Friday, April 27, 2012

Artist Primer: Fountains of Wayne In Five Songs

I don't know how many times I've heard it:
Me: "Yeah, I've been listening to a lot of Fountains of Wayne lately, you check out that mix I made you?
Other Person: "Uh, yeah. I checked out a couple of songs it's ok..."
Me: "..."
And so it goes. Fountains of Wayne isn't a hipster band. They have no edge, they're goofy, nerdy, over-the-top poppy and shamelessly suburban. Basically, it's everything that you went to college to avoid. If there were an anti-Cure or Talking Heads this band, with their lack of self-seriousness or pretensions, would be it. Sure, they love to pay homage to the 80's, but they were rockin' Ric Ocasek back then, not D. Boon.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Six Chicago Records To Soundtrack Your Spring

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit this but for a long time I never really did my homework when it came to the local Chicago music scene. When I first got into "cool" music in high school, I was living in the suburbs and focusing on the big musical guns - your Clashes, your Pixies, your OutKasts. As I went through college, I began to delve deeper but, living away from my hometown as I was, I didn't get much beyond Kanye, Wilco and a few other Chicago heavy-hitters. 

Since moving into the city after college I've worked my way way deeper and deeper into the city's pool of local artists like an old man slowly lowering himself into a steaming hot bath and it's been equally invigorating. Although I know I'm just scratching the surface, I've loved having the chance to start seeing groups multiple times around town, discover new artists and generally start to feel the sense of community that scenes build. It takes a certain kind of artist to choose to make it in Chicago. Working out of the coastal spotlight one has to have a bit of humility. The winters require fortitude and both the frenetic nature of local gigs and the difficulty to be noticed sure require a good work ethic. It's all these traits that help tie Chicago musicians of various stripes together. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Vinyl Vacation: "Talking About My Baby" - The Impressions

Yes, this is exactly what it looks like.

Now's right about the time when you mutter to yourself, "as if the whole 'indie music blog' thing weren't bad enough, now he's upping his pretentiousness game with some paen to vinyl?"

And to you, fair reader, I can only answer honestly, "Yes, yes! A thousand times, yes!" Well, at least those three times.

Maybe it's my freakishly completist nature run amok but I have recently come close to burning out on music. The seemingly upstanding desire to stay informed can, when combined with the seemingly beneficial creation of a vehicle for delivering near-infinite music day or night, become a cruel curse.

I have to just admit it - there's always going to be more good music out there than I can listen to. By an increasingly widening margin. This fact may be a mixed bag in terms of how we consume music but it seems immutable, at least until we're bombarded by Chinese EMPs or something. My reasons for not turning to vinyl (the cost, the pretentiousness, the bulkiness, the COST) were utlimately outweighed by the fact that I knew it would help me slow down and narrow my musical focus. Let's just say that after many years of resistance, I was finally forced to concede a point to my high school economics teacher, the limited nature of physical product has not only increased its value to me, but been a sanity-inducing limit I so desperately need.

Therefore, after a long struggle I finally gave in, bought a garage sale stereo, asked for a turntable for Christmas and myself the hip new bourgeois fetishist collectible. The Vinyl Vacation feature here at On Warmer Music will be my outlet for sharing the fruits of my stroll down the garden path of outdated musical technology, tempting you with the, if not forbidden, then at least forbidding fruits of 45's and 33 1/3's.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Concert Review + Pictures - Fucked Up at Lincoln Hall, April 9, 2012

"So then I get home from the office and am trying to finish my work when remote server kicks me off while I'm in the middle of something and then I just say 'You know what? I need to go to a punk show.'"

At the time that struck as just about the best possible way that Matt could prepare himself for a concert like this. Forget pre-gaming, just build up an undercurrent of white collar anger and frustration. It's the emotional powder keg that Fucked Up's three-guitar attack was specifically designed to set to spark. 

Friday, April 6, 2012

How A Resurrection Really Feels - The Hold Steady

I was at a show last weekend and I mentioned to an acquaintance that I'd given up beer for Lent when he looked at me, a little surprised and said "don't take this wrong way but you're not the kind of person I expected to be religious." Leaving aside my beliefs about the equivalency between belief and metaphysics, the positive power of organized belief or any other religious justifications, let me just say that I took his statement as a compliment.

Yes, I'm a Catholic. Not even of the "lapsed" variety (at least not entirely), which might be a bit more common in the music world, Craig Finn and I have that in common. Without sounding too much like some guy with an acoustic guitar who wants to tell how how Jesus is the biggest "rock star" of all time, I would like to argue that religion and rock are just as natural bedfellows as foes. While at best, most people might cop to being "spiritual but not religious", organized religion and music subcultures fill a lot of the same basic needs. They're centered around ways of trying to understand the world each with it's own group worship sessions and holy books/songs to be mediated upon at home. In the same way that cops and criminals often end up with more similarities to each other than to others they know, I feel like religion and rock (or "underground culture" in general) are often just doing the same thing differently. Anyway, that's the kind of thing I often think about this time of year as I punch up The Hold Steady on my headphones for it's annual heavy Lenten/Easter rotation.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Concert Review: Nada Surf at Metro, April 2nd 2012

I'd started to doubt Nada Surf. Mea culpa.

I had been hemming and hawing about going to this concert for a while, which surprised me. I fell in love with these guys the first time I saw them play one snowy March evening at the Metro in 2006. At the time they were bubbly over the fact that they'd sold the place out, something they'd make a habit of in the coming decade. Since then I'd seen them enough to collect autographs, shake hands and even have them dedicate a song to my then-girlfriend as an anniversary present the last time they played the Metro in 2008. Now, I found myself falling into the "it's good, but not great"-trap when thinking about their new album and wondering if I really needed to see the latter-day group touring off it.

This was foolish, I see that now.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Six Song Six-Pack - #WeAreTrayvonMartin

With each new twist, I can't decide what the worst part is. Obviously the shooting death of seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin by an over-zealous gated community vigilante is tragedy enough by itself. But each new detail seems to make it that much harder to swallow. Whether it's the fact that that 911 instructed him to stop following Martin or the fact that despite multiple recorded phone calls including one where Martin is shot asking his attacker to stop, no arrest has been made. Of course, I know that every year there are dozens of other Trayvon Martins with equally shocking stories, he's not unique. And yet, the fact that this story has grabbed national headlines, that every ounce of available evidence save the killer's own testimony, points to directly to manslaughter if not murder and yet still nothing has been done makes it all the more atrocious.