Hi friends! I’m alive! That is, I’ve come back from the worst city in Illinois and am currently in the best city in Illinois. It has been a very long summer, and I have oodles of new music for y’all. I wish I could say that this blog is solely based off of my music choices in September, but unfortunately, I’m not that creative and a good portion of this music is stuff I enjoyed over the summer as well. Also, a bunch of new albums just came out as this blog is being published, so while you all read this post, I’ll be listening to new albums to rave or rant about in about a month. 🙂
It was touch and go there for a while, but Riot Fest did return this year, and it was another great one.
The daily schedules were not announced until about a week before the fest was to start due to a number of factors, including Blink 182’s late cancellation.
About a year ago, I posted here that Riot Fest is Chicago’s best music festival, and it remains so.
My reasons for asserting that is basically the music is just better. Riot Fest highlights actual musicians playing and singing music that they have written, unlike some of the other fests in town.
This year was no different, with great sets from Elvis Costello, Blondie, and Johnny Marr, and a bucket list appearance (at least for me) by Mr. Jerry Lee Lewis, still tickling the ivories with the best of them.
The location at Douglas Park is a perfect setting. Plus, Riot Fest is a bargain. You could buy a three-day ticket this year for less than $100. I am already looking forward to next year.
Wassuppppppppp everyone! IT’S FINALLY NICE OUTSIDE, WHAT A CONCEPT! I am so excited that it is finally warm and also that new good music is being released! This month’s edition of my music library is full of new releases, both released this month and this year. Keep reading if you’re wondering if certain albums made it on the list. Also, PS, sorry for this being later than I usually do this blog; not only has April been a good month for new music, but also it has been the busiest month of my entire year.
If you were an album sitting in a record store up until about 1995, the only thing that got you out of the door and into the hands of some bell-bottom wearing teenager that wasn’t the quality music, but whatever the hell was displayed on your cover. Didn’t matter if you were the Rolling Stones or Engelbert Humperdinck; all were at the mercy of whatever the hell the artist had decided they wanted their potential customers to see decorating their records.
Still, dozens of artists broke this rule like it was going out of style, and you can find about a million awful covers with a quick google search. While taking a deep dive into that rabbit hole of awful fringe album covers would truly be magical, I’d actually like to look at a few records that I think are great as far as the music is concerned, but leave a few metric tons to be desired as far as the visuals are concerned.
But before diving into this, what qualifies as a “good” album cover? Some of you might respond by saying that “all art is subjective and up to interpretation”. Some of you are stupid.
On March 16, UIC Radio held the Battle of the Bands, which is a competition against local bands for a spot to play in next year’s Spark in the Park. The event was held in the East Terrace from 6 p.m. -9 p.m.
Man. Spark In The Park has had some fire lineups in years previous. We had Nick Jonas and DRAM this year. 2015 had Twenty One Pilots, 2014 had J Cole, and 2013 had both Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper. These are just a few of the notorious artists and bands that have performed here in UIC’s backyard.
Imagine opening for one of these artists as a performer or band in your own right. Sounds amazing, right? Well, local band New House was the winner for this year’s Battle of the Bands.
Yo, people of the internet! I am BACK for the month, and I’m so excited for this blog. March is one of my favorite months of the year, and this year’s March just happened to be an amazing month for music!
With everything that is played on my show, you all probably think I have way too much happening in the skull area of my body. So, I want to give everyone a little insight as to what’s going on in my brain, without having to look at the “Recently Played” section on my Spotify. The solution I came to was to tell everyone about the hidden (and not so hidden) gems in my music library for the month. Some of the music I post will be at the top of charts, some of the music won’t be your style, some will be a band’s biggest hit that I’ve just been happening to listen to a lot, and some will be completely unknown to you!
So, to start it off, here’s just a couple of my favorite artists for March, a little bit about them, and some song suggestions:
Ivan from Noteworthy here again (Mondays 6PM-8PM). I refuse to believe it, but the calendar doesn’t lie: we’re already 1/4 of the way in to 2018. My internal musical clock is usually stuck on trying to discover stuff that slipped through the cracks from the previous year for the first few months and it really isn’t until spring that I turn my mind on for the current year. While past 1st quarters might have been the dead zone between the holiday rush to get music to consumers and the spring, where the seeds for summer dominance are planted, we’re now in a year-round culture our need for quality content never goes on hiatus.
As we leave March, I feel great about what 2018 has offered us so far, so I’ve decided to count down my ten favorite singles from the 1st quarter. If you’ve been listening to Noteworthy, some of these songs here won’t surprise you. Side note: I included some December 2017 tracks here since songs and albums released that late in the year can only have so much impact if they’re limited to a time frame of just a few weeks.
#10. N*E*R*D feat. Kendrick Lamar – “Don’t Don’t Do It”
The melody here is one of those classic, gliding Neptunes chord progressions that have made me a stan for nearly two decades. Not sure if it’s because it feels so familiar, the topicality of it, the addition of Kendrick Lamar or a combo of all three that’s kept me coming back.
Hey guys! So, uh, sorry in advance for the lack of variety in this month’s edition of good music. It’s been kind of a pain to put this together because I’ve been REALLY into like three bands all month, so I was definitely scrambling to get all of my eggs together for the month (did you see what I did there??). Regardless, I would never leave you guys hanging; I promise, I’ll always have some good music on here, and I won’t just put stuff on here to fill the blank spots. BUT ANYWAY, let’s get into the prerecorded message for every single one of my blogs!
Ok, I think it’s been long enough… i’m just going to say it. Are you ready? Alright, here we go…. (inhale)… the Justice League movie sucked.
Granted, it wasn’t as bad as Batman vs Superman or Suicide Squad, but the there’s no denying that the two hours of pedestrian acting, obnoxious CGI, and weird story decisions that made up the movie could suck a golfball through a straw. That’s not even mentioning the fact that the film underperformed at the box office, which I guess isn’t correct on my part because I just now mentioned it.
It’s all a damn shame too, because I genuinely enjoyed Wonder Woman.
Despite all this though, Justice League give me something that I would never in a million years expect it would give me; a newfound love and appreciation for the works of Leonard Cohen. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either.
It all started when I went and saw the film with a few friends during my first few days back home for Thanksgiving break. Ironically, while the film is a bit of a dumpster fire, I do remember it having a very well crafted opening credits sequence. A montage of how nations around the world dealt with the tragic (yet ultimately meaningless) death of Superman, the sequence did a good job of painting a world that had lost its protector (but it’s OK he comes right back about halfway through the movie). While the imagery of black flags bearing Superman’s insignia and a sad looking Ben Affleck were powerful, what really makes it all work is a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows” by Norwegian pop artist Sigrid.
It’s one of the better covers I’ve ever heard, and I was humming the tune long after the film was over. I actually at first believed that the cover was an original song by a talented and clever up and coming pop artist. Once I went to check her out Spotify however, the weird Norwegian pop that started playing quickly reminded me that I still live in the modern music industry.
It wasn’t until I watched Red Letter Media’s Justice League Half in The Bag Episode that I found out who actually wrote the song. During the review, host Mike Stoklasa, mentions off hand that he knew he was in for a bad time time when the opening credits of the film were accompanied by a crappy Leonard Cohen cover.From there, things made a lot of more sense, and I immediately went digging for the original version.
Up until that point, I had only really known Leonard Cohen as the hallelujah guy who “probably died or something”. Once I finally got a chance to pick through his discography and read up on the man. It took only a few days for me to quickly fall in love with the man and his discography. His songs were contemplative, thoughtful, and could genuinely make me feel really emotional times. Cohen’s low and almost conversational vocals and silky smooth classical guitar playing was a hypotonic combination, and during those first few days I remember listening to songs like “Suzanne” “Chelsea Hotel No. 2” and “Who by Fire” on almost near constant repeat.
Then there are those lyrics… those sweet, sweet leonard cohen lyrics.
“Those were the reasons and that was New York. We were running for the money and the flesh, and that was called love for the workers in song, probably still is for those of them left,” you don’t get that anywhere else.
The timing was also pretty good, as I was already going through the obligatory college freshman folk/americana singer songwriter phase, so adding Mr. Cohen to my Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Tom Waits, and Warren Zevon filled playlists was a very natural choice.
The whole thing has me a little frustrated if I’m being honest. It made me realize how narrow minded I can be when it comes to music, which can be a little problematic considering that I pride myself on being a music aficionado. I could name you every Pink Floyd or Beatles song, but somehow it took watching a lame superhero movie for me to come to appreciate the discography of one of the great american songwriters. It’s a little embarrassing actually.
So what’s the moral here? Same old crap really: have an open mind, try new things, don’t put all of your eggs in one basket blah blah blah…
But in all seriousness though, you would do well to keep your ears open. Who knows, maybe the opening credits of Fifty Shades Freed will be just as life changing.