Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why You Shouldn't Smoke

Let me preface this by saying I love Ian McCulloch. I truly believe that he's probably the coolest person on the planet. And I love the current iteration of Echo and the Bunnymen, mostly because I became a fan after the initial breakup, and the reunion of the band has given me the opportunity to see them live a bunch of times. But Mac's voice is not what it once was. To wit, here are two versions of one of their best songs, 'All That Jazz'. See if you can pick up on the difference.



Friday, March 27, 2009

AC Newman and the Broken West @ Logan Square Auditorium - 3/25/09

So I've come to the conclusion that I'm really a horrible music writer. It actually has nothing to do with my skills (or lack thereof) as a writer. My problem is that I can't really criticize. I only go to shows that I want to see. Which means I only see bands that I know I already like, which means I'm going to like the show. Every review comes off as a fanboy review. So what follows is not a review, but a recap. I'm basically going to tell you why I like the bands I like so much.

This was a smaller crowd than my last Logan Square show. I saw Los Campesinos! with Titus Andronicus as the opener a couple months ago and the place was packed. The Broken West took the stage about ten minutes after 8:00, and the place was still half empty. Truth be told, I love the Broken West, and I think I've seen every show they've played in Chicago since 2007 when I first saw them open for America's finest live act, the Walkmen. They played a sample of the old album, but the bulk of the set came from thenew album and the first album, and it was all well mixed. The list:
  • On the Bubble
  • So it Goes
  • Down in the Valley
  • Gwen Now and Then
  • Auctioneer
  • Ambuscade
  • Got It Bad
  • Elm City
  • House of Lies
  • Perfect Games
AC Newman and band followed shortly thereafter, and I have to say, I really appreciate bands that play on time. They started shortly after nine, which is what I expect from a headliner when I see a show that's billed as an 8:00 show. Also, I have to give credit to the two females in the band (bass and violin) who were drinking wine. Rarely do you see wine consumed on stage.

Anyway, I'd say they played a typical mix of old and new. When an act is supporting a new album, you expect about 65-35 mix, and that's pretty much what we got. I think they played all but one song from the new album (honestly, at this point, I can't remember if they failed to play 'Elemental' or 'Thunderbolts'. It's been a day or so). And honestly, he played a couple songs from the Slow Wonder that I'm not crazy about (Cloud Prayer and Come Crash). But he hit most of hte highlights, and he closed with the Town Halo, which is still his best song, and is a great song if you have a violin player.

All in all a great show. Great venue, solid set, on-time, no complaints. Two bands that I really love. Hope they come back soon.

Destroyer (May)
Doves (May)
Art Brut twice (June)
X (June)
Pitchfork Festival (July)

Some samples:

Broken West

AC Newman

AC Newman

Monday, March 23, 2009

Another Quick Thought

I'm really starting to sour on John Lackey. I don't know. If he thinks that complaining to the press is going to get him signed quicker, he doesn't know the Angels front office very well. And he's not really endearing himself to his fanbase.

"They got one of those on my last contract," Lackey said. "My performance outweighed that contract. . . . This is kind of my turn. They've had control for six years. Now they have to convince me."

Also, it would help if he knew how arbitration worked. You didn't sign below market on your last deal. You signed for what the market pays guys who can't become free agents. It wasn't a home town discount.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wildcats Strike - Beat UCLA 89-69

If you set aside two hours of your day to watch this game, I hope you found something to do after about the first five minutes, because the game was essentially over that early. UCLA’s first six points came from the free throw line, but the story was how they got there. Hard, physically punishing fouls sent a message early on that Villanova was going to bully UCLA all over the floor, and the Bruins never really stepped up to the challenge. After Josh Shipp’s fourth free throw gave UCLA a 6-4 lead, the Wildcats went on a 24-5 run from which the Bruins would never recover.

You could look for someone to blame, but this was just a beat-down, plain and simple. Villanova was stronger, quicker, more athletic, and executed better than the Bruins in every aspect of the game. The Villanova back court routinely took the ball to the basket without much trouble. Dante Cunningham dominated the smaller Bruins inside, finishing with 18 and 10. Six Wildcats finished with double figures in scoring, and another finished with 8 points.

The raw numbers don’t look all that awful. Neither team shot over 50% (UCLA finished at 42.6% while Villanova shot 46.3%). UCLA outscored Villanova at the free throw line and the three point line. But two numbers tell the whole story are rebounds and turnovers. Villanova outrebounded the Bruins 39-26, including 15-7 on the offensive glass. The Bruins turned the ball over 20 times compared to only 11 times for the Wildcats. Those numbers translated into 20 more shots for Villanova, and the team with 20 extra shots is usually going to win.

So the UCLA careers for Josh Shipp, Darren Collison, and Alfred Aboya have come to an end. The trio combined for 11 of the Bruins turnovers and only 10 rebounds. Shockingly, Josh Shipp finished the game without a rebound. It’s their earliest tournament exit since Shipp’s first year loss to Texas Tech. Shipp ends his career with a career record for games started, while Collison and Aboya finish with more games played than other Bruin in team history.

The Bruins will now wait on the decision of freshman J’rue Holiday, who will take over his natural point guard position if he decides to come back. They also add length in a five man freshman class, each of whom stand 6′7″ or taller. But as they learned against Memphis last year, and Villanova this year, talent alone won’t get it done. They need to get tougher and stronger if they’re going to return to national prominence.