Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cameras ready, prepare to flash

254. Green Velvet - "Flash" (Open, 1995)

I can't reiterate enough how useless it would be to talk about the recent musical history of Chicago without talking about House music. Here we have some mid-90s hotness from Green Velvet, who I had the pleasure of seeing at Studio B earlier this year. Like many of Velvet's tracks, it manages to be pretty damn funny and super jacking and awesome at the same time.

Ben Lyons go far far away from my TV.

I just turned the channel to Chicago's ABC7, which (I had briefly forgotten) shows At the Movies, now with TCM's Ben Mankiewicz and Jeffrey Lyons spawn Ben Lyons. Now, at a brief glimpse, Ben looks and sounds like a 18 year old idiot, so I went to his Wiki to do some hard research and was met with this gem:
Unlike Roger Ebert, a former PHD candidate in English, published author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist of 40 years and screenwriter, Ben never went to college, never wrote for a half-serious newspaper, never produced or wrote a film and, indeed, was only a "film critic" for E!. Yeah, that makes him perfectly qualified to replace Roger Ebert.
It's pretty sad, really. As much as I hated hated hated Roeper and as much as poppa Roger is going kinda loopy, Ebert and Roeper's show was, at its worst, never as terrible as this.

Speaking of Roger, he wrote a wonderfully meandering, entertaining, and on point review of Transporter 3 this week. I would've totally added on at least half a star, but the text I'm pretty much down with. Bring on Crank 2 god I can't wait.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Your body's like a camembert oozing from its skin

255. the Art Ensemble of Chicago - "Theme de Yoyo" (from the Les Stances a Sophie LP, Nessa Records)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago made a lot of crazy, wonderful music over the years. They are an inspiration for those open to trying new things, engaging with traditions that aren't your own, and looking backwards, forwards, and in every direction at the same time. This track is an absolute fireball of funk, and the short bursts of free jazz style freakout (and how tightly the band goes into and out of them) make me really happy.

I'm going to see Transporter 3 with my fam after dinner for some sweet reason. Will report back. Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

rattlesnake sausage forreals

257. Chicago - "I'm a Man" (CBS, 1969)
256. Chicago - "25 or 6 to 4" (Columbia, 1970)

Some might know Chicago (the band) just for their Peter Cetera-fronted M.O.R. ballads, but us Chicago (the city) folk know that they started out as a pretty sweet band. I never get tired of these two early singles. "I'm a Man" puts Chicago's rhythm section on full display and "25 or 6 to 4", despite its stupid title, is a hard-charging rock song with the band's trademark killer horns and an awesome guitar solo.

On a side note, I finally went to the much vaunted Hot Doug's today and boy was it as great as advertised. I had a regular Chicago Style dog (mustard, onions, relish, pickles, tomato) of course, but I figured I had to try one of their more exotic sausages as well, so I went for this week's Game of the Week, a Chardonnay and JalapeƱo Rattlesnake Sausage with Ancho-Lime Mayonnaise and Smoked Gouda Cheese. It was amazing. Def one to add to the list of places you have to go when in Chicago.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you wanna riiide

258. Do or Die - "Po Pimp (ft. Twista)" (CWAL Mob Recordings, 1996)

Our countdown is back and, since I'm in Chicago for the Injun killin' holidays, let's make it a scientifically determined Chicago week.

Now, I don't know about yall, but when I was growing up we had a little channel on TV called the Box where you could call in and pay a buck or so and have your video played. The fact that this actually worked I take on faith, because I don't know anyone who ever called in. Anyways, round 1996 the Box would often crank out this song, a huge local hit for Chi-town rap group Do or Die and local legend Twista. This is what Midwestern hip-hop was to me at the time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

If You Seek Maciej

The last 36 hours or so = trying to form some semi-coherent thoughts about the Britney album. Still working.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Dreams stay with you

259. Big Country - "In a Big Country" (Phonogram, 1983)

This is quite an odd song, as far as the structure of the verse and chorus lines, but it really is as BIG as the title promises. I'm not sure whether that awesome riff at the end of the chorus is a heavily effected guitar or a synth approximating a sax/bagpipe/whatever, but it sounds soooo awesome. This is better stadium rock than anything U2 ever put out easily.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

from Bill Simmons' mailbag (!) about the Hills(!!)

I read Sports Guy today for the first time in a bit, and the most entertaining thing in it was Sports Gal re: Hills.

Q: Can you ask the Sports Gal if she's keeping track of how many birthdays Brody Jenner gets per year? We've counted two this season already.
-- Lauren and Kristina, Boston

SG: It took two people to write that e-mail! Here's the Sports Gal's response: "Brody is the only person with an IQ greater than 85 on that show and figured out three years ago that not only could he be the center of two birthday party shows per year, but everyone would be dumb enough to keep giving him gifts. Remember, he is the only person on the show who sees right through Spencer's loser sister and that is saying something. I like when Brody has a birthday because it reminds me that we have to move our clocks either forward or back soon." Well, then.

Hahaha. Discuss.

And I shot her!

260. the Jimi Hendrix Experience - "Hey Joe" (Reprise Records, 1967)

The Jimi Hendrix Experience was the first real rock band I ever got into when I first started experimenting with the rock and roll, sometime in eighth grade. Obviously Jimi himself was the main draw, being the best guitarist like ever and a hell of an underrated songwriter. However, Mitch Mitchell, who passed away today, was almost as immediate and impressive.

I don't know much about drumming technique, but I do know that I love a drummer who can play cool as shit and then all of a sudden launch into a fill so quickly that it would almost certainly give you whiplash if it didn't sound so smooth and natural. And I marvel at a motherfucker who can be so awesome and flashy and yet fit perfectly into the band dynamic.

As hard as it is to take one's eyes off of Jimi, take a look at Mitch's hands in this video when you can see them:

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Curiosity killed the pop-minded blogger

The new Nickelback album is slowly slinking onto my hard drive. Watch this space.

- The leadoff track is called "Something in Your Mouth". That phrase is used in the exact context you might be scared that it would be, of course. Actually maybe an even more uncomfortable context. I dunno.
- They not only use the line "Well she ain't no Cinderella when she's gettin' undressed/cuz she rocks it like the naughty Wicked Witch of the West", but repeat it 2.5 times! Ballsy.
- This is kinda dirty.
- The rockers aren't great, but the ballads make the rockers sound like sweet aural manna from heaven.
- Shit, Maura at Idolator beat me to this anyways.

So yeah, no big revelations, I guess. One or two decent guitar riffs, buttrock city. Prolly won't listen to again except maybe for that wicked witch song for the LOLs and maybe "Burn It to the Ground", which has a decent little groove. Not nearly the worst band in the world tho.

We miss things by not watching the Hills aftershow, I swear

So myself, Matty, Rich, and Epps were watching GG and the Hills as we tend to do on Monday nights, and I was thinking about how these two shows, which we watch back to back (DVR, obvi) every week are so completely opposite in terms of the amount of shit that happens on them. Rich has talked before about how GG is almost too fast paced sometimes; story lines which could be stretched out for a season are handled neatly in a few episodes. It is this breakneck pace which makes me both amazed at how well the writers are handling the second season of Gossip Girl and scared about how long they can possibly keep this up.

The Hills, on the other hand, is comparatively (hell, even on its own terms), a total drone piece. Sure, there's the odd relationship issue or move but, especially this season, things not only happen at a snail's pace, but, when they do, just don't seem to be all that serious; certainly more smooth rolling Hills (ha!) than large peaks and valleys. This is especially true this season for LC, the supposed main character of the show, who hasn't really gone through shit this season. Her one big relationship (Doug the failed baseball player) ended up causing more drama for Stephanie Pratt than herself. Her work life has been much more interesting for Whitney than for her. Her run-ins with Heidi and Spencer have been much more about Heidi and Spencer than about her. Lauren's just kind of there.

And this is actually okay, I think, especially given the fact that we can use the Hills as a nice little comedown after GG. And no worries about the Hills running out of plotlines because, well, the plots seem completely inconsequential. It gets by on the fact that it's a surprisingly well shot show that we're just so seemingly comfortable with that there's no real reason not to watch it.

Coincidentally, it seems that Charlize Theron recently said some shit about how the Hills is about nothing and she can't figure out it's popularity, to which LC responded, more or less, with "Uh, well, yeah." I think the Seinfeld comparison is interesting because in that case, if someone asked "Why do you watch a show about nothing?" I could at least answer that I watch because it's funny. In the case of the Hills, especially in this relatively drama-free season, I'm not sure I know why. Comfortable, again, seems like as good a word as any, and I'm currently fine with that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Grant Park Pimpin'

Well that whole election thing certainly went well.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Lake Michigan is burning

Seriously, this better go well tomorrow. And while the above image might well be a nice representation of our psyches if Barry O loses tomorrow, my current concern is what the hell is going to happen to my hometown of Chicago tomorrow night. If you haven't heard, our beloved Mayor Richard Daley is throwing Barack a victory party in Grant Park in downtown Chicago. The capacity of the part of the park gated off for the celebration is around 70,000 people, but we might be looking at around a million descending on the area.

Now, I would never call my fellow Chicagoans rowdy, but I do seem to remember a good amount of jubilant destruction during the Bulls dynasty years, and none of that had a million people gathered in the same square mile to start off. I'm worried about what happens even in the case of an Obama victory, if McCain wins, I don't see any way around a really bad riot. God bless you, Chicago, stay safe.