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Monday, September 1, 2014

Best of August, 2014

So Long Summer 2014

Late last night our annual trip to the Low Country (Hilton Head Island, SC to be exact) came to an exhausting end.  14 hours in the car will test anybody I assure you.

But the batteries are charged.  Relaxation was achieved.  Alcohol was most certainly consumed.

Fall must bring some sort of cleanse.  I don't think I am much of a juice diet or fad diet guy.  My willpower is pretty non existent for that matter.

Nonetheless, this summer was a rather gluttonous one.  Autumn, my favorite season, provides an opportunity to make some changes.  Some say Spring is the season full of optimism.  I view fall as equally so.  We are sending our children back into classrooms- hopeful that they will achieve all we did not, or best case, find something they love.

College campuses hosted their first football games over the weekend.  For a moment each team thinks this is "their time."  The pros will kick off this weekend.  As I write this NY Jets fans still believe!  That is true optimism.

Here in the Northeast a chill will soon fill the air most evenings.  Leaves will become majestic displays of color.  

Somehow, deep within, we collectively find a way to prepare for winter, which can be bleak and uninspiring.

Here is hoping you and your family find peace and happiness as the summer fades into memory.

As we look ahead, allow me just a moment to reflect.

Let me preface by saying Hilton Head, and the rest my summer travels were amazing.   Seriously though, who cares?

It's more fun to discuss the minutia that most often invades my juvenile mind.

First, since when is this thing acceptable at the beach?  And yes, I understand folks are concerned about protecting themselves and their children from the suns harmful rays.  But damn!  These things are big!!  As someone who basks in the sunlight (due mostly to Italian/Mexican/Who knows what kind of lineage) any umbrella is obtrusive.  But I can live with the old school umbrellas.   For the most part they provide endless entertainment.  Often times helpless dad, or grandfather if you visit Hilton Head,  efforts like crazy to get the umbrella upright.  They dig, they screw, they sweat to get that post in.  Depending on the quality of umbrellas there are mixed results.  If a strong wind blows the umbrellas can go airborne.  Most commonly the umbrella will turn itself inside/out.  If you spend enough money and have used the proper labor, these things can withstand gale force winds.  But even then you never know- which makes it exciting.

The best part is a personal umbrella does not require an immense footprint.  OK, it's a public beach, I get it.  But there has to be a limit, no?

That is, at what point is enough enough?  What's next?  Pop up campers?  Trampolines?  Given the vast space our beaches offer, perhaps we can have allotted areas for these eye sores?  Lifeguards confine certain areas of the surf for safety reasons.  Why can't we do the same thing here?  Call it "Tent City" for beach goers.  I want to look at the Ocean- bad enough I am putting up with...
Too Big?  Too intrusive?
Which brings me to point # 2.  This ain't Europe.  Keep a damn bathing suit on your kids.   Allow me to name some places where your child's nudity is acceptable.  Your home.  Ok thanks.  Let's move on.

Speaking of kids, is it now the norm to put floaties on children's arm?  Is this quality parenting or lazy parenting?  I think you know my vote.  Get in the damn water with your kid and teach him/her to swim.  He/she looks like a friggin tool with those things anyway.  You know what cool looks like.  Walking into the ocean hand in hand with mom or dad, smiling ear to ear, and taking on a wave.

You listening parents?  Maybe not, cause you were staring at your smart phone and didn't even see your kid run off.  That might also explain why you set up you and your giant tent RIGHT next to my spot.  Did you notice all the room on this beach?  Nope.  I forgot, it's your World.  We are merely pawns.

By all means, enjoy your cigar, crank up your boom box, drink your wine from a thermos, and enjoy the day.  

With all that nonsense, we still did.  Life is too short to let your ignorance ruin a good time.  That does not mean we aren't watching (and keeping score.)

My girl and I had a 320 hit rally- can you beat that???

The Fall is also a great time for Entertainment.  The fall TV season kicks into full gear.  In these parts that means a steady dose of family viewing- Amazing Race, Survivor, and The Biggest Loser.  Yeah, I know, super queer.  It's cool, judge all you like.  God knows I do.

Movie studios will be rolling out all their Oscar fare in the coming weeks too.  For a look at what Fall film has to offer take a look at Stephen Whitty's column.   No one does it better.

And their is music, sweet music.  Alt J, Weezer, and Foxygen have new records due out soon.  The CMJ music fest will invade NYC Sept 17-20.  

As for this blog, we will continue to update all the best songs, artists and live acts we can get our ears/eyes on.  The upcoming schedule includes stops at Webster Hall (Bleachers/the aforementioned Foxygen/Ty Segall) and Asbury Lanes (Orwells/Skaters.)  We have been toying with getting our nostalgia on too (Eagles and Fleetwood Mac at Prudential Center.)

Get updates here: Guide to Somewhere and find me on Spotify to get the Best of 2014 (so far.)  The tracks below are the latest additions.  Enjoy!

Frankie Rose and Drew Citron are Beverly

Beverly "You Can't Get it Right"

This surf inspired track seems like either the best (or worst way) to begin the list.  Sure summer is over, but we can always think of it fondly.   Female duo led by Drew Citron and Frankie Rose are Brooklyn based.  Citron plays live for Rose and is here the ringleader.  This is a lo-fi romp with great melody and an infectious beat.

George Ezra "Budapest"

It is hard to keep track of all these Euros invading our airwaves and concert halls.  Without thinking too much I can think of Frank Turner, Sam Smith, King Krule, Vance Joy (ok, he's Australian, but that kinda counts), Ed Sheeran, Hozier (Irish), and the crooner du jour, George Ezra, to name a few.  Ezra is 21 and has all the poise and delivery of a man much, much older.  These kids are mature beyond their years.  Like the other names on this list there isn't much original to the presentation.  But  sometimes a simple song, delivered effortlessly, is all you need.  

Jeff Tweedy "Wait For Love"

Mr Tweedy knows a little something about making difficult things look easy.  His band Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is one of American music's finest achievements of the past 25 years.   His influence on the alt country World can not be measured.    Here he leaves his bandmates and brings along his son for another clinic in writing, whistling, picking, and singing.

Foxygen "How Can You Really"

After a tumultuous but highly entertaining ride with their 2013 record, it was widely assumed Foxygen (Sam France and Jonathan Rado) would implode.  They scorned the press, sometimes showered their audience with irate rants, and essentially played the parts of tortured artists unable to translate their talents to the mainstream.  Turns out they have been off making another record (due 10.14.)  The first single is a bouncy, horn filled departure from the moody-psych sound of last record. France appears more like Chris Owens (late of Girls) then the hippie we last saw a few years back.  Has he changed?  Have they?  Stay tuned.

Clean Bandit "Rather Be"

English electro-pop, plain and simple.  Sometimes all you need is a good groove.  This song, a favorite of my 12 year old daughter, is the one summer song that required NO thinking but provided many smiles.   Apologies Iggy, Nicky, Taylor, Adriana, et al.

King Tuff "Eyes of the Muse"

Subpop recording artist King Tuff (nee Kyle Thomas) will release their 4th record Black Moon Spell on September 23rd.  The guitar on this first single has the easy going feel of 70s AM Gold.  After spending all day yesterday listening to the radio I was reminded how much I love that era.  Think Little River Band, Fleetwood Mac, America, Dan Fogelberg, Gerry Rafferty, and the like.  The vocals are decidedly 2014- but the overall vibe is reminiscent of earlier times, in a great way.

Bear in Heaven "Autumn"

Last year a friend dragged me to see Brit relics Wire at Bowery Ballroom.  The headliners did not impress.  Thankfully we were smart enough to get to the venue early to see the New York synth band Bear in Heaven.  With a dearth of Bear bands- Grizzly, Panda, Hands, et al, it is easy to overlook these kids.   Their sound is decidedly NOT suitable for radio play.  Their songs can be ambient and jazzy.   Their latest release, Time is Over One Day Old, was just released and it is a real treat.  I remember talking to the band after that show, and after a few drinks telling them they were my favorite "bear" band.  It was perhaps an exaggeration, but they are worthy of some attention.

Interpol "All The Rage (Back Home)"

Another New York band, Interpol, has had a far different trajectory than Bear in Heaven.  They have been making music together since 1997 and are regarded as the elder statesman in the resurgence of the New York indie music scene (along with The Strokes- who apparently they have a feud with...)  Their fifth studio record, El Pintor, is out 9.8.14.  Paul Banks baritone is still as solid as ever.   While I would not consider myself a devotee I would concede Interpol is an essential part of the the Indie music canon.  It is good to see them back on the scene.  Better still that what they have created sounds great.

Bernhoft "Come Around"

I found this song on Palladia's music video show.  Since MTV hardly shows music it has become a staple on my DVR.  Bernhoft is a Norwegian singer/multi-instrumentalist who released his third LP, Islander, this year.  His voice is soulful like Sam Smith.  This track is an up tempo pop song.  While the video sucked me in, Bernhoft's positive disposition kept me around.  Hope you feel the same way.

New Pornographers "Brill Bruisers"

Vancouver, BC indie darlings are back with their 6th LP, Brill Bruisers, released in late August.  Like Interpol, the alt community reveres them as innovators and influential alt pioneers over the past 15 years to so.  Daniel Bejar's vocals are unique and engaging.  The title track is a good introduction to who they are.  Bombastic guitars, big drum fills, and an overall celebration of rock.  That has been their recipe for success their whole career.  Why stop now?


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