamp pollution, and the endless negative cliches that stigmatize and mostly discount the Garden State and its inhabitants.  But I have spent the majority of my life in this State- and have grown to love it.

True, we have a huge amount of sleaze bags.  But show me a state that doesn't. 

I like to think of New Jersey as an accurate example of a melting pot.  We have some big cities, with a mostly storied past.  Jersey City and Hoboken are now more Yuppie suburbs than urban wastelands.  Where others like to poke fun at Camden, I am quick to think of Princeton.  You say Trenton, I say Asbury Park.  Newark has never been the same since the 1968's race riots.  However Newark and the majestic Prudential Center were the site of Tuesday's bloated Media Day.  Newark is a tough town.  Its a blue collar town.  Yet, underneath the dirt and grit there some shine remains.  The Ironbound section has several notable Portugese restaurants and a distinct charm.  Seton Hall and Rutgers have both locations in town and a calming influence.  City Hall and Penn Station, a classic structure and major transportation hub, are impressive to say the least.  

And all this does not speak to the good, good people that live here.  

They are our doctors, artists, small business owners, tycoons, housekeepers, teachers, drivers, union carpenters, bodega workers, bankers, musicians, housewives, brothers, sisters, friends.   Did I forget attorneys?  Ha.  I guess they count too.

We talk a lot about what's wrong with the State.  How about what's right with it?

It's the folks still digging out from Sandy and never relenting when the chips are down.  It's a good Taylor Ham bagel sandwich or a Rutts Hut dog.  It's a quiet breeze walking the boardwalk.  It's digging your neighbor's car out of the snow.  It's good, honest work.

For those who brave the train, or traffic at the Helix, or pay the astronomical real estate taxes a toast to you.

We are hosts to the greatest spectacle in sports.  Hell, maybe the greatest spectacle period.  The World's eyes are on us for a few weeks.  Sochi take notice.

We know about security.  We see Ak-47's on our walk to work.  We are used to elevated threat levels.

No problem.  We put our collective heads down and get the job done.

Oh, our families tend not suffer much as a result.  All the sacrifices are for them anyway.  Because we try and give our kids every advantage possible.  We send them to the best schools we can.  We coach their sports teams.  We make every effort to be engaged.

And it's perfectly fine if the media makes this "New York's" event.  When the dust settles New York City is built with New Jersey DNA.  We built their buildings years ago, and work in them now.  We support Broadway and those 2 NFL teams that put NY on their logos.  Hell, most of Wall St fattest cats call New Jersey home.  No shame here.  

We are comfortable in our own skin.  Maybe that is why everyone laughs at it.  Honesty makes them all very uneasy.

In terms of the game, this Seahawks fan is objective.  How can I not be?  Jim Zorn and Steve Largent were my boyhood heroes.  My neighbors were busy rooting for Terry Bradshaw/Lynn Swann or Roger Staubach/Tony Dorsett.   What did they know?  All those guys did was dominate and win titles.  What fun is that?

So my team is here for just the second time.  In 2005 they faced the America's franchise, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Now, they face the American quarterback icon Peyton Manning.

Tall task.

Their defense is good enough to keep them close.  But in the end Manning will do enough to win.  Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is still too young, too small and (nothing to be ashamed of) not Manning's equal.

Broncos 27 Seahawks 17

Don't get me wrong, Richard Sherman and his LOB are a live dog.  If Manning gets off to a slow start it could be interesting.  

Also, Manning has way more on the line than Seattle.   Should Peyton lose this game and never get back he will be forever questioned.  True, he will still have 1 Super Bowl win(something Dan Marino never got.)  But so does Trent Dilfer.

This should be his coronation.  This should cement his legacy.   

To the business at hand.   January was a soft month for live music.  Earlier this month we took in Against Me!

Last week was Dr Dog at Terminal 5.  Long one of my least favorite venues, it again lived up to its reputation.  Is it oversold?  Are there just too many young people?  Or is it all about the poor sight lines?  Those blasted columns are a good way to kill a buzz.

The crowd was enthusiastic and for the most part engaged.  Dr Dog were way more jammy than I expected. That is not to say they were bad, it was just unexpected  In fact, they sounded pretty darn good.  

Fact is dinner and drinks earlier in the evening were a lot of fun.  

Next time a smaller venue.  Or a warmer night.  

Dr Dog Term 5 1.25.14

VIP at Term 5 is really the only way to go.  Now how do I get it for every show?

Below please find this years first installment of "Best of…"

We try to find 10 songs for you to put on your Sunday cruise, workout or whatever floats your boat playlist.  Lots of new material coming later this year from artists like Foster the People, St Vincent, and, GASP, Eels!  CAN? YOU? DIG IT???

Have a great month all.  

Courtney Barnett "Avant Gardener"

DIY Aussie singer/songwriter/record label creator has two EP's under her belt.  Late last year this track started making the alt radio rounds.  Now it is just about everywhere.  Sardonic lyrics performed with deadpan goofiness.  If Steven Wright had an Aussie niece who grew up on Liz Phair it might sound like this.  A very catchy song to say the least.

The War On Drugs "Red Eyes"

Philly guitar rock Indies will release their 3rd LP, Lost in the Dream, in March.  Moody and melancholy not unlike their Philly counterpart Kurt Vile.  Lord Huron shares this sound too.  Our next band too…   Its roots are in 70s Fleetwood Mac and the California sound.  If you listen close enough you can hear Lindsay Buckingham nod his approval.  Imitation as flattery.

Real Estate "Talking Backwards"

Like The War on Drugs, these kids from New Jersey will release their 3rd LP, Atlas, in March.  Singer/guitarist Martin Courtney is in fine form on this, the first single.  Breathy and soft melodies play along with dreamy, laid back guitar licks.  If you need a soundtrack for a sleepy Sunday morning this would be a lovely track 1.

Lydia Loveless "Really Wanna See You"

Columbus, OH folk country gal Lydia Loveless is ALSO releasing her 3rd LP, Somewhere Else,  this year.   Geez, what is with all the 3rd records?  We remember catching her in 2012.  This new track is fiery and adrenaline pumped.  Where the last couple bands borrow from the 70s California sound, Loveless channels Linda Ronstadt a bit.  Keep a look at for the new record.  This girl rocks.

Lily Allen "Air Balloon"

Amy Winehouse, Adele, Kate Nash are among the British wave that hit America about 10 years ago.  Lily Allen was in that mix for sure and found some radio play with hits like "Smile""The Fear" and her anti-Bush anthem "F*** You."  She is 28 now and has seen it all.  She too has started a label.  She opened a clothing store with her sister a few years back.  The limelight, which once seemed to anger her, has softened a bit.  That might explain her new music.  It is time.   Expect a new record from her this year.  The lyric video above is worth a look.

Against Me! "Fuckmylife666"

This band has been covered a bunch here.   Their new record just arrived and tells the story of singer/guitarist Tom Gabel's transition to Laura Jane Grace.  This ain't no Ziggy Stardust thing either.  Laura is all in.  The voice is the same.  So too is the narrative- raw, edgy and deeply exciting.  It's punk rock with an all inclusive message.

Wooden Shjips "These Shadows"

Hard to find much online about these SF based "space rockers."  What I can tell you is this song kicks a little ass.  The guitar has a Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young thing going for it.  The long solo at the end and keyboard fills have a certain nostalgia like a warm blanket (on such a winter's day!)

Reputante "Deep Set Eyes"

NYC rockers Reputante have some nostalgia too.  This time its 80s emo.  The Cure and Morrisey come to mind on this synth laden, baritone chirping gem.  Somewhere Andrew McCarthy is snapping his fingers to this.

Skaters "Miss Teen Massachusetts"

More NYC punk and rock represented here.  Skaters are the trio Michael Ian Cummings, Noah Rubin and Joshua Hubbard.  They will hopefully release their debut LP later this year.  We saw them way back when (when they opened for Caveman years ago.)   This new single pops with energy.  The video has a sardonic charm.  Enjoy.

The Orwells "Who Needs You?"

The Orwells are a Mid-Western (Illinois) trio who formed in high school.  It seems like they have been around forever, but they are still like 23 or something.  The song above is from an EP released last year.  But it is picking up steam.  Simple and straight forward punk rock.  Take a look at the video above for David Letterman and Paul Schafer's reactions.  The whole episode is odd.

Foster the People "Coming of Age"

California darlings sophomore record, Supermodel, will be out in March.  Both the song, and highly entertaining time lapse video, are worth visiting.  The album was delayed and there is talk of label interference.  That is, "Where is the single?"  The debut record and the buzz that surrounded them in 2011 was so epic you cannot help but expect some letdown.  This track however does not indicate anything less than groove, heart and positivity.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Accentuate The Negative!

I’ve had a wonderful evening…but this wasn’t it. - Groucho Marx

“Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.”
― Herman MelvilleMoby-Dick

My colleague Hank B is taking on more positive, upbeat posts this next year. I wish him the best of luck.

Me, I’m going negative.

We are in an age of anxiety, stress and depression. I think I know why.

We are under the grip of rampant positivity.  

How many times a day do your hear someone say that something is “Awesome” or “Amazing“ or “The Best Thing Ever”! 

Amazing? Really? Dude, it’s a brownie.

I used to know a guy who would respond to “How are you?” with “EXCELLENT! And getting BETTER!!”. 

Oh, and what’s after “BETTER”?  “HYSTERICAL! And getting PSYCHOTIC!!”

It’s meaningless. What is more accurate, and more reliable, is to go negative.

Some say wisdom is a process of disillusionment, meaning that we “dis-Illusion” ourselves, or shed our biases and assumptions based on life experience. And those illusions are really failed experiments in living.

Think about it:

We are much better at figuring out what we don’t know than what we know.

We are better at discovering what doesn’t work, than figuring out what does work.

We are very clear about who we don’t like, but struggle to find and keep a mate,friendships, and families.

We can’t agree on one right way to do something, but we can agree on plenty of wrong ways to do something.

In politics, we agree on what we don’t want the government to do, but not on what we want it to do.

We are pretty clear on what foods are bad for us, but constantly chase after the next new thing that is good for us.

Religions agree on the “thou shalt nots” but can’t agree on the “thou shalls”.

And, of course, its easier to break something than it is to build it

So next time someone asks (as we say in Jersey) “How you doin’?” I won’t say “Excellent, and getting better!” 

I’ll say “Not bad, but it could be worse.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Am Not A Role Model

Today's Villian.  Seahawks' Richard Sherman
Many years ago Charles Barkley implored the World not to look up to him.  He was, after all, a basketball player.  He could rebound and score.  He was able to lead a team.  But he, like so many of us, was/is a flawed human being.  Why on Earth, as the Nike ad wizards suggested, would we look to him for advice, guidance, discipline?

Now, if I wanted to know how to box out or drive to the basket, Sir Charles was my man.

Many took offense to the spot.  "Well he is on TV" they shouted.  "He does interviews and appears on Saturday Night Live!"  "Damn it! he is a very public figure."

So what?

So is Snooki.  So is Chris Christie.  So too Bill Maher, Jon Stewart, Jack Nicholson, Meryl Streep etc…   I mention all those NJ folks because the latest uproar du'jour has to do with the Garden State's first Super Bowl.  Richard Sherman, the Seattle Seahawks gifted defensive back, lashed out in a cringe worthy post-game interview.  Among other things he belittled an opposing player, lavished praise on himself, and scared the beJesus out of Erin Andrews.

As a lifelong Seahawks fan I cannot condone any of these things.  However as a lifelong sports fan I am not going to act surprised.  This is the NFL we are talking about, right?

The same NFL that saw 38 NFL players arrested in 2013. 

Sherman's antics were over the top.  They were arrogant and rude.  They showed a lack of civility and utter disregard for decency.

In other words, they were an NFL event.

Football is a violent game and its players have a brief window to make plays, carve out a career, and achieve greatness.  When the game ends for many of them the risks of dementia and other disorders loom big.  They die at a higher rate than the rest of us.  In many ways they are modern day gladiators and we eat it up like so many Roman emperors.  The only difference is their death happens over several painful and unrelenting years of illness rather than one quick lions bite.

If it were up to me I would choose the lion.

The culture is not going to change.  In fact, it has only gotten worse.  How many times did Fox show SF 49ers linebacker Navorro Bowman's horrific knee injury yesterday?  If a helmet to helmet penalty is called we are served numerous replays.  If it's a holding call we rarely get another look.

It's a blood sport and we all know it.

But when one of the combatants speaks from the heart (no matter how ill advised and ignorant it is) we all rush to our pulpits and condemn him.

Tweets abound after Sherman's theatrics.  "Thanks to Sherman all of America is a Broncos fan now."

Oh, you mean the Broncos who had to suspend two front office executives early in the season for ugly DUI arrests?    The Broncos who had star linebacker Von Miller sit out 6 games due to drug suspension?

What are we expecting here really?

It is entertainment, pure and simple.  Would it be great if everyone acted with civility and love for one another?  Yes.

But what would ESPN do without all the overblown hype?  And now Sherman has given the NFL exactly what it wants.  Good (Peyton Manning) versus Evil (Sherman and his mates.)  Perhaps now the press will stop talking about how cold Met Life Stadium will be or how poor a choice the Red Hot Chili Peppers are for halftime.

Somewhere through the haze and marketing bonanza that is the Super Bowl a game will be played.  Refs will make mistakes.  Players will make plays.  A winner will be crowned.

And when you lay down after your over indulgent feast of nachos, beer and sandwiches you can remember who your real role models are.

Hint, it ain't these guys.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

At Last, The Stone Pony (Against! Me, 1.10.14)

Wall Art, The Stone Pony

Bruce snapshot

As Iconic an Image as there is (for NJ that is)

There are a few noticeable gaps in my New Jersey upbringing.  I tend to hate all the New York teams.  Yankees, Giants, Mets and Jets be damned.  I have spent more time on North Carolina and South Carolina beaches than those just a quick drive south on the Parkway.  Bruce Springsteen is someone who has my respect and admiration.  But I am far from a devotee and have never seen him live.  At this point in my life I figure why bother.  3 hours?  $200 a seat?  I can watch a DVD or pump up "Born to Run" and be perfectly fine.  That is not to discount all his followers.  I get it.  He rocks your World and you will stop at nothing to touch his hand.  For me, that ship has sailed.  His continued work on Jimmy Fallon makes me think he is in on the joke too.  Oh, and some of the early reviews of his new record have been lukewarm at best.

We could start a whole discussion on the other NJ band powerhouse, Bon Jovi, but why bother.  It boggles the mind how they sell out stadiums and are nearly as beloved as Bruce.  Not here.   In 2014 I vow to be more positive.  Instead of saying I just don't get it, I will simply say "agree to disagree."

And I am also making an attempt to get more Jersey Boy.  No, that does not mean a Yankee hat will end up on my head.  No wife beaters and gold chains either folks!  

Rather, last week I finally made it to Asbury Park's legendary Stone Pony.  This year the place that launched Bruce, and several others, is celebrating its 40th year.  Florida rockers Against! Me headlined the all ages Friday show and it was the perfect introduction.

The place is a dive, let's be honest.  And I mean that as a high compliment.  The pit is long, but not necessarily deep.  There is a back bar covered with a temporary tent.  Adjacent that smokers have a spot to light up.  The real treat is the Pony Cafe located in the rear of the building.  There are some tables, benches, a rather large bar, tvs (which last Friday had Rangers hockey playing) and a greasy kitchen.  Burgers, pretzels and old fashioned bar food much like find at your local public pool.  the bartenders were short and aggressive.  The prices were fair.  The bar was more than adequately stocked.  Us old folk like Guinness and Stoli O.  Check and Check!

Pity the young hipsters who crave PBR.  They ran out of cans about half way through the show.  Seriously, do they really like the taste or is it the price?  The whole phenomenon confounds me.

The show was secondary last Friday.  We bought tickets months ago and just wanted to soak it all in.  Karma was on our side too.  We brought a friend and she had no ticket.  It was not sold out when we started our trip.  When we arrived it was.  She was a trooper and said she would have dinner at one of the many restaurants on the boardwalk.  It should be noted that the boardwalk and Asbury Park itself have gone under a major resurgence.  If you have the chance take a day trip when the weather is nice.  

Needless to say we felt bad and wanted to get her in the show.  I asked a young man inside the club "if he had a ticket source either inside or outside the club?"  Seriously, the first person I asked!  Sure enough he pulled a ticket from his pocket and said "here."  A quick text to our friend and she joined us.  She didn't even finish her glass of wine.

All ages shows are tough, especially with a band who mixes it up a bit.  My better half made her way to the stage.  My old ass was content watching from afar.  Singer Laura Jane Grace, and her story, is well chronicled.  Long story short, when I saw Against! Me open for Silversun Pickups a few years back Laura was Tom Gabel.  Their new record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, speaks in large part to Gabel's transition to Laura.  Her voice is the catalyst for the record, and more often than not, the bands live act.  Unfortunately Laura was nursing some sore pipes and could not belt out many of the high notes and power lines that she is accustomed.

Her supporting mates (James Bowman, Inge Johansson and Atom Willard) were more than game.  The new material sounded fresh and the kids ate it all up.  

I was just as interested in taking the whole scene in.  I found myself drifting to walls and examining the history of the building.  I people watched and saw mothers shield their sons from flying humans.  It was a rock event and plenty of folks seemed fully engaged and entertained.  

That, for my money, is a terrific Friday night.

I missed my chance to see Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's.  Other venues await.  Starland?  Count Basie Theatre?  This NJ kid needs some learning.  

See you out there.

Against! Me, The Stone Pony 1.10.14

After the show

The Bar is well stocked (with booze too)

Food is served!
Some raw video from the show below

Against! Me "Thrash Unreal"

Against! Me "I Was A Teenage Anarchist"

Friday, January 3, 2014

Putting a Bow on 2013. Best of December etc...

Dum Dum Girls
2013 by all accounts was a fabulous year.  We live in a pretty idyllic (although secretly evil) little town 20 miles away from New York City.  It is now 16 years strong with my very special lady.  Anyone who a) has a spouse or b) knows anything about me in particular understands that shit ain't easy.  We are in a good spot right now.  There is communication.  There are laughs.  Hell we even share mutual goals and are cooperating in various ways to achieve them.  Our only child has, to an extent, a fairly solid blueprint to success.  Sh has access to good schools and role models in a place far removed from her parents humble upbringings.  Upward mobility is an option.  She is supper witty, generally kind and pure in heart.  Isn't that what parenting is about anyway?   Make sure your kid is empathetic and shows an aptitude for making this World better.   In other words, don't create an asshole.

The work thing didn't suck either.  Well, the working part did.  It is always a challenge dealing with commutes and everyday headaches.   But we are pretty lucky to have good clients, decent vendors and a real pro as an employer.   Do your work and you get left alone.  We joke that we could never again work under the constraints of a human resources department.  But after 15 years without having to answer one I fear there is no turning back.  The thought of sitting through a sensitivity training seminar sends chills up my spine.  And don't get me started on drug testing.  Although I remember working at Blockbuster in my college days.  They took a hair test on my then pony-tailed freak flag.  And I still got the job!  Long story short the job doesn't suck.  Is it what I imagined myself doing when I was a kid?  No.  But up until my late 20s I wasn't really sure what adulthood consisted of.  More specificallyI had no idea the importance money plays in this part of the World.  As I enter my mid-40s I am finally realizing I might actually  have the ability to earn it!

Christmas time and the New Year ahead were going to be a celebration of all we have.

Then I got a call a few Sundays ago just past 11pm.   It was not a snow event so it could not have been the school calling.  We had just fallen asleep so we heard the ring, faintly, through our haze.  "Who else could be calling?"  That question was answered in my head moments after I asked myself.  "Something is wrong with dad."

My dad was a funny guy.  He was a bright guy.  He was the kind of guy that kept the party going a bit longer.  He made sure someone was having a laugh.  He kept you on your toes while making you feel at ease.

But he had been ill for quite a long time.  Arthritis with a side of heart disease and diabetes.  It was a freaking drag.  A man, and certainly not from his generation, was supposed to earn for his family.  He was supposed to stay at the plant for 50 years and retire to Florida.  Well, this story was a bit more unconventional.  His body gradually broke down and he was comfortable hanging near home and being close to those he loved.  Everything else was an unneeded stress so why bother?

He and my mother celebrated their 51st anniversary a few weeks back.  As stated earlier, that shit ain't easy.  But there they were after a nice weekend, getting ready for the routine that they had done for decades before.  He went for coffee with his pals a little earlier.  His beloved Giants knocked the Lions out of the playoff hunt.  I am sure they talked about that game and his friends were taunting him about their Eagles.  Coffee and shooting the breeze with his pals.  There was nothing better.  Chewing on a toothpick and drinking whatever  Kool Aid O'Reilly was serving filled out a perfect evening before heading upstairs with his wife.

When I entered the hospital there were tears and hugs.  We all lost a great man.  A man who loved with such vigor that it exhausted him.  Through the tears my mom felt compelled to share.  "They had such a good weekend" she told us.

She remembered as they were getting ready for sleep her nightie was a little loose.

My dad noticed and politely asked to squeeze her ass.  She told us she obliged.

If you had asked my dad that morning if he was going to pass away my guess is he would have approved.

In the town he loves.  In the home he loves.  His most treasured and adored wife next to him playing periodic grab ass.  That my friends is as fitting a send off as he could have hoped for.

Do the flowers make me sad when they show up at my door?  Yes.  Is it difficult to open and read sympathy cards and messages from friends both far and near.  Sure does.  Am I worried about the woman he left behind?  My sister?  His grandkids?  Absolutely.

But his was a life of meaning.  And his message would have been to remember the good and move toward the future.  Thanks dad.  You made this place a lot better to live in.  I can only hope to follow your lead.

Duh, It says it right there:  Bear Hands

This space is usually reserved for contemporary music.  We will continue to push new artists and live reviews.  Submissions from other authors on any number of things are also welcome.  DocS still brings it and there have been other guest entries that have made impacts.  You can send me anything you like. If it looks ready to share it will appear.  No judgement here.  Except maybe comma splices.  Ugh with them!

For now you can find the Best of 2013 list here.  Below are the last minute entries.  It was another tremendous year in song.  New records by The National, Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend almost sent the blogosphere into internet rehab.  All the superlatives have been used by sites far more fancy than this one.  I knows what I like though.  And my ear is pretty darn good.  Don't believe me?  Put on the list of 120 songs and give it a try.  My guess is you will come away with something that strikes your fancy.  Strikes your fancy?  Who says that?

Have a great 2014 all!  Let's go and kick this year straight in the jaw.

Chappo "I Don't Need the Sun"

Alex Chappo and his bandmates debut record was pretty darn good I thought.  It barely made a splash a few years ago and that really disappointed.  The single, "Come Home", was a minor hit thanks in part to appearing in a Sears ad.  They are back with a new record and this trippy first song is more evidence that these folks are more than a one hit wonder.

St Lucia "Elevate" live from Jimmy Kimmel

South African born and New York (Brooklyn to be exact- duh) based musician Jean-Philip Grobler is the man behind St Lucia.  When I read he produces it made a lot more sense.  This is a polished synth pop song, not unlike Cut/Copy or M83.  Good for background music and chill vibes wasting away on your favorite easy chair.

Vance Joy "Riptide"

Australian James Keogh didn't keep his name for stage either.  His alter ego, Vance Joy, is an ex lawyer turned folk singer.  He released his debut EP, God Loves You When You're Dancing, early last year.  Two good things here- One: his contribution to the world of music.  Two: one less lawyer.

Airborne Toxic Event "Hell and Back"

Good to hear new music from LA band Airborne Toxic Event.  They too released a record last spring.  But this track appeared on the soundtrack for Dallas Buyers Club.

Dum Dum Girls "Lost Boys and Girls Club"

Dee Dee Penny is the force behind "bedroom recording project" Dum Dum Girls.  Its Bettie Page for the hipster set.  50s sensibilities for Ipad folk.  Their/Her third record Too True, is set for release early in 2014.  This single fits nicely in any David Lynch bar room juke box.   Somewhere I see Madchen Amick dancing slowly to this right before ending up in the back of Jack Nance's late model Chevy.

OneRepublic "Counting Stars"

Every now and again an enormously successful pop song is un-escapable and you are forced to relent and accept its power.  For 2013 this is that song.

Tired Pony "All Things All at Once"

The word "supergroup" is kind of a tricky one.  Blind Faith was a "supergroup."  I have read descriptions of Tired Pony that label them similarly.  Tis true, Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol and Richard Colburn of Belle and Sebastian, are both in the band.  But "Super" might be pushing it.  In fact, the last group that could call itself "super" was Temple of the Dog.

Rhye "Open"

Canadian singer Milosh (not to be confused with the Seinfeld tennis instructor) and Danish instrumentalist Robin Hannibal released their highly praised debut record, Woman, in March 2013.  Since every other music blog threw it on their best of lists I finally got around to listening.  Turns out the praise was well deserved.  There is a real simple beauty to the record, and this song in particular.

Blood Orange "You're Not Good Enough"

Dev Hynes is the NY based Blood Orange.  This is another record that got my attention late last year.  Hearing that Hynes lost everything he owned in a horrific fire a week before Christmas made me want to listen more intently.  Support this man and wish him well.

Bear Hands "Giants"

I know, I know...  Post-Punk band from Brooklyn...  YAWN!  Well, maybe not.  This track is polarizing.  I know some who really dig it.  I know others who hate it!  How do you weigh in?  The "loving you more" line is a personal fav.

RAC featuring Kele and MNDR "Let Go"

Another commercial hit.  Dance and pop song, plain and simple.  Its got a good groove and you can dance to it.  Sometimes that is all you need.