Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 392: Reeling in the Years, 1994 (Part 1)

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Brian Salvatore as we look back at the music of 1994. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").
Show notes:
- Recorded via Skype
- Rooting for a Jays-Mets World Series
- Brian: 1994 was a big year for me
- Rock radio was all about the alternative
- Big year for Ace of Base with three songs in top 10 of '94
- Lots of pop and hip hop on singles chart
- Aerosmith's foray into downloadable music
- Took hours to download, no way to share it
- Pearl Jam vs. Ticketmaster didn't end well
- Corporate-owned venues are everywhere now
- Woodstock '94 was full of mud
- Sheryl Crow and Jackyl played on the same stage
- Cobain's unsurprising fate
- Brian: Was obsessed with music in '94
- Soundtracks were a big deal: Pulp Fiction, The Crow, Reality Bites
- Older alternative acts turned up the guitars: R.E.M., Meat Puppets
- Bands formed in '94 that loomed large a few years later: Creed, Limp Bizkit, Hoobastank, Maroon 5
- Eagles returned with Hell Freezes Over tour and introduced $100 tickets
- Page and Plant reunited without John Paul Jones
- Mark Lanegan's interesting solo work
- Elvis Costello released a rock record
- Rollins Band scored an unlikely hit
- To be continued

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Long, Strange Trip

I found myself thinking about the '90s quite a bit in the last week or so for various reasons. The whole thing started on September 18, which marked the 20th anniversary of my start date at my current employer. I had just finished six years at the Peabody-Beverly Times/Salem News and was pretty burned out by the whole newspaper lifestyle. If a couple of chips had fallen differently, I would have stuck with reporting but it was becoming apparent that I needed to move on. I was the 45th employee at a small trade publishing company called Opus Communications and was immediately dispatched to Pittsburgh to cover a conference of medical staff services professionals. It took a while to get settled in, both to get a grasp of the not-always-exciting subject matter and to get used to sitting at a desk all day.

I lasted four years there before moving on to Webnoize, a dotcom started by a friend of mine; I had a fun two years at that company before it and the Internet bubble in general ran out of money. I went back to my old company, then called HCPro, in November 2001 and I've been there ever since. Granted, the company has changed owners about four times since then, growing to a max of about 300 employees. Two years ago, things were a little touch and go before we were bought by another publisher. The company's fortunes have improved since the sale and things are pretty stable, which is nice. Still, it's crazy to think I was almost 28 when I started there. So many people have come and gone over that time, as you can imagine. And I've had many changes in my life as well, the most important of which are getting married and having kids.

Spending 20 years with one employer used to be no big deal a few generations ago. But in the last 10-15 years, people have become accustomed to jumping around a lot more from job to job, looking for better pay or status or both. There were definitely times when I was desperate to leave, especially during times of serious instability in 2008 and 2012, but for whatever reason I stuck it out. Part of it was having a 10-minute commute and a lot of flexibility, the kind I wouldn't have if I was working somewhere closer to Boston. And it really does, as I've told many people, feel like I've worked for four or five different companies because of the different owners and different situations.

My work anniversary is always closely tied to my birthday because the latter is three days after the former. Monday marked my 48th, which is pretty nuts. I veer from feeling every one of those years when my various ailments (sore heels, sore back, etc.) act up, but then I think about what my father was like at 48--overweight, sedentary, depressed, alcoholic--and compare it to what I'm doing and I realize that his 48 seemed a hell of a lot older than mine. I'm no Peter Pan; there's no midlife crisis here. I just refuse to accept that just because I'm "middle aged," that means I should stop going to rock shows, playing sports, and doing all the other shit I've been doing the last umpteen years. Yeah, the hair's a lot grayer now, but I'm not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.

You know what makes me feel old? Seeing the kids of people I worked with when I started my career getting married and generally being all adult and stuff. Also, the Milwaukee Brewers just named their new general manager, David Stearns, who was born the year I graduated from high school. Now THAT'S some sobering shit right there.

The other flashback-inducing event in my life has been the incredible run made by the Toronto Blue Jays over the last two months. When the Jays traded for Colorado shortstop Troy Tulowitzki on July 29, they were a thoroughly mediocre 50-51. A day later, they acquired pitcher David Price from Detroit, giving them their first bona fide #1 pitcher since the mighty Roy Halladay left town after the 2009 season. The Jays already had a tremendous offensive club, but Price stabilized the pitching staff and Tulowitzki provided shutdown defense; a few other acquisitions filled various holes and the team went on a tear for the ages. They caught the division-leading Yankees within two weeks and have been battling them for the division lead, which Toronto now has by 4 games with 9 to play. The magic number is 4 for the division title; they've already clinched a playoff spot.

While this is no big deal for fans in many cities, the Jays haven't been to the postseason since 1993. Which is two years before I started at my current workplace 20 years ago. At the time, the Jays went on to win their second World Series in a row, capping off a decade of strong contending teams. In 1994, the Jays were sitting at 55-60 on August 12 when the players went on strike and the season was ended. And in the years that followed (before this one), they never seriously contended for even a wild card spot. Blame it on ownership not spending the money, big acquisitions not panning out, whatever, the Jays became a mediocre small market team instead of the contending large market team they had been previously. Sure, I took the winning for granted between '85 and '93, but I can't believe it's been so long in the desert. It has been a depressing time, especially watching teams like the Red Sox, Yankees and Rays dominate the AL East. But all that's in the past, as this year's team has roared to a 90-65 record as of this writing, the highest win total since '93. Not only are they close to clinching the division, getting the best record in the AL (thereby giving them home field advantage through the playoffs) is within their reach; they're currently tied with Kansas City.

This Jays team has renewed my interest and passion for baseball, which had waned in recent years. I'm as obsessed with it as I ever have been. My greatest sports moments have been the Jays' two World Series wins in '92 and '93, followed by the Patriots' four Super Bowl wins. The Maple Leafs have been a perennial disappointment my entire life, with occasional flourishes of hope mixed in. They're currently at the beginning of a rebuilding plan, so there are no championships on the immediate horizon. But at least I've finally got something to root for in October. No more wallowing in the past. I'm fully engaged in the present. Go Jays!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #97: September 25, 2015

Although it's always disappointing when summer ends, as it officially did this week, the autumn is a pretty great season. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I pay tribute to the changing of seasons with songs about autumn in hour 2.

The playlist that'll make you wanna put on a bathrobe and go outside:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Telekinesis - Courtesy Phone/Ad Infinitum
Moving Panoramas - One/One
Younghusband - Waverly Street/Dissolver
Infinity Girl - Dirty Sun/Harm
Titus Andronicus - Fatal Flaw/The Most Lamentable Tragedy
Blacklisters - Priss/Adult
Gold Class - Life as a Gun/It's You
Helvetia - A Dot Running for the Dust/Dromomania
NE-HI - Drag/single
Purple - Beach Buddy/(409)
Holy Esque - Gulf/Submission
Tedo Stone - Mind Wasted/Marshes
Palehound - Cinnamon/Dry Food
Froth - On My Chest/Bleak
Sonic Youth - Youth Against Fascism/Live at Brixton Academy 12/14/92

Hour 2: Autumn
The White Stripes - Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground/White Blood Cells
Pearl Jam (ft. Corin Tucker) - Harvest Moon/Live in Toronto 9/19/05
Led Zeppelin - Ramble On/Celebration Day
Weezer - Undone (The Sweater Song)/Weezer
Bill Janovitz - Cold Again/Walt Whitman Mall
Yo La Tengo - Autumn Sweater/I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One
Modest Mouse - Autumn Beds/No One's First, and You're Last
Ryan Adams - When the Summer Ends/1984 (Paxam Singles Series Vol. 1)
Frank Black - The End of the Summer/Fast Man/Raider Man
Chris Whitley - Indian Summer/Dirt Floor
Big Star - September Gurls/Radio City
Earth, Wind and Fire - September/Greatest Hits Live
Husker Du - Celebrated Summer/New Day Rising
Buffalo Tom - Summer/Live at the Paradise 6/23/06
Aerosmith - Seasons of Wither/Get Your Wings

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 391: I'm the Man

Quick hit episode this week as I discuss the power of a song. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- In 1979, I listened to Toronto's CHUM-AM all the time
- Used to collect the Top 30 singles chart every Friday
- A song that captured my imagination was Joe Jackson's "I'm the Man"
- The clock radio was important
- Couldn't get enough of "I'm the Man"
- Still powerful after all these years
- Jackson's best work was in the late '70s/early '80s

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #96: September 18, 2015

It's not easy to score a top 40 hit. A lot of things have to go right, not the least of which involves the music. The funny thing is, technically a one-hit wonder is an artist who scores a top 40 hit on the Billboard singles chart only once. This definition means a lot of successful and even legendary artists are considered one-hit wonders, as you'll hear in this week's installment of Stuck In Thee Garage radio.

Some of these songs will make you say, "Take off, eh?"

The beauty playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Stove - Jock Dreams/Is Stupider
Infinity Girl - Hesse/Harm
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam - Cool Like a Haircut/Video Dreams, Vol. 1
PWR BTTM - Ugly Cherries/Ugly Cherries
Pinkshinyultrablast - Kiddy Pool Dreams/Kiddy Pool Dreams
Joanna Gruesome - Separate Bedrooms/Peanut Butter
OFF! - Man From Nowhere/OFF!
Gibraltar - Snakes!/Elegant Alibis
Woolen Men - The Wheel/Temporary Monument
Jackson Boone - Lovely Low/Natural Changes
Prince - X's Face/HITNRUN Phase One
Talking Heads - Mind/Fear of Music
Funkadelic - Back in Our Minds/Maggot Brain
Iron Maiden - Speed of Light/The Book of Souls
Ozzy Osbourne - Believer/Diary of a Madman
Motorhead - The Chase is Better Than the Catch/Ace of Spades

Hour 2: One-hit wonders
T. Rex - Bang a Gong (Get It On)/Electric Warrior
Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side/Transformer
Roxy Music - Love is the Drug/Sirens
Ace Frehley - New York Groove/Ace Frehley
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - Fire/The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
Fred Wesley and the JBs - Doing it to Death/Single
Carl Douglas - Kung Fu Fighting/Kung Fu Fighter
Steve Martin - King Tut/Single
Bob and Doug McKenzie - Take Off/Great White North
Gary Numan - Cars/The Pleasure Principle
Thomas Dolby - She Blinded Me With Science/The Golden Age of Wireless
Midnight Oil - Beds are Burning/Diesel and Dust
Ben Folds Five - Brick/Whatever and Ever Amen
Eels - Novocaine for the Soul/Beautiful Freak
Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc./Demon Days

Friday, September 11, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #95: September 11, 2015

TWO YEARS. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I celebrated the show's second birthday, as well as BFF.fm's second year in existence. That's nearly 200 hours of great rock music, yo. It's been a blast and I hope to keep going as long as possible. To commemorate the occasion, I played music featuring the number two in the second hour of the program.

It was at least as successful as Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo.

The poppin' and lockin' playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Gold Class - Furlong/It's You
PWR BTTM - Dairy Queen/Ugly Cherries
Plastic Pinks - Livin' on the Coast/Livin' on the Coast
Wimps - Super Me/Super Me
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages - I'm a Full Grown Man/Under the Savage Sky
Will Johnson - Call, Call, Call/Swan City Vampires
Destroyer - Midnight Meet the Rain/Poison Season
Los Colognes - Backseat Driver/Dos
Mac McCaughan - Barely There/Non-Believers
Protomartyr - Why Does It Shake/The Agent Intellect
Sealings - White Devil/I'm a Bastard
Donovan Wolfington - Basalisk/How to Treat the Ones You Love
Sports - Stunted/All of Something
The Diamond Center - Bones/Crystals for the Brass Empire
Shannon and the Clams - It's Too Late/Gone by the Dawn
Long Limbs - Past Tense/The Hand Cut Record Club
Ava Luna - Jelly Sweat/Takamatsu Station
Diet Cig - Dinner Date/Sleep Talk-Dinner Date
Hard Left - Stay True/We Are Hard Left

Hour 2: Two
The Beatles - Two of Us/Let It Be
The Fireman - Two Magpies/Electric Arguments
Centro-Matic - Two Seats Gold Reserve/Dual Hawks
Thin Lizzy - Just the Two of Us/Vagabonds Kings Warriors Angels
Bohannons - Two Riders/Unaka Rising
Pile - Two Snakes/Magic Isn't Real
The Feelies - Two Rooms/The Good Earth
Glenn Mercer - Two Rights/Wheels in Motion
Spoon - The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine/Gimme Fiction
Minutemen - Two Beads at the End/Double Nickels on the Dime
Fugazi - Two Beats Off/Repeater
The Evens - Shelter Two/The Evens
Piebald - Two Rocking Chairs on a Porch/When Life Hands You Lemons
The Fiery Furnaces - Two Fat Feet/Gallowsbird's Bark
Against Me! - Two Coffins/Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Wire - Two Minutes/Red Barked Tree
Sebadoh - Two Years Two Days/Bubble & Scrape
Bloc Party - Two More Years/Single

Friday, September 04, 2015

Stuck In Thee Garage #94: September 4, 2015

Rock has always appealed to the outsider, the misfit, and perhaps even the nerd. Many a song has been written by or about this particular demographic. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played music about outcasts in hour 2.

As one such wise outcast once said, "Gunga galunga."

The Kenny Loggins-free playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Palehound - Healthier Folk/Dry Food
La Luz - Believe My Eyes/L.A.M.C. #16
Scully - Don't Want That/L.A.M.C. #16
Speedy Ortiz - Homonovus/Foil Deer
Protomartyr - Dope Cloud/The Agent Intellect
Drinks - Focus on the Street/Hermits on Holiday
Sports - Getting On In Spite of You/All of Something
Chandos - Pretty Sure It's Tang Top/Rats in Your Bed
LVL UP - Hex/Hoodwink'd
Lubec - Cherry Adair/Wilderness Days
Yo La Tengo - Friday I'm in Love/Stuff Like That There
Menace Beach - Super Transporterreum/Super Transporterreum EP
Mikal Cronin - Say/MCIII
Wilco - Pickled Ginger/Star Wars
Woolen Men - Life in Hell/Temporary Monument
Herbcraft - Push Thru the Veil/Wot Oz
White Reaper - Make Me Wanna Die/White Reaper Does It Again
TV Colours - The Lost Years/Purple Skies, Toxic River

Hour 2: Outcasts
Weezer - In the Garage/Weezer
We Are Scientists - Mothra vs. We Are Scientists/Safety, Fun and Learning (In That Order)
Frank Black - Superabound/Teenager of the Year
Elliott Smith - Ballad of Big Nothing/Either/Or
David Bowie - Kooks/Hunky Dory
The Smiths - Bigmouth Strikes Again/The Queen is Dead
The Dears - You and I Are a Gang of Losers/Gang of Losers
The Cars - Misfit Kid/Panorama
The Dils - Wimp/Dils Dils Dils
Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers - Born to Lose/L.A.M.F...the Lost '77 Tapes
Iggy Pop and James Williamson - I Got Nothin'/Kill City
Black Flag - Nervous Breakdown/The First Four Years
Descendents - I'm Not a Loser/Milo Goes to College
The Dambuilders - Teenage Loser Anthem/Ruby Red
Del Fuegos - Nervous and Shakey/The Longest Day
Joe Jackson Band - Awkward Age/Volume 4
Jarvis Cocker - "Further Complications"/Further Complications
Camper Van Beethoven - Ambiguity Song/Telephone Free Landslide Victory

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Completely Conspicuous 390: The Great Escape

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Ric Dube as we discuss vacations. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Recorded at More Lost Time world HQ
- Check out our web series Trust Fund Challenge
- Vancouver is a great destination
- Trouble at the border
- Someday, Jay will visit India again
- A co-worker's move to France
- Ric's vacation movie marathon
- Dick Clark's role in Killers Three
- Ric has beef with Christopher Nolan movies
- Medical emergencies
- Black Christmas is a Canuck horror classic from the director of Porky's

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Find out more about Senor Breitling at his fine music blog Clicky Clicky. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.