The Mid Point 2017


Well, it seems it’s that time of year again. Time for publications to rack up some clicks by posting their top albums/songs/movies of the year so far, all on separate pages of course. Why let them have all the fun?? I like music and movies, too. So here are my top picks in those three categories, ALL ON ONE PAGE!

ALBUMS

#1 Conor Oberst-Salutations

#2 Perfume Genius-No Shape

#3 The Regrettes-Feel Your Feelings, Fool!

#4 Cherry Glazerr-Apocalipstick

#5. Mount Eerie-A Crow Looked At Me

#6 Thundercat-Drunk

#7 Hurray For The Riff Raff-The Navigator

#8 Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit-Nashville Sound

#9 Japandroids-Near To The Wild Heart Of Life

#10 Smino-blkswn

SONGS

#1 “Napalm”-Conor Oberst

#2 “You Are The Problem Here”-First Aid Kit

#3 “Memories”-Proper Ornaments

#4 “Blood In The Cut”-K Flay

#5 “Ascension”-Gorrilaz ft Vince Staples

#6 “Witness”-Benjamin Booker

#7 “If We Were Vampires”-Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit

#8 “Pa’lante”-Hurray For The Riff Raff

#9 “Wild Fire”-Laura Marling

#10 “Evening Prayer”-Jens Lekman

MOVIES

#1 Get Out

#2 Guardians Of The Galaxy vol 2

#3 John Wick 2

#4 Baby Driver

#5 The Discovery (on Netflix now)

#6 Personal Shopper

#7 Logan

#8 T2 Trainspotting 

#9 I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore (on Netflix now)

#10 Wonder Woman

Categories: Music Review Tags: , , , , ,

Ryan Herrick-Whiteclay


After listening to some of Chicago singer/songwriter Ryan Herrick’s music, a couple of things stand out: He plays with a lot of passion for the material he sings about and he’s a gifted guitarist who can manipulate the strings to his will. His chosen subject, the plight of the Native Americans, is well-known, but nobody ever seems to want to talk about it unless it has to do with the name of a sports team.

Whiteclay is a small town on the border of Nebraska and South Dakota that is home to almost as many liquor stores as people. The liquor stores do great business since there’s no alcohol allowed in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. It’s a truly American story: making money off of people while also keeping them down.

The song was originally written by Carl Hakansson, a professor at Framingham State University who has been working with Native Americans for over 20 years. Herrick studied under him and has continued to fight for the rights and dignity of American Indians. The music Herrick has added really elevates the material.

The guitar work and vocals immediately stuck in my head. To me, he sounds like Stephen Stills, which is something I think we could use more of these days. One of the things that stands out is an organ part that doesn’t do a whole lot, but somehow just being there adds a great depth to the song.

The best line gets repeated many times throughout, and it says “Sometimes I wonder what would Jesus say…” a nice reminder that this country was built by people who claimed to be Christian and then went on to slaughter anyone who stood in the way of manifest destiny.

Ryan Herrick has some music you can hear today over on his Bandcamp page. As for “Whiteclay,” you’ll have to wait until the single premieres at the end of July.

If you’re interested in pre-ordering his new EP Sagitta, you can check out Ryan’s Indiegogo campaign here. There will be a fundraiser campaign launching on August 1st. A portion of the proceeds will benefit Conscious Alliance, a 501 c3 that runs hunger relief and youth empowerment projects on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.

Hurray For The Riff Raff at Pritzker Pavilion 6/22/2017

Great show last night by one of my favorite acts. Hurray For The Riff Raff came back to Chicago after only a couple months and delivered another spectacular set of songs, mostly from The Navigator and Small Time Heroes.


Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas Play Ruido Fest

Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas return to Chicago in a couple of weeks to play Ruido Fest. The Detroit-based band has been here many times in the last few years, but this festival appearance will hit a bit closer to home. I’ve been a fan since I heard their EP Live At The Magic Bag, but their newest album finds Hernandez reaching back to her roots. Each song on Telephone/Telefono is featured in both English and Spanish.

I ran a feature with Hernandez back in 2013 where she explored her musical influences. You can find that here. I wonder if this list would change at all given the new attention to Latin music. One thing is clear from the two singles the band has released so far-they are still very interested in playing loud and fast.

Ruido Fest features some great Latin bands at Adams/Medill Park in Chicago from July 7th-9th. Go to their website to check out their full lineup.

Air At Auditorium Theater 6/20/2017

French duo Air returned to Chicago for the first time since 2010 last night to play Auditorium Theater in support of their recent Twentyears collection. That’s right, Air have been playing music together for 20 years and the new discs are a pretty comprehensive overview of their career. If you really want to get to know them, you should just start at the beginning and listen to all of their albums from beginning to end. Moon Safari was the first record that I really liked in the “electronic” genre, so I owe the band a great debt of gratitude for introducing me to something I didn’t know I’d like. Also, their score for Virgin Suicides is one of the best ever made

Last night was my first time seeing them perform live, and immediately it struck me how much gear was on stage. For a band known as “electronic” they had a lot of stuff. Multiple guitars, a banjo, drums, keyboards, synths-a really impressive setup to make all the sounds they create on their albums. They didn’t talk to the audience except to say thanks through a modulated voice, but the music said plenty.

The set was filled with “the hits” from their run over the last three decades. 4 songs from their debut Moon Safari, 3 off 10 000 HZ, and 5 from the brilliant Talkie Walkie. The rest were picked up from singles and soundtracks. I’m only disappointed that they didn’t have Rhymefest come out and perform “Alpha Beta Gaga,” which was remixed by Mark Ronson to feature the Chicago MC back in 2004.

I’m glad that Air decided to play some shows in the States for this momentous occasion. I just hope it isn’t another seven years before they come back. It’s clear they still enjoy playing together, and love the audience. Here’s to 20 more years Nicolas and Jean-Benoit!

Setlist

Venus, Don’t Be Light, Cherry Blossom Girl, J’ai Dormi Sous l’Eau, Remember, Playground Love, People In The City, Radian, Alpha Beta Gaga, Run, Talisman, How Does It Make You Feel?, Kelly Watch The Stars

Encore: Alone In Kyoto, Sexy Boy, La Femme d’Argent

Do I Secretly Like Goo Goo Dolls?

It’s funny how music travels with you over the years. The memories that are created around sounds can be so vivid…you might remember a conversation with someone or an intimate moment, maybe even a horrifying time at the drop of a dime if the right song comes on the radio. And it doesn’t matter what the song is, it’s just whatever was playing at the time.

I got an email last week that got me thinking about this. Goo Goo Dolls are coming to town next month for a show that I may or may not end up going to see, but as soon as I read the name Goo Goo Dolls, all these things came rushing back to me. I’ve never considered myself a fan of theirs, but I seem to have a good chunk of time haunted by their songs.

One important thing I just found out recently-Goo Goo Dolls have been around for 31 years, and John Rzeznik hasn’t always been the lead singer. *MIND BLOWN* I know that the music industry was different in the 90’s, and a lot of the bands that got big back then had been together for a long time prior, but 1986 seems like forever ago. So kudos to Goo Goo Dolls for sticking it out through the good times and the not so good times. Your fans are probably thrilled that you’ll be on tour again this summer.

My first recollection of Goo Goo Dolls came shortly after they broke out with A Boy Named Goo. The song “Name” was constantly on the radio (U93 for all my hometown readers!) and it drove me crazy. I think I was already getting snobbish at that point, which is probably why I didn’t have a ton of friends. Anyway, I was the youngest of the group of friends I did have, and one of them was already driving with a learner’s permit at that time. We had hit up the video store to pick up our 1-2 combo of Clerks and Pulp Fiction for the millionth time, and as we were driving back to his house to hang out, he pulled a cassette out and popped it in the player. It was Boy Named Goo and I screamed.

At that time in my life, this guy was probably my best friend. We had gone to grade school together and then he moved away for a number of years before returning for High School. We spent a lot of time together, and his home life was less than great. His mom had some mental issues that weren’t being dealt with, her boyfriend was a grade A jerkoff who, looking back, was pretty clearly beating both of them or at least threatening to do so. I viewed my role as a mood lightener, but it didn’t always work.

He mostly listened to harder stuff like Henry Rollins, Sponge, and Nine Inch Nails. I was surprised that A Boy Named Goo was even on his radar. Of course, “Name” is a bit of an anomaly on that album. The rest of it features some bigger guitar riffs and aggressive vocals. The band, I assume, noticed that this was the song everyone wanted to hear and changed their style a bit to better position themselves for record sales (12 million albums sold as of 2016).

Over time he and I had a falling out, and I haven’t spoken to him since before the end of our senior year. In fact, I believe his last words to me were “Fucking faggot” as he slammed me into the lockers in the hallway outside my science class because someone told him I called his girlfriend a slut. Which I hadn’t, despite the fact that she was a slut in High School. I’m sure she’s a perfectly nice person now, though.

Fast forward a few years to 2004. We’re living in Buffalo, NY, the hometown of Goo Goo Dolls and it’s Independence Day. Buffalo didn’t have much a downtown by the time we moved there, but they did a great job with what they had left. Every week in the summer there were free outdoor concerts and on the 3rd and 4th of July they upped the ante. On the 3rd we got to see Ben Folds in the middle of a Rufus Wainwright and Guster sandwich, and then on the 4th was the famous Goo Goo Dolls in the rain show which they have immortalized on DVD.

I’ve never watched the DVD, so I don’t know if it fully captures how absolutely infuriating that evening truly was. The starts and stops of music, the rain turning from a drizzle to a downpour and back again for a couple of hours, the people climbing trees to get a better view because there were so many people packing Niagara Square…it was madness.

Imagine hearing just the opening guitar part of “Slide” five or six times and then nothing because lightning strikes keep happening and the band has to leave the stage. Rzeznik did his best to keep the crowd entertained-they had to shut the power off every time the band left, so he’d come out with his acoustic guitar and play, but not everyone could hear him. It was a real disaster. Eventually we left for dry land and hung out listening from the parking garage across the street for a while. Then when we drove home the water was so high where Delaware and Forest come together that it covered the grill of the car.

Those are my two big Goo Goo Dolls memories, and I think about them any time I hear one of their songs. So if I do go see them on July 24th at Huntington Bank Pavilion, don’t be surprised if I spend half the time staring off into space reminiscing.

For dates near you, check out the band’s website.

Marc Broussard: S.O.S. 2 Save Our Soul

A few years back, Marc Broussard put out a covers album to raise money for charity. On September 30th of this year, he’s doing it again. S.O.S. 2 features Marc covering some classic soul songs that are sure to make you smile. Half of the profits from the record will go to City Of Refuge, an Atlanta-based group that helps with all kinds of issues. Check out their website to read more about them.

Broussard, journeyman that he is, will be touring this summer in support of the record. He’s hitting SPACE in Evanston on June 28th for a SOLD OUT show. Check out his site for more dates and info on how to purchase this album (and why not grab a couple of his older records while you’re there?)

As a preview, I selected this video of his version of Otis Redding’s “These Arms Of Mine” because it features Huey Lewis.

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