Thursday, September 30, 2021

This dude on Amazon's LuLaRich

(Amazon, 2021) Lots of really great people in this documentary (in addition to the expectedly riveting Televangelist power couple-esque super villains). Many of the talking heads are extra good because they have been on camera triumphantly hawking hideous leggings on Facebook Live for years, learning how to sell like hell. But this dude, a non-on camera data entry/call center dude outraged by the company's chicanery, is the 2021 documentary MVP. Just watch it. And don't get seduced by a Pyramid scheme, please. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Eric Bibb "Dear America"


(Provogue, 2021) Dignified, sincere protest blues lamenting racism in the now, the 90s, the 50s...and all the other times. Somehow this seems pretty hopeful and lovely despite the empirical evidence it presents. Maybe because he knows as long as a veteran bluesman can execute a totally groovy-assed train song there is hope.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Lays bad chip ideas 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!*

*That is supposed to be "lame" merged with Lay's, not an incite to "lay me," which this potato chip company is certainly not welcome to do. Until they can create a convincing Jim Shoo chip.

Monday, September 27, 2021

The Beach Boys “Feel Flows”

(CAPITOL / UMe, 2021)

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

Goldfish Veggie Crackers


(Pepperidge Farm) I guess these are slightly carroty-er, but kinda the same. They still smile back, and these days I really need that, so thank you, fish.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

The Monsters "Monster Mash"

(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

Frankenberry cereal

 (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

Boo Berry cereal


(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 indeed!

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Count Chocula cereal


(General Mills) "Count Chocula" is the only Monster Cereal that tastes good enough to be a year-round table treat and Count Chocula the character has a funny enough design and a good enough personality that if he'd had his own cartoon it woulda made Groovy Goolies look like Drak Pack.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Monster Mash cereal


(General Mills) As we enter the pre-Halloween spooky season it is tragic and depressing and impossible to ignore that we live in an age of true horror when the actual non-fake news of the brutality, stupidity, injustice, and hatred of our neighbors, countrymen, and government feels like a hopeless beacon of actual, inevitable doom. So we have never needed moments of dumb, absurd, genuine joy more than now. I only hope that others got as much excitement as I did out of the simple perfection of this whatever the grocery industry equivalent of a Pulitzer Prize is-worthy achievement. To celebrate a half-century of monster cereals General Mills put all the flavors and marshmallow shapes of their five monsters (including their appropriately maligned 80s entry Yummy Mummy) in one box and called it, sublimely, "Monster Mash." And did I mention that they are now an Archies-esque cartoon rock band? This doesn't even taste that good. Yet it is the cereal I needed now. And I love it. True thanks to whatever god or devil is responsible for making monsters in cereal form. And the band is even releasing a song! Thanks to this I now truly believe that the world could be worse!

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Wonder Years

(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

Chicago Party Aunt

(Netflix, 2021) I was not being a bitchy negative nelly, I wanted to like this. But it's just not funny. I don't care to nitpick about Chicago details, or that it's in Wrigleyville when she seems more South Side-ish, or this or that...I actually want to watch to see Chicago stuff, and chuckle at, and have warm nostalgia for,  pee troughs in stadia...but it's just not funny. I think many people involved in the show are funny; I almost always laugh at Ike Barinholtz. But damn, something about this boring designed, striving for mediocrity show clearly sucked all joy out of whatever they were trying to do. Just not funny.

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Eddy Grant "Grandes Exitos Vol. 2"

(Ice, 1982) Eddy Grant is so great. I think the Equals songs are equal in greatness to the Rolling Stones and his solo take on Island/African roots pop has as many solid songs IMHO as almost any artist rom the 70s and 80s other than Lauryn Hill's Father In Law. This record has "Living On the Frontline," "Hello Africa," and "Can't Get Enough of Yo," amongst other grand exits, and I keep flipping this platter over and over...Can't Get Enough of You, EG!

Friday, September 17, 2021

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Ritter Corn Flake (full size)


(Ritter) OK, I've previously only had these in mini size, like 3/4 of an ounce or so, and never knew they came as big, thick-assed candy bars. This is still good but it's too good and too much and I can't even deal with it. There is so much milk chocolatey wonderfulness that it's kind of disgusting. The sublime mini is the way to go, Johan.

Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Lorna Donley & The Veil "Time Stands Still"


(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

Rudy Ray Moore "This Ain't No White Christmas"

(Dolemite Records, 1996) This takes some of Rudy's older 1070s' Christmas material and adds some newer material, like Pee Wee Herman masturbation jokes. There is an Andre Williams 45 on Norton where he offers to blow Santa, but I think Santa may actually have a wilder night on this record.

Monday, September 13, 2021

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Get Smart! "Oh Yeah No"

( This is a set of lost late mid-80s recordings of these primarily known as early-mid 80s Chicago-ish (really Lawrence) pleasantly poppy post punkers. Chicago-ish as members hung out here, and were later in Dolly Varden, Honeybees, Twang Bang, and probably a buncha other groups. They had a few solid records, and were on the Enigma comp with the "Blind Man's Penis" song, and they had great guitar sounds and wonderful vocal play between the husky magic of Lisa's borderline-eerie singing and the cool-ly complimentary voice of Marcus. Call me Barbara Feldon, because I would give this a 99!

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Friday, September 10, 2021

Q Grapefruit mixer

(Q) While I am not completely convinced this prestige tonic water company is not bankrolling the QANON apocalyptic stupidity plague, I do gotta admit that this is a wonderful can fo pop! Simply lovely!

Thursday, September 9, 2021

Dwayne Dopsie "Set Me Free"


(, 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

Sloks "A Knife In Your Hand"

 (Voodoo Rhythm, 2021) Sl-ROCKS! Ominous euro-punk featuring a vocalist whose Lena Lovich meets a creaking haunted house hinge vocals makes me tingle. Heavy as a full-sized lead elephant dropped on your private elephant parts!

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Voodoo Rhythm Label Compilation #5


(Voodoo Rhythm, 2021) Horror-frying schlock and ghoul m-eeewww-sick to break your stylus. best label in the world (if the world is Switzerland!).

Sunday, September 5, 2021

Dippin' Dots Cereal


(Diipin' Dots, LLC) The cerela of the future...of being terrible!

Rocky "Wadda Ya Wanna Be...When You Grow Up?"

(Roulette, 1983) I have either lost my ability to find what I want in the corners of Internet or in zines of yore, or no one has figured out what the hell this is yet. And I ain't the one to do it: the very very odd "grow up" collage on the cover seems to imply he is from New York (he dreams of growing up to be on [a Sunday softball team called] The Yankees; he appears to have Italian heritage (that face in the baby pic! Plus his mafia job fantasy); he was kinda hooked up (Frampton does a solo); and he had serious pop promise ( there are tunes that sound exactly like XTC and a story song that falls halfway between Billy Joel and Gas Station Dogs). Figuring out the who, hows, whys and where are they nows of this must be a WFMU DJ or a Norton intern's persons task, I do not have the tools or proximity. And how can this be on Roulette in 1983, complete with the orange checkerboard label? It is on every streaming service so someone involved still believes in it, but who is that person? WHAT IS THIS? WHAT HAPPENED WHEN HE GREW UP?!? Brag:  I paid $1, a full 56 cents below the average price on Discogs (where there is so little info on this record that they don't know Frampton is on it). 

Saturday, September 4, 2021

The Monkees "Missing Links" Volumes 1-3

(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

Willie Nelson "Island In The Sea"

(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

Moms Mabley "live at the greek theater"


(Mercury, 1969) Moms is very funny on this, but it's relatively polished and audience is less raucous than on some of her earlier, more thrilling Chess records. But coming out the same year s her serious vocal LP this is elevated by having a fine funk song, and better yet, a straight novelty song, "Hide the Whiskey," featuring a weird in-song laugh track. I love Moms Mabley.

Wednesday, September 1, 2021