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***January Thirty First Two Thousand and Fifteen***

I hate the winter too, my dude.



A trip to the pet store.  Cary, NC.

Morning sun.  Cary, NC.  

Downtown from the top of a condo building.  Raleigh, NC.  


Random Pictures

I got a really old roll of film developed recently...they were taken with one of those shitty toy fisheye cameras during
our drive across the country when moving from California to North Carolina.  The photos are pretty terrible, but are still
interesting to me, a reminder of an awesome road trip once upon a time.  

Bryce Canyon National Park.  

Capital Reef National Park.  

Death Valley National Park.  

Zion National Park.  


Best movies of 2015!!!

There was no absolute favorite film or even couple of films this year for me; additionally, I've only seen a few of the
Oscar crowd, since they dump them all at once at the end of the year.  So this is what I've got...

The top 8 films of 2014 (in alphabetical order):
Blue Ruin

The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy
Jodorowsky's Dune
Only Lovers Left Alive

The Raid 2
The Wind Rises

The top 8 honorable mentions of 2014 (in alphabetical order):
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Finding Vivian Maier
The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden
Gone Girl
The Lego Movie
The Unknown Known

And here are five films from other years that really bent my whistle:
Battle Wizard (1977)
The Hunt (2013)
Short Term 12 (2013)
Tim's Vermeer (2013)
The Yellow Sea (2010)



Lots of great skate videos to be watched...
 - Brandon Westgate "Zoo England."  Any Westgate part is a must watch...the ender is one of the most insane things
    I've ever seen.  It makes literally no sense.  
 - Mike Carroll "Lost B-Sides."  Random collected Carroll's entirely possible I've posted this before, but you
   can't watch too much of him.  
 - Koichiro Uehara "Osaka Nights."  This guy combines the inventive goofiness of other Japanese skateboarders
   with speed and finesse.  Highly approved, instantly a favorite new guy*.
   * I'm so out of the loop a new guy to me can be around for a while before I "discover" them.  
 - Michael Mackrodt "Fishing Line Paris." I only knew this guy from some pretty basic (but enjoyable) footage from
   various skate travelog docs (think Europe's version of Kenny Reed), but the dude is rad.  Lots of rugged but really
   interesting spots.

One entry in the photo journal this month, some band snaps (The Clean, Boogarins, and Spider Bags).  

A few music reviews - FKA Twigs, Jeff the Brotherhood, Morrissey, and a couple of others.  


Parquet Courts
with Priests and Whatever Brains

To be perfectly honest, I was mainly at this show for openers Whatever Brains.  Sure, I've seen them probably two
dozen times at least, but any chance I get to soak in their insanity I try my best to jump on it.  And luckily I jumped on
this one early, because this show sold out a while ago.  What can I say about a WB show that I haven't said so many
times before?  It was awesome, as always.  There was multiple uses of whistles from multiple band members.   LOTS
of roto tom drum action.  Even though they just had a release party a couple of months ago for their new record, they've
already released a cd-r of nearly 80 minutes of new material - from a sheer quantity standpoint, they're turning into the
Guided by Voices of noisy punk or whatever the hell category you might try to put them in (they don't seem to fit any-
where, so you probably shouldn't bother). 

I had gotten the value of my ticket from that performance, so anything else good from tonight was gravy.  I knew abso-
lutely nothing about Priests other than a couple of friends had spoken highly of them, so I was going in completely
blind.  This is my very rudimentary take on the band - a four piece from DC; all women except for the guitar player;
music is bass heavy, almost verging on funky, but still more-or-less punk; guitar was as likely to be adding texture and
noise to the songs as playing chords or rhythm; the singer was very engaging, partially for her performance (lots of
stalking around the stage and dramatic flair), and partially for her outfit (tight dress that you'd expect to see at a night-
club rather than on a stage, plus giant stiletto heels).  If I had to make a comparison, I'd go with Sonic Youth meets
the Slits, but would to hear some of their recordings to further flesh out this vibe I got.  I quite enjoyed their set, and
would definitely see them again.  Luckily, they seem to play down here fairly often. 

The headliners were Parquet Courts, but I was already waning to be honest.  I don't have the youthful exuberance
that most of the crowd seemed to have, but I stuck out at least half of their set.  They're one of those bands that I enjoy
when I randomly hear them, but I never actively seek their material out.  Their records are pretty straight forward
garage pop, or at least what I've heard, but their live show had an injection of, I don't know, Pavement-style slack or
something of that nature.  I think I actually enjoyed the live renditions more than their recordings to be honest, there
was an extra bit of life to them.  I'd see these guys again, though probably not after standing around at the club for
three hours.  The slow down in live music attendance on my part in the winter really takes the life out of my show legs!


Ex Hex
with Birds of Avalon

Almost two months after seeing them for the first time, here I was at Kings to watch Ex Hex again.  The first time I saw
them was so great, it wasn't particularly hard to talk myself into making the effort to show up at Kings.  Since they only
have one album, the set list this time was pretty damn similar to what I saw at the Pinhook, the band as tight as ever
while performing their upbeat, snarling garage-ish pop.  The only real difference was the cover songs - last time we
only got the Kids' "All Kindsa Girls," while this time not only did we get that gem, but also Johnny Thunders' "You Can't
Put Your Arms Around a Memory" and Sweet's "Fox on the Run."  The last one especially got me (and clearly much of
the crowd) excited.  It was a great time, and if they come back in another two months chances are I'll be there again.

As great as Ex Hex was, I was possibly more excited for openers Birds of Avalon.  Despite being local (so local a
couple of the band members are actually part-owners of Kings), they don't play a ton - but every time I see them, I love
them more than the previous gig.  They were playing with the drummer of Valient Thorr as a fill-in, but the band sounded
as stellar as ever.  Where you might have once made classic rock references to their performances, these days they
are fully ensconced in the Can/Neu! bubble of sound. Most of what they played this night was from their new EP out on
Third Uncle records, and I highly recommend it to anyone who likes their ears full of goodness. 


"If you wanna smear mud on your ass, smear mud on your ass - just be honest about it. Look, Gene, I've never told
anyone this before, but I can suck my own dick, and I do it a lot. "

All classic shit this time.  Just because.  

Belle & Sebastian
All from the album "Dear Catastrophe Waitress."  It was when their sound shifted, and while I wasn't enamored with
it to start, I love it now.
If She Wants Me
I'm a Cuckoo
Piazza, New York Catcher
Step Into My Office, Baby

Frank Black
Both from the album "Teenager of the Year."  I listened to this one obsessively on cassette driving around in my 1987
Mazda 323 all through highschool.  The production is a little wonky but it still stands up.  

All from the compilation "Incesticide."  It's kinda easy to overlook or be turned off on listening to these guys because so
much smoke gets blown up their ass, but at the end of the day they still wrote some great damn songs (or in the case
of "Son of a Gun," have great taste in covers).  
Son of a Gun (Vaselines cover)

Yo La Tengo
All from the album "I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One," which is perfect from start to finish.  Picking out which songs
to post is the hardest part.    
Autumn Sweater
Center of Gravity
Moby Octopad

Fifth Two Thousand and Fifteen***

The new year is upon us!  Time for resolutions - first up, have the entire family wear more cat tights.



Fresh snow.  Beech Mountain, NC.  

One watches me, the other watches her.  Cary, NC.

Burt impersonates the Beatles.  Cary, NC.  

Chicken party.  Wilmington, NC.  

Foggy Highway 54.  Near Siler City, NC.  


Best Shows of 2014!
It was a good year.  Lots of festivals.  I spent a ton of money on live music.  It was worth it.  

Kraftwerk at Thomas Wolfe Auditorium - 4/25/2014
My favorite show by a landslide.  I've seldom been so delighted in all my life.

Belle & Sebastian at the Fillmore Miami Beach - 9/28/2014
We flew to Miami for this show.  It was totally worth it.  Closest we've ever been to the band.  

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers at PNC Arena - 9/18/2014
I don't go to a lot of "arena rock" shows, but this one was completely worth it.  

Protomartyr / Whatever Brains / Spray Paint at Slims - 4/17/2014
My favorite punk show of the year, even if none of these bands are really punk.  
Bonus points for every other Whatever Brains show I saw this year, there were plenty, and all were great.  

Spider Bags at the Pinhook - 8/8/2014
The release party for their great new album - two sets, both terrific.
Hopscotch 2014
Highlights included: The War on Drugs, The White Octave, St. Vincent

Merge 25
Highlights included: Teenage Fanclub, Destroyer, Wye Oak, Lambchop, Superchunk


Thee Oh Sees

I've never been a super fan of Thee Oh Sees, and haven't even seen them live since I lived in the Bay Area from
where the band once hailed, but for some reason I got all excited for this show.  Sometimes you just need a little rau-
cous garage punk in your life, ya know?  I got to Kings just as Thee Oh Sees were setting up, creating these matching
towers of amps combined with PA speakers and pedals and god knows what else - they were at least eight feet tall
and looked super sketchy.  Dwyer was apparently touring with an all new band, though I couldn't tell you why - I know
he somewhat recently moved to LA, so maybe these were just a couple of local SoCal dudes who learned a few of
the band's songs and were game to drive around the country.  They certainly performed at an adequate enough level
for my tastes, though I did hear a couple of people commenting on how the group was "different," with no indication if
that was a good or bad thing and what exactly the differences were.  Certainly the pack of kids moshing and sloshing
beer all around me didn't seem to mind who was on stage with Dwyer, so why should I? 


Cat's Cradle Back Room

The last time I saw Sloan was probably in the neighborhood of 1997 - I took a girl I had a crush on to see Superdrag
in Winston-Salem, and Sloan was the opener.  I never got anywhere with the girl, but the show was rad and I still think
of it often.  I'm not sure why it took so long to make it to another Sloan show again, god knows I've listened to plenty of
their recordings in that span of time - but the nice intimate setting of the Cat's Cradle Back Room seemed like a gig
not to pass up.  Of course this was also helped by Guided by Voices cancelling their show that was scheduled this
same night in the main room of the Cradle - I already had a ticket to that, but this made for a pretty great back-up plan. 

There was no opener and Sloan played two sets.  In the first, they mimicked their most recent album "Commonwealth"
and each of the four main band members (there was an extra fifth member for the live show playing keys and adding
backing vocals, and fuck him cause he don't get his own set of songs goddammit) performed a mini-set of three or
four songs where each was the front man.  Yes, there was instrument swapping involved, but don't hold that against
them.  The songs in this set were largely from that new record, though not exclusively.  What followed was a fifteen or
twenty minute intermission aka "scheduled time to look at your phone," and then there was a second longer set where
the band played whatever the hell they wanted to in whatever order they wanted to.  I knew some of the songs, didn't
know others, but it was always fun regardless.  I would put the average age of the crowd at somewhere around 37 -
lots of babysitters were getting paid tonight - and I wasn't alone in enjoying some quality Canadian pop music this
Saturday night.  Probably a little too much overly earnest singing along and at least one girl acting out the lyrics with
her hands, but the night was clearly a success regardless. 


Ex Hex
with Speedy Ortiz
The Pinhook

This was the sixth anniversary party for the Pinhook, and the room was packed.  I got in the door just before Speedy
Ortiz started their set, and weaseled my way to the front as I usually do.  The first time I saw these guys and gal was at
this same venue, it was a damn enjoyable show and this time was no different.  Singer Sadie Dupuis wasn't just killing
it on guitar this time, she was wearing this crazy brightly-colored dress with a dog print all over it that had me mesmer-
ized for the entire set.  That combined with the new guitarist's epic afro made the group visually interesting even if you
didn't like their music.  Luckily, their off-kilter indie pop that is clearly inspired by classic icons like Polvo and Sonic
Youth sounds good to these ears, so sign me up for the total package - they're a keeper. 

While I had actually only heard a song or two by Ex Hex, I had absolutely no doubt coming into this show that I would
love it.  The legendary Mary Timony and friends playing punky power pop - what's not to like?  What I didn't know was
how fun they would be to watch live - for a band with only one record under their belt ("Rips," released this year on
Merge), they seem incredibly comfortable together on stage.  The entire band is all smiles and rock poses and I just
can't imagine anyone seeing Ex Hex perform and not being totally delighted.  They powered through probably every
song they had over the span of 45 minutes max, and then closed out their night with an encore of the Real Kids song
"All Kindsa Girls."  They recently released a recording of this cover as part of Merge's subscription seven inch series,
dig it up if you can - a nice take on a perfect song.  It was a grand ending to a quality night of tunes. 


The Clean
with Boogarins
Cat's Cradle Back Room

I really should have written this before my phone died (or rather, went for a swim) and I lost all my notes.  Yes, even for
these half-assed reviews I write, I take notes.  My memory is shit. 

Opener Boogarins are a band from Brazil according to the internets, but I didn't verify that directly with the band, and
they spoke English to the crowd.  To quote myself from the photo I posted on Instagram: "Very impressive.  Swirly
guitar pop crossed with heavy jams, like if Ty Segall joined the Cocteau Twins."  Can't really argue with my astute
assessment since I'm the one that made it.  I really need to listen to their record though, because I did quite enjoy
their live performance. 

I've seen the Clean a few times and David Kilgour solo a few more times on top of that (including just this past July
at Merge 25), so I can't really say there was anything new or exciting about this performance by the band.  It was still
really, really, really damn enjoyable though, as their gigs always are.  You know what I never get tired of?  Hearing
"Tally Ho" live.  No offense to the rest of their songs, which are quite good, but their live set could just be them playing
"Tally Ho" ten times in a row and I would be a happy man.  Anyways, they were awesome as usual, and the crowd full
of old people (that I felt right at home in) seemed to enjoy themselves. 


One time I accidentally drank an entire bottle of vinegar. I thought it was terrible wine. Once I went out with a guy who
wore 3-D glasses the entire evening. Oh, one time I rode in a sidecar on a guy's motorcycle, and the sidecar detached
and went down a flight of stairs. Another time I went to a really boring movie with a guy and while I was asleep he tried
to pull out one of my teeth. I literally woke up with his hand in my mouth. We went out a couple times after that but then
he got weird."

The entire Morrissey "Boxers" single, because why not.  
01 Boxers
02 Have-A-Go Merchant
03 Whatever Happens, I Love You

Broadcast - Pendulum.  I never listened to these cats much - they're pretty much Stereolab lite - but I dig this song.  

Liars - Mess On a Mission.  From their album "Mess" that came out last year.  I sorta spaced on them for a few years
but I liked this release.  
Bonus: Vox Tuned D.E.D.

Marmoset - Empty Room.  Quirky indie pop.  I own a bunch of their albums and don't really have more to say than
that unfortunately.  

R.E.M. - (Don't Go Back To) Rockville.  More classic REM, I've really been digging these cats again lately after
probably not listening to them since high school.
Bonus: Harborcoat

The Bob Seger System - 2 + 2 = ?.  Classic Seger.  Perfect rock-n-roll.  
Bonus: Ramblin' Gamblin' Man

The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up - Double Negative.  Reminds me so much of my years in San Francisco when I saw JYPU
a number of times.  This album "Homemade Drugs" was one of the first I had on an MP3 player, and it got listened to
a ton.  
Bonus: Middle Harbor Road

The Starlight Mints - Brass Digger.  Catchy-as-hell band from Oklahoma City...their first record "The Dream That
Stuff Was Made Of" was nearly a perfect pop album.  
Bonus: Pages


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