New Releases – January 31, 2012

Keeping up with this project, albeit barely. I’ve discovered that an ounce of preparation is going to be a major key to success. So I’ll start that next week. Or the week after.

Sonic Avenues – “Television Youth” from Television Youth
I have a kneejerk suspicion about stuff that is intentionally lo-fi or “garagey” because it is almost always more about aesthetic aspirations than about making good music. That said, this has a certain undeniable Undertones innocence that is extremely appealing. I’ve heard this described as a less-snotty Buzzcocks. I could see that. I thought this song was very catchy.

Bleeding Through – “The Devil and Self Doubt” from The Great Fire
Never heard of these guys, but saw their album announced on multiple sites. The easiest way to describe it is Opeth-flavored, proggy black metal (complete with those carnival organs!) mixed with a little Slayer-esque hardcore. Whatever, I nodded along. Not really sure if those are human feet playing double bass at 0:42.

My Ticket Home – “A New Breed” from To Create A Cure
I really wanted to like this. Let me rephrase: At the beginning, I really liked this song. I mean … it is totally blistering. Also, the drummer is wearing a flannel shirt and hat and sitting behind a normal-people drumset while laying down some pretty boss chick-a-boom. And then, at the 0:55 mark, IT ALL GOES TO SHIT. Scroll down and watch the video. I’ll wait.

I KNOW, RIGHT? Did the chipmunk-cheeked guitarist with shark fin hair really just stare down the camera and sing “This is the death of my love”? I’m … I’m actually embarrassed for him. They manage to pull it back together nicely after that chorus, and there’s even a little Sepultura “Roots”-action in the breakdown there, but we aaaaaaaall know what’s coming. At 2:09, it happens again. I’m pretty sure you can see the singer roll his eyes. It’s rare to have a song go from promising to unlistenable so quickly, but there you go.

New Releases – January 24, 2012

I missed last week’s new release update because I was on the road all week, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t paying attention. YOU’RE IN GOOD HANDS. Maybe until the end of Q1.

This week (last week) features (featured) one highly anticipated release, one not-highly-anticipated-but-still-hopeful release, and one total surprise that I found looking around online.

The two releases I knew were coming are both from frontmen of other bands I like or have liked: John K. Samson of The Weakerthans (and formerly Propaghandi), and Matt Pryor of The Get Up Kids (and later The New Amsterdams).

My Weakerthans fandom is nothing I have ever tried to keep secret. I find Samson’s voice extremely soothing, and his lyrics are pure poetry. I have often found myself wondering how one man could squeeze so much meaning out of a single word. What a jerk! I would easily put The Weakerthans’ Reconstruction Site in my top ten albums of all time, maybe even top five. Anyway, here he is with his first solo full-length (that I’m aware of). I was hoping for a nice, easily-embeddable, online version of Heart of the Continent, but this version of Letter In Icelandic From The Ninette San will do just fine.

I liked The Get Up Kids through Something to Write Home About. Their subsequent releases had their bright spots, but … you know. The Red Letter Day EP is my favorite, so much so that I sometimes find myself searching for covers of Anne Arbour on youtube. ANYWAY, frontman Matt Pryor went on to head up The New Amsterdams in the early 2000s, and then release a solo record. Now he’s around with a second solo record. I haven’t spent much time with this record, and there isn’t a ‘single.’ I like the song below, and at 1:18, Pryor does that thing where he is hollering backing vocals over one of the guitar tracks (or something), which is neat. I like it.

This week’s wild card comes from England’s awesomely-named Pulled Apart By Horses. They should help spice things up a bit after all the folky folk above. The song below, V.E.N.O.M, appears to be some sort of single off their new album, Tough Love. The song itself is fine, it’s the video I like. Specifically, the guy with the double middle finger candles walking around all half-non-chalant, half-I’m-going-to-kill-the-shit-out-of-you is hilarious.

Opposable Toes: Vibram Edition

For the past several weeks, I’ve been trying to think of a blog post to write that would produce a torrent of ridicule and mockery. How does one troll themselves? Well, I think I’ve figured it out.

I mentioned recently that I’ve been doing a little bit of running over the past few months. Like hundreds of thousands of others, I’ve been bitten by the barefoot / forefoot / midfoot / oh-god-if-you-tell-me-one-more-time-how-people-ran-for-2-million-years-without-the-help-of-running-shoes-I-will-forefoot-strike-you-in-the-armpit bug. I’ve run about 150 miles in a pair of Nike Free Run+, and they are great. They are far less supportive than typical heel-strike shoes, but they’re still pretty squishy. Despite being quite a departure from traditional shoes, the Nikes are more like wearing a running shoe than running barefoot.

So, I picked up a pair of Vibram FiveFingers:

To be clear, I’m not obsessed with the idea of running barefoot. Frankly, it sounds like it hurts. Also, I like shoes. Shoes are great. I will probably wear shoes every day for the rest of my life. Also, I realize I can simply remove my clothes and shoes, walk out my front door, and run barefoot. But this is a time of great innovation! They make shoes that are designed to feel like you’re not wearing any shoes! And if someone has gone to the trouble of producing a product to help with something, is it not my duty to acquire said product?

Enough blah blah. The VFFs showed up yesterday. I immediately put them on. Gia immediately vomited on me. Mattias peed and started crying. These things are glorious.

I took them out for a short maiden voyage this morning. I have heard many stories of people going too hard, too fast, too soon, and ending up more injured than if they had continued a life of heel-strike in marshmallow shoes. As such, my goal was to run 2 miles at a VERY comfortable pace with laser focus on technique and paying close attention to messages from my body.

Things went eerily well. I was expecting all kinds of strange new aches and zaps, but aside from a couple strongly-worded emails from my achilles tendons very early on, I felt as good as I can remember. I ended up running just over 2.5 miles mostly because I ran too far from home, so, by the time I made it back, I was over my goal. And, honestly, despite trying to set a limit and ease into the new kicks, the main thing that brought me back home was the fact that Gia had to play tennis. My calves were a little spicier than normal, but I felt like I could have kept going for miles.

I like to think of myself as a function-over-form person, and few things that I can think of epitomize that more than the ol’ Vibram Opposable Toes. I mean, ninjas would laugh at you (if ninjas laughed). All I can say is, after one run, I am a fan. Time will tell. And you all will probably spin your wheels telling me how ugly they are.

New Releases – January 18, 2012

Any time you start a project, it’s wise to have a target; to borrow a phrase from the conference room, WHAT DOES SUCCESS LOOK LIKE? The only reason I would bother embarking on a project like trying to blog a new music release every week is to expose myself to [a lot] more new music. A secondary goal would be to expose you to some music, but let’s be honest, that’s a pretty distant second. I don’t really care about you.

I’ll get to the point, I originally envisioned posting each week about a release that came out that same week. Seems simple enough, right? Releases [generally] come out on Tuesdays, and I want to listen to more new releases. Two weeks into this, I have encountered two problems: 1. Scouring the internet for records that were released THIS WEEK is hard, and it takes a lot of time. I see myself dropping that ball often. 2. And this is the more important point: What if I can’t find anything I like? Some weeks, like, say, this week and last week, there just aren’t any home runs to speak of (that I have been able to find). It feels lame to write about music I’m not totally stoked about just to meet some arbitrary goal. On the flip, there is SO MUCH music out there, I should be able to find something that doesn’t suck each week.

This is a whole lot of posturing to say that I might not get a brand new release out the door each week, but I will be more than satisfied to simply discover something new to me. And if I miss a week, I’ll post two items the following week, etc.

I like how I have to give myself a fucking pep talk just to listen to music. My children are doomed. Now then.

Matt Skiba (Alkaline Trio) and Atom Willard (Rocket From the Crypt) released an EP last Thursday under the name theHELL and it is the best thing I can find in the 1/11-1/17 release date range. Skiba has a powerful voice and is capable of really clever lyrics. What I’ve heard of this so far is fun. Alternative Press is streaming one of the tracks here. (scroll down to the little video box).

A co-worker turned me onto And So I Watch You From Afar over the weekend. They released an album called Gangs last year. They fall firmly into the Instrumental Post-rock labor camp, but they are more Hematovore than Caspian if that makes any sense. Below is a studio performance of the song BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION from Start Together Studio in Belfast. I really, really like this.

I am having a hard time finding a resource for good hardcore/metal new releases. To prove how much effort I put into this, I can tell you to avoid the new records from the following three bands (unless you’re into male-led Twilight soundtracks): Attack! Attack!, Famous Last Words, and Secrets. England’s Enter Shikari sort of fit the above scream/melody/scream/melody model with the important exception that they don’t appear to take themselves too seriously. I want to hate this song, and I will probably grow to, but it is a lot of fun the same way Andrew W.K. is a lot of fun. The only reason I mention it at all is that this record came out today.

Vegas: Robbed

Spent last week at CES in Vegas. For those of you who don’t know, the letters CES stand for 35 Football Fields Of Flat Screens and/or Mobile Accessories. Actually, I really enjoy CES, but that’s a different post. For all intents and purposes, it was an entirely uneventful trip to Vegas: I ate and drank WAY too much, I slept almost none, and I came home with less cash than I left with. Soooooo, totally normal.

This story, however, is about what happened after I got home from CES.

Leaving Vegas, I was … beat. I spent the entire flight home having visions of being in bed by 9PM at the latest. Upon arriving home, the Geester had different plans. My mother had unexpectedly signed up to take Matty overnight, and Gia was ready to hang. So, visions of a 3rd grade bed time quickly exploded into dominos and Rock Band with a house full until after midnight. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast, but it wasn’t what I had planned, nor what my body was equipped for.

My head hit the pillow shortly after 1AM.

I startled awake for an unknown reason a few minutes before 2AM. Once awake, I noticed the motion-detector driveway light was on (likely because it lights up the bedroom like a movie premier). Now, the driveway light is frequently tripped by cats and dogs cruising around, so the fact that it was on was not itself a reason to be alarmed. For some reason, despite wanting nothing more than to crawl under my pillow to block the light, I was compelled to get out of bed and take a look around.

This is why I will always spend up to the model with the moonroof. At first glance, I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. Then I picked up some motion between our cars. I rubbed my so-so-tired eyes like a cartoon character and focused harder. From my view down through the moonroof of the Ridgeline (I’m one story above the driveway), it quickly became clear there was someone rummaging through the car, having entered from the passenger side.

My first instinct was to pound the window and shout. Then I thought that would just confuse him, because he is rifling through my car, which means he is a FUCKING MORON. My next thought (and this will be clearer for those who are familiar with the Tall Brown floor plan) was to run through the master bathroom out onto the deck where I could shout horribly insensitive threats from the safety of stairless Wide Brown.

Here is where parenthood might have saved my life. I had already taken a step toward the back door when my imagination said, “Hey. Tony. What if that guy has a gun and a mental disorder? Wouldn’t you rather watch him drive off in your Honda than, you know, those other things that keep you up at night?” I suddenly realized how glad I was that Matty was 35 miles away at my parents’ house.

So, I stood at the window for a second in my underwear, watching, in real time, as an intruder of uncertain sex or ethnicity decides what in my car is worthy to … simply claim as their own.

As quickly as I had come upon the situation, though, it ended. The perp stood up, silently closed the passenger door, and walked quickly up the driveway toward the cul de sac. I ran from the bed to the front of the house, but when I peered out the front window, there was nothing. I remember thinking, “Well, at least I’m getting hit by criminals who know how to stay the fuck out of sight.”

The next few minutes were a struggle. Once I was confident that the perp had moved on and the perimeter was secure, I casually got back into bed. Yeah, I know. My brain:

“I just … I just want to go to sleep. That’s all I’ve wanted since, like, Thursday. And here I am in my own bed, and my wonderful son is with his wonderful grandparents, which means I get to sleep until a lot later than if my wonderful son were here at the house. And that guy (or girl) was clearly just poking around for valuables, of which there are none in either car, I can assure you, so, joke’s on you, criminal scum! Anyway, if I call the police, I’m going to have to stay awake until they show up, then I’m going to have to stay awake while they’re here, and then, after they leave, I’m going to have to bring myself back down to where I can fall asleep. It’s after 2 now, shit, it could be 5AM before the cops get all their paperwork done and let me go. Frankly, I would trade a burgled car for 10-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep.”

I laid there for a few minutes, staring at the ceiling, feeble brain turning things over like a Kitchenaid mixer set to Don’t Offend, when, thankfully, reason came to the rescue.

“Tony, what if one of your neighbors witnessed one of their cars being robbed and didn’t say anything? What if this person is in the neighborhood for the next hour and eventually finds a laptop or a weapon or something that is used to make someone else’s life much, much worse and you could have prevented it by getting off your lazy ass and making a phone call? Better yet, picture the conversation with Gia in the morning. ‘Honey, I saw someone breaking into one of our cars last night.’ ‘… Uh … did you call the police?’ ‘Yeah, no, I was SUPER tired. Besides, I – ”

I got out of bed and called 911. I told the operator what [had] happened and he peppered me with several questions. When he was finished he told me that officers were already on their way and that I could stay on the line with him until they arrived or I could call him back if I saw a mouse or got shot or anything in between. He didn’t actually say that. He did tell me to stay inside and not to touch the car.

When I hung up the phone, I could hear police sirens, which was impressive. I was expecting to have to wait a long time given the lack of urgency of my call. “Let me get this straight, there is a man going through the CDs in your car and … judging you? WE’RE ON OUR WAY.” I placed the call at 2:07AM. A police cruiser drove by my house at 2:14AM. Color my tax dollars well spent.

The cop made a full lap of the neighborhood and then pulled in our driveway. He told me that petty vehicle thefts have been a big issue in the area for a couple months. The good news is that they seem to simply be lifting handles checking for unlocked cars and pilfering whatever they can get. There is almost never any damage to the car. There was no damage to my car, and the only [apparent] item removed was a cheap, aftermarket iPhone charger. The officer said several cars recently have had guns and laptops stolen.

I will not reveal the reason why our car was unlocked because I am a gentleman.

I chatted with the cop for a minute and then he bailed, presumably because this was all too boring for him, even by suburban Atlanta standards. Total time from 911 call to being back in bed: 39 minutes. Yet another reason Smyrna is a great place to live.

Get plenty of sleep and lock your car. Not necessarily in that order.

New Release – January 11, 2012

Yesterday, I tweeted:

Garrett dutifully responded:

Fine, Garrett. FINE.

I found this Maccebees song on NME’s New Releases post for this week. Their album Given to the Wild came out on Monday. I’ve never heard of The Maccabees, which may sound silly, because after a tiny bit of research, it seems they are HUGE. Their facebook page has one of those “Like This Page To Access Content” filters, which are FUCKING BULLSHIT, but whatever. Cheerful, driving indie pop; lots of fun.

Running and a Dog Named Riliy

Riley Black Lab

This is not the dog in question. I did a Google Image Search for: riley black lab.

I am here to recap a story from yesterday that involves an incident with a dog I encountered whilst running a couple miles from my house. But before I do, I should probably back up and establish some context.

I’ve been [pretending to be] a runner, on and off, for about a year and a half.

I had been pretending to be lifting weights for a few years, but I never found a program that really clicked. It should be noted that I didn’t try, at all, to find a “weight-lifting program” that “clicked” … whatever “clicked” means. I would still like to find said weightlifting program, because I enjoy lifting weights, but I digress.

I decided to give running an earnest try because … it’s totally natural. It’s free, it’s outdoors, and it’s beneficial to be good at it should you find yourself pursued by something that wants to kill the shit out of you. I was also intrigued by the recent surge in running devolution (I know there are virtually no correct uses of the word ‘devolution,’ but, I think it works here, so DEVOLUTION). The idea that people ran barefoot comfortably and effectively for 2 million years was an undeniable draw for me. If all the non-runners around me could do it, and without crazy-ass, moon-boot running shoes, I could do it too, right?

Understanding that I couldn’t simply walk out my front door and start chewing through the miles with no shoes on, I got a pair of ye olde Nike Free Run+ (which have since been replaced by the v2 model) and started slowly. On September 16, 2010 to be exact.

I did pretty well for the first couple months. I ran 4 times in the last two weeks of September, and then ran ten times in October. Near the end of October, though, my left knee started to feel a little loosey-goosey. I ended up psyching myself out, hard, and I didn’t run again until May. I ran a couple times in May, and a couple times in June, but didn’t really get back on the horse until mid-October, 2011. I wasn’t too stressed about physical activity in the Spring and Summer. Those keeping score know that I was spending nearly every weekend KILLING MYSELF building a deck.

Side note: My ability to recall such specific dates is entirely a product of the Nike+ GPS app on my phone. Having raw data (speed, distance, route, etc.) available has made the difference for me. I look back at my previous attempts at running and laugh-wince, because I would leave my house, run way too fast until it sucked, and then stop, convinced that running just plain sucked.

ANYWAY, back on the horse in mid-October. I kept a solid 3-time-per-week routine through Thanksgiving peaking with a 5-mile prance on the Silver Comet averaging 8:55/mile the Saturday after Turkey Day. I fell off a bit in December, only managing 5 runs all month, and I have resolved to make a solid routine, er, a routine this year. Or something. The Nike+ app allows you to set a number of different goals. I have already done that.


I left my house, set to do 5 miles around lovely Smyrna, GA. I was about 1.5 miles in when I noticed a black dog happily skipping along next to me. Usually when this happens, it’s because some shitty attack dog has decided to engage, so it is safe to say I was … alarmed. It quickly became evident this was not the case. This was a black lab, female, probably about 8 months old (40-50 lbs?), and her tag said her name was Riliy. R-I-L-I-Y. That is not a typo.

I coaxed Riliy out of the street and waited for her owners, who I was sure couldn’t be very far behind her. If she had gotten off of her leash, surely they would be jogging up any second, breathless and thankful. She could have escaped from her yard, so I also scanned for a slow-moving vehicle, maybe one with people leaning out of the windows yelling the name Riliy.


Still clutching Riliy by the collar, I called the number on her tag. Now, that sounds a hell of a lot simpler than it was. I, a complete stranger, am forcing a young, recently-liberated Labrador to do the one thing she does not want to do: sit still. Additionally, have you ever tried to use an iPhone (or any touchscreen device) while the screen is covered in sweat? You should try it sometime, while trying to keep control of a berzerk dog. I left a voicemail at the number (the girl on the voicemail sounded like a teenager, awesome), sent a text, and left another voicemail. Reality started to set in. What if I can’t get a hold of anyone? I was a mile and a half from my house with no leash and no car.

Riliy was wearing a second tag with a number to a vet, so I managed to hold her down and call it. They gave me a different phone number, but they wouldn’t give me an address, citing privacy laws. I called the second number and an older woman answered. She said it was her daughter’s dog and that she (the dog, heh) kept getting out. They lived right around the corner and said they would be right there.

Ten solid minutes passed, and nothing. I couldn’t release my grip on Riliy for fear that I would not be able to get her back. We were only a few hundred feet from 4-lane Atlanta Rd, which would be a doggy death trap. I called the number again, expecting no answer because they were on their way and THE WOMAN ANSWERED. I gave her my nicest WHAT THE FUCK YOUR DOG IS FREAKING OUT COME GET HER and hung up. 5 or 6 minutes later, the woman and her daughter came meandering around the corner with no apparent urgency in their gait. By the time they got to me, Riliy’s freakout had reached full Bullet Time. I helped the daughter, who was maybe 13 or 14, get the leash on.

They thanked me, but overall seemed very matter-of-fact about the whole thing, like, of course that is what anyone would do upon finding an apparently escaped dog, stop everything they’re doing and spend over a half hour wrestling with a strange animal while also trying to track down its owners. I have convinced myself I saved Riliy’s life, mostly because of her proximity to a very busy road, and partly to make myself feel better because the owners were such mouthbreathers. Unfortunately, Riliy will probably be back out on her own sooner rather than later. Next time, I’m going to let her run all the way home with me.

Sleep Training: Day Five and Six

Nothing exciting to report about day five other than continuing progress: He managed to pass out on the floor in only 25 minutes. It is currently day six and he is singing his song of joy and redemption as I type. Maybe he will be finished before I am finished typing this. I should write s l o w l y.

I have to say, and I’m saying this about a kid who is already about as sweet as they come, I can’t get over how his daytime demeanor has improved since we started torturing him each night. I just didn’t expect this to be one of the consequences. Maybe Donald Rumsfeld is onto something with this waterboarding thing.

Aaaaaand day six is in the books: 21 minutes. Nice work, son!

Sleep Training: Day Four

So, we waited three whole days before throwing Matty a bit of a curveball. We had some friends over for dinner last night, and they didn’t arrive until 6:30. They brought all the ingredients for TACO NIGHT, but we had to cook everything, which included grilling the chicken. I guess we could have skipped the grill. We could have also decided to never again eat ice cream or drink bacon or do anything remotely joyful. The point is, preparing was going to blow up Matty’s bedtime routine any way we sliced it, so we opted to simply plow ahead with dinner prep and bedtime, simultaneously.

I’m building this up, but there really isn’t any payoff. He did great with his nightime routine (saying goodnight, bath, brushing teeth, reading books, turning the light off), but as soon as the light went out, it was game on as usual. He protested vehemently for 30-40 minutes before crashing out in his usual spot on the floor.

He didn’t settle himself more quickly than previous nights, and he didn’t find his bed, but the fact that things didn’t get demonstrably worse while we had a house full of people is a positive in my book. We will rationalize progress any way we can.

The tacos were delicious.

Sleep Training: Day Three

No big news from Day Three. Matty’s sweet, sweet song of death lasted a scant 30 minutes before he relinquished. If he woke up during the wee hours, he didn’t make enough noise to wake us up, so that’s a thing. And, when I woke up on my own at 7:45 this morning, he was awake, but still lying on the same piece floor where he spent the night, quietly babbling to himself.

The most remarkable thing about this is how happy and normal he seems each morning when he is liberated. These past few mornings have been some of his happiest ever, which seems a little counter-intuitive. Because of the seriousness of the noises he makes when we leave him each night, I always expect there to be some residual emotional trauma in the morning. I mean, he could at least hold an angry grudge. “YOU. What the fuck is wrong with you?! Did you not hear me screaming? No concern that I might be, I don’t know, slowly being devoured by a wolf? THERE ARE TOO WOLVES IN GEORGIA. Look at the side of my face. LOOK AT IT. Notice anything … out of the ordinary? How about the topo-map of Mars because I SLEPT ON THE BARE GOD DAMN CARPET. Oh shut up about my bed already, that stupid red rectangle of sorrow. Fuck you. Get out of my way, I’m getting some milk.”

Right now it is Saturday, technically Day Four, but I’m writing about it because we had the distinct privilege of getting to execute naptime earlier this afternoon. I’ll spare the gory details and jump right to the conclusion: We’re going to need several more baby monitors. We currently have the one monitor pointed at the area in front of his door because that’s where he spends 98% of his time these days. Today, he moaned and wailed under the door just like normal, but he pulled himself together after only ten minutes or so. I glanced at the monitor to see him spring to his feet and dart out of the video frame. What ensued was an agonizing game of parental chicken. How long can you sit and listen to a toddler “do stuff” without being able to see them before you go intervene? His room is pretty well child proof, but as soon as I couldn’t see him, I realized all of the [potentially] dangerous shenanigans that could [potentially] transpire. “Oh my god. He could use the dresser drawers as stairs to climb up and then use the lamp to smash a window. WHAT IF HE TRIES TO EAT THE LAMP?!”

In the end, I gave him about 40 minutes before I had to know what all the noises were. He had completely disassembled his changing table and was doing a pretty good job relocating an entire package of wipes, individually. And there was a weird wet spot on his bed. But other than that, things were okay. I decided to suspend training in the interest of him actually having a nap, so I laid down next to him and he fell asleep in like 4 minutes.

Forward we march.