Archive for May, 2010

FOX, I love thee

May 21, 2010

Tuesday night Cub’s games are dangerous business, when you’re employed. When you’re not, the danger becomes careless weekend fun on a Tuesday and sooner rather than later you’re staring straight down amidst a sea of streams in the Addison St. troughs. Getting back on the Blue Line provided to be a more enjoyable ride than usual, and once I got to Harlem Ave. the Hawks were guaranteed a win. I’m not a hockey player, but this certainly was the making for a stone-faced drunk watching of FOX news.

God Bless you Sean Hannity. He was the first face I could extrapolate from the violent whizz of television pixels that line danced in front of my eyes. He looked as cunning as ever, and when a young 13 year old black male came onto the split screen, I knew the following banter would be of the highest quality.

Isaiah Reagins was not the most elegant guest on Channel 64, but he had a mastered the language well enough to describe a scene of serious implications. His monologue highlited the facts: he was a black male with an afro and a sharp tongue, his teacher was busily navigating between menstrual cycles, and their paths crossing rendered a bloody scene of punching, kicking, and adult abuse.

Hannity was unphased by the youth’s account. He reached over for a sip of water after Mr. Reagins completed his version of the facts, and casually he pointed towards the screen and said, “Now, I want to talk to the lawyers with you.” The two middle aged Jewish attorneys glistened at Seanny’s response and began to dominate the conversation while poor Isaiah made multiple attempts at managing his hair’s overall shape.

I began to think what Nancy Grace might have said to the defenseless boy after the youtube.com clip played that featured the violent accosting. She is a fellow Jesus loving righty friend to Mr. Hannity, so I figure the comparison is fair. Even though Isaiah was darker than night, she must have offered some sympathy or condolences to him after the emotional account. Maybe a simple “Are you okay?”, or after a few highballs even, “You are a brave young man.” With Mr. Hannity, there was no concern. The boy was a liar before he opened his mouth, and rather than asking the young man more about the origin of the altercation, Mr. Hannity took it to the legal eagles. Might as well make the bastards earn a retainer, but come on.

I was mortified by his abrupt, abrasive response and I only hope to illuminate a small moment of clarity that I myself experienced. The machine is so broken it is disturbing, but the fact that more people are investing in it is the most treacherous aspect of our times. Stay vigilant for this bigotry and subconscious hate; it is the same nonsense that got people to burn books.

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Tao Waves from Philly

May 19, 2010

                A couple of weeks ago I came across The Tao of Wu by RZA and read it in a clean sweep with only short, spastic breaks for cigarettes and High Life. Life often packs information together with other things so you can assemble some sort of coherent picture together, and after digesting to Free Energy’s Stuck on Nothing with the aforementioned cigarettes and High Life, I realized this band embodies a tao of their own: pure, boundless sonic energy. Today’s scene is contaminated with ocean annihilating oil spills, polarizing political partisanship, celebrity worship, the corporate dictum of unaccountability  and countless threats from jihadist organizations. We need a shift to center, to embrace a new tao, if we want to survive in this wasteland of modern America. These Philly natives offer a path.

                When listing the influences for the albumin an online interview, front man Paul Sprangers rattled off The Cars, AC/DC, Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac and 80’s commercial jingles. Stuck on Nothing uses these guides to forge a fresh brand of anthemic, yet meaningful pop meshed with a kick ass classic rock vibe, which means it is straightforward and seeks to invigorate. A plethora of clapping and sing-a-long choruses (see “Bang Pop”) don’t belittle or simplify the tracks but only add to their appeal. Whenever I find myself wielding an air guitar while offering complex percussion beats with both my feet, I can assuredly say that I am enjoying the music I am listening to. And whenever I hear a song intro that conjures up images of Spoon jamming stoned as bananas (see “Young Hearts”), I am impressed with the music I am listening to.

                The opening lick “Free Energy” gives us some insight into the tao of the band, and is aptly labeled as their flagship track. Sprangers voice invites anyone nearby to join in and pump fist, even at a first listen when you don’t know the words but are moved purely by his urgency. He wails, “I’m so disconnected, I’m never gonna check back in.” How many twenty somethingers (myself included), weighed down by a tens of thousands in college loans, feel like they got duped in high school by buying into the “American dream?” Forget the bleak future of bailouts and bullshit sales jobs, Spranger urges us to enjoy the simple moments of rock n roll in our lives while we still can.

                There is a sense of youthful despair, an atmosphere of being overwhelmed by the times in parts of the album. In “Bad Stuff,” Spranger says, “They’ll come a time when its different, but not today,” and the song shifts into a dark instrumental after the lines, “Your sons are dead now prepare to fight/ Well there’s no consolation.” You want the initial rush of chords you heard earlier to come back, but everything fades into the distance and there is indeed no relief. Sprangers does give us an answer, however. “Hope Child” pleads for the listener to continue on and comforts him/her by promising, “And I want you to remember, child/We broadcast hope/When there’s nothing left/Nothin’s clear /And nowhere feels like home/Well, you’re not alone.” All for one.

                A sense of easy living comes with a nugget like “Light Love,” which would have been a great addition to the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack. You don’t know whether to grab a surfboard, a Molotov cocktail, or a sand spackled beach beauty, but nevertheless you reach for something. It shows the thematic complexity of this song and the album as a whole. Since you don’t know if it’s about making love or throwing a coup de tat, another listen is required. Taking a classic rock sound and making it accessible to today’s listener can be challenging, but Sprangers provides plenty of relatability to accompany Free Energy’s catchy riffs. They are able to reincarnate the rock n roll atmosphere of the early 70’s when the counterculture was fresh in the head of the American youth, and they do so with a fresh energy, to be ridiculously cliché.

                The album closes with a bang, not a pop. The keyboard intro to “Wild Winds” is sexy like “Hey Jude,” and it builds, crests, and obliterates any cerebral auditory centers it encounters. Lyrically, this song is an incredible piece of poetry. It beckons the youth, it demands their attention, and mobilizes their energy. There is love, there is war, there is destiny, and there is a search into the beyond. “Maybe it’s time to question our eyes, and answer our hearts.” Wow. This song provides a strong reason to believe in this band and to hope music may have a new voice to sound the revolution. I’ll keep my light on, you do the same.

Summer Songs

May 11, 2010

To all the uncrowned gypsy princesses, the soot-caked canvassing vagabonds, the still-semi autonomous acid heads and all the rhythm infused soul children of the streets: our stars have aligned and the time to mobilize the revolution is now! The mind trapping infrastructure of  our Adam Smith inspired society is approaching a tipping point with furious momentum, and a few more pushes are going to give the Nazis more than they can handle. I can’t wait to experience the satisfaction of looting a Starbucks. This tidal energy I am speaking of is directly related to impending summer solstice, so grab your tambourines and run barefoot through a chilly June night using only the fireflies as your guide. We have left the winter over-saturated with gloom and have glanced past the broken promises of spring. It is May; the school yards are clear, new music is being released, beers are frosty and the sun brings a welcome warmth.

Enough promoting anarchistic tendencies. I recently engaged in a THC inspired debate that I think will bring some amusement and intrigue to you, my dear reader. Music from headphones vs. music in open space…let it marinate. I was violating six or seven traffic laws hightailing it through suburban hell, and a song came on the radio (this is where I plug 93XRT, the boss of Chicago radio) that I had only listened to on my iPod whenst commuting to and from school. The song felt completely different being in a car as I  mercilessly cranked the volume to max and continued to speed well above the legal limit, and I realized the environment in which music is consumed is almost as important as the sonic components themselves. I obviously had to purchase an iPod car attachment, and in the past three weeks I have found more excuses to run errands than ever before. Long drives have never been so welcome.

In regards to the aforementioned debate, however, I am unable to speak ill of the headphone option. They are certainly the most utilitarian of listening devices and have personally saved my sanity on one or two heavy mushroom trips. They accomplish their sole purpose, and for me that is the key trait in any worthy electronic device: integrity. (Scene-me speaking to an electronic device. Me: All I want from you is that you work. End Scene.) Headphones also have an uncanny ability to stave of thoughts of suicide at 6:15 PM on the Blue Line headed home, lending more to their utilitarian M.O.

At the end of the day, it depends on the situation involved and what your goals are when listening to music. Do you want to relax and take a load off or strap up into your finest moshpit threads and stomp face drunk on whiskey? Whatever you fancy, the end result should be some feeling of spiritual harmony in spite of all the madness this 21st century has flooded us with, because good music connects us to the source. 

Enough rambling and debating, I feel like I’m in a fucking high school Brit Lit class with Ms. Twentythreeandnevergivenhead. It is time to get to the meat of the piece. The purpose of my post today was to inform you of a song that I caught while cruising in the same Volvo through the same suburbs breaking the same laws that inspired my headphones debate. It is hard to pick a summer song while you’re still in the moment because it is usually something you decipher once you’ve had the experiences and can reflect on what song was there with you through it all. I am taking the backward approach (not recommended when sleeping with a girl for the first time) in this matter and am nominating a summer anthem before we have even tasted June. The song encompasses all the fiery passions I associate with late dawns of love making and deep glasses of Tennessee sour mash, so don’t be startled when you hear the song and feel like you’ve taken your seat in Nirvana.

The Nightgowns are a band I am unfamiliar with and (un)fortunately have failed to make the necessary journalistic inquiries to garnish more information about them. Sometimes the details are secondary. I know this: their single, Buoy, bubbles with melodic ecstasy and displays a serious knack for lyrical prowess. Headphones or not, I guarantee if you want to kick off any worthwhile adventure or just enjoy another night of High Lifes, backyard fires and bullshit, this song will orient your soul into the proper cosmic alignment. Buoy by The Nightgowns. Let the ride begin!