It’s Friday, I’m in love…

ello-optimized-66543959 (1)

Hey, guys.

This week’s playlist features a lot of new stuff. It’s all good, but pay particular attention to   London Grammar (obsessed), Waxahatchee, Japanese Breakfast, Beach Fossils, Hundred Waters, and Lorde. The Radiohead track, too, which comes from the OK Computer reissue. It’s the best Smashing Pumpkins song that Billy never wrote.

As always, you can access the playlist here in WordPress. Or here on Spotify. And this blogpost will be on Facebook when I figure out why Zuck is stripping the header images out of my stuff there and telling people to login to here. And it’ll be on Twitter eventually. Enjoy.

Header image: Joe Gegan (@joegegan on Ello). Hope your Julys have been ok.

More soon.



It’s Friday I’m in love…

ello-optimized-45b73b65 (1)

Hey, guys. What’s up? Thematic playlist this week.

I was in college from 1987 to 1991. Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet dropped near the end of my junior year. I had listened to It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Me Back a lot. It beat out Sonic Youth’s epic Daydream Nation for #1 on the Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop poll in 1988. (DN has aged better, imo.) I didn’t listen to a lot of rap/hip-hop back then, but the accolades for ITAN made me curious.

PE was/is challenging. They’re definitely an east coast outfit. But unlike contemporaries  KRS-One’s Boogie Down Productions, PE just sounded denser? That’s a vague word. I’m really in deep water here. There was just something different about Chuck D and Flavor Flav rapping over the beats of Terminator X and the production of the Bomb Squad that made my far-suburban Chicago (Indiana) ears pay attention.

FOABP was even better. That record changed my life. It moved and woke me. Not in a cheesy, apologetic-liberal way. In an honest way. PE opened my eyes to some real things and inherent biases that I just accepted, as somebody who grew up in a mostly-white town in a mostly-white state.

So I started listening to hip-hop. That was the era of Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer, when the stuff went mainstream and MTV had a show called Yo! MTV Raps. I didn’t follow music then like I do now, so I can’t give a great background on this playlist. It’s just tracks that I heard as younger person – a snapshot of the late ’80s/early ’90s. Some meant something (and still do), some didn’t.

I stopped listening to hip-hop when I heard Pavement and Superchunk for the first time. That was around 1993, my second year of law school. My best friend back then wasn’t into raps. I made him a mix tape of the best I had. He demurred, and made me a mix tape with Slanted and Enchanted on one side and No Pocky for Kitty on the other side. I was sold on indie rock and really haven’t looked back, as OM would confirm when we talk about Kendrick Lamar.

In later years, my best friend discovered hip-hop. Wu-Tang Clan and that orbit, mostly. So this is dedicated to MRH. Miss you, dude. You’d appreciate this now. And we’d laugh about Fab Five Freddy.

Header image is by Tim McFarlane (@timmcfarlaneart on Ello). An echo of the Jay-Z/Kanye West record Watch the Throne, which is awesome.

More soon.



Grateful Dead Monthly: Red Rocks Ampitheater – Morrison, CO 7/8/78


On Saturday, July 8, 1978, the Grateful Dead played Red Rocks Ampitheater in Morrison, Colorado. It was the second night of two, and their debut there.


Located ten miles west of Denver, and owned by the city and county, Red Rocks has been a music venue since the beginning of the 1900s. It’s current design dates back to the New Deal, when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  According to Wikipedia, the Beatles played the first rock concert at Red Rocks on August 26, 1964. Its capacity is a mere 9,525.

According to rumor circulated by blogger BourneDead, 7/8/78 was in the group of Betty Boards with 5/8/77 snagged at the storage locker auction that I mentioned in May’s GDM. The Red Rocks shows are now two of the five released as the July 1978: The Complete Recordings box set. As consistently good as most of 1977 was for the Dead, 1978 was more uneven. Some great shows, some not so great. 7/8/78 falls into the former group. It’s famous for a reason, guys.

t-shirt alt

The first set opens with the pretty common Bertha > Good Lovin’ segment. There’s a really nice versions of Bobby cowboy songs El Paso and New Minglewood Blues. And the Ramble On Rose has a sweet Jerry solo.

Jack Straw

The second set, though, is where the magic really happens in two massive segments that bookend Drums > Space. There’s an atypical and fantastic Estimated Prophet > The Other One > Eyes of the World. Here’s LN’s own Dead guru ECM:

“In a show that has so many highlights, it’s difficult to narrow it down to one favorite. But if I were pressed to do so, I would pinpoint the smokey segue between Estimated Prophet and The Other One. Jerry uses his Mutron to create what I visualize being huge, groovy bubbles of musical notes that ring into the cosmos and carom off the majestic, jagged red rocks surrounding the amphitheater. Cymbals quietly splash about in the background. The drummers drop into the tribal drum beat signaling The Other One. The pace quickens and the tension builds until is is unbearable. Finally, Phil emerges with his signature entry by dropping a bass bomb of such cataclysmic proportions that it surely must have shaken a few rocks loose.”


There’s a great essay by Michael Parrish about the evolution of Drums > Space on the Grateful Dead Guide blog. The band had always been percussive, but the traditional segment that we all love to hate (and sometimes hate to love) became a second set staple during the Spring 1978 tour. Parrish explains:

“The beginning of the 1978 spring tour was the point when ‘drums’ became a ritualized part of the Dead’s performances. During that tour, the ‘percussion jam’ featured not only the two drummers, but also the other band members, roadies, and hangers on, all onstage banging on a variety of percussion instruments. These free-for-alls appeared to be fun for all concerned, but rarely made for memorable music. By the summer, the drum duels were stripped down to Billy and Mickey going at it furiously.”

The version here isn’t particularly noteworthy, but what follows is: an even more atypical and excellent Wharf Rat > Franklin’s Tower > Sugar Magnolia.  The band closes with a rare triple encore, including a short, punchy version of the recent Terrapin Station.


Ticket Stub 7.8.78.jpg

7/8/78 wasn’t just a part of the July 1978 box set. It also got it’s own official release. You can find it on Spotify. Enjoy.

More soon.




It’s Friday, I’m in love…


Hey, guys. Happy Friday.

Here’s a playlist, if you’re interested. This one is allovertheplace in a good way. I’m still whittling down the massive lists that I started and abandoned in May, so I’m not sure how much of this qualifies as new. Newness and relative newness from Cut Copy, Phoenix, Washed Out, Drake, dvsn, Vince Staples, St. Vincent, The National, Lorde, Ryan Adams, and LCDS. And from a couple of Canuck collectives, too – that lot from Montreal and the true ballers from the Six … Heaven’s own orchestra: Broken Social Scene. The rest is less new, but still good. Bowie’s Big Brother has been a go-to lately (love the over-the-top-theatricality in service of a sorta weak concept).

I’ve done 50 tracks for the past two playlists. I’m not sure if that’ll be a permanent change (what’s another five tracks between friends), but I’m quite sure that I’m out of practice with this. Hopefully, I’ll get my groove back.

Have great weekends, all around. Phish is in Chicago, so my best friend and I will be at the Saturday show. I’d promise a review, but that got me into trouble last year around this time, haha.

More soon.