Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
(Frito-Lay, 2021) At first I (briefly) thought Cheetos, Funyons, and to a lesser extent, Doritos flavored potato chips were several dreams come true, but then I just got mad. Lays is supposed to be using advanced food science to make a chip that tries (and ultimately, yet nobly, fails) to suggest the flavor profiles, narrative, and spirit of complex regional entrees...maybe even simulating a whole meal Willy Wonka magic blueberry gum-style! This is just taking the dust from other chip-like snacks that they had lay-ing around and shaking it on their potato chips. What's next? A barbecue potato chip flavored salt and vinegar potato chip? A Pringles flavored Lay's chip? A potato chip bag flavored potato chip? La(y)me!*
Monday, September 27, 2021
(CAPITOL / UMe, 2021)
GUEST REVIEW BY GARY PIG GOLD
Yes indeed, it goes without saying that B. Wilson and his familial band full of brothers, cousins and friends have enjoyed a career quite unlike any other across the cuckoo annals of show business.
Scoring a local hit in 1961 straight off the mark with their very first little indie single, then soon after placing a sophomore release into no less than the hallowed Billboard Hot 100 – and all at a time when the majority of the guys still had to be home in time to attend class the next morning – The Beach Boys, it could be argued, really started their marathon run at the very tip-top, suicidally crash-dove towards oblivion a few short years later, and only then slowly but surely began their struggle back up the ladder of ever-lasting fame, fortune and, ultimately, all-American star-spangled glory.
Which just all goes to show, I suppose, that blood surely runs thicker than any critic’s ink, what gets around (from town to town) comes around and that, most obviously, Brian Wilson near single-in-handedly created a body of work which can surely withstand the most brutal scourges of both time and fashion.
That’s why it’s sometimes hard to fathom today that there was indeed a hole, roughly between 1966 and 1974, down which The Beach Boys truly hit rock ‘n’ roll bottom and were forced to really, really hustle their sunkist butts to keep everyone’s musical and financial heads above water. Bleak, sorrowful years when this once Beatle-caliber combo were reduced to hauling their act out on the road and into midwestern VFW halls alongside that Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. A pitiful period when their latest brave creations were routinely being scorned in favor of those from The Archies and even Grand Funk Railroad.
This was, in fact, a most harrowing era when, as no less a numbers man as Bruce Johnston Himself continues to recall, America’s Band could scarcely draw two hundred paying patrons to a series of gala performances within the very heart of New York City.
In a word then? Yikes!
Of course any other band with half its wits intact would’ve called it quits right about then – or at least ditched the “Surfin’ Safari” stagewear for starters. But the Beach Boys were more than just another pop group, weren’t they? They were FAMILY, first and foremost. And rather than remain one-upped by their musical neighbors so to speak, this musical household doggedly set about getting their affairs back in order, persisting along this rugged path for year after endless year …even when all around seemed hapless, hopeless, and far, far from harmonious. On any level.
Actually finding themselves without a homeland recording contract at the dawn of the Seventies, and with their guiding musical light apparently more interested in laying (low) than writing, arranging, singing and/or producing, Carl and Dennis Wilson, Al Jardine, Mike Love Not War and even that Bruce guy had no logical choice but to settle down to some good old-fashioned, decorum-be-damned hard hard work.
So first of all, every Boy still woke and mobile began by bringing the audio mountain to Mohammed, constructing a working studio directly beneath Brian’s Bel Air bedroom (not that that helped motivate their big brother much in the long run; nice try, though). Then they boldly formed their own record company and, crazier still, set about writing and recording a wave of albums which form not only the mythical, mystical candy core of the Beach Boys’ vast sea of tunes, but in retrospect actually hold much more than their own against such bally-hoo’d, Nixon-vintage contemporaries as the Eagles, Doobies, and even that Buckingham/Nicks-model Big Mac.
Yes, these hallowed yet too-often ignored releases from the Beach Boys’ “lost years” on their very own Brother Records imprint are literally jelly-packed with dozens upon dozens of gems you probably haven’t been able to hear enough of in years. For example, the once mega-maligned So Tough album from ’72 now sounds like no less than Carl and his Passions tackling Big Pink by way of Paul Buckmaster! And then there’s 1977’s The Beach Boys Love You, which dared to croon about roller skating, shampoo, and our favorite solar system smack dab in the middle of that Pistol ‘n’ Ramone-fuelled Summer of Hate.
Chronologically speaking then, the initial Brother albums Sunflower and Surf’s Up remain among the most universally cherished records on the planet, and both contain their fair share of Brian Wilson treasures for the ages – “This Whole World” and “Til I Die” most particularly – which rank easily amongst the very best Our Hero has yet to offer us all. Meaning: they’re some of the greatest musical works ever created by man or beast.
The two junior Wilsons blossom forth on these albums as well (“Long Promised Road” and the new box’s namesake “Feel Flows” prove Carl learned his lessons well whilst attending all those Pet Sounds and SMiLE sessions; Dennis, conversely – as always – forged his own musical identity within Sunflower somewhere between the rock-cockin’ “Got To Know The Woman” and the sweetly rhapsodic “Forever,” John Stamos be forever damned). Meanwhile, that then-new 16-track technology the Boys toiled upon under Brian’s bed(room) allowed the band to layer on those heavenly, heavenly harmonies as never before. Or, in truth, since. “Cool, Cool Water,” to mention just one, contains chorale cascades which will continue to astound the ear today, a half-century, and countless attempts at recreation since they were first meticulously piled onto tape.
Suffice to say, the music The Beach Boys made in the very early Seventies remains amongst their very, very best. No listener out there, discriminating or otherwise, should let these sounds slip on through unheard a single minute longer.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
(General Mills Records) The cereal came out a few weeks earlier, with the song links dormant and teasing, so we were building this up in a little too much I fear, because I sure wanted this to be better and funner and funnier. The "Behind the Music"-style promo video was kinda koooky and had some good moments, but the voices seemed off (there must be Rich Little Youtube tutorials on Lorre, Karloff, Lugosi impressions...and if not, you know General Mills has the the Caliendo coaching cash!) and I just expect more from these Saturday Morning TV commercial legends. Even if the record was this meh and they had it be a cardboard cereal box cut out record I woulda been appreciative enough of the effort to give this four skulls. Then again, original "Monster Mash" is in many ways a more perfect record than anything the Beatles made, so there was no chance of living up to that legacy no matter how many late nights in the lab they worked on this. I am still glad they made this.
Friday, September 24, 2021
(General Mills) Best monster cereal character design by far (the strawberry fingernails are magnificent) but at best a decent tasting fruity cereal. This is appropriate for a seasonal cereal but does not merit year round bowl time. That said, get excited about this every Fall!
Thursday, September 23, 2021
(General Mills) Of the Big Three of Monster Cereals this is the most exciting in that it doesn't seem to be guaranteed the annual re-release his more corporeal living dead colleagues enjoy, thus is a rare-er treat, but it tastes the worst of all of them. Definitely not particularly blueberry flavored. And not even blue, more purple-ish. I suppose they never said "blueberry" anywhere. Also, I hear they got rid of the chemicals in Monster Cereals that turned kids' poop colors...boo indeed!
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Monday, September 20, 2021
(ABC, 2021) Pilots often try to throw a lot in to lay out the scenario/hook you in/show what they are about, and this episode did A LOT. But that might just be the pilot, I will decide later if I want to watch this show. But I will say, no doubt, when Dule Hill shows up at the baseball field in this suit it was nice. This still does not do justice to how slick this outfit looked on TV. As of now, this is not the funniest sitcom going, but fuck it, Best Dressed is worth points.
Sunday, September 19, 2021
Saturday, September 18, 2021
Friday, September 17, 2021
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
Dim Dim Dak, 2021) Donley is best known, in a generous sense of that phrase, for the amazing Chicago 80s art rock/darkwave act DA! The heroes who found these recordings of Donley's later rock act are hyping this as the greatest lost band of all time, which is a stretch. As a local who sees bands what this sounds like is a local band that is better than most of the pack and should rise, if meritocracy was actually a thing, but not so magical that success is inevitable, or even likely. Donley was charismatic, her voice was strong and distinct, and working with David Thomas (also of DA!) she was able to create hooky, memorable songs. On spookier tinged (in goth vibe, not lyrics) tunes like "A.C. Radio" one can hear what this could have been if they became a thing that was a thing. But most of the tracks here have surprisingly unsurprising mainstream rock ambitions, a balance between "College Rock," the precursor of "Alternative" that took the edges off the underground aspects of indie music, and regular bar rock. Not bar rock as in Thirsty Whale cover bands, but as in surprisingly good Wednesday band at Avalon. The songs on here are catchy, intriguing, and if this was your friend's band you would be rooting for their success, and it would not be unfathomable. Bottom Line: You likely will listen to this a hundred times, so it will be a great value to grab a copy.
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Monday, September 13, 2021
Sunday, September 12, 2021
Saturday, September 11, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
Thursday, September 9, 2021
dwaynedopsie.com, 2021) Zydeco Blues Rock that sounds (very intentionally) like the non-novelty accordion forward Rolling Stones. Dude can sing, and his muscular playing is fun and tough and grooving. 20 more years iof this and he'll be in contention for zydeG.O.A.T.!
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Sunday, September 5, 2021
Saturday, September 4, 2021
(FridayMusic, 2021) In a very Record Store Day move these three absurdly overpriced single LP, non gatefold records add collectible colored vinyl to these late 80s/early 90s rarity comps. They do not add any liner notes or explanations of the songs beyond recording year and city of recording. And they opt to not improve upon the inept CD cover designs (which I guess is historical and OK, but weird when you are paying like $40 for a record that looks like a truck stop bootleg). In a very me on Record Store Day move I bought them all. These feature dozens of genuinely weird, quirky, oddball rarities, with each Monkee presenting songs/singing/weirdness very typical of them, and that so many of these songs/takes did not make the cut for their bubblegum pop and TV excursions is an asset, not a flaw. i mean, they sing about a gnome! These are great and obviously coulda been greater, but more obviously did not need to be. And I guess the vinyl colors are pretty!
Friday, September 3, 2021
(Columbia, 1987) Tastefully produced mostly by Willie (with three very slightly more popping tracks helmed by Booker T. Jones wrapping the record), this is a low key, mellow, and incredibly solid record from a year (heck, a decade) where many, many artists were betrayed by production and trends.The most outstanding achievement on here is one of the frequent re-recordings of his own 60s compositions that feels like it exceeds the original in quality. The at-risk-of-mawkishness child custody sing-talker "Little Things" was solid in 1968, but the tasteful, spare arrangement here and the seasoned vocals make this the best version. Also, there are no prevailing standards, philosophies, or quality control for Willie Nelson LP art, and this van art sleeve is definitely a step down from the cover of the album the originally hosted "Little Things."
Thursday, September 2, 2021