Friday, January 29, 2010

The Hideout's Grammy Connection

The Hideout's Grammy Connection

Middle Cyclone.jpgNeko Case's Middle Cyclone was one of my favorite albums of last year, and not just for the stunning album art, which is absolutely outstanding on its own. Kathleen Judge, long-time Hideout bartender and design artist, designed the cover and is being recognized with a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package. It's also pretty well known that Case, who is up for Best Contemporary Folk Album as well, once upon a time tended the Hideout bar herself.

See more of the Hideout's Grammy connections on DeRo's Sun Times blog.

The 52nd Annual Grammy Awards air this Sunday at 7pm CT on CBS.

The SHOCKING Update!

When I’m commuting via public transit, I, as a lot of people do, like to listen to music. Occasionally I’ll read a book or magazine, but sometimes it is so crowded, reading is pretty much impossible—so is digging out a book when you’re so bundled up you can’t even turn your head (ah, Chicago winter…)

Silent stewing is no way to ride when you’re pressed between two people with an arm in your face, a bag in your side, and nothing to hold on to. So when dry winter temps hit and my earphones started shocking the insides of my ears, we had a problem. As I said before, I was using the stock iPhone earphones, so I tried some in-ear ear-buds, hoping that since the metal part wasn’t touching my ear, it would stop. Nope.

I then tried earphones with the foam pad on them, thinking that might absorb the shock. It seemed to be working, until after a couple of days, just as I was walking into the gym…zap! Now, I could go on the fact that the shock would only happen once in a while, but living in constant fear that you might get zapped in the ear at any moment is no way to live.

Tankboy had told me that I could try his over ear headphones that he uses to DJ, but when I first looked at the plug, it was too big to fit in a normal phones jack, so I thought I was out of luck there. But then he told me that he has to put on an adapter to fit in the jack on the mixers, took that off, and wallah, it fit.

Here’s the big news… IT’S WORKING! It’s been almost a week and I haven’t been shocked once! It’s got its downsides: I no longer have volume and play/pause control on the cord, the cord is suuuper long, and they’re kind of a pain to fit under my hood, but it’s all worth it if I can have my tunes and not be shocked. Plus, I look like somebody that’s proud to be a music lover—wear it big and proud!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mah Favorite Band ...and Susan Sarandon?

Mah favorite band, of Montreal, recently played at NYC's Highline Ballroom and were joined by Miss Solange Knowles (who duets with K. Barnes on the cover "I Want You Back") and ...Susan Sarandon???

Yup, thats her. Spanking pig men.

And, is it just me or is Barnes looking like he buffed up a little? Or, is it just the beard he's sporting?

nyctaper has the full show available for mp3 download.

(Photo from nyctaper by Kate Ehle. See her full flickr set here.)

I still can't feel my toes.

Full on Winter Blues Anger has set in, and while it hasn’t been especially freezing for the last couple weeks (we were lucky to have a mid-Jan heat wave of upper 30’s there over the weekend…) the longevity does its job and here we sit every late Jan into Feb wondering why we still live here ( I’m speaking for the collective Chicagoian here). Today started off especially rough. I hate the mornings I have a bad commute because it sets the tone for the rest of the day: anger and rage.

Every morning I have a choice: take the bus to the train, which is a shorter walk from my house, but takes slightly longer to get to work, and I have to be outside to transfer to the train; or take two trains, which is a longer walk (ie, longer time spent outside) and is technically longer (I pass my actual destination to transfer in the loop to my second train), but is actually a few minutes quicker than the bus route, and my transfer point is underground. One downside of the train is that it is ALWAYS crowded—for those that don’t live in the city, I’m talking pressed up against strangers so close that you feel they should have bought you dinner, or at least a drink first. Sometimes on the bus route, I can get a seat, but I emphasize sometimes. Bus Tracker has been a blessing to our lives, but sometimes, it just isn’t accurate and, like today, I end up standing out in the cold much longer than anticipated, and know that since it has been so long since the last bus, I’m going to be pressed up against the windshield for most of my ride.

So how do I deal? Loud, up-tempo music. I sometimes like to listen to a podcast, a sort of conversational story to distract me, but sometimes the train will be so loud I can’t hear parts of sentences, or I’m being leaned on in a way that I can’t even passively concentrate on what is being said (which is why it is so important to find a solution to my headphone shock problem—silence in these situations is much worse). So I turn to the music. Today I relied on shuffle; some songs that got me through were: Winter Gloves’ "Let Me Drive," The Ting Tings’ "Impacilla Carpisung," Housse De Rackett’s "Oh Yeah!," Prairie Cartel’s "Suitcase Pimp," and Jane’s Addiction’s "True Nature." By the time I got to the end of that list, my headphones were turned up as loud as they go…

How do you get through a crappy commute?

(Image from Pantagrapher via Chicagoist, 2007)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Team Conan.

I'm assuming you will all be watching the very last Conan O'Brien hosted episode of the Tonight Show tonight. Hopefully there will be more of this, and this, and maybe even this (seriously, watch through the end of the second video, you'll never look at Max Weinberg the same).

And next week we commence our NBC boycott. Suck it Zucker.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Inauguration Day '09: Revisited

Barack Obama's Inauguration Day was one year ago today, so I thought I'd revisit my trip to DC through my tweets.

It feels like so long ago, but in a way, it feels like it just happened. The days of "Hope" and "Change" do certainly feel far away; attitudes have certainly changed since that day one year ago, but on this day, we should be reminded of what one man said while we were waiting with a horde of people trying to get on the subway to get out of downtown DC (after all the central train stations had been shut down): "CHANGE TAKES TIME!"

We stayed with a friend, had to pick up the tickets from our congressman in DC (thanks to a snowstorm days before), almost didn't even get into the ticketed area (because of security threats, six entrance gates were reduced to one), then broke out of the ticketed section, my dad was even tracking our progress and sending us tips, we went to the Hideout's celebration concert @ Black Cat, drank a lot, I live tweeted the concert and the inauguration for Gapers Block, and we drove 1400 miles through the snow. It was a whirlwind, unforgettable trip.

(ps. times on these might not be accurate, I sent my tweets via text and sometimes they were delayed and out of order.)

January 17th, 2009

Off to Hertz to pick up the rental car. They close at 2, hopefully we make it in time! 2:34 PM

Damn. They're out of cars. Now we have to try the airport...

HAHAHA! We got the same car we had in ohio! That silly looking HHR! At least this one isn't red...4:19 PM

At home packing for the trip, and realizing that my mobile twitters take forever to post and aren't in order. hmpf. 7:19 PM

January 18th, 2009

Well, woke up later than planned. Wanted to be on the road by 7, but now it's 9:11. 9:11 AM

And we're off to DC for Obama's inauguration! 9:46 AM

Welcome to indiana! 10:02 AM

Hello ohio!12:11 PM

Reading up for my kings of leon article. Tankboy's still at the wheel. And its snowing! 2:09 PM

Lunchy lunch. Pizza Hut. For some reason i feel compelled to eat crap food when i am traveling. 2:44 PM

Yay PA! 3:47 PM

Just saw the Hideout busses at a random rest stop! I wonder if the Bird is here! 5:43 PM

Figuring out i can gmail and twitter from my phones browser. Good bye battery power... (Now i need to change my billing package too) 6:35 PM

We made it! We are in DC! 8:38 PM

Aaaand we're out at the bars. Wonderland now. 9:33 PM

Disco is always oppressive. 11:39 PM

Into the black cat. 11:45 PM

People keep taking pictures of the crowd in here. Is it that unusual? 11:57 PM

Velvet vest and/or leather hat = wrong 5:39 AM

Everyone here is undistinguishable. 5:54 AM

January 19th, 2009

Wakey wakey. (With a slight hangover) 8:31 AM

Oh noes! We are lost! 9:17 AM

Just remembered we took a limo home last night. HAHAHA 9:29 AM

On the metro to luis guiterez's office to get our inauguration tickets. 10:03 AM

I feel like the metro is a disney ride compared to the el. 10:04 AM

People are actually friendly and talk to each other here. Tankboy is scared. 10:04 AM

Found Rayburn office building but there is a HUGE line. Trying the staff entrance. 10:26 AM

Tickets in hand! 10:51 AM

Just got to Arlington National Cemetery. 12:05 PM

Visited my Gramps's grave, made me cry :( He has a nice view of the Pentagon though :) 12:40 PM

Chinatown. 1:49 PM

There are TONS of people selling Obama schwag and yelling about it. 1:58 PM

DC is hilly. Chicago is not. 2:46 PM

Jim won't let me buy an Obama air freshener. Hmph. 3:20 PM

Going into a live taping of Slate's political gabfest podcast. 3:46 PM

Nerdfest. 4:03 PM

Back on the metro. The stations look like Star Wars! 5:51 PM

Dinnertime at The Looking Glass, then off to the Black Cat again. 7:45 PM

Headin to the Black Cat now. The boyfriend is on the list but no +1, so we'll see if i get in... 9:11 PM

And im in! 40 bucks to a guy whose wife couldn't make it. 9:31 PM

Venue is pretty cool. Big room. Cool little sitting area in back. And the big Obama poster is here! 9:36 PM

Tortoise is already playing. The thing started at 7:30, hope i didnt miss too much. 9:38 PM

Yo yo jeff parker! 9:39 PM

The Bird has arrived! Shut up, he's playing with tortoise! 9:41 PM

Just saw Tim Tuten, he's in hogheaven right now :) 9:44 PM

I heart AB. His voice is amazing. 10:04 PM

Tim is drunk. And yelling. 11:41 PM

You can tell the people that came on the Hideout bus bc they are the only ones dressed up for the "ball" 11:43 PM

Eleventh Dream Day! 11:47 PM

Hello Waco Brothers. Im not going to talk much about you. 11:42 PM

Can't stand this band. Going downstairs. 11:48 PM

Back upstairs. Really cleared out! 11:51 PM

Tim still wasted. And yelling but hell yeah. Obama will be president TODAY! 11:53 PM

I like this band. But i forgot the name! 11:53 PM

Tankbot doesn't exist. 12:03 AM

Wonderland! 12:13 AM

Inauguration Day!

Happy Inauguration Day! 6:42 AM

Trying to wake the boyfriend up. Difficult task. 8:13 AM

Live bloging for Gapers Block today. Hope the phones work down there. 9:03 AM

Wow it is crowded. And we havent even left the metro station yet. 9:34 AM

I dont think they're letting people in, even with tickets. 9:50 AM

Some guy just told me they let people stay there all night without tickets. 9:50 AM

Whoah. Police are seriously pushy. This could get ugly. 9:55 AM

Come on people, start rushing. You cant even get a chant together. Let us in! 10:03 AM

Oh shit. Just spotted a sniper! 10:07 AM

The chant started and then someone yelled please. Geez. 10:14 AM

We got in! Yes we did! But now we cant move. 10:19 AM

Found the real entrance. Now we are really inside! Tons of room and jumbotron! 10:20 AM

They're introducing th old presidents. People just booed Bush. The first one. 10:21 AM

This is kind of overwhelming, in a good way. 10:26 AM

Just introduced the Obama daughters. They so cute! 10:30 AM

Michelle! She has a pretty gold outfit on. 10:31 AM

Wow. Big time boos for the current Bush. Somebody said no flag waving for him. Geez. 10:37 AM

People just started singing na na hey hey hey good bye. Ha ha. 10:39 AM

Theres the man. Looking quite regal. 10:40 AM

Even bigger boos for Cheney! Come on guys, the man is in a wheelchair. 10:41 AM

Aretha! 10:54 AM

Rick Warren speaking. 10:57 AM

New VP! Yay! 10:59 AM

Yo yo! [Ma] 11:00 AM

Kind of appropiate and beautiful to see these birds flying around the capital to this music. 11:05 AM

And then he brought the sunshine out. 11:11 AM

Cannons and cheering. Ladies and gentlemen, Barack Obama is the new President of the United States. 11:12 AM

My dad suggested i tell you i am in the silver section, the back ticketed area. 11:15 AM

Well, the man can speak, thats for sure. 11:18 AM

I think Biden is speaking, but we are in a big crowd trying to exit the ticketed area. 11:39 AM

This is poorly planned. There is one entry and exit point. People are starting to jump the fence. 11:50 AM

Omg! People ripped the fence open. Some are pushing. Snipers are looking down. 11:52 AM

People are working together to take the fence down! Teamwork! 12:03 PM

We just broke outl into the american indian museum. People scaled the wall! 12:05 PM

We are out and safe on independence ave! 12:07 PM

Its gridlocked people everywhere. They wont let anyone on the metro. 12:22 PM

We are going to be stuck downtown for a while. People are going in all different directions and there are arbitrary fences blocking streets. 12:43 PM

Literally trapped downtown. I want to walk home, but we cant get anywhere! 12:54 PM

Im sitting on the floor of the lobby of some federal building. With about a hundred other people. 12:56 PM

Making another go for a further subway station. 1:33 PM

I feel like im in a zombie movie, every time you think you've found salvation, all there is is disaster. 1:42 PM

Well, made it back to Columbia Heights. Subway side was interesting to say the least. 2:28 PM

On the road again. 4:09 PM

Making a little stop in Annapolis to see where jim grew up. 5:12 PM

Dinner at Chick and Ruth's Delly, with a y :) 5:40 PM

Destination: Chicago. 7:06 PM

Stopping for the night in idontknowwhere Pennsylvania. 10:31 PM

January 21st, 2009

Back on the road, back in the snow. 9:38 AM

Cracker Barrell. Haven't been to one of these in ages. 10:35 AM

Yeah im eating country fried steak at 11 in the morning. What? 10:44 AM

Indiana. Almost home! 3:54 PM

And we're back. There's the skyline, the el and the traffic. 6:04 PM

FINALLY home. Exhausted. 8:36 PM

@tankboy, still upset you wouldn't let me buy that Obama Air Freshener. 11:24 AM Jan 23rd, 2009

Empty Bottle presents an "inn" with more than just sleeping arrangements.

Just yesterday I got an email from the folks at Empty Bottle (as did all of their email subscribers) about a new "inn" a couple of the partners are opening in Logan Square (I was surprised that this was the first I was hearing about the endeavor, especially when the message opens "As some of you may know..."). The space is called Longman & Eagle and it opens tonight. What should I care about two music venue owners opening a hotel you ask? Well, Longman & Eagle appears to be much more than that, as evidenced by the mountain of information pouring in since I wrote the mini-announcement on Gapers Block yesterday. In fact, the "sleeping" portion of the inn isn't even ready yet. What is ready, is the first floor restaurant and bar. And the why-should-you-care part? Keep reading.

The idea is old school Chicago (I keep envisioning a saloon-atmosphere) with a focus on fine bourbons, boutique wines, and a menu full of comfort foods that changes daily. And of course, music. They have a vintage seven inch jukebox (none of that download-anything-you-want crap) featuring a wide range of genres, and Daily Candy also points out that there is a DJ booth (speculating that Black Lips may appear for a set after their Chicago show on April 1).

Bottom line: this place is the real deal, with owners as caretakers taking pride in their property, and a desire to share it with you. (Man, this place is sounding pretty good; you just might find me there tonight.)

Longman & Eagle
2657 N. Kedzie Ave.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Skybox. Tomorrow.

As Tomorrow Never Knows continues, Skybox will be playing Schubas tomorrow night. I saw them for my first and only time, funny enough, at Schubas in November and really liked them; they appealed to the part of me that likes weird pop--I was about bowled over by the similarities between Tim Ellis and Kevin Barnes, and the band in general and of Montreal.

Well, now they have a new album out (well, almost... it's official release date is set for two days after the show, but maybe, just maybe, they'll have some advance copies of Morning After Cuts for sale at the show...).

Here is my band preview published in Transmission's TNK preview last week.

Skybox is a local band that adds just the right amount of quirk to pop music. Their live shows are theatric, unexpected and not to be missed. They take a page from such artists as of Montreal and David Bowie in that respect, and in writing songs that can differ widely, but still hold up on their own minus the pomp and circumstance. Anticipation is high for the group's new album, Morning After Cuts, which is set to be released January 19 — just two days after their TNK appearance — so you can bet you'll be hearing a lot of those new songs at the Schubas show. For a preview of the new album, visit their website where you can also download the infectiously upbeat single "In A Dream" for free.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Where Do They Get These Ideas?

I dont know where OK Go gets the ideas for their music videos, but all I can say is keep it up. They had us at "A Million Ways," got mainstream attention for the now famous treadmill video, "Here It Goes Again"and captivated us again with the wallpaper version of "Do What You Want."

I'd already seen one music video from their new album, Of the Blue Colour of the Sky (which is GREAT btw, I'll probably be doing a proper review soon), for the first single "WTF?" and now they've made another single cut video for the song "This Too Shall Pass" featuring the Notre Dame marching band. Enjoy.

OK Go - This Too Shall Pass from OK Go on Vimeo.

P.S. After perusing their website, I found a couple cool things. First, they posted an application you can download to make your very own "WTF?" style video. Second, they've got these packages for sale on their homepage where you can get signed memorabilia from the video shoots (Hey, a band's gotta be creative to make any money these days, and these guys have proven they're full of it.)

TNK, Voxtrot and Kittypalooza

The winter festival Tomorrow Never Knows started last night at Schubas and Lincoln Hall and tonight Voxtrot plays LH with Solid Gold, Maps & Atlases and Gemini Club. We did a fairly comprehensive preview on Transmission (we won a Schubie!) for the festival; here is my preview for tonight's show. See you there!

(Also happening tonight is Kittypalooza @ Empty Bottle. A benefit for Tree House Humane Society, the show is dedicated to the Bottle's Radley, who passed away last year. There will be kitty themed drinks--I think thats reason enough to go. If I wasn't going to Voxtrot tonight I'd be there. I'm a sucker for kitties! (Hi Sasha!))

Voxtrot hails from indie rock haven Austin, TX and are best known for melodic light-hearted tunes from their debut Raised By Wolves EP, which had heavy '60s pop hints. They followed up their breakout success releasing a full length in 2007—even performing at our own Pitchfork Music Festival that same year—but they've been largely absent from the scene since. Then in March of last year, lead singer Ramesh Srivastava posted a note saying that "sometimes one needs to disappear in order to regroup; situations change and human beings are swept here and there by the marvelous ebb and flow of culture."

It appears that Voxtrot is back, however, judging by their new single, "Trepanation Party" (produced by Spoon's Jim Eno), which takes on a super '80s Cure vibe, the group may be taking a turn towards dramatic synths and blue-lit longing. Having not heard much else in '09, one would assume that they've been hard at work, hopefully resulting in some fresh material to be heard at their Lincoln Hall appearance.

Monday, January 11, 2010


So, picture me, standing on the edge of the Blue Line platform at Washington, looking like I'm having a seizure (or at least busting out some Elaine-bad dance moves).

Ever since it got super cold here in Chicago and I started wearing my Big Coat, my headphones have been shocking the insides of my ears! I was totally baffled at first, thought there was some malfunction with my headphones or iPod, but after some research via Google, I found out that when using in extremely dry conditions (ie winter) the static electricity created by the device discharges through the headphone wires and into my ear. So, I guess I'm creating a TON of static walking in my big nylon coat in the dry cold, especially when going up or down stairs (which is when the problem is most apparent). Now, of course, this shock isnt enough to harm me--it's the same as when you touch a light switch or pickup a static-y blanket--but it's a whole different ballgame when it's happening INSIDE your ear!

I was originally using the stock headphones that come with iPhone, so I switched to the in-ear type (that a friend gave me for Christmas) where the metal doesn't actually touch your ear. Nope, still shocking.

One friend suggested carrying a boombox on my shoulder, while another, who is having the same problem, recommended trying outer ear shell headphones. (I preferred the boombox solution--think of how many friends I would make!--until I thought about all those heavy D batteries that would have to go inside). I wasn't looking forward to having to purchase ANOTHER pair of headphones, but then Tankboy said he would let me borrow the pair he uses to DJ with (Thank you! I promise I will treat them with the utmost care!)

Stay tuned for the SHOCKING update!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Rambling thoughts about how much music I USED to listen to...

It dawned on me yesterday that I do not listen to near as much music as I used to--I’m talking about time spent listening to music and/or talk radio/podcasts, not quantity of material. I used to listen everywhere, even in the shower!* I always had to have something playing.

I also had a car then, so I always had the radio blaring. Sure I have my iPod now, but sometimes I just don’t take the time to put my headphones in before I leave the house, and when I’m already all bundled up, I’m not taking those fingers out of the gloves just to dig around for my iPod (plus it’s much less awkward to sing yell along in the isolation of your own car compared to public transit). Even in warmer weather, when I get on a crowded bus and am holding on for dear life, I don’t have free hand to find and put in those headphones. Then there’s my recent new problem of my headphones shocking my ears in the cold, dry weather (does my Big Coat really cause THAT much static electricity when I walk?!?!)

Maybe another reason is because I live with Tankboy and I let him take the reins at home most of the time—whether it be out of laziness or I think of him as some sort of music authority (but believe me, we do NOT agree on everything).

Whatever my excuses, the bottom line is that I’m not listening to music as often. A lot of the time when I’m at work or finally do get my iPod all plugged in, I just can’t think of anything to listen to! I’ve got all these albums at my fingertips and my mind completely blanks (times like these I miss the days when all your music was out in the open visually so you could see everything you had—but I suppose that’s a whole ‘nother blog post).

Does anyone else ever have this quandary? Right now I’ve got the iTunes on shuffle,** but does anyone have any advice on something I should pop in? Even reminders of great old stuff would be good (This is also why I dig old school jukeboxes over the new kind where you can download anything bc you’re limited on what you can select, and reminds you of old favorites, not just the hot new flavor—plus finding a bar with good jukebox is that much more rewarding—but I guess that’s yet another whole blog post…).

*Maybe I should hook my new iHome up in the bathroom and get another for the bedroom…

**Maybe this is what iTunes Genius is good for. Does anyone ever use this feature?