This blog goes to 11

A friend of mine pointed out that his blog turned 7 today. I was surprised because it was so close to my own “blogiversary.” (Does anyone still use that term?) So I checked and realized it wasn’t just close, it actually was my… anniversary of starting a blog. The old tradition was for me to forget about it until the 27th and then just copy and paste my entry from the previous year explaining what an idiot I was. Because, you know, keeping track of the day your blog started was very important at the time.

Anyway, since this is my first entry in a while and I probably haven’t talked to most of you outside of some random Facebooking, you should be able to guess that my “communicate more” thing hasn’t been panning out so well. But I will say that the health kick is definitely on the upswing. The gym around the corner finally opened and I’m already back up to 2.5 miles of running most days. Another week or so and maybe I’ll be back in my 5k form so that I can actually run a 5k.

Reading has definitely become a big focus and not only am I reading pretty much everyday, but I’ve already finished 4 books and am on pace for my challenge to read 24 this year. The photography and building hobbies are sort of on hold, but thanks to a trip to Disney World, spending time with The Kay has been more heavily prioritized. A lot of time spent with Legos has meant that sometimes she even wants to be with me instead of Mommy. Score one for Dad!

As for vinyl… well at least I’m listening to a lot of music in one form or another. And that reminds me, with new albums being dropped by the likes of St. Vincent, Wild Beasts, Beck, Neneh Cherry, Phantogram, Com Truise, etc. it’s about time I put a wrap on 2013. Maybe I’ll finally write something about the great albums from last year…

 

Just to keep ourselves at least enough to carry on

One of these days I should really write something long and unnecessarily expository about Neutral Milk Hotel get redirected here. For those music nerds out there, you should already know what I’m talking about. But for the rest, those 3 words probably just cause confusion or indifference. So to make it simple I’ll just say that they are an indie rock back from the 90s led by Jeff Mangum who, after putting out 1 excellent and 1 epic album, disappeared for a decade.

After obsessing over those albums for years, I finally got a chance to see Jeff perform solo when he officially rejoined the human race back in 2011. He did not disappoint and, in spite of his reclusive nature, hinted that a full band reunion might just happen. As wonderful as hearing songs so near and dear in an such an intimate setting was, the prospect of the full-on, cacophonous, fuzz noise experience of Neutral Milk Hotel live kept me wanting for more.

Well, last night I got more.

I don’t think I could possibly convey how absolutely awesome the show was. There were accordions, uilleann pipes, a toy saxophone, magnificent beards, a pornstache, several types of horns, a questionable sweater, at least 3 hand saws, and one guy bowing a banjo. Combined it formed a joyous noise that kept us all on our feet for its entirety. It’s a shame it had to end – thankfully I’ve got a ticket for their Philly show in 2 weeks…

If you love Neutral Milk Hotel, get to one of their shows. And if you have no idea who they are, step outside of the usual and give them a listen.

 

Nostalgia, I can has it?

I guess it started back in December. That’s when I found myself hanging out with an old friend in the city – twice in one week. The first was a last minute e-mail to catch a concert. An event that used to be a regular occurrence for the two of us, but was sadly my first in about 3 years. Later that same week I finally made it to one of his annual holiday parties that involved almost no one else I know.

That’s not completely true. Aside from his co-host – another friend from college yore – at least two other familiar faces showed up that qualified as true “blasts from the past”. Unlike the usual mingling with fellow alums that I see on a regular basis, there was some real catching up to do with nearly a decade having past since seeing some of them.

Things really started to pick up after our infamous Disney trip, though. First was another venture to a concert, this time in Hoboken. A quick pint with a friend beforehand produced even more drinking buddies from the halcyon days of my youth filled with lots of “Holy %^&*, it’s Slattery” type responses. All of this was topped by the appearance of a dear friend (and consummate bartender) whom I had last played phone tag with after the K’s birth. That reunion was much needed and provided a reminder that my life has, indeed, been good.

Of course not long after these adventures some more complicated goings on at home and at work had my nostalgia mode kick into “overly emotional gear”. Suddenly I found myself wondering when and why everything got so complicated. Sure, there’s the house and the kid and economy and all that crap, but why can’t I be as “care free” as I was half a decade or so ago? Is it just me, or is everybody feeling this way?

After listening to all sort of pseudo-retro songs to quell – or maybe stoke – the fires of over-sentimentality, the ship has slowly been righted. A solo night out at a bar one evening served as an incredible head-clearing episode – kind of like a real kick in the perspective pants. So even as more questions about the future have started popping up I am handling them with a tad more levelheadedness… well, at least after a modicum of freakoutedness. And so as a reward for those of you who made it through yet another rambling post with little to no point, here is “Round & Round” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti. One of my favorite tracks of recent years which so perfectly portrays nostalgia:

“Round & Round” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti

I was listening to this a lot a few weeks ago. The chorus has to be one of the greatest I’ve ever heard. Hmm, maybe I should include more music in my posts…

I am literally, figuratively drowning in music

Back in the day when owning CDs meant something, I bought a lot of them. I mean a lot of them. Most days I was spending more money on storage for music than most people spend on music. There was a time when suffering a mild bout of unemployment that those carefree spending days dried up, but the advent of inexpensive digital downloads courtesy of eMusic and their ilk brought back that purchasing power at a significantly reduced rate. That led to the halcyon days of 90 downloads per month supplemented with daily deals and random freebies. Sadly, those days came to a close many moons ago.

And so it appeared that the steady stream of new music would slow to a trickle as this family man has to adhere to budgets and whatnot. Just as this year began to truly dry up, deals seemingly found their way to me. September, in particular, opened the floodgates from which I will not soon recover.

You see, first I had temporarily rejoined eMusic to pick up some much needed new releases. Then my primary alternative store, Amie Street, decided to close up shop sending me and my fellow subscribers scrambling for as many last minute deals as possible. To sooth the wounds the powers that be (namely Amazon, who purchased and shut down dear Amie) sent out $5 “thanks for the memories” gift cards – in my case one for each of my 3 accounts. Cha-ching!

Finally we have Guvera. An attempt at making music free and legal via advertising. Interesting concept that worked decently enough to garner me a couple albums. But for the month of September a promotion was introduced allowing users to download 31 tracks from artists on EMI labels. 31 tracks per day. There were some ups and downs, some disappearing credits and songs, but in the end dozens of albums of classic rock, classic jazz, and Kylie Minogue found their way into my collection.

All totaled last month’s downloads come to over a week of music. No, not enough music to listen to for a week, but rather enough music that I would have to stay up 24 hours a day to listen to it all in about a week. Sure, you may question whether or not I truly need all of this, especially when it will be difficult to find time to listen to it all, but hey, addiction ain’t just a river in Egypt…

Anyway, maybe it’s time that I actually write about all this stuff streaming through my ears on a regular basis. Somebody has to let you guys know what all the hepcats are digging these days – word on the street is they’re all about the Simple Minds.

Music soothes the savage beast

Last night was just another hiccup in what has become a much easier nighttime routine for our little brat… I mean precious little one. Seriously, I’m kidding. Kayleigh’s been acting out lately but it’s the usual stuff. She’s still a wonderful joy to be around in the right increments of time…

Anyway, the little scutch had opted for a short nap which meant that half an hour before her bedtime she was already overtired. For those of you without kids and unaware of the concept of them being overtired, it’s the same thing as with adults – they get “punchy.” She was briefly lucid enough to give her grandparents goodnight kisses and willingly come upstairs in my arms to brush her teeth. But somehow between the bathroom and her bedroom the whole ordeal became too much for her to handle and, again, with the wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth.

This is how diaper changes become a 2 person job – assuming you don’t have a good restraint system in place. When a toddler switches moods, it’s easy to lose site of the tricks of the trade picked up over months of parenting. Frustration wins out over common sense and suddenly there’s two grown adults trying to to figure out how to pin down a 22 month-old without resorting to wrestling moves. Then it hit me: doesn’t this kid like music. So I broke out my dulcet tones, often described as a cross between Tony Bennet and Frank Sinatra (assuming that by crossed you mean “literally smashed into one another”), and tried to remember the opening lines of Kayleigh’s most recent most favorite song:

And amazingly, she shut up. So I passed the third line to The Woman because I don’t want to prevent Kayleigh from continuing to enjoy music (also because it’s a miracle if I can remember more than two lines of any song) and the rest of the process proceeded with little fanfare. That’s not to say the she went to sleep easily, but at least the portion that involved diapers and pajamas and books was uneventful.

Once again Jim Henson has come to my rescue. The fact that Kayleigh not only enjoys Sesame Street but can also identify characters such as Kermit and Fozzie Bear is a source of some pride for me. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of the newer kiddie entertainment with my little girl, but watching her shake her groove thing to the psychedelic sounds Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem is a lot more fun that singing that damn Caillou song for the umpteenth time in a row.

For the record, “I don’t know how to thank you guys”/”I don’t know WHY to thank you guys” is still one of the greatest comedic lines in a movie. And while Kayleigh might not get all of the humor, our daily viewings of “Movin’ Right Along” have slowly morphed into watching more and more of The Muppet Movie together.

I just can’t wait for her to actually get the “fork in the road” line and laugh with me.

Believe it or not

I actually made a music post! Is it any good? Who knows, it’s not like I read it…

Is it just me, or does anyone else out there cringe at the thought of reading your own writing? There’s an inherent distrust in the notion that I can do anything that requires some sort of talent. Even though many people have complimented me on my writing, I can only assume that they are being nice. Obviously anything produced by these clattering fingertips could barely resemble coherent English let alone something friends, family or total strangers would find interesting or entertaining.

Self-deprecation can be fun for you, too!

In all seriousness, while I would never actually call myself a good writer it does appear as though I am a natural one. Just like falling off a bicycle, it comes rather easily despite long breaks between efforts. Perhaps shortening those gaps would produce something resembling quality content. At the very least it would produce quantity – and that’s darn close alphabetically speaking!

Anyway I’m trying not to let my indecision with regards to the use of domain names, subdomains, and subfolders get in the way of continued blogging. Isn’t there a cute baby video or something laying around here I could post? This meta-crap is getting old.

OK Go – This Too Shall Pass

Those wacky guys on treadmills are at it again. This time… well… just watch:

Beyond the great videos, I played their last CD constantly. They make fun and catchy power pop. The kind of music that knocks the hipster hat clean off your head. Should have picked up the new album the other day – won’t pass it up again.

St. Vincent… swoon

I do not hide my various indie crushes, but one in particular is worn on my sleeve. The delightful Annie Clark, better known by her stage name of St. Vincent, ignites feelings in most hipster hearts – and I am no different. Here is her complete performance from KCRW’s indispensable Morning Becomes Eclectic.

Be still my beating heart. Someday I’ll get to see her perform live… le sigh…

(thanks to St. Vincent)

Awesome

Where do I begin? There’s these Russian women showing gratuitous cleavage while farming, cleaning, working in a machine shop, etc. Interested yet? Yeah, not really. But then some black metal music kicks in and… well… some Stalin zombies attack them. Have I got your attention? What if I told you that only one man could save them – Mikhail Gorbachev clad in a loin cloth with a shield and battle axe… And then it starts to get weird.

Bet you want to watch now:

There is so much awesome going on in that video it hurts. Hollywood has failed to bring me anything that cool. It makes Shoot ‘Em Up look like a documentary on childcare. When will the full length feature be coming? Not too surprisingly this was discovered on a blog entitled Awesome Robot (via Culture Kills). Now that’s a blog I need to be following!