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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October 2014

Hot coffee.  Homemade gingerbread cookie.  Fall colors.  Tunes on in background.  Things could suck way more.

Cause I could sit here and bitch about tuition bills.  Still not sure if/when I can cut that check.

The looming basketball season is on my mind too.  How are we going to make it all events with 1 car?!  Nevermind the coaching!  Don't these kids deserve better?

And parenting?  Don't get me started.

Since when did going to the mall for a pair of jeans mean Neiman Marcus and $200?  She better wear those things 200 times.

Two menstruating women in the house is a game changer too.

"Thanks dad, I love you" can get to "Get out of my room I am done to talking to you!" all during the opening credits to Vampire Diaries.

Homework?  7th grade? you ask.

Yeah, that kinda sucks too.

But all the shit, all the minutia, is worth every ounce of sweat (and healthy amount of my tears.)

The vibrant leaves and temperate weather has served as a reminder of nature's beauty.  These are the colors you just don't see all the time.  And any reproduction, although sometimes brilliant, is never quite the same.

Tonight, in Kansas City, MO of all places, baseball will determine its champion.  One game decides it all.  For San Francisco, an opportunity to become a legitimate Dynasty.  Should they win tonight they will be crowned a 3rd time in 5 years.  *editor's note- Madison Bumgarner is amazing!!!  A better October performance I never witnessed.  Congrats SF- you are worthy Champions.

IF KC wins, we have the culmination of an extraordinary Cinderella run.  * sucks.  sorry KC

But most of you won't watch.  Last week, Game 1 of America's pastime lost in the ratings battle to Geeks (Big Bang Theory) and the undead (The Walking Dead).  The Baseball is a regional sport- and New York, LA and Boston are no longer playing.  This country is tuned out.

Too bad.

I am not one of those George Will, "baseball is life" devotees.  However, when the game, especially in October, is played right, no other sport matches the drama.  The Super Bowl is one event and the  games are too often non-competitive.  Hockey playoffs are close, with the physical intensity and rivalries.  NBA?  No.

In baseball managers are second guessed dozens of times a game.  Players need not be physical deities.  Look at Escobar, the KC shortstop.  That kid is tiny.  And think of this:  You could probably play a few innings in RF and no one would notice.  Could you line up a TE in an NFL game?  How about skate the third line for the Maple Leafs?  NBA?  No.

Missouri had a rough summer/early fall.  Each night Ferguson , MO has the potential for a race war. For a few weeks the Royals have proven a nice diversion.  Which, when you think about it, is the purpose of sports.  We can get away from all the nonsense that is out there.

Ebola is not going to kill you.  ISIS is not going to kill you.  Gluten is not going to kill you.

Its the little shit you have to concern yourself with.

And there is a lot of it.

And its fantastic.

Tonight I can cross of a bucket list band:  Wilco at the Capitol Theatre.

It will mark the end of a productive live show month.  See below clips for a small selection.  Note, Orwells and Skaters at Asbury Lanes was a great double bill.  Unfortunately I deleted those videos.  Trust me, the bands AND venue are worth a look.

Wilco "Walken" at Capitol Theatre

Tove Lo "Habits" at Webster Hall

Foxygen "Shuggie" at Webster Hall

Lemon Twigs at Webster Hall

Caveman "Easy Water" at Babys All Right

Public Access TV at Babys All Right

Icewater at Babys All Right

As of this moment, mere days from November, we still do not have a platinum record for 2014.  It would be the first time this has happened since they started keeping track of record sales.  One million units is platinum.

Taylor Swift figures to save the day when she releases 1989 next week.  Forecasts show it selling a million units in a week.

What does that say about the industry?  Or is it saying the same thing (just louder) since Napster was born and began its assault on the studio system?

I know I enjoy listening, maybe now more than ever.  But I don't BUY music.  I pay to see it, lots of it.  But I want to purge my CDs and digital streams are just fine for me, thanks.

So am I part of the problem?

I don't see it that way.

Seeing bands and promoting their efforts is how bands make their living.  Dave Grohl, who is the the midst of rolling out his new LP, recently said "We used to tour to promote the record.  Now we promote the record during the tour."

His new show, Sonic Highways on HBO, is amazing television.  In it, Grohl examines the history of rock music in America.  His exploration takes his to Nashville, Chicago, New Orleans among other cities.  Each town has a club, or engineer, or local legend that has helped provide the soundtrack to Grohl's life.  He, and his contemporaries, have helped carry on the lesson.

It is our responsibility to pass on the knowledge.

That said, here is the monthly list.  Enjoy, spread the word, and support an artist today.

Tove Lo
The Rua "Fight for What's Right"

The Rua is a brother and sisters act from Windsor, United Kingdom.  The video caught my eye a few weeks back.  Anyone have Palladia?  If so, season pass the Epic Awesome Videos morning show.  I know, the show name is super queer.  But over the three hour show (fast forwarding most of it) the producers present some unique and sometimes obscure songs.  This rallying cry from today's youth is about what you expect from kids who think Oasis' Whats the Story Morning Glory is better than Abbey Road.  Everyone thinks their generation is better than all else.  Least these kids are taking their angst and making song from it.  Beats Xbox any day.

Linus Young "Fun in the Sun"

Local duo Iris Belson (Freehold, NJ's own) and Joseph Walker are Linus Young.    I was introduced to them when they opened for Tove Lo earlier this month.  Their live act is still, shall we say, maturing.  Sharing the bill with Tove Lo did them no favors as they really aren't as "pop" as she is.  On record, and on this track in particular, they showcase groovy guitar licks and solid harmonies.  The video is a campy trip down music video history (which my Facebook page did a lot of this past month.)

Broncho "Class Historian"
 Tulsa, Oklahoma band who, among other things, will open for Billy Idol at the Beacon Theatre in January.  If that rebel can dig them, you should really give a listen.  Guitar straight from 80s John Hughes soundtracks.  Skinny ties, oversized sunglasses and Louden freaking Swain.  Easily one of my favorite tracks of the year.

Perfume Genius "Queen"

Perfume Genius is the brainchild of Mike Hadreas.  Their/his 3rd album "Too Bright", has garnered much acclaim.  Like many of the songs that appear in this space, I needed my hand held.  The Rolling Stone writer and SiriusXMU DJ Jenny Eliscu raved about it during a talk up a few weeks back.  I figured, if she likes it, I gotta pay close attention.  And I did.  This is a lesson in slow build.  Its the kind of song you just know would highlight a live act.  One day, I hope to see/hear just that.

Ty Segall "Tall Man Skinny Lady"

Segall has been doing it for a while and it seems like he puts out 2 records a year.  This month I finally got a chance to see him and it was NOTHING like I expected.   If you listen to this song it is clear Segall has some deft touch and can craft a song.  Live, he just unleashes fury.  Guitar strings be damned!  It is thrash punk California style.  Mosh pits.  Bloody noses.  Blood, sweat and tears.  On a Wednesday this old man can't handle it.  That is, I need a heads up.  Moving forward I will enjoy Segall in the comfort of my home.   You should to.

Walk The Moon " Shut Up and Dance With Me"

Let's not kid ourselves.  Walk the Moon is pop!  Like Neon Trees, Maroon 5, Train, whomever...
And that is just fine.  Their sophomore LP, Talking is Hard, will be released 12.4.14.  If this first single tells us anything, is that the quarter from Ohio knows a hook when it sees one.   Expect a spring tour- and note they are capable of good things live.

Gerard Way "No Shows"

I kinda missed the Emo days of late 90s into the 2000s.  My Bloody Valentine through My Chemical Romance totally escaped me.  Had I been dialed in I would have known who the F Gerard Way is.  First, he grew up in Summit, NJ (mere minutes away from this computer.)  Secondly, he was the voice behind My Chemical Romance.  Now, while I hated all they did, I certainly understand their significance.  I also know many who love/adore them.  When this single started making the rounds I took it for what it was worth.  When he sold out Webster Hall I paid a little more attention.  Now, I pass it on to you.  You can thank me later- or bitch slap me depending on how you feel about it.

Alvvays "Archie, Marry Me"

Toronto, pop band with an ear for nostalgia.  Their self titled debut record was released in July.  Molly Rankin's nasal twang is not offensive as you might think.  In fact, she conveys longing quite well.  A distinctive Lo-Fi gem on your otherwise nondescript radio dial.  And who is named Archie anymore??  Maybe she is thinking of the old comics?  Would 20 somethings even know that Archie???

Manchester Orchestra "Every Stone"

Atlanta based Manchester Orchestra are on their (6th) record.  Cope was released early this year and this song is a winner.  Hard driven guitars combined with Andy Hull's somewhat distorted voice make for a hard charging joy fest.

Twin Atlantic "Heart and Soul"

It comes full circle don't ya know.  These Scottish lads are influenced by My Chemical Romance and their brethren.  Emo for the 2014 set.  Lil angry.  Lil cocky.  Lil fun.

Enjoy your month folks.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The One Week Challenge

Have you heard the news?

Ebola is going to kill you.

No, wait, ISIS is.

Or is it gun violence?  Prayer in schools?  Sugar/Obesity?  Hazing?

Truth is, the reality is heart disease, cancer or old age will probably do us all in.

But that isn't what the vicious, and downright crazy news World will tell you.

Is Ebola a threat?  Sure, just like SARS was a few years ago.  Hopefully prudent leaders will come up with a reasonable solution that will limit the diseases reach and ultimately keep us safe.  But note, those nations affected (3000 or so deaths to date in Africa) are not privy to the basic health needs, like an IV drip- which in itself can be an effective strategy to ward off the fatal disease.

As for ISIS, we seem to be acting as there most powerful PR tool.   After all, why do we need to see each prisoner, kneeling in anguish in front of his masked captor?  I fashion myself pragmatic about most things; but knowing the prisoner is going to be brutally killed still sends chills down my spine.  I know the image.  I know the outcome.  Yet, every time I see it I fear a little bit more about my safety and the safety of my family?   Those thoughts are less likely to enter my head without the gruesome visual.

 Is this the World my 12 year old will have to live in?

Of course not.  The Oklahoma City bombing killed more people than the beheadings we broadcast almost gleefully.  Not to mention the mass shootings that have become almost commonplace on our shores.  How many kids have died in their schools over the past 10 years?   Have we forgotten about the movie theatre shooting?  All yesterday's news, right??

Those mass shootings are just not sexy enough these days.  We are supposed to accept that those acts are random and the assailants twisted maniacs.  It's the mental health system damn it!  It's not enough gun control.

If only it were that simple.

More often than not these days the coverage of these tragedies makes each event more cataclysmic than it has to be.

Was the Ferguson shooting a horrible story?  Yes.  Does it need to serve as (yet another) reminder of the deep race issues we have in this country?  You bet.  But does it make our Country a nation full of hate mongers on the precipice of a race war?  Hardly.

Did Ray Rice commit a felony worthy of jail time?  Definitely.  Is the NFL a greedy monolith more impressed with its bottom line than fairness and equality?  No doubt!  Can you tune out and put your entertainment time and money elsewhere?  Of course you can.

But who is it serving to show Rice punching his fiancĂ© over and over?  What does the viewer stand to learn watching ISIS screen shots?  Aren't we feeding the monsters???

Meanwhile, Hong Kong is fighting for real change.  Also, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that wildlife numbers have dropped 50% in the past 40 years.  Think about that for a second.  We are down half our entire wildlife in the 4 decades I have been alive.

All the Ebola and ISIS in the World will mean very little when we humans will have to resort to eating one another in order to survive.

Wait, is that too alarmist?

Maybe.  But that is the point.

Perhaps we are alarmed, willingly, to the stories du jour.  It is a classic misdirection play.

Have we jailed any of the big bankers that crippled our economy not long ago?

How is Occupy Wall Street going?

Those answers, like other more pressing issues (climate change, minimum wage increases, the failed war on drugs and overcrowded prison systems, core curriculums, student loan debt, equal pay for women) require way more thought and cooperation.

We simply do not have the capacity to handle it.

But we can easily react to a thug cutting the head of off an innocent.  And a good contagion??  Pass the popcorn and lets see how it plays out.

You know what, we are all going to be fine.  And instead of feeding into the vicious news cycle, maybe its best we turn it off altogether.

Its hard, believe me.

But try it for a week.  No newspapers.  No internet news sites.  No morning show talking heads and even better, no MSBNS, CNN, Fox News.

More importantly, try using your social media for nothing but positives.   Post a silly Ecard.  Share a funny story.  Show us your vacation pics.  We don't wanna hear about your sleeping habits, or work problems.  Here is a news flash.  We all have shitty days from time to time.  Save the FML's and rants about Obama or John Boehner.   One week.  Only the good stuff.  Can you do it???

Check in after a week and see if you missed anything.

My guess is no, not really.

My hope, you may never want to go back.

For further reference please check out my colleague Doc S take from 2012:  News Fast