DIFH

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My wife and I are having another kid who is due in late April. This time it is a boy. Despite his kick-ass onesie with an otter and a pun and having a penis so I can teach him about man stuff like football and spitting without feeling weird about it, I am nervous as fuck about all of this.

It seems weird, because my revisionist history tells me that before my daughter was born, all I could picture was all of the cool stuff I would get to do with her. I would teach her stuff about music and hockey and wrestling and whatever and she would hang on my every word and gaze up at me like a puppy and soak it all in and revere me; part teacher’s pet, part dachshund. For some reason, before the birth of Fat Noodle (we let his sister name him; what are you gonna do? She’s three. It’s our fault for giving her that much power) the stuff I am mostly worried about is the logistics. Where will he go to day care? How will we pay for it? What if they fight? How will I handle him being an annoying little brother like I was? What if he needs food? How will I pay for THAT? What if he wants to play hockey? He will want to play hockey and I won’t be able to afford it. I mean, I think I was nervous about a lot of this stuff before Lorelei was born, but it seems like it is rearing its ugly head way more. So, then I get nervous that all of my worry will make me a bad father towards him, or that I will end up resenting him for making me worry this much.

A weirder, more abstract worry that I have is that I really like my daughter. We are good friends. So, what if being some other dude’s father means I spend less time with her? Like, do I not get to hang out and play hide and seek with my favorite person in the world because now I have to watch over somebody else? This is such a dickhead thought to have, because clearly I will have to find time for both, and I will certainly like him as much as I like her. But man, what if I don’t? That could happen, right? I mean, what if he’s just a compete asshole? Or, what if he’s a good kid who gets driven to being an asshole because his dad loves his sister more? Heady stuff.

So, all of these things are stressing me out a bit. I was sick earlier this week, and I’m still not convinced that I didn’t will sickness upon myself just so I could lay on the couch for two days and not move and not have to think. But, two things are obvious: I need a new job so that I can afford this new person and I need to accept that I will love him unconditionally. I need to remember that he will be a different person from my daughter, and moldable and enjoyable in different ways. He is totally going to be the Owen Hart or Jeff Buckley reincarnate I had always dreamed of, or he won’t be and that’s cool, too. I guess. I always joked that Lorelei was going to be an Olympic gold medalist and then president and then the Pope. Now, I’ll have a kid that actually could be the Pope! Imagine, Fat Noodle I pontificating from his golden throne. What I need to accept is that I am an idiot, and having two kids will be awesome in a different way that having one kid was awesome.

But things are going to change and I have to accept that. Most days when I go to work, I write the letters D I F H on my hand, on the outside just above my thumb. It stands for “Do It For Her”. It is a reminder that sure my job sucks, but I don’t do it for me. I work hard and earn a paycheck to support people I love more than myself. I have to do things I don’t want to do to make my kid’s life easier. Now, all that changes is I have to change the H to a T, for Them. It will be a bigger challenge and it will be hard and I will have to do things I hate and I will forever worry. But dammit, if I can handle one, I can handle two, right?

Right?

Oh, right. Music.

I had a piece for Des Moines is Not Boring run yesterday about Gadema’s The Brighter Side of Nowhere. I like the piece and like the album, but man, did it just make me want to listen to Gadema’s Jim Kelly Acquisition again. You should go do that, too.

Is there a cooler song in the world than “Mr. Kelly”?

As for shows this weekend, well tonight is the annual Asklandaganza. Dubbed Ganza 666, go to Mews and see Poison Control Center, Derek Lambert and the Prairie Fires, Wolves in the Attic and Mantis Pincers. Every time Mantis Pincers plays, I feel it is the last time they ever will, and then I miss them. Then they play again and I am totally amped and I miss them again. This time, I was totally set to go, but I have to work, so I can’t. This will for sure be their last show now because I am that unlucky. So, go see Mantis Pincers while you can. More info is right here.

Saturday is packed. I think my pick if you could only go to one would be at Gas Lamp for The Melismatics . They’re a Minnesota band, and they are awesome. But Mews features an early show with HD Harmsen and Lesbian Poetry opening for the Canadian band Boats. Also, the late show is headlined by Sioux City Pete and the Beggars with Land of Blood and Sunshine and Trouble Lights, among others. And for those in Ames, you could check out the M Shop for Mumford’s, Peace Love and Stuff, Rebel Creek and Surgery. This happens to be Surgery’s album release show, so it is well worth your time.

So with Surgery’s album, that pretty much puts me at about a dozen albums I need to review. So come back Monday for some of that.

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The Legendary M-Shop Releases Its Spring Lineup


Here is a performance from one of the Ames Winter Classic bands Mumford’s shot at the M Shop. Check out The M Shop or on Facebook

I went to Iowa State for a year. I spent most of that time either hiding in my dorm room or in Des Moines playing hockey. This includes the times I was supposed to be in class. I wish I was a little more stable so that I would’ve appreciated my surroundings a bit more and actually done things like go to the M Shop and make friends. I did not, however. But I try to as much as I can now, and so should you because the M Shop is awesome. Here are a list of shows for the upcoming semester. These are open to the public, for the most part, so you should totally go. And don’t worry about being the creepy old guy at the college show, because I will hopefully be at some of these, and I will out creep you any day of the week, jack.

January
17 – Julian Lage
18 – Snowmine w/ The Olympics
19 – 2nd Annual Ames Winter Classic feat. Mumfords, Surgery and more
23 – Kopecky Family Band with The Eastern Sea
25 – Sixpence None the Richer

February
1 – Danika Holmes
2 – David Zollo
8 – Erin McKeown with Jenn Grant
15 – The Waymores
22 – Haley Bonar

March
6 – The Dangerous Summer
8 – John Primer
14 – Work Drugs

April
2 – Hayes Carll
5 – Hey Marseilles
6 – The Last Bison
10 – Jefferson Starship (author’s note: what!?)
11 – Kelly Richey
13 – The Dear Hunter
27 – The Envy Corps
28 – Schematic Tour with Dave Elkins of Mae

So there are some cool shows in there. Envy Corps and the Winter Classic event feature some great Iowa bands. I love Hayes Carll and Kopecky Family Band. Sixpence are better than you remember. And seriously what the fuck are Jefferson Airplane doing in there? That’ll be something. Tickets are available at Midwestix.com.

Some New Hip-Hop For Your Tuesday Morning

I don’t talk enough about the local hip-hop scene, mainly because outside a select few artists, I am kind of unfamiliar (and frequently unimpressed, but that’s neither here nor there). I mean, I see lots of shows that are listed, but for some reason I just haven’t reached far beyond my comfort zone. I guess what I am saying is, if you know of some local (and by local, I mean Iowa. Anywhere in Iowa) send it my way.

Now, a couple of artists that I am familiar have released some new stuff you should check out.

MC/Producer Aeon Grey has released his first track with Uncommon Records in advance of his forthcoming LP Lead Breakfast. The track is called “Milk and Bullets” and you can listen to it right here.

If you are looking to verse yourself a little more, some of Aeon Grey’s past work (but not Primate Curriculum, you should go buy that one) is available to download at this Bandcamp site, and I recommend you do that.

Another veteran Des Moines MC, Gadema, has released a new solo EP. Following on the heels of his group D.O.P.E. Clique’s (and one of my favorite albums of the last year), Blunt Force Trauma, Gadema has thrown out kind of a surprise seven track release, The Brighter Side of Nowhere. It’s quite awesome. I think it is my favorite solo work of his since Jim Kelly Acquisition. Go check it out here (along with the rest of his catalogue). It is pretty incredible. I hope to have a full review for this on Thursday at Des Moines is Not Boring, but check it out prior to that.

Review: Rosefield Rivals – Rosefield Rivals

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The other day I got bored and started perusing Bandcamp, and I noticed they had tags for specific locations, cities, states, etc. So you can just click on Des Moines, and everything tagged Des Moines pops up ( See, I wouldn’t steer you wrong. Also, this should keep you busy for a while). For some reason, it never occurred to me that the site had that option even though it is really easy to do that. I guess I don’t fuck around with tags, so why would anyone else, right? Well, as I was thumbing through the pages, I saw this album and figured I’d better give it a listen.

Rosefield Rivals is a name that I have heard for a long time. Yet, I had never really gotten a chance to listen to them because by the mid 2000’s they had all moved on to other things. So, with a digital chance to rectify a mistake, I’d better give it a chance.

It certainly feels like an album that came out in the early/mid 2000’s. It is power/punk/pop with a nod to a lot of bands that were popular at that time. While it reminds me of that particular time in our lives where Sum-41, My Chemical Romance and Blink-182 were dominating TRL, it doesn’t feel like a relic. Some of the genre’s peers tend to feel dated and eye-rolling, Rivals never really hit that point with me.

I think the key is the guitar work. Rivals hits hard very, very often. The guitar riffs are more akin to a pop metal act than a pop punk especially in “The Romance”. Musically, they are probably closer to Bad Religion than Simple Plan or Yellowcard. There is some real talent mixed up in the six songs and it shines quite often.

I think a lot of people (myself included) are willing to overlook stuff we feel is more indicative of the times. While going back to re-listen to things we once liked, often we get sucked up in the whole “ironic nostalgia” portion where no one wants to admit that they actually liked something. Instead, joking like an I Love The 90’s panelist and then making a dismissive wanking motion. Or some simply just won’t admit they liked something because it used to be popular, and now it isn’t as much. Call it the Hootie and the Blowfish problem, where they sold like ten million records, but no one will admit to buying one or ever liking them, which is silly. We all liked Hootie and the Blowfish, we should just admit it.

Now that we are far enough removed from the pop-punk mainstream scene, there is starting to be that same backlash. Poor Fall Out Boy and Sum 41 are almost more a punchline than they are a best-selling pop band at this point. The amount of albums they sold would suggest that at some point, somebody liked them. But if you really go back and look at the pop-punk genre, there are still some gems mixed in. Blink-182 had two albums I thought were legitimately great (Dude Ranch and Enema of the State). So did My Chemical Romance (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge and Black Parade). AFI’s Sing the Sorrow is still incredible. I will defend it to the death. And of course, Say Anything’s In Defense of the Genre still holds up really well. With clear eyes, a lot of this stuff gets overlooked and lumped into a time capsule and not revered as just really good albums.

While it is an album that is reflective of the times, it doesn’t ever feel dated, and I think that is a testament to the musicians and the talent involved. This one will probably be lumped into that time capsule for a lot of people, but I liked it. I’m not sure if this particular outfit would’ve had an audience as large in 2012, so it is probably good that they are all trying new things. But they should all be proud of what they accomplished. If you want to give it a listen,

Tires and Is Home Is In A Town Near You

Catch Tires and Is Home Is in a city near you.

Catch Tires and Is Home Is in a city near you.

According to my metrics, it ain’t just people from Iowa who come to this blog. Hopefully, it is people who are trying to learn about Iowa bands. Well, Tires and Is Home Is are two of my favorites, so if you are one of the latter group of people, you should go see them.

Look at that picture above. Find a town near you, hope TBA is a town near you and go see them. Simple enough.

Des Moines and Opportunities

Beef Cake passing around the drum machine during Little Ruckus' set. See all that confetti? I swept that all up because I am far too nice.

Beef Cake passing around the drum machine during Little Ruckus’ set. See all that confetti? I swept that all up because I am far too nice.

“Hey! He lives!” Chris Ford shouted to me just outside the Vaudeville Mews. I was a little sweaty from sweeping up a sticky floor covered in confetti, and the frigid air was vicious, having the smarts to know exactly how to get through my sweatshirt to smack against my bare skin, and malicious enough to do it as much and as often as possible. So, I was as cold as I have maybe ever been. Even though I was freezing, my face suddenly got warm and I stammered something I don’t recall back to Chris. Some sort of clichéd excuse for not being out and about as much as I had expected. I’m always a little awkward around him for some reason, but the combination of that and my embarrassment at being even playfully called out for not being around added to a flush face and a decided lack of eye contact. I was somehow overheated and frigid all at once. That was a pretty horrible experience. But he was right, I hadn’t been out in a while and I was out because a cookie told me to. Well, sort of.

I got a fortune cookie the other day that said “Be patient and keep your cool – the opportunities you seek are arriving soon.” This one caught my eye, and it wasn’t just the awkward dash (I mean come on, China, just use a period). I’m a guy who is constantly awaiting his opportunity, his chance, his one big break. My job takes so much of my focus and robs so much of my joy, that I am always looking for some sort of sign of life that will suddenly transport me out. Any little nugget that maybe that will all turn around. What’s funny, though, is I don’t really do all that much to try and better my situation. I just sort of expect the universe to provide, and when I get little messages wrapped up in my pre-packaged dessert, I feel like I am on the right track. This is stupid. So very, very stupid. Waiting for a chance is a horrifying and stressful existence. You think it’d be easy, but the mental anguish just isn’t worth it.

Putting in a little work actually, you know, pays off on occasion. And I mean even a little work. Not always, mind you, but sometimes, just getting off your ass and putting in the effort can actually bring about the results you want. Take this blog, for instance. There was a time when I put in some actual effort, and it paid off. I got some more writing gigs, some I actually got paid for and everything. Then I lost my focus and shit went south. Yet, I somehow think that I will carry the same weight I did a few months back when I was at this twice a day or four times a week or whatever. And well, that ain’t the case. The universe doesn’t work that way.

Now, while I do love to talk about myself, there is a broader correlation here. There are so, so many people who want Des Moines to be something bigger and better, a Midwest Portland or Nashville or some other “hip” city. But they are almost un-willing to put in the work to make the city just that. And really, all it takes is getting off your ass once in a while. I went out the other night, and I caught two awesome shows. I first went to a fun all-ages show with the Sandwich Eating Crew (Beef Cake, Trouble Lights and Little Ruckus) and had a blast. It wasn’t just the music, although I am a fan (as my archives will show), it was watching this group of men and women give a shit about something and watching the crowd, their friends mostly, but also a group of guys who I thought for sure were just mocking the whole proceedings until they started throwing up the SEC hand sign and throwing confetti with the rest of the folks, just be happy. They were energetic, they were sweaty, they were a little boozed, but mostly they were happy. It was a cool thing to see. It was cool to see people be happy, taking the chance that was given to them and experiencing joy.

Later on that night I went over to Gas Lamp and finally saw Viva Montesa live (also that show featured Christopher the Conquered, Mumford’s and The White Elephant. Yeah, it was awesome). Viva Montesa have so much energy and exude this handsome confidence that I couldn’t help but be drawn into. They’re like this musical version of Ryan Gosling, charming, good looking and surprisingly bad ass. Oh, but mostly they’re great at music. I had their latest album Everybody’s Got Something Good To Say at number two for 2012 (you can check out the rest of the list right here) and they didn’t disappoint live. But again, there was a large crowd who showed up, and an incredible band fed off of that. But here in one night were two fairly different shows, in two different places and all I had to do was show up and be entertained (I chose to sweep the floor, because I am a weirdo), and the bands did the rest.

Now what this has to do with opportunities is simple. There are shows like this all the time. There are ways to make whatever shows you want happen. There are ways to be involved with organizations who make Des Moines better, and there are ways to start that organization if you don’t feel it exists. What makes this town better is people giving a shit. It means getting out to a show, even if you aren’t sure you like the bands. Or maybe it means learning about local bands, finding a couple you like and then going to their shows. But it basically means doing some work and making your own opportunities. You say you want cool bands in Des Moines, then find a cool band and get them to Des Moines, or find some cool bands already here. You say you want more coverage for a certain genre, or band or whatever, then give them that coverage. You say you want things to change, well then change them. Then watch as opportunities come. The universe only provides you a place to make your mark, it will not provide you a pen.

So, let’s start simple. Go to a show tonight, or tomorrow, or sometime soon. Pick a genre of music you like and find a place playing that. It may require a little effort, but dammit, it is worth it. Even a little work can pay off in the end. Take the opportunities that you already have, don’t wait for them to come to you. You don’t always have to listen to desserts, regardless of how tasty. Right, Homer?