RE: The Greatest 25 Films Of The 21st Century (BBC)

August 24, 2016 Leave a comment

So the buffoons over at BBC got buzzed on some Earl Grey and posted this whack version of the best 25 films made so far this century (nay, this milennia!). There’s some good stuff on there, many films also appear on my list below, but there’s a few I can’t get behind.

How Pan’s Labyrinth is still considered to be some amazing film boggles my mind. Inside Llewyn Davis one spot behind No Country For Old Men? More like a million spots!!! Yi Yi in the top ten??? I think I fell asleep before the second Yi. Kudos to them for putting In The Mood For Love so high, though. That movie is ridiculously beautiful. Their list can be found here.

This is mine:

25. Force Majeure

24. Inception

23. Inside Out

22. Scott Pilgrim Vs The World

21. Beasts Of The Southern Wild

20. Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood Of War

19. We Need To Talk About Kevin

18. Mystic River

17. Dark Knight

16. Primer

15. Requiem For A Dream

14. The Wolf Of Wall Street

13. The Master

12. Zodiac

11. Into The Wild

10. Moonrise Kingdom

9. Almost Famous

8. Children Of Men

7. Inglorious Basterds

6. Birdman

5. In The Mood For Love

4. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind

3. The Place Beyond The Pines

2. Mulholland Drive

1. There Will Be Blood

Q and A With Guitarist Doug Gillard of Guided By Voices

August 23, 2016 Leave a comment


When I was offered the opportunity to interview a member of Bob Pollard’s Guided By Voices, I knew I wasn’t the person to do it. I have a very basic knowledge of the band, so my questions would be stupid softball questions you hear on shows like “Good Morning America” during their fluff pieces about dogs that can dial a telephone or something of that ilk. So I enlisted the person I know with the greatest Guided By Voices knowledge, Layne Montgomery, to ask questions of guitarist Doug Gillard. Some of you will remember Layne from The Great American Novel, and may have already heard he has a new band called The Romantic Comedy. His questions were very good indeed.

Guided By Voices will be performing with the “CLASSIC” lineup at Metro on September 3rd with openers Broncho and Split Single. Tickets are available here.

What were the circumstances that led you to rejoining GBV? I remember seeing you open for them at the Bowery Ballroom two years ago and joining for a couple songs, with Bob lamenting that you couldn’t join this reunion because you weren’t in the “classic lineup.” Did he always want you back in the band? Did you feel after “The Electrifying Conclusion” that the band would ever come back?

   I didn’t foresee anything happening re: the band coming back in 2010. My solo band opened up the first classic lineup reunion shows in TX, by the way.
 Bob & I had remained friends all along the way, & collaborated on the second Lifeguards LP in
2011. I was never trying to “get back in” the band as some have put it. They needed a guitarist for the Cincinnati show, & i happily went as a fill-in. Talks evolved from there.

Will there be more GBV dates on the horizon? Perhaps coming back to New York?

  Yes, we’re touring through the US. There will be a NYC show in December- check our website for tour dates.

How did ESP Ohio come about? Is there a record (or knowing Bob, two records) on the horizon? 

  It was a project idea of Bob’s. He wrote the songs and enlisted my solo band, essentially, to record the music in New York. The finished and mixed music was sent to Bob, who then recorded the vocals in Dayton with Nick Mitchell engineering. Sure, they may be another ESP Ohio lp.

Can you tell us anything about the upcoming GBV album with the new lineup?

It will be a double album with lots of songs. That’s all I can tell you right now.

Although not a GBV-album, Speak Kindly Of Your Volunteer Fire Department is regarded as one of the classic Bob albums (and one of my favorite albums ever), how did that record come together? And how did that experience compare to the Lifeguards or upcoming ESP Ohio records? I know the band has been playing “Do Something Real” but any chance “Pop Zeus” or “Tight Globes” will come back into GBV-setlists now that you’re back in the fold?
 Possibly. We’ve already added T. FBI, I Am A Tree, Subspace and others on the fly while on the road. Anything’s possible with the live setlists, now.
To answer your first question here regarding Speak Kindly, Robert wrote a batch of demos with the request I record all the music. He had no stylistic instructions, just said do it up however you want to. I value that kind of implicit trust. I also wrote & recorded 4 songs instrumentally for Bob to sing over (“Pop Zeus”, “Larger Massachussetts”, “Messiahs”, and “Port Authority”).  Sure, all the music was done on 4-track cassette, but I sent the mixed music down to Bob, who recorded vocals at Cro-Mag using ADAT, so its not a complete 4-track master, if you will.
Parade On is another fantastic solo record. I know your schedule is about to be extra-packed with both GBV and Nada Surf, but any chance of new solo material soon?
Thank you so much. I’ve been writing a lot and will definitely record another album soon. Surplus of material, just need to find time to finally record it.

Both Nada Surf and Guided By Voices are bands that have amassed dedicated, almost cult-y audiences, do you see a lot of crossover in the audience, or type of fan of both bands? 

  I’ve seen a bit of crossover in Nada Surf crowds, and some GbV fans have definitely started listening to NS whereas they hadn’t quite kept up with them before I joined.
    I am also seeing some friends from NS fan world coming to GbV shows. Otherwise, sometimes there’s not much crossover there. It depends on how people first came to know each band & how they first connected with their respective musics in their lives.

How did you get involved with the Sons and Heirs?  

  My good friend Dave Hill invited me to a show where he opened for them, & Ravi’s wife Julie saw me in the audience & brought me backstage to meet them. We all got along swimmingly and they invited me to sit in with them occasionally. I’ve always been a huge Johnny Marr fan anyway.


I outsourced some questions to a GBV fanpage on facebook, and everyone’s asking about your rig. Can you tell us a little about your set up?

 Right now its Les Paul, SG or ES 330 into my Mesa head. Pedals used include TC Electronics Alter Ego delay, Voodoo Lab Sparkle Drive, a Boss Harmonist lent to me by friend Hank Campbell, TC Elec. Corona nano-sized chorus, Electro Harmonix Holy Grail reverb, Boss EQ, TC Elec Polytune tuner, and my fave, a handmade Landgraff Dynamic Overdrive made by Florida’s John Landgraff (r.i.p.).

Thanks for everything Doug! See you on the road soon!

Thanks a lot, Layne, and appreciate the thoughful questions!

Frank Ocean-Blond

August 22, 2016 Leave a comment

How does one review an album so wildly anticipated that emotions easily get in the way of objectivity? I don’t know, but I tried.

The opening beats of “Nikes” are like little pops of pure ecstasy coursing into your body through the ear holes. The song itself is a very Frank-kinda strange that offers some promise that maybe Blond could actually live up to the hype.

There are a lot of brilliant moments on the album, but it isn’t all peaches and cream. It’s been four years and sometimes I get the feeling that stuff was written or an idea came about sometime in the past and it feels a little dated. Which isn’t to say it’s bad, just out of character for someone who seemed so ahead of the curve. 

The lyrics are strong throughout, which makes sense for such a skilled songwriter. “I thought that I was dreaming when you said you loved me. The start of nothing, Had no chance to prepare, didn’t see you coming. And we started from nothing.” Those words,and many others, could come off as cliché or corny if they were delivered without the feeling Ocean puts behind them. He turns it into profundity.

And then there’s the vocal runs that come out of nowhere on “Solo.” My first reaction was “Whoa that’s a bold move.” Then it comes back again after the second verse and it dawned on me that it’s really just a primal refrain delivering pure emotion instead of words and it’s a beautiful thing. The actual chorus is pretty damn good, too.

The earnest longing and desire on “Self Control” stands out as the truest Frank gets on Blond. It’s the best track on the record for my money, despite the auto-tuned vocals from Slow Hollow’s Austin Feinstein that make it much harder to take the song seriously.

Then  Blond takes some turns that I can’t really get down with. Again, not bad. Just not as strong as the first handful of songs. He drops some interesting things in here and there-the weird Radioheadish guitar blur at the end of “Good Guy,” the personal story behind “Nights,” and of course over a full minute of Andre 3000 spitting fire like he hasn’t since “Stankonia.”

“Pretty Sweet” and “Close To You” feel like unfinished thoughts sandwiched around “Facebook Story,” which fits thematically but seems unnecessary when the record already has 16 other tracks (maybe if it featured Frank at all, I wouldn’t consider it so wasteful).

“White Ferrari” brings the album back a bit. It’s been around for a while-I think it leaked on Soundcloud forever ago. Still, it drags a bit. If this were the album closer the vibe would be different and the slower tempo would fit better. There’s still three tracks to go and I feel like if it ended here it would probably be a better album.

Again, not to say Blond isn’t great. There’s way more right than wrong here, and considering the wait we should be very grateful for that. He could’ve easily released something that was subpar just to appease his fans, but he didn’t. He chose to do things his way and make a piece of art that reflects who he is (or was from the beginning of the process to the end). That kind of integrity is rare in the music business, and he should be applauded for it.

Categories: Music Review

North Coast Music Fest Announces Set Times And After Parties

August 22, 2016 Leave a comment


2016 will be my first adventure at the North Coast Music Festival, and the lineup is diverse enough that I’ll get to see a lot of different stuff. There’s some cool Chicago bands, a Beatles’ son, and enough bass to shake Union Park to the ground. There isn’t one thing I want to see as much as I wanted to see D’Angelo and The Roots last year (couldn’t make it), but there are definitely some things I’m looking forward to.

The party gets started right off the bat at 3pm on Friday with the funky grooves of Nasty Snacks at the Skyline Stage. I caught their set at Lincoln Hall back in February for Dunn Dunn Fest, and these cats can jam. They battled their way into a spot at the fest through a contest with a few others and they definitely deserve to be heard.

Then at 3:45 another Chicago native gets going, with songstress Jamila Woods hitting the North Stage.

You can check out Louis The Futon on the Skyline Stage at 4:30, or take a break to prepare yourself to do the “Harlem Shake” with Baauer back at the North Stage. Around this time, the silent disco’s both start up as well. A lot to choose from before dinner.

7:30 brings a real dilemma to the festival, with Juicy J on the North Stage and Sleigh Bells on the Coast Stage. Your decision may be made easier if I tell you that Grouplove is headlining the Coast Stage at 9. If you want a good spot for them, I’d recommend setting up for Sleigh Bells. However, if the only way you want to see Grouplove is if they’re doing their Bojack Horseman tune, you could catch some of Juicy J and then head over to the Skyline Stage to see Odesza close out night one.

Except they aren’t really closing it out, because North Coast has some fun late shows planned:

Sleigh Bells are doing a DJ set at the always trendy Virgin Hotel Cerise Rooftop

Galantis will perform at Prysm Nightclub

Baauer will be at The Mid

Saturday doesn’t get off to a quick start, but there’s a lot of great stuff going on in the middle of the day. Vulfpeck hits the Skyline Stage at 4:45 and then Ty Dolla $ign and Ruary hit back to back on the North Stage and Coast Stage. I’m most excited to see Raury, as his passionate and soulful delivery make him a different kind of rapper.

The Floozies go on right after Ruary starts, so I’ll probably miss them. I have seen them before, though, and they put on a good show. At 7:45 The Claypool Lennon Delirium starts up on the North Stage, and I have no idea what to expect. I was never a big Primus fan, though I never thought them untalented, and Sean Lennon’s music just never caught my attention. If nothing else, it should get pretty weird. That might make it worth checking out on its own.

The one thing I’m most interested to see is Bassnectar. I’ve watched videos on Youtube, and the effort that goes into the production of his sets is ridiculous. I’m not a huge fan of the music, but the experience is something I’m excited to check out. He headlines Saturday night at the Skyline Stage while Logic plays on the Coast Stage.

Saturday Afters include Ty Dolla $ign at Prysm, Umphrey’s McGee at Concord Music Hall, and Joey Purp and Saba at Bottom Lounge!

On Sunday DJ Tony Trimm is rocking in the silent disco, so if you want to just chill for a bit, that might be a good place to start.The first act I think I’ll actually make an effort to see is Matt & Kim at 5:40 on the North Stage. They’ve come and gone from my good graces over the years, but I’ve never seen them live, so I think I need to. Before that, I’d see Tauk at 2:40 and The Polish Ambassador at 4:45.

Matt & Kim overlaps with Greensky Bluegrass a bit, so you’ll have to jet early if you wanted to catch both.

The last few hours of the festival are pretty full, with Action Bronson on the North Stage at 7:30 and both Umphrey’s McGee and Zedd headlining stages to close it out. I’ve never been a big Umphrey’s fan, so I’d lean toward Zedd. If you’d heard a song on the radio over the last couple years, chances are Zedd did something with it. His set is a fun mix with a lot of samples and pyrotechnics.

If you still don’t feel like you got enough, there’s afters on Sunday, too:

Zedd will be at Prysm Nightclub

Sam Feldt will be at The Mid

A ton of stuff is going on at Evilolive with three rooms of entertainment

For a full schedule of the festival and after parties, check out the North Coast website.

The festival runs from September 2nd-4th at Union Park in Chicago.

Loving Mary at HVAC Pub

August 15, 2016 Leave a comment

Gotta run to work, but wanted to post some pics I took last night at HVAC Pub. I saw Loving Mary perform as Steven Tyler’s backing band at Chicago Theatre on Saturday, and they announced a free show at this bar in Wrigleyville, so I went to check it out. Tyler said he might show up, but I liked the band well enough that it would be cool to see them without any Aerosmith songs.

And I was right. They are all very talented musicians, and their originals were very good-especially their song “Broken” (or it could be “Broke,” I’m not sure). Marty Casey from Lovehammers also performed, with Loving Mary as his band, featuring some new songs off his upcoming record.

Hiatus Kaiyote at Park West 08/10/2016

August 11, 2016 Leave a comment

Last night Hiatus Kaiyote brought their Aussie funk train through Chicago with a sold-out show at Park West. After a sweltering summer day, those looking for some relief in the air conditioned confines of the venue were sadly disappointed. With  warm bodies packed in like sardines, things got so heated the band’s equipment had a hard time keeping up with the band.

I had some trouble getting into the venue, so by the time I found a spot it was tight, so my pictures suffered quite a bit. Basically they are all of Nai Palm. I spent a lot of time watching the drummer, but to get pictures of him I would have had to slam a guy upside the head with my lens, so I chose to just take what I could get and enjoy the music.

I didn’t really get into the first Hiatus record from a few years ago. It was a little weird and I didn’t really get it. However, their last record, Choose Your Weapon, is fantastic and I highly recommend it. If you’ve wondered what kind of direction funk and R&B are headed in, just listen to “Shaolin Monk Motherfunk” a couple times. It’s a mind-bending take on future-funk that manages to be both dance-inducing and thought-provoking.

Jarryd James at Metro 8/8/2016

August 9, 2016 Leave a comment

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jarryd James a little under a year ago at a party put on by Patron. It certainly wasn’t my scene, and based on our interview after his short performance, it did’t really seem like his either. He did a couple songs to a group of half-listening people surrounded by cocktail stations and tapas-style food kiosks. Not the best place to see live music.

So I was thrilled when I saw he’d be playing Metro with Broods just one week after his set at Lollapalooza. He must have made some Chicago fans during that festival set, because the place was pretty packed for him at 7:30 on a Monday night. I don’t know how many in the audience listened to his new record, High, but a lot of them seemed to know the words. Especially when Georgia Nott came out to perform their collab “1000x.”


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