Ramona & The Swimsuits – Make a Splash

Yo, I have to tell y’all about this woman at work today. For those unaware, when I am not procrastinating about being a blogger, I am a manager for a prominent retailer. It has been a little hellish lately, and since no one cares about stories from corporate retail, I will not go into details here. In the last week, I have been struggling to be successful at a certain task and have dealt with some just horrible people because of it. One guy essentially called me an identity thief because I wanted his email. Not my company, me personally. But today man, today was just a stand up comedian’s dream.

A fat woman came in with her fat friends and fat kids and probably fat mom. At the very least it was a fat old woman who got sucked into the fat family’s gravitational pull. Or maybe they were just stuck together by a thin film of caramel and couldn’t get unattached. Now, I’m not one to pick on someone just because they have weight issues. Some of my closest friends are fat. I’m not using that as an excuse, I’m just saying that I normally only pick on them for it, not complete strangers. Hell, I ain’t exactly svelte, myself. I’m a long ways removed from being a 170 hockey player. Anywho, she was fat, but that’s not the point of the story. She was fat and she screamed at her kids and she poured this sort of yellowy discharge that was likely sweat, but it didn’t appear to be the right color. Plus, it wasn’t all that warm today. Heck, for all I know it might have been Pam. She may have had to spray herself with it just to get out of her mini-van. Like jaws of life in a can. Did I mention she was fat? I also mentioned that wasn’t the point, so I will move on, but yeah, fat. She was also a horrible person. She stomped around verbally abusing people at a Spinal Tap 11 level. She also thought it was prudent to spank her probably near teen children for daring to ask for something and she was just being an overall horrible person.

So anyways, at one point after she was done screaming at her children and striking them in public like they were a malfunctioning appliance, something in my head just clicked. For every problem in my life that has weighed me down (dwindling bank account and an unfortunate, go nowhere career being the big two) and ruined my time on this here planet, things could be worse. I mean, I have a good family, an awesome kid, two dumb cats almost 400 Facebook friends, many of whom I have actually met in public and everything. I could just be a miserable fat person beating children in public and dripping of non-stick cooking spray. And I ain’t. So, now I’m in a better mood.

I got home and decided I was just going to pick a fun album and listen to it and write about it, and this is what I picked. Ramona and the Swimsuits. I like this album, but not in a musicianship way. I don’t listen to this the same way I do, say, Pet Sounds. Now, I know these folks are all talented musicians. Drummer Kate Kennedy is one of my favorite songwriters in the world. Derek Lambert is super talented and in a bunch of awesome bands, including his own, Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires. Also, they are the Lys, of Leslie and the Lys fame. So, the pedigree is there.

But what I like most about them is that it is clearly just four friends having fun singing silly songs about markers, and drawings of cats and baby juggling and cable television. It is hard to not just smile at the lyrics and the low-fi warble of it all. I just know that they had a blast making the record while eating spaghetti at Leslie Hall’s house.

I think the thing I like most about this album is that it exists. I feel like the whole thing was maybe even just written and recorded completely on the fly, and that makes me happy. But it still really, kind of good. I mean, “Karen’s Dad” is easily my favorite song ever about a father who tapes over a talent show for an episode of Cops because he works too hard and just wants to watch Cops and feels bad about it. But the song is right, it is kind of funny. And, I straight up adore “Come On Man”.

While they feel like something a group of friends did one night while hanging out, they are a real band and everything. In fact, tonight they open for the great David Liebe Hart, best known for his work on Tim and Eric. Vaudeville Mews, tonight at 7pm, so you don’t have a lot of time. So, go, smile and at the very least remember that things could always be worse. A lot worse.

Click the banner image to listen to the album or go here for more info on tonight’s show.

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This Week @ Des Moines is Not Boring

Hi. You’re looking well. I’ve missed you.

New review over at Des Moines Is Not Boring. I talk about Roxi Copland’s new album Pretty Lies. It is a pretty interesting album in that it is just a pretty voice and keys. It kind of sounds like one of those nights where you go into a random bar and it is just a singer and a keyboard. You kind of ignore them while you sip your drink and talk to your friends about, I dunno, American Idol or old high school stories or sports or whatever. Then every once in a while there is a lull in the conversation and you stop to listen and realize the singer is actually pretty good, but you kind of go back into your world even though she never stopped being awesome. This is the album version of if you would just shut up and just listen and stop thinking about yourself so damned much and just paid attention to the art around you and appreciate the beauty you have available.

Anyway, that made sense in my head.

Go here to read my review.

Oh, this is the last week to vote on the 80/35 play in semi finalists. All the sets have been long posted, so you have no excuse to go listen and then make an educated vote, if you haven’t already. Isn’t an informed populace much better than a popularity contest? I know a girl who voted for Bush over Gore because she thought Bush was cuter. Don’t be that girl. Be smart. Head this way to listen and vote.

Review: Grouplove w/ Reptar at Wooly’s 5/16

Wooly’s green room as decorated by Grouplove’s Sean Gadd (from Grouplove’s Facebook page)

 

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Quintron and Miss Pussycat w/ Utopia Park and others – Tonight at Vaudeville Mews!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Organ music. Sweat. Puppets. Dancing. Maracas. Geniuses.

There, I just summed up why you have to go to tonight’s show. I don’t think I need to say anything else to get you to go to tonight’s Quintron and Miss Pussycat show at Vaudeville Mews. This is such an interesting and unique show that you really should go out of your way to get to it. Quintron is such a genius producer/organ player that it is an impossible not to dance to. Making his name in New Orleans, Quintron uses a lot of that New Orleans style to make music a wholly unique electronic music experience. If it wasn’t enough that the music itself is unlike anything else in the world, his co-collaborator and wife Miss Pussycat has a unique voice and is also a master puppeteer, which gets incorporated into their live show.

As if that weren’t enough, joining them on this show is Fairfield’s Utopia Park. The genius Rabalais brothers, Philip and Dominic, are also members of some of Iowa’s best acts like Surgery, Little Ruckus, Trouble Lights and the outstanding new group Animal (seriously, give this a listen. I will be talking about this at length soon). Together, though, they make some of the loudest most chaotic electronic dance punk you will ever hear. Philip’s production and Dom’s hurricane stage presence allows them to be two of the most interesting and talented musicians you will ever come across.

Also playing tonight are We Shave and The Whether Report. $10 and an 8pm start. 21+. Get there.

Last Week @ Des Moines Is Not Boring

I wrote this last week and am just now getting around to posting it. I have been lazy and for that I offer my sincerest apologies. There have been a lot of cool goings on lately, and I hope you were able to get to some of them. I caught a couple of sets at a couple of different places on Saturday and should have a post up about them very soon. With just the insane amount of stuff coming up in the next few weeks, I am going to get back to doing at least a post a day here so, hooray?

Anyway this is about Ladysoal, who you may remember as one of the 80/35 play in semi-finalists. There is still time to vote and now all the acts have their sets posted, so no reason to not be informed. Go here to listen and to vote.

And go here to read about Ladysoal.

New Bands Announced For 80/35

This is always my favorite time of the festival season, when the headliners and main stage acts are all announced (although adding Atmosphere this time around is huge) and we start to get some of the free stage acts announced. While a lot of the time, the free stage acts are locals and I like to think I’m pretty familiar with most of them, 80/35 always surprises me with one or two regional and national bands that were a little under the radar.

Last year’s big surprises to me were Pink Mink, Gold Motel and The Handsome Furs. All three were incredible acts to discover and although I may not have caught all of their sets, just knowing about them was awesome.

This year, the big surprises for me are Now, Now (who everyone seems to know about but me…) and Night Moves. I was lucky enough to hear some tracks from Jaill a few years back, otherwise they would’ve been on the list as well. Hopefully, there is someone on this list of new acts who you weren’t expecting and now are a must see.

As for locals, well, along with Mumford’s, Maxilla Blue, Leslie and the Lys and Sundogs we have Derek Lambert and The Prairie Fires, Mantis Pincers, Pieta Brown, Dead Larry, Dustin Smith and the Sunday Silos and a trio of exciting EDM artists, Jesse Jamz, Brad Goldman and Jade Reed, among others.

There is still the play-in winner to be decided as well, so hopefully you have been following along with that.
I’m not sure if DMMC plans any further announcements. Going Friday-Saturday has limited the amount of bands they can feature, so hopefully they aren’t done altogether, but well, we might be out of space at this point.

So, take a minute and head over to 80/35’s website and read some band bios, click some links and get acquainted.

RIP MCA

It is always a little odd to write an obituary about someone you didn’t know. I didn’t know Adam Yauch. We didn’t get together to watch Knicks games or sit around and tell stories about our neighborhoods growing up. Our families never met and our children didn’t play together. For all I know, Adam Yauch could’ve been a jerk. I choose to believe that he wasn’t, but, hell, what do I know?

Here is what I do know. When I was 14, my mom dated a guy who had unique tastes in music. They didn’t date long, and I don’t think I could honestly tell you his name, for certain. I want to say Norman. What I do remember is one day he wanted me to listen to something he was in to, so he handed me a copy a Psychedelic Furs Midnight to Midnight. I wasn’t interested at the time (because 14-year old me was kind of stupid) but I listened and to reciprocate I handed him my copy of Ill Communication. I don’t know why that seemed like a fair trade, but I wanted to seem cool, and at 14, there was no one cooler than the Beasties.

There was something about their juvenile antics and hoarse flow that spoke to me. It was something that a horribly depressed teen like myself could cling to and idolize. Here were grown ass men, doing exactly what they wanted and absolutely didn’t care what anyone thought. I wanted to be them, but I just didn’t have the guts. They were three dudes who wanted to rap and maybe, occasionally play a punk song. They wanted to speak about whatever came to mind and rhyme John Woo and Rod Carew. They wanted to dress up like 70’s detectives and make the most awesome music video anyone has ever done or will ever do again. They just wanted to have fun and live in a world they wanted to live in.

To an adolescent, wannabe class clown who essentially used humor as a defense mechanism, and thought his poetry was going to change the world and he would one day leave this one horse town and make something of himself, just as soon as he got out of bed and turned on the lights, I couldn’t comprehend actually living a life you wanted to live. Here were three guys who used humor simply to be funny, because they wanted people to laugh and have as much fun as they were having. Here were three men who used their fame to make the art they wanted to make, while also being grown up enough to understand there was a world bigger than them. Here were three fathers, husbands, brothers, sons, etc. who knew that their place in society was to make it better for other people, through their fame, through their art and hell, through their antics.

They performed and lived on their terms. They toured with a giant penis as a stage prop, just because they thought it was funny. They threw a gigantic benefit for the people of Tibet, because they felt like it was their duty as well known performers and they broke open barriers and kicked down doors because well, there was a door and they had feet and, you know, the door was kind of in their way.

As an adult, I can only strive to be the man that I think Adam Yauch was. A pure artist, who somehow managed to not take himself too seriously. (I mean, read this response to a negative critic.) A man who wanted nothing more than to be himself, take care of his family, and then use whatever else he could to make this world better. I think we would all benefit if we took that attitude. I wish every day that I had the balls to do what I want to do and be what I want to be, just like MCA did. Even at 32, I am inspired, amazed and flabbergasted that he did just that.

So, it is with a heavy heart that we say farewell, but the beauty is that we can forever live with his art, and with his spirit, and most importantly, his ideals. His spirit of childish recklessness, his duty to help and his thoughtfulness towards humanity. And hopefully, wherever his soul may be, I hope they serve soda and pie.

Kick it.