Friday, January 29, 2016

Stuck In Thee Garage #115: January 29, 2016

There's something about driving and music that goes together perfectly. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played great driving songs in hour 2: either songs about driving or just songs that make you drive a little faster. No matter how boring the drive, having good music along for the ride really makes it go by quicker.

The schwing-inducing playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Savages - The Answer/Adore Life
The I Don't Cares - Born for Me/Wild Stab
Shearwater - A Long Time Away/Jet Plane and Oxbow
Ty Segall - Californian Hills/Emotional Mugger
Washer - Mend/Here Comes Washer
Solids - Blank Stare/Else
Born Ruffians - We Made It/RUFF
Cian Nugent - First Run/Night Fiction
Deep Sea Driver - Secrets/Secrets
Bully - Trash/Feels Like
Pete Astor - Very Good Lock/Spilt Milk
Eugene Quell - Soft Coin/I Will Work the Land
Greg Dulli - Modern Love/Single
The Decade Show - Common Cold/Sure
Dumptruck - Watch Her Fall/Live at CBGBs, '86 and '88

Hour 2: Driving
R.E.M. - Drive/Automatic for the People
The Feelies - The High Road/The Good Earth
The Beatles - Why Don't We Do It In the Road?/The White Album
Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Feeds/With Teeth
Helmet - Biscuits for Smut/Betty
El-P - Drive/I'll Sleep When You're Dead
Bang Camaro - Push Push (Lady Lightning)/Bang Camaro
Judas Priest - Turbo Lover/Turbo
Iron Maiden - The Trooper/Piece of Mind
The Dambuilders - Drive-By Kiss/Ruby Red
Modest Mouse - Dashboard/We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank
The Clash - Brand New Cadillac/London Calling
Fu Manchu - Guardrail/The Action is Go!
Max Webster - Drive and Desire/Universal Juveniles
Van Halen - Mean Street/Fair Warning

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hasta La Vista, Abey

In this strange month of celebrity deaths, it's usually easy to figure out why they hit us so hard. When it's someone like David Bowie or Alan Rickman or Glenn Frey, it makes sense because the work they did reached so many people and they were all fairly successful. But what to make of a character actor who didn't become famous until he was in his 50s and hadn't acted regularly since the '90s?

Abe Vigoda, who died yesterday at 94 of what his daughter called "old age," was different. He emerged on Broadway in the 1960s, but it was his turn in the 1970s as Tessio in The Godfather and later as Detective Fish on the ABC comedy Barney Miller (and the short-lived spinoff Fish) that made him a household face, if not name. On Barney Miller, Vigoda became known as the sad-eyed, lumbering guy who was always headed to the bathroom, and he parlayed that image into countless roles in TV shows and movies.

Because of his image, Vigoda was one of the first celebrities that people would constantly assume was already dead, even as far back as the 1980s. He poked fun at that by making numerous late night TV appearances on David Letterman and Conan O'Brien's shows.

Vigoda even showed up, at the age of 92, dancing on stage in a wombat costume at a Phish concert. Of course, in recent years, the running joke when somebody died was to check and thankfully, Abe was always still alive. Until yesterday. Abe Vigoda was a larger-than-life presence who always knew how to laugh at himself. Just hearing his name or seeing his picture makes me smile. If that isn't a great legacy, I don't know what is.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Completely Conspicuous 408: Squirrel!

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion as we discuss short attention spans. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Order Matt's book The Entropy of Everything: The Indestructibles Book 3
- Spending too much time in front of screens
- Much harder to get through long articles nowadays
- How many words are worth $1?
- Looking at phone is how we kill time
- Smoking made Matt more social
- A generation of socially inept people
- Binge-watching TV requires more attention
- Longer network TV seasons seem so much longer now
- The Punisher is a tough character to get right
- Hell hath no fury like a nerd upset over something stupid
- Gotta pay attention when there are subtitles
- Anime moves too fast
- Audiences can't deal with slow scenes any more
- As a writer, Matt writes shorter chapters
- Short attention span applies to music listening
- Matt: If I had an iPhone as a kid, I would never have read a book
- 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.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Stuck In Thee Garage #114: January 22, 2016

There's something to be said for the simple power of a short rock song. But longer songs have their merits as well. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played five-minute songs in hour 2. The obvious extrapolation will eventually result in a show down the road where I play one song in hour 2. But we're not there yet.

Playlist high-five:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
David Bowie - Girl Loves Me/Blackstar
Nada Surf - Believe You're Mine/You Know Who You Are
Blank Realm - Palace of Love/Illegals in Heaven
Bully - Reason/Feels Like
Soldiers of Fortune - Campus Swagger (feat. Stephen Malkmus)/Early Risers
Strange Faces - Nothin' to Prove/Stonerism
Lucius - Born Again Teen/Good Grief
Sun Club - Beauty Meat/The Dongo Durango
Tangerine - Sunset/Sugar Teeth
The Besnard Lakes - The Plain Moon/A Coliseum Complex Museum
Pinemen - That Certain Flavour/Pleasant Pain
Sulk - Black Infinity (Upside Down)/No Illusions
mewithoutYou - Red Cow/Pale Horses
Rollins Band - Monster/Get Some Go Again
Thin Lizzy - Ballad of the Hard Man/Fighting
Motorhead - I Got Mine/Another Perfect Day

Hour 2: Five-minute jams
PJ Harvey - Long Snake Moan/To Bring You My Love
Black Francis - Threshold Apprehension/Bluefinger
Parquet Courts - The More It Works/Tally All the Things That You Broke
Lou Reed - The Blue Mask/The Blue Mask
Joe Jackson - The Band Wore Blue Shirts/I'm the Man
Spoon - My Mathematical Mind/Gimme Fiction
Bill Janovitz - Mae & Maggie (I & II)/Walt Whitman Mall
Drive-By Truckers - This Fucking Job/Live at Daytrotter 7/6/10
Alice in Chains - Am I Inside/Sap
Nirvana - Big Long Now/Incesticide
Fugazi - Shut the Door/Repeater

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Completely Conspicuous 407: Fast and Loose

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Matt Phillion as we discuss short attention spans. Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Order Matt's book The Entropy of Everything: The Indestructibles Book 3
- The inevitable joke
- MP: The more novels I write, the shorter my attention span gets
- Live-tweeting TV shows takes some effort
- Trace back to quick cuts in MTV videos of the early '80s
- Wireless Internet has sped up the attention decline
- Twitter mulls expanding character limit to 10,000
- The fine art of crafting an effective tweet
- News of Bowie's death spread fast on social media
- What a way to go out, leaving a great piece of art behind
- It's hard to sustain a long career these days
- How to teach your kids about music
- Dumbo doesn't hold up
- Matt: New Star Wars is an homage to the original, but much faster
- So much more dialog in TV shows now
- HBO's In Therapy was different because much of it was just two people talking
- Elmore Leonard mastered economical writing
- 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.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Stuck In Thee Garage #113: January 15, 2016

It's been a rough couple of weeks for rock fans. First Lemmy Kilmister dies just after Christmas, then David Bowie on Monday. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I paid homage to Bowie and Lemmy with two hours of deep cuts and collaborations. It's a sad time, but they live on through their music.

The immortal playlist:

Artist - Song/Album
David Bowie - Moonage Daydream/The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Spiders from Mars
Lou Reed - Satellite of Love/Transformer
Iggy and the Stooges - Search and Destroy/Raw Power
Iggy Pop - Funtime/The Idiot
Tin Machine - Under the God/Tin Machine
Adrian Belew - Gunman/Young Lions
Reeves Gabrels - You've Been Around/The Sacred Squall of Now
David Bowie and Frank Black - Fashion/David Bowie's 50th Birthday Party Concert, 1997
David Bowie and Frank Black - Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)/David Bowie's 50th Birthday Party Concert, 1997
David Bowie and Foo Fighters - Hallo Spaceboy/David Bowie's 50th Birthday Party Concert, 1997
TV on the Radio - Province/Return to Cookie Mountain
Arcade Fire - Reflektor/Reflektor
David Bowie - Lazarus/Blackstar
Iggy Pop - Sister Midnight/The Idiot
Iggy Pop - The Passenger/Lust for Life
David Bowie - Watch That Man/Aladdin Sane
David Bowie - Look Back in Anger/Lodger

Hawkwind - Silver Machine/In Search of Space
Motorhead - The Chase is Better Than the Catch/Ace of Spades
Motorhead - Iron Fist/Iron Fist
Motorhead - Ace of Spades (slow version)/Kronenbourg ad
Wendy O. Williams and Lemmy - No Class/Stand By Your Man
MotorHEADGIRLschool - Please Don't Touch/The St. Valentine's Day Massacre EP
Motorhead - Overkill/Overkill
Probot - Shake Your Blood (feat. Lemmy)/Probot
Motorhead - Eat the Rich/Rock 'n Roll
Motorhead - Dancing on Your Grave/Another Perfect Day

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Completely Conspicuous 406: Simply the Best

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling about our favorite music of the first half of this decade (2010-14). Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- JB's #5
- Dan Bejar's guilty pleasure
- JK's #5
- Band came out of left field
- JB's #4
- Dream pop classic
- JK's #4
- Comeback album from alt-rock legends
- JB's #3
- Cassette-only release
- JK's #3
- Prolific artist put it all together
- JB's #2
- Veteran hardcore guitar god goes folk rock
- JK's #2
- Sprawling punk rock concept album about the Civil War
- JB's #1
- An epic from a band just dropped by its label
- JK's #1
- First Matador act to hit #1 on album chart
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.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Word on a Wing

I was out for a long run Saturday morning. It was cool and threatening to drizzle, but the wind was calm. As I made my way on the 9-mile journey, I listened to Blackstar, the new David Bowie album that had been released the day before on his 69th birthday. As good as his unexpected 2013 release The Next Day was, this was so much more interesting. I'm still digesting it, but it's kind of a mix of doomy art-rock and modern jazz. Lots of layers and textures.

Anyway, as I continued my run, my mind wandered to think of Lemmy, who had turned 70 on Christmas Eve and then died four days later. And I marveled at how Bowie had managed to stay vital at such an advanced age when most humans were content to retire and start slowing down. Granted, our expectations are low for artists, especially musicians, when they reach a certain age, but damn if Bowie didn't blow all of that out of the water. And then came the news this morning that he had died after an 18-month battle with cancer. THAT was really a surprise, and a bit of a gut punch, that he basically left us this terrific piece of work as a way of saying goodbye.

I don't claim to be a Bowie scholar, but I certainly own a good chunk of his vast catalog. There are gaps in my knowledge, but I'll be addressing those soon. I've pretty much listened to all his albums, but I certainly know some better than others. For me (and for a lot of Bowie fans, I'd wager), it's that ridiculously creative stretch from 1970-80 that is the sweet spot. What an amazing run of records. Since 1980, there have been peaks and valleys (I'm one of the few who seemed to enjoy the Tin Machine records), but man, what a way to go out.

I had heard a few Bowie songs on the radio as a kid, but it was the video for "Ashes to Ashes" from 1980's Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps) that really caught my attention. I became more familiar with his many hits through religious rock radio listening, but didn't get any of his albums until around the same time in 1989, I bought Tin Machine and the Rykodisc reissue of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars. By that point, he already had released 18 studio albums. Ridiculously prolific and much of it is must-have.

Some denigrate Bowie because he was such a musical (and physical) chameleon, changing styles and looks every few years. Those people are entitled to their opinions, but if you look beyond the hairstyles and makeup, there's an incredible body of work he left behind. He influenced so many musicians and non-musicians alike not just with his music but also his sense of style, fashion and attitude. His cultural impact on our society is immense.

As with Lemmy, I never got to see Bowie play live. Huge regret, because by all accounts, his live performances were amazing. It just never worked out.

Shocking and sad as the deaths of Bowie and Lemmy are, we are at the point where we need to brace ourselves because there will be more. The first generation of rock stars who emerged in the '60s and '70s is now beyond retirement age. While Paul McCartney, the Stones, Daltrey and Townshend are still out there touring, they're also in their 70s or damn close to it. It's depressing to think about, but it's an inevitability. As alien as Bowie seemed, turned out he was human, after all. Thankfully, he left us one final gift to remember him by.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Stuck In Thee Garage #112: January 8, 2016

New year, new album anniversaries. Twenty years ago, we were starting the second term of the Clinton administration, Atlanta hosted the Summer Olympics and the Macarena was somehow a thing. This week on Stuck In Thee Garage, I played songs from 1996 in hour 2.

The Cable Guy-approved playlist:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Cheatahs - Sup-ra/Mythologies
Tangerine - Tender/Sugar Teeth
No Joy - Burial in Twos/More Faithful
Coaches - Blond Cop/Shush EP
Gold Muse - Sometimes Smiling/Single
Mike Krol - Save the Date/Turkey
Wand - Self-Hypnosis in 3 Days/Golem
Radiohead - Spectre/Spectre
Kurt Vile - I'm an Outlaw/b'lieve i'm goin' down
Thunderbitch - Eastside Party/Thunderbitch
Gazebos - I Don't Wanna Be Here/Die Alone
Doe - Susanne/The Hand Cut Record Club
Light Music - Jack of All Trades/Ocean's Daughter
Lubec - Salar's Decay Theory/Wilderness Days
Parquet Courts - Slide Machine/Content Nausea
Superchunk - Slack Motherfucker/Live at Baby's All Right, Brooklyn, 12/3/15
The Saints - (I'm) Stranded/(I'm)Stranded

Hour 2: 1996
Beck - Jack-Ass/Odelay
D Generation - Major/No Lunch
The Afghan Whigs - Blame, Etc./Black Love
Pearl Jam - Habit/No Code
Screaming Trees - Witness/Dust
Soundgarden - Burden in My Hand/Down on the Upside
Chixdiggit! - (Feel Like) (Gerry) Cheevers (Stitch Marks on My Heart)/Chixdiggit!
Sloan - The Good in Everyone/One Chord to Another
Weezer - El Scorcho/Pinkerton
Guided by Voices - Acorns & Orioles/Under the Bushes Under the Stars
Tracy Bonham - Mother Mother/The Burdens of  Being Upright
Sebadoh - Prince-S/Harmacy
Frank Black - Men in Black/The Cult of Ray
The Tragically Hip - Gift Shop/Trouble at the Henhouse
Wilco - I Got You (At the End of the Century)/Being There
R.E.M. - Electrolite/New Adventures in Hi-Fi

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Completely Conspicuous 405: The First Half

Part 1 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling about our favorite music of the first half of this decade (2010-14). Listen to the episode below or download directly (right click and "save as").

Show notes:
- Looking back
- Breitling: My top albums of the 2013 and 2014 didn't make this list
- JB's #10 and JK's #9
- "The purest distillation" of this band's sound
- JK's #10
- Harking back to '70s glam punk
- JB's #9
- New sound for indie rock stalwart
- JB's #8
- Lots of side projects spun off from this band
- JK's #8
- A super outing from an indie supergroup
- JB's #7
- Unclear whether another release is coming from this act
- JK's #7
- Top pick of 2011
- Turned Out a Punk is an interesting podcast
- JB's #6
- Breakthrough for excellent indie act
- JK's #6
- Television-Velvet Underground sound
- 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, January 03, 2016

Make It Now Again

Oh, hello there, 2016. Didn't see you hiding behind that loudmouth with the stupid hair. Anyhoo, this is the post where I go on about all the great New Year's resolutions I'm not going to keep this year. I did it last year and I'm pretty sure I went 0-for the lot of them. There were reasons, of course. There are always reasons.

The year started off with a thud because I wasn't running. I took a few months off to take care of my sore heels. Instead of doing the usual physical therapy route, which hadn't worked the last few times, I went to an exercise physiologist recommended by some runner friends of mine. She determined that my glutes and hips were too tight, causing a lot of the issues with my feet, so she had me do a series of stretches to address them. And sure enough, it worked. I was running pain free by March. But then I stopped doing the stretching, and within a month or so, the pain returned. I eventually figured out I had to keep stretching; I couldn't stop even after I was running again. So after another visit in July, the physiologist got me back on the right track. It took a little while but I was able to get back to the point where I was pretty much running without pain by the late fall. The only problem was I was about 10 pounds heavier than I was a year ago, so the speed I had last year was gone. I tried to cut out some of the junk and actually got through November without eating so much as a single piece of candy. But then came the holidays and I started eating like crap again as well as drinking a lot of beer courtesy of the great Beer Advent calendar Deb gave me.

Thus, one goal (not a resolution) is to drop 15-20 pounds and get back to running at the pace I was in 2013-2014, when I was as fast as I ever was because I had dropped a bunch of weight at the end of 2012. Once again, I'm trying to cut out as much sugar as possible (no desserts, no candy, no soda), eat more fruits and vegetables and reduce the beer intake. I think it's an achievable goal.

Another resolution I made last year was to write more, especially here on this blog. I had mentioned the idea of posting in the morning, but I quickly discovered that my brain's not exactly firing on all cylinders first thing in the a.m. And once again the non show-related posts were few and far between. Although by year's end, I WAS writing more...just not here. Both were to be collaborative efforts where I was going to be pitching in along with other writers. One was the revival of the Cold As Ice hockey column that Stephen Mapes and I wrote for Popblerd a few years back; Stephen suggested we revive it as a blog for this NHL season and I agreed and built a WordPress blog for it. But after the first joint post we did, it's been all me (with some nice contributions from my buddy Phil Stacey), and unfortunately, I haven't done as much as I would have liked. But I'm hoping to pick up the pace a bit in the second half of the season. The other project was an idea that proposed on Facebook for the great Popdose site about Canadian AOR artists of the '70s and '80s. I was enthused and it appeared like it would be me and two other writers contributing to it. Then it was two of us. And now it's just me, but that's okay. The series is called EhOR and it's pretty fun to do; it's also very cool to be posting for Popdose, a site I've admired for years. I was hoping to do one post a week or even every other week, but there's a decent amount of research required, so it's more like once a month. I've done three posts so far (on April Wine, Coney Hatch and Max Webster) and am working on the next one (on Triumph). It's more of a nostalgia thing for me, looking back at old Canuck acts I used to dig when I was a kid (and eventually, I'll be getting into bands I know little about).

And there's still the other stuff: I recently passed the 400th episode of my podcast Completely Conspicuous. I'll admit that partway through last year, I was entertaining thoughts of ending the show. It was becoming a chore and I was starting to question the point of continuing. But I ended the year on a strong note and have been rejuvenated a bit. Not saying I won't change my mind, but I'm forging ahead for now. The radio show, Stuck In Thee Garage, probably requires the most work of anything of the extracurricular shizz I do, but dammit, I love doing it. It's also a blast to see doing so well; I'm proud to be a small part of it. And I'm still enjoying writing the running column for the Salem News. Plus, there's also the fact that it's the only of these things I do in my spare time for which I actually receive compensation. But as much as I'd love to do this stuff full time, I know full well that having a full-time gig is the only way I can do things like the podcast and radio show. If it was about the money, that would be one thing. These are fun things I can do while also being here for my family and doing thing like coaching soccer, running road races and playing hockey.

The other night, we were at a New Year's Eve party and a friend asked Deb what my actual job was, since I was so busy with all this other stuff. It's a valid question, but I guess the answer is I have a lot of interests and I'm not content to just come home and watch TV (I mean, I do that, too, but still...).

It should be an interesting year. Hannah's going to start high school in the fall (WHAT?) and I'm going to be a year away from the big 5-0, which is just too crazy to think about right now. But I'm healthy, my family's healthy and happy, work is going well and I don't have a whole lot to complain about. There's even hope for my usually hopeless sports teams: the Jays made the playoffs for the first time in 22 years last fall and should at least contend this year and the Leafs' endless rebuilding project is actually making progress (and the Pats won the Super Bowl last year; not sure about this year, though). Of course, the state of the world is another thing, but let's not get depressed right now.

MAKE IT NOW! (Again.)

Friday, January 01, 2016

Stuck In Thee Garage #111: January 1, 2016

Happy New Year! The beginning of a new year means the gyms will be packed with folks looking to get fit and keep their resolutions. While you're furiously trying to feel the burn, this week's Stuck In Thee Garage takes a look at the best indie rock of 2015.

This playlist is buff 'n stuff:

Hour 1
Artist - Song/Album
Courtney Barnett - Pedestrian at Best/Sometimes I Sit and Think, Sometimes I Just Sit
Palehound - Molly/Dry Food
Speedy Ortiz - Raising the Skate/Foil Deer
Colleen Green - TV/I Want to Grow Up
Jeff Rosenstock - Novelty Sweater/We Cool?
Mike Krol - This is the News/Turkey
Wimps - Take It As It Comes/Super Me
The 20/20 Project - Got It Made/Tapes and Crates
Mikal Cronin - Say/MCIII
Ty Segall - Drug Mugger/Mr. Face
Protomartyr - The Devil in His Youth/The Agent Intellect
Pile - #2 hit single/You're Better Than This
Krill - Foot/A Distant Fist Unclenching
Flagland - Awesome Song, Kerry Jan/Flagland-Washer EP
Philadelphia Collins - Dogsbody (feat. Sam Rosenberg)/Derp Swervin'
Nai Harvest - Spin/Hairball
Bully - Sharktooth/Feels Like
METZ - Acetate/II

Hour 2
Eagles of Death Metal - The Reverend/Zipper Down
Kuroma - Love is on the Way/Kuromarama
Nadine Shah - Fool/Fast Food
Hard Left - Imagination/We Are Hard Left
Titus Andronicus - Dimed Out/The Most Lamentable Tragedy
White Reaper - Pills/White Reaper Does It Again
Jesse Malin - Turn Up the Mains/New York Before the War
Mac McCaughan - Lost Again/Non-Believers
Barrence Whitfield and the Savages - Incarceration Casserole/Under the Savage Sky
Infinity Girl - Dirty Sun/Harm
Chandos - Cobra Points/Rats in Your Bed
Beach Slang - Young & Alive/The Things We Do to Find People Who Feel Like Us
Destroyer - Dream Lover/Poison Season
Wilco - Random Name Generator/Star Wars
Woolen Men - Hard Revision/Temporary Monument
Viet Cong - Continental Shelf/Viet Cong
Faith No More - Sunny Side Up/Sol Invictus
Sleater-Kinney - Surface Envy/No Cities to Love