4.28.2004

Wow, this is obsession.

4.26.2004

this says it all, or very nearly. why on earth would Bush keep bringing up Kerry's war record?

Go see the New Consitution and DJs Nice Station Zebra and Yvez St. LeRoc at Sonotheque, tonight 9pm-2am.

4.23.2004

Listening station
A.C. Newman, "The Slow Wonder" (Matador)
Badfinger, "No Dice" (Capitol/Apple)

I'm just slightly concerned about a habit I've gotten into lately. Stealing the Wall Street Journal from the entryway to my office. There's a stack of them, which I presume are left for the investment/financial type guys that were once but probably not down the hall anymore. I take it and read it, no one knows or cares, but I still feel a pang of guilt as I skip gingerly up the stairs to my spacious third floor digs. I've actually found it to be quite an excellent paper especially since my union organizer pal told me it's the only paper he reads. It's not as pro-business on the front page as one might expect. It's not the New York Times bastion of liberalism that I know and love (and read online). But it works and the stories are sometimes unusual. I recently read about an artist who makes fictional animated films using some version of the videogame Doom. It's called Red vs. Blue. Sounded cool anyway. WSJ is also a good read if you care about what's happening in the economy for real. As in I had no idea that women's clothing sales are tanking right now. Simply shocking. I guess it's retailers lack of style or understanding, because in GB they are over the top selling crazy numbers in crazy designer department stores like Selfridges (which I do have to say I could spend a week in and not be bored). But back to my concerns about petty thievery. I seem to know lots of young fellas who think they can take batteries, fruit, etc. from little retailers and it's totally okay, punk even. Jerks, thanks for helping create another excuse for price-gouging, ultimately you are hurting the nice little old lady who does have to buy batteries and fruit. It just sets a bad example. And jeez, you were livin' off your parents until you were 28, why were you shoplifting you suburbanite thrill-seeking little bitch? Alright, I'll go easy. I guess I don't feel guilt or shame at taking the WSJ as much as the subliminal fear of getting caught. I look around and run away after I pick it up. My body language screams guilt from every pose.

it's brownie day at Brett's, I finished my big freelance project for the time being and I'm wanting a Gretsch guitar a la the Pro Jet, which goes for $389. Once I see one on eBay and unload some of my other crap I don't use, I'm going to treat myself.

Also, I'm gearing up for a visit from my folks and then a trip to Antigua, all in the merry month of May.

4.20.2004

The New Constitution are playing direction on Monday night, 4/26, at sonotheque. Download the flyer.
Listening Station
The Action, "Rolled Gold" (Reaction)
The M's (brilliante)
Candi Staton (Honest John's)
The Aerovons "Resurrection" (RPM)
The Ponies "Laced with Romance" (In the Red)

good god, my CDs finally arrived and I'm listening to "Brain" by The Action and I am absolutely floored. What an amazing song! I love their soul stuff but I had no idea their psych-pop was so mind-blowing. No drugs, just one beer and pow. The Aerovons CD is great, but mostly for the production and arrangements, the lyrics are sub-Fabs for the most part but we can't all be Lennon/Mac. One tune is a blatant rip off of "Across the Universe" which they A's had heard before it was released. Candi Staton got only a quick listen, be back to that. I also got the Pony's album which sounds great (garagey, simple but unique) on first audition and hey, they live in the neighborhood. Up the wooden stairs...

4.15.2004

I have to talk taxes for a moment, having just popped my joint in the mail a few hours ago. How much does it suck that relatively poor freelance writers and artists like myself have to fork over our bucks in April while these million dollar corporate clowns pay nada? I know I am stating one of the obvious contradictions not only in the current administration but in the whole insane pro-business culture that's permanately infected this country. For an example of what I am talking about, read here. I would never go on a cruise anyway, it's all sunburnt skin, disease and frozen food from what I understand, but Carnival lines though obviously headquarted in Florida is incorporated in Panama. Can't we press charges?

Then there is this column by right-winger Peggy Noonan. If her completely flawed logic reminds you of the Reagan era, it's because Peg was a speechwriter for that old guy. Basically she says the media being so liberal as it is (please), gave this bumbling prez an easy ride during his press conference because... well for no reason at all just because that's a crazed liberal thing to do! Huh?! Great column Peggy!

I've been toying with the idea of doing an article on indie-rock singer-songwriters... AKA the IRSS. Sure I love 'em, am one to a degree and have known dozens over the years but I've also noticed that they tend to turn into something really special and acquire a few unusual personality traits at a certain point. Once you get further and further away from these people they can actually be really something to reflect on, but often somewhat sad. In the extreme, they behave as if they are the second coming of Jesus except much more talented and not nearly as modest or realistic. They're victim/prophets who are great at borrowing and really bad at returning. They avoid self-criticism to an extreme. They often get less fun to be around as they tend get more and more into their thing. But in an instant, they can snap right out of it. Thankfully, for everyone, the dark side of the IRSS rarely takes over completely.

Here's an example. You are with a group of four people, one of them a singer-songwriter (actually all four of you are musicians or artists, but only one really fits the profile) and while hanging out in the city you see that someone has discarded a bunch of perfectly good records on the sidewalk after an unsuccessful garage sale. You amble up and realize that there's roughly four great LPs marked FREE. Great, you think, one for each of us ragged bohemians to add to our junky collections! Let's each pick one out. Cooperate. But no, someone is upset. Who? It's SINGER-SONGWRITER!!! The records, all of them, it seems were meant for IRSS all along. Oh? But how, is there a note? Did you know the owner? How do you arrive at such a conclusion IRSS? Quizzical looks all around. IRSS is frowning with disappointment. You are not the chosen one. IRSS is the chosen one, silly. Of course, not being fully blown IRSS types, each grabs one of the items and carries it home. Or alternatively, someone gives in to IRSS and hands theirs over, not really knowing why. IRSS builds up irrational resentment for those that are acting perfectly reasonably. And so on.

I've written the piece in my head several times, but I'm concerned about it coming off as some kind of mean-spirited character assassination which I don't want it to be. It's also the type of behavior that has to been seen to be believed. I'm talking jaw-dropping audaciousness on a weekly basis when you are in the world of the IRSS. And again, it comes and goes unpredictably. And I'm probably just as guilty of completely unconscious egotism as the next rocker, so I'm not prepared to make myself a target. Considered that IRSS idea quashed.

4.14.2004

the wine by the way that I'm digging is the Sign of the Times Pinot Noir from Patricia Green Cellars, Oregon. You can read about her on various wine websites, as far as I can tell, she doesn't have her own site as of yet.

Also, this week, I had a chance to chat with Hans Wurman's son Alex. He's no longer in Oak Park, IL but now LA. He composes scores and incidental music for a lot of big Hollywood movies, too many to mention really. His personal website. He's been really cool about helping me add some more historical stuff to my article on the recording studio I'm doing for the Chicago Reader. It will run next week rather than this week according to my editor.
my buddy Taka, alluded to during the very genesis of this storied blog, has a great website that features his photography. this guy is for real. go to it now.

4.12.2004

so the nightlife report for this weekend. i actually was out and about quite a bit. I played a gig on Friday night with perfect panther opening for the make-up (I mean Weird War) and Transziztors from Detroit, the latter turned a good performance considering it was their second gig. They've got a bit more of a bubblegum meets garage sound and a few kinks to work out (the "lead" guitar sounded kind of wimpy to me). Saturday night I went out to dinner with some friends after getting my rear window replaced. Somehow Tim and I busted it by loading our gear in awkwardly and then slamming the window. The price of a good night rocking the city? $180 it seems. After dinner, my crew hit Sonotheque which was really pleasant especially as I was poured perhaps the largest glass of red wine I have ever seen, a bartender friend suggested it, can't remember the name but will check it out tonight, fantastic. Just as sonotheque was beginning to fill up, we uprooted and went to the Empty Bottle to catch the M's who have gotten a lot of attention in Chicago lately. Somehow it was inevitible that almost no one went to this show (they had sold out the night before at Schuba's). The band was very good, but in a way I was slightly less impressed than I hoped to be. It does sound like the group has a bit of T Rex and Kinks listening in its indie guitar pop sound, but I just couldn't get over the Lilys thing. The Lilys, if you don't know, made a few of their best records ("Better Can't Make Your Life Better," etc.) by copping a late-'60s Kinks sound (though the production reminds me more of the Monkees, very thin and seperate with lots of tambourine, etc.!!!) Since then, I don't think the Lilys' albums have measured up, but they are looking for a drummer right now to tour Europe this summer but don't seem to want me. I'm just assuming it's because I live too far away from Philly. No offense taken, really. Last night, post-Sopranos and giant brunch and huge dinner, I tried to go to the Modernist Society at Darkroom. I was there and chatted with Miles a bit, but felt like I should already be in bed.

4.08.2004

Awesome thought-provoking radio? Check out Air America.

I'm trying to make up my mind whether the Bush administration is completely inept as Al Franken's radio show, Clark's testimony and these Rice's hearings seem to be indicating. Or, as my friends in political organizing and labor movement and columnists such as William Greider believe, that the administration is not simply NeoCon (neo-conservative) but actually radically reactionary and that certain movements such as running up an insane deficit, allowing unemployment to flourish, starting so many wars that the word will hate our country for generations to come is actually a STRATEGY, that it is being done thoughtfully and on purpose. I have to say at this point, I side with the former opinion. These guys are idealogues, but they are too incompetent, out of the loop and off their rockers to have a masterplan. The mess our country is in makes no sense even to true NeoCons. It's radical idealogy run amok. Idealogy is the justification, not altering reality. That reality has been altered in such a completely chaotic and destructive way by this administration. It bothers us, but it doesn't bother them. I have no point really, I just don't see that this is a materfully executed shift to the right. It's basically just radicals in power that can't be controlled by Congress or the people. Vote 'em out and hopefully things will change.
Perfect Panther is playing Friday night at the Empty Bottle with Weird War. This is Andrea's last show with the group. She wants to work on her own stuff and concentrate more on guitar.

4.05.2004

I finally gave in to the demons of online shopping and made use of that Barnes and Noble giftcard that popped up in my wallet over the weekend. I ordered some smokin' reissues I've had my eye on (okay, in my Wish List) for a while. I got the Aerovons CD, the Action "Rolled Gold" and the Candi Staton CD (although I was hoping to get it on vinyl, but I can't wait the two weeks before it comes out). Now it's just a matter of postal service efficiency. I heard about the Aerovons on Voxtalks, this total snobby amplifier and '60s music nerd website. The actual guitarist from the band, who now scores commercials and the like, was posting about his band amid all the Beatles trivia and Vox amplifier ephemera. They recorded for three months at Abbey Road Studio 1 while the Beatles were in Studio 2.

Last night I went to this fun little gig in River North of all places, the redwalls and the new constitution at Wall to Wall recording studio which was formerly a Columbia College recording facility. It was a good party, but the sound mix for the bands wasn't exactly club quality as the vocals got drowned in a maelstrom of guitar blast. I missed the redwalls who inexplicably played first (for their parents' sake) and the whole thing wrapped up before 9pm. I even had time to go play guitar at my rehearsal space with a couple beers providing the courage to practice vocals while wailing away (on the guitar that is). All in all a weird but refreshingly different night. I hardly saw anyone that I see all the time except Cynthia Plastercaster whom I finally had a chance to shoot the breeze with. So nice. At the end of the night, I still had a hard time getting to sleep because of the trippy time change thing and the fact that swimming laps as I did Sunday morning invariably turns me into some kind of supermotivated superhuman for about 24 hours until I crash back into lazy mode. "Sopranos" got taped so I've got that waiting for me tonight. Lovely.

Also, the sonotheque website is finally up thought there's no mention of my gig there. I'll make inquiries.

I've got tons of work to do right now and it feels good. I must be old then, eh?

I finally sent Simon, my buddy in Surrey, UK, a CD of OS X stuff and another one of Perfect Panther demos. He's incredibly modest considering his band just recorded with Alan Moulder and shot the video for their first single. At the moment, the name of his group completely escapes me.