Wednesday, November 15, 2017

First listen reactions: I'm a theater nerd, do I like Meat Loaf?

Album: BAT OUT OF HELL (1977)

1. Bat Out of Hell - Starting out with some fast piano then... drums! then .... chunka chunka chunka guitar. I loosely remember hearing he's like a cabaret pop theater kid parody of heavy metal. The Bat Out of Hell album cover is metal as fuck, but it could simultaneously be a perfect 1977 heavy metal album cover or a parody of one: a naked muscleman thrusting into a chopped-out motorcycle wrapped in an animal carcass — or several animal carcasses, or the carcass of some chimera with the skull of a horse and the tail of a wolf — chucking smoke and FLYING out of a graveyard, with a giant screeching hellbat perched on a church, fangs bared and wings raised in protest. It took me 8 minutes to write about the opening notes and the album cover and the song is stil only 4/5 finished. I better go back and re-listen and maybe catch some actual words. The opening of the song, and the description of cabaret pop theater kid heavy metal is pretty much Queen, but Meat Loaf is no Freddie Mercury. So far, I'll call him... competent. Should I be doing cocaine listening to this? No, probably not? That's expensive and if I try to mimic the way these songs were created and first enjoy, I may literally die.

Spotify ad - John Legend talking about Bank of America. I like John and his wife Chrissy, but I don't really know his music

2. You Took The Words Right Out of My Mouth (Hot Summer Night) - SEXY WHISPERED POETRY-TALKING BETWEEN MEAT LOAF AND SOME DUSKY VOICED WOMAN INTRO! UNDERTONES OF LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD/WEREWOLF FUCKING! "Will he offer me his mouth?" "Will he offer me his hunger? Will he starve without me?" "Will you offer him your throat?" She pulls off the sexy in the intro, Meat Loaf is... competent. The opening guitars and lyrics—some shit about shooting stars— makes it sound like it's gonna be a let down, but then girl group la-la-la's and woo-woo-woo's tambourine-on-the-hip percussion kick in. More Shangri-La's than Shirelles if you wanna get racial about what kind of girl group vibes but I like em both.It ends with the chorus over handclaps!

3. Heaven Can Wait - Uh oh, oh no, ballad piano. Ballad singing. Ballad strings. 

4. All Revved-Up with No Place to Go - ROCK'N'ROLL SAXOPHONE. Very fifties inflected song about being young and having nothing to do on a Saturday night, but also a very horny song about being "all-revved up" with no one to bone.

5. Two Out of Three Ain't Bad - Another piano ballad. Opening with lyrics "baby we can talk all night". Ugh. Vomit. Abort. This is weak. Did he just rhyme "mountain of rocks" with "Cracker Jack box"? I like that and hate it at the same time, and I wasn't paying attention to the context of the lyrics around it to know which. Skipping ahead in 30 second intervals now cuz life is short.

6. Paradise by the Dashboard Light - This is one of his classics right? Is starts with honky tonk piano? Then a gospel-y chorus. Then a doo-ba-dee upbeat woman singing. Shop-shop-sharoo backup vocals, more black girl group than white girl group this time. I think. Now they're taking over. Forceful r&b singing with harmonizing and Loaf as hype man. It's been a pleasantly-melding disjointed abutments of genres but at about the three minute mark it completely changes, more than before. Jesus Christ Superstar shit into lite funk with a baseball announcer over it? Not the style of a baseball announcer. Like he's talking about baseball. I don't know if he's Harry Carey but he just yelled "holy cow". At the five minute mark it becomes the song I recognize —abridged for radio? abridged for sanity? — some Lita Ford-ass metal-but-not-heavvvvy-metal vocalizing "Will You Love Me? What's it gonna be boy?" Meat Loaf soft rejoinder "Let me sleep on it". She's too good for you, dude. Love her forever! Back and forth rising vocals til they're singing it. Rock guitars and musical theater piano killing it. God I shouldn't ever write about music, I have NO vocabulary for it or insight to it.

Spotify ads for home security, lite beer, petco and insurance - I wonder if my listening to Meat Loaf affects the ads I'm getting. They seem like the same ads I usually get. 

7. For Crying Out Loud - Ew please don't end on a ballad. You've got 8 minutes to change this shit up, I have faith in you, Loaf! Skipping, skipping, skipping, skipping, still just piano and singing. 3 minute mark: we've got soaring strings now and DRAMATIC vocals, but it's still just a ballad. 4 minutes and 45 seconds the rest of the band kicks in. It's not rocknroll but it is cinematic. Okay he softens again, then hardens again, closes on a soft note. Eh.

VERDICT - Am I his audience? A 35 year old man, 40 years after the album's release? Probably not. Who was his initial audience? I feel like it was mostly women around my Mom's age? Is that because he blended fifties rock, with "rock" that might come out of a musical like Grease, with the littlest bit of metal but more like just 1977 rock'n'roll? Was his audience mostly women? Was it because he sang about love? Did he mostly sing about love because of the audience he got from his first album? Am I wrong about who his audience is or what he sang about? I'll give another album a listen. I liked a few songs here, but none in a way where I ever have to hear them again.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

An Album A Day: I'm a Pretentious Dork, Do I Like Steely Dan [part 1]

I already know I'm a dork, and I'm pretentious, and I like Dad rock (but usually the harder stuff). A funny, vaporwave dude I only know through Twitter enjoys Steely Dan. My favorite lesbian dominatrix couple loves them. My friend Pinky's weird Dad always loved 'em, and his house was full of vintage Heavy Metal magazines and every Blue Öyster Cult album. In other words... people I respect love Steely Dan, and all I know about them is that they're named after a dildo in a Burroughs novel (Naked Lunch?) and that Brad Nowell from Sublime sang "Dr. Wu" in an acoustic set that became a bootleg I listened to a lot in high school.

So let's give 'em a chance, and start at the beginning.


1. Do It Again - oh shit, it's this song, I've heard this! Maybe an abridged version without the keyboard solo? That kinda elevates it from deece lite rock to more interesting lite rock.

*Spotify ad - Koch Industries - ohhhh fuck you
*Spotify ad - Elton John Greatest Hits Collection - ohhhh fuck yeah
*Spotify ad - Petco - aight

2. Dirty Work - smoooth start. am I going to be typing smoooth with three o's a lot? Oh no, seventies white guy voice! okay, they're bringing me back with the chorus. Solid fucking chorus. OH NO WHITE GUY SINGING AGAIN. Chorus still tight. ROCK 'N' ROLL SAXOPHONE SOLO YAY. 

3. Kings - "lay his body down" UNNH! "Sad old men who run this town" UNNH! Alright, a story song about a king is extremely my shit. Group singing chorus. Organ. Guitar solo. Digging all of it. 

4. Midnite Cruiser - The line between a 1970s radio rock driving down the highway singalong classic and just decent generic 1970s rock song is paper thin. The chorus is there but the rest of the song isn't. It's missing some extra quirk. Doesn't make the cut.

5. Only A Fool Would Say That -  The vocals rescue this from elevator territory real quick, phew.

6. Reelin' In The Years - I didn't know they did this. This one does what Midnite Cruiser should but doesn't. I think the "quirk" comes from the forceful talk singing, "You been telling me you're a genius since you were 17. All this time I known you I still don't know what you mean." OKAY I'M LISTENING BRO, THIS SOUNDS JUICY, LET IT ALL OUT. "Okay, I will... through guitar!" doodley doodley doodley wheeeeeeoooo 

7. Fire In The Hole - Starting out with some HORNY CABARET piano. Totally dazed out and finished the album without paying attention and had to go back. Good solos with some interesting chord bends here but BLAND.

8. Brooklyn (Owes The Charmer Under Me) - starting out LITE isn't starting out RIGHT! Win me over, I'm becoming hostile. Faded out AGAIN. Rewound AGAIN. Boring. Skip.

9. Change Of The Guard - C'mon changing of the guard. You've got a good name. Do it for me. Faded out again. I hope we end on a highlight.

10. Turn The Heartbeat Over Again - This song is pretty smoooth. Glad we're back to that. Seventies rock about Jesus puts us in the territory of some real bangers. I dig it. They land the ending.

VERDICT: In addition to the two songs that had already entered my lexicon, I dug "Turn the Heartbeat Over Again" and "Dirty Work". I can't listen to this album straighthrough but 4/10 good songs is a deece ratio. I'm not a Steely Dan convert, but I'll try another, maybe work my way up to Aja. Past Aja? I think Aja's the one that's supposed to make the difference. Not gonna listen to a second song in a row though.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Date: 2/12/09Show: Simone's Grand Opening with Gatekeeper, Yello Fever & Mr BobbyLocation: Simone'sCost: FREEDrinks: $2.50 PBR tall boys, $4 draughtsThings I missed to be there: A million goth, rockabilly, punk, alt titties at the Elysian Ball; CLASS with OneFiftyOne, Marco Morales, and Kampfire Killaz at evilolive (soul night!); STARDUST with Bunny Rabbit, Nina Ramone, and Ssion DJs at Berlin; Evil Empire with DJ Major Taylor at Empire Liquors Chuck Inglish and Hollywood Holt at Angels & Kings; BABY LOVE with DJs Fabulette, Special E, and Lauren Luck at Holiday Club (soul night!); 20khz at Quennect Four; LETS GO DEEP with Thunderous Olympian at Cafe Lura, Atomic New Wave Night at Neo
Reason for Going: I didn't leave the house til after midnight, and I was more interested in a good bike ride than the actual shows
Ipod playlist: NPR's Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, Girl Talk, Sebastian Tellier

You saw that last Batman movie, right? Did you think it was the best thing ever? I kinda did at the time, but I think I'm over it. It was a good action flick, but it wouldn't even go in my top ten comic book adaptations. I mean the dead guy was beyond phenomenal, but the movie itself wouldn't rank as high as, say, The Maxx or X-Men 2 or V for Vendetta or Ghost World.

Remember the speech at the end about how so-and-so was the hero Gotham needed, but not the one they wanted, or he was just what they wanted but not what they deserved, or some shit like that?

Simone's fills a definite void in Pilsen, but I'm not sure if the neighborhood may end up worse off for it. For years in Pilsen, if you don't enjoy shady pool halls or sports bars (or, the part that I can't dance around, if you're white or black and feel awkward bars that cater to a primarily Mexican immigrant clientele) your only option for a bar was the Skylark. I can't say enough good things about the Skylark. They have good food and quality drinks at decent prices, eclectic music and a photobooth that makes everyone look good. They have gone a long way to cater to both the existing, and the developing communities of Pilsen and Bridgeport. I think it is a misnomer that they are often classified as a dive bar, not for any lack of quality, so much as a lack of shiny or newness. A more appropriate term for them might be homey. Still, I've got a feeling that on any given night, there are a couple tables of people who are only there because they feel comfortable being white, or black, or gay, or Asian, or indie or whatever, who would rather be at a glitzier, dancier bar, listening to Shiny Toy Guns or Belle Biv Devoe rather of Carl Perkins or A Certain Ratio.

Simone's is that place, and it looks like they've done everything right. Managed by the people behind Danny's, Streetside, The Logan and The Black Beetle, the decor was created using a lot of green architecture. From the bar's website:

Crafted in many cases from remaindered building materials, decorative ephemera and bits and pieces of original architectural elements, the decor inside Simone's ranges from a bar top built from a bowling alley lane to graffiti-scarred high school chemistry table tops to booths and a DJ station built from old pinball machines. Using vintage and remaindered materials is part of Simone's environmentally friendly operations, something that includes a rooftop herb garden and banks of solar panels.

And all those elements come together pretty well, if a little disjointed. The main bar looks like either the inside of a pinball machine or the inside of a spaceship. The booths are comfortable, and the nonfunctioning displays from a dozen old pinball machines that sit above them look pretty cool, even if they are a total cocktease. The DJ booth is a balcony that hangs over the main room, caged in a wire fence that was very reminiscent of the cowboy bar stage in Blues Brothers, updated for the DJ era (and not just to me; there were many, many comments from people about wanting breaking bottles against it).

Pretty much, the bar did everything right, right down to having the opening party booked by one of the city's best promoters and best party photographers, featuring the neighborhood's best DJ and one of the city's buzzingest DJ teams. The only thing, they might have done wrong... is existing. Throughout the night I had the same conversation (with old friends from high school, with people I'd just met who were new to the city, with lifelong Pilsen residents, and with people who are personally invested in the city's service, dj and event promotions industries).

What do you think about the place? How do you think it will do? Should it be here?

Everyone liked it, although only a few were excited about it, and nearly everyone thought the neighborhood residents would embrace it, but were less clear on the neighborhood itself. Simone's sits on a stretch of 18th street, that despite being one of the neighborhoods major thoroughfares, one of it's main commercial and gallery districts, has no shortage of empty storefronts or spaces, so it's not so much that the bar is pushing anyone off the block so much as changing the feeling of it. There was a lot of talk about the neighborhood turning into Wicker Park, whether it's founded or not. I know what Wicker Park is now, and why nobody likes it. It's a tourist trap, full of overpriced stores, overpriced restaurants, overpriced bars and nightclubs, that fill the neighborhood with loud, brutish drunks seven nights a week.

[note: this was in the unfinished drafts folder and "published" years later. I think the rest of what follows is notes and alternate takes]

But it's unlikely that that exact situation happens in Pilsen...

And what about Wicker Park are we worried about Pilsen? becoming. Is it the slow gentrification of the neighborhood that changes its racial and political demographics so gradual that it's imperceptible? Or is it just who's coming in? Is it the funny looking artists and college students who will do everything they can to support the local businesses they like, while at the same time acting annoying and entitled as hell? Or is it the bourgie yuppies starting bourgie families, who will get involved in neighborhood politics, but demand chain grocery stores and whitewashed murals.

In my fishbowl view of the city, Logan Square and Humboldt Park feel exactly like Wicker Park used to, but they're not. There are lots of small shops always opening and closing, and lots of comfy diners, bars, and restaurants. They've both seen an increase in galleries, underground spaces, and condos, but no big businesses. The condos in Logan Square don't seem to be flowing citywide trends, more than ones consistent with an expanding neighborhood.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Date: 2/7/09
Location: Ball Hall
Show: TUNDRA THUNDA with Magic is Kuntmaster, Blue Zone, Usama Alshaibi and more
Cost: $5 donation
Drinks: Thermos full of whiskey sours
Things I missed to be there: I'M AN INDIAN TOO at Papal Projects with Sirhan, Thunderous Olympian, Local Hero, Biobooater and more

It's a new year and I want to get the old blog rolling again. Maybe it will last more than three posts this year and maybe it won't. Blogging sucks. Everytime I ever say something negative (sometimes mean, occasionally over-the-top, often accurate), it comes to bite me in the ass, and I don't want to be Mister I Love Everything, so hopefully I just won't go to any shitty shows.

2008 was pretty awesone. The best two shows were at Quennect Four

[the rest of this blog was never finished and I pressed "publish" 500 years later]

Sunday, November 23, 2008

am i too old to live a fulfilling life AND blog about it???

I was going to say that today was a pretty typical day, but there is no such thing. Today was a typical day for me. While some of my peers might find my day to be exciting, or refreshingly productive, others will certainly find it monotonous, uninspired and depressing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

TwoSlaps Radio [WLUW]

Arvo's sick so I'm playing some of my newest, bestest soul, funk and reggae tracks

La Charanga '76 - No Nos Pararan

Blue Magic - Born On Halloween
Dap Kings - Hard Eight
Pato Banton - Don't Sniff Coke
Bongos Ikuwe & the Groovies - You've Got to Help Yourself

H.B. Barnum - Heartbreaker
Garnet Mimms - Looking for You

Jackie Lee - Superdance
Roy Hamilton - Crackin Up Over You
Fearns Bass Foundry - Don't Change It

Tom Tumbleweed - Tumbling Down
Martha Turner - Dirty Old Man
The Sharonettes - Papa OOm Mow Mow

Viola Willis - Sweetback
The Bobby Patrick Big Six - Monkey Time
The Chips - You Make Me So Good

Macy Skipper - Goofin Off
Alex Harvey - Agent 00 Soul
The Meddyevils - Place Called Love

New Birth - Honey Bee
Primevil - Stop Look Listen!
Eugene McDaniels - Freedom Death Dance

Carrie Riley & the Fascinations - Super Cool
The Hitch-Hikers feat. The Mighty Pope - Mr. Fortune
Shirley Bassey - Light My Fire
Kool & the Gang - Jungle Jazz
John Congos - He's Gonna Step On You Again

Eddie Johns - More Spell on You
Electric Light Orchestra - Evil Woman
Breakwater - Release the Beast

David Axelrod - Holy Tuesday
Speedometer ft the Speedettes - Wait Up (This Time I'm Going)
Jimmy Smith - Root Down

First Choice - Smarty Pants
Bergendy - Tramp-Reszlet

[Pato Banton suggests that, instead of cocaine, you might want to give marijuana the old college try]

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Date: 10/11/08
Shows(s): "We Need Each Other" at OhNO!Doom! and "Circus Circus" at Alchemists Cost(s): Free and donation, respectively
Things I missed to be there: THE BALTIMORE ROUND ROBIN feat. Dan Deacon, The Death Set, Video Hippos, Cex and more at Epiphany; Three Legged Race at Lampo; Tirra Lirra and A Tundra at High Concept Loft; DOA, Reagan Youth, IATTACK, and Johnny Vomit at Double Door; These are Powers at No Coast; (Lone) Wolf & Cub st Metal Shaker; Eavil at Hotti Biscotti; Life During Wartime at Hideout; Gruv'n Saturdays with Joe Vor-Tech; Itch13 at Ohm
Reason for going: toys! and a circus!