99BPM. An elevated heartbeat. Not quite a rest, not quite a workout. Maybe a panic attack, tension, trepidation.
99BPM. The mood of the country.
It’s been a week of things I don’t know how to do, how to resolve the hate in people I love, how to deal with the anger of everyone around, how to acknowledge my own privilege and what I can do to mitigate it. This was not just a presidential election, it was a referendum on the social mood of the country. It was an event where we were forced to ask the question of whether eight years of an Obama presidency had made as much progress in the hearts of the humans who live in the United States of America as it had in the courts. The answer, of course, was not as much as the bleeding heart liberal that I have come to consider myself would have hoped.
99BPM. I’ll come down soon. This will feel real soon. The path, my role in the next four years, it’ll clarify itself soon enough.
This is the magic of the grab bag. On Record Store Day this year, I made a point of grabbing some blind grab bags from some of the shops I visited, and the bag I grabbed from the indie-er than indie shop Black Dots (which specializes in punk and hardcore releases) was full of 7-inch records and a cassette. I haven’t listened to the cassette yet, but the 7-inches are as invigorating, lo-fi, and weird as one could possibly hope. It’s not all that likely that I’m going to end up a fan of any of these bands, but I love pulling out these records when I want something quick, loud, and different. Martyrs and Prisoners
Martyrs and Prisoners is punk as punk gets, and maybe that’s all you need to know. Continue reading →
There is peace in these old songs. There is joy. If there is one overarching reason to own a turntable, it is this: songs from the days before rock ‘n roll was king sound so, so good.
American Popular Song: Six Decades of Songwriters and Singers is such a huge compilation that it’s difficult to figure out where to start talking about it. While rock ‘n roll is nowhere to be found, we do have everyone from Bing Crosby to Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald to Billie Holliday, Judy Garland to Peggy Lee. There are seven LPs worth of music here, almost all of which sit at eight songs on each side, and if you have ever tapped your foot to a song from the “standards” era, you’ll find something to love here. Continue reading →
Anyone who turned on a radio in the latter half of the ’90s is probably familiar with the refrain, Beck’s return to the spotlight after “Loser” had him earmarked as a likely grunge-era novelty one-hit-wonder. In hindsight, it’s a brilliant move, a self-assured tune with a back-to-basics theme from a guy who never really got away from the basics. “Where It’s At” adopts a flow that’s remarkably similar to that of “Loser,” except now, it’s in service of a party rather than a means of self-deprecation. If the popularity of “Loser” didn’t exactly have listeners running to see what Mellow Gold was about (and it didn’t), “Where It’s At” was the sound of someone you might want to spend some time with. Continue reading →
It’s possible that I spent more time trying to figure out how to actually represent the band’s name throughout this writeup than I actually spent thinking about it. I’m going with Twenty One Pilots (and not message board favorite “twenty one pilots”, nor Discogs’ preferred “Twenty | One | Pilots”, nor the Wikipedia-suggested alternate “TWENTY ØNE PILØTS” because GØØD LØRD), if only because a) that’s what Wikipedia says, and b) it looks most like the English language I am familiar with.
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The first time I heard Twenty One Pilots, it was via the almost-too-clever “Tear In My Heart”, a fantastic little lark of a song that goes from irreverent piano balladry to technicolor EDM piss-take within a mere three-and-change minutes. Since then, radio has been content to (over)play song after song of these guys’ genial pop music, songs that push universal emotional themes like stress (“Stressed Out”) and alienation (Suicide Squad cut “Heathens”) while staying at arm’s length. Chances are you’ve heard a handful of songs by these guys and you don’t feel like you know a darn thing about them. Continue reading →
I did a thing this week: I catalogued every record I own in Discogs. I have 93 releases on vinyl. It’s not a ton, but it’s enough to start taking a closer look at some of those records, particularly ones I picked up in grab bags and from boxes on the curb, things I have expressly for the purpose of filling out a collection.
Happily, when browsing my collection on Discogs, I noticed the link that brings you to a random release from the collection. Every week I’ll be grabbing a random record, listening to it, and writing about it, because…well, because why not?
This week: David Bowie’s iconic The Man Who Sold the World.
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The picture that would eventually become the commonly-accepted American cover for The Man Who Sold the World once the Bowie canon was released on CD is an odd one; David Bowie in a “man’s dress” was certainly a statement in the early ’70s, but it seems oddly muted and domestic today. while it makes sense that the cover might have made American executives nervous in the ’70s (hence its relegation to UK-only status), by the time the ’90s came around, its dull color palette and tame, posed look allowed it to fade into the background almost too easily when presented alongside Bowie’s many other iconic album covers. Okay, maybe Michael Weller’s cartoon was a little too “’70s schtick” to attract much attention, the black and white stage photo was a little too “unofficial bootleg”, and the German cover was a little too “bad acid trip”. Continue reading →
To drink a double IPA is typically to feel a double IPA. The extra alcohol offers a sharp warmth in the chest, a perfect complement to the thrill of controlled danger that comes with an ABV approaching double digits. Southern Tier’s 2XIPA is a standby, the Western New York standard for the style, while Ballast Point’s Watermelon Dorado, the one watermelon beer I can actually stomach, is a decent pick for a special occasion. If I were to pick a beer emblematic of the style, however, it would be Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA, perhaps their best beer despite its relative mundanity amongst their variety of odd flavors and styles, a perfect blend of flavorful hops, high(ish) alcohol, and a near-addictive drinkability whether cold or only slightly cooled.
Mostly, the double is something I’ll turn to in the winter, something that can give me the warmth of a stout or porter without the overwhelming darkness of those styles. Continue reading →
I suppose that everyone needs to get to this point with Weezer eventually. This is the point where you want to shake Rivers Cuomo, where you want to tell him to wake up, he’s not 22 anymore, there’s more to life than girls and bands and girls in bands. There’s more he can do, there’s so much more he can say, there are more chords on the guitar than the four he keeps playing over and over, there are quite literally an infinite number of melodies out there to explore. “Rivers,” you’d say, “you have so much talent in you. You have so much to offer the world. You could be doing great things.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised to be sitting here wondering how I should even refer to the new Animal Collective album in polite conversation, much less trying to dissect its contents. iTunes says it’s called Painting With, which, without the band’s name to follow it, positions the word “With” as a noun, which is just sort of wrong in every conceivable lingustic context. So it’s either Painting With Animal Collective, or Painting With…, or just Painting With I guess, because who cares, right? Continue reading →
Actually, it was joined for me. It was a Christmas gift from my wife. It is the best Christmas gift, because it means for the next three months, I get fancy beers delivered to my door. Two big bottles of fancy beer a month. It brings a tear to my eye just to think about it.
Weyerbacher Brewing’s “Tango” is the first beer I’m trying from the beer club. In theory, it is my platonic ideal of beer: A Belgian dark ale, brewed with cherries. Continue reading →