Friday, January 31, 2014

Now Playing: TLC

While I was stuck in bed sick over the weekend, I must have been to sick to pick up the remote, because I ended up watching a TLC marathon on some cable channel.* Did you know that there's a TLC movie? Like, a legit movie, a dramatization of their careers. And it's not all that bad! I didn't realize that they were pretty much broke throughout the beginning of their career as a result of a shitty contract with their original manager--classic story, right? I also seemed to forget just how many TLC songs I knew even though I never owned any of their albums. They did rule the charts for a while there, and hopefully got a lot of young girls to take pride in themselves. Which also got me thinking... When I was growing up, there were a lot of female musicians making music with empowering, positive messages for women: TLC, Salt n Peppa, even Lauryn Hill. Are there any artists like that for adolescents these days? I mean, Miley and Taylor aren't exactly the greatest role models.

*I guess the surviving members of TLC performed in some sort of VH1 Super Bowl concert countdown in NY last night, which would explain the promotion.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


My bf and I went to see Savion Glover at the Harris Theater on Friday, and let me tell you, 16 year old me wanted to be tap dancing in the aisles the whole time. This is the guy that made tap dance cool in the 90's around the same time as productions like STOMP. He's got award upon award, Tony to Academy, but there's some humility there, too. His homepage links only to his HooFeRz CLub School For Tap, and his bio in the playbill simply read, "Savion Glover (hoofer, father, husband) Praise Almighty God. Please enjoy the evening. Chaney, I love you."

My preview for Chicagoist is here, but it doesn't do the performance justice. (Sometimes for a one-off show, you gotta preview instead of review.) The show, called STePz, had great pacing between show offs, dance offs, even funny nods to those other dance classes you've gotta sit through as a student. They also also drew wonderful parallels between the complexities of jazz music and the sound of tap. Best of all, Glover makes it all look effortless. If you ever get a chance to see a legend like him live, do it.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grammy Hangover

I actually enjoyed this year's Grammy Awards--the performances, appearances and even more, that the awards went to the right groups instead of fueling the label machine. Daft Punk walked away with a bunch of gramophones, including Album of the Year (Random Access Memories) and Record of the Year ("Get Lucky"). Word is that their Spotify plays went up more than 200% after the awards show. A lot of people are learning more about these two French musicians who run around in robot helmets and don't speak, even though they've been ruling the EDM scene for two decades.

I'll be honest though, I hated their new album when it came out. I thought it was too disco (a long night of underground disco with James Murphy ruined me) and not enough robot. But after time and listens, these songs grew on me. When I hear them out in the wild, they sound like classics that I've known for years. I hear the precision and timelessness, even though the genre is so time stamped. Not only do they show us the good parts of disco, they teach us about it, too, by bringing in producer Nile Rodgers, but then having pioneer Giorgio Moroder literally give us a history lesson on "Giorgio By Moroder." Sometimes you just have to throw judgement out the window and trust the pros like Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Now Playing: HAIM

This is a post that I fully intended to write last fall when I was positively obsessed with this album. Not that my love has waned at all... I still light up and dance when I hear any of these songs, and Days Are Gone is still strong in the rotation. So, let's go ahead and say HAIM is Still Playing.

I ended up finally writing this for our Chicagoist Staff Best Of list which went up today.

HAIM - Days Are Gone
There wasn’t a lot of music that grabbed my attention last year, but HAIM’s (pronounced like time) Days Are Gone hooked me hard. I spent the latter half of summer going back and forth between their Falling EP and Spotify Sessions anticipating the full album release in September. With a little bit of heart, a little bit of Heart and a strong 80’s synth pop influence, these three sisters from California gave us catchy songs like “The Wire” and the aforementioned “Falling” that I’m still humming around the house, on my walk to the El and even in the shower. In addition to being the musical guest on SNL last fall, the ladies also gave a slight nod to that 80’s influence with a cameo in the fun little skit “Josie”, bringing the lyrics of The Outfield’s “Your Love” to life.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Community Action: Snow Edition

With the 10 inches of snow on the ground, and another eight expected today... it's time for my annual reminder that shoveling your sidewalk is the law in ChicagoMunicipal Code sections 4-4-310 and 10-8-180 state that property owners and occupants are responsible for keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice. 

Here is a pdf of a friendly door hanger for your neighbors, but you can also pick them up at your alderman's office. Here is a more detailed pamphlet on the specifics of the law, including how quickly you should have snow removed and how to report locations that don't (Basically just call 311). Individuals and business who don't could face fines. I'm not sure how often these fines are actually enforced, but look, this really isn't about city revenue, it's about all of us being able to get around with less of a chance of falling on our asses and breaking something. 

I do want to take this opportunity to thank my Bucktown neighbors who do shovel their walks (one day I swear that I'm going to print up 'Thank You' door hangers), and the city is also practicing some positive reinforcement with the "Winter Wonder" Award. You can nominate a business or organization here

Those who need assistance with snow removal, such as seniors and people with disabilities, can call 311 to be matched with someone to help out through the city's new "Snow Corps" program. The city aims to match volunteers with residents in need by block. To lend a helping hand, sign up here

If you're just super nice and helpful, there's another site called "Adopt a Sidewalk." Maybe you own a snowblower and you don't mind going down the whole street, or maybe you want to brag that your walk is cleared...You can do it all here