Ronzani III

Toeing The Line Since 1999

This is a new Conor Oberst song called “Common Knowledge.” It’s really fucking good. The thing that strikes me about this and a few of the other new ones I’ve heard is just the resignation in his voice. There’s a line in another song about how you can either choose to love or choose to be free, resigned to the feeling that you can’t have both. Another is like, you know the world was never fair. There are hundreds of ways to get through the day. Just gotta find one. And then this one, which I’m sure will be the album closer, he’s just so matter of fact about suicide. Like, it’s not for him but it could be for you. “It’s not the life you imagined, so just go out with a bang like Hemingway. Some will say you’re brave. Some will say….you ain’t.” That icy cold ending just crushed me. I immediately bought tickets for the show in Chicago when I heard that.

Good one today. Pretty nice pace considering it includes some walking. I was getting kinda tired of the old playlist so I made a new one comprised of dumpy rock, emo, and a smattering of random indie shit. Unfortunately, Spotify crapped out on some #2 and I had to shift back to the regular list that I have downloaded. But I switched back when I turned around at the draw bridge and it worked fine the rest of the way. Sadly it proved to be mostly crappy for running. Sometimes just crappy.
REGULAR / ALT PLAYLIST
Aerosmith - Rats In The Cellar
The Hold Steady - Spinners
Lush - Ladykillers
Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
Girls - Lust For Life
Aerosmith - Young Lust
Cursive - A Gentleman Caller
The White Stripes - Icky Thump
Cougars - Duke’s A Champ
Blink-182 - Stockholm Syndrome
Aerosmith - F.I.N.E.

Good one today. Pretty nice pace considering it includes some walking. I was getting kinda tired of the old playlist so I made a new one comprised of dumpy rock, emo, and a smattering of random indie shit. Unfortunately, Spotify crapped out on some #2 and I had to shift back to the regular list that I have downloaded. But I switched back when I turned around at the draw bridge and it worked fine the rest of the way. Sadly it proved to be mostly crappy for running. Sometimes just crappy.

REGULAR / ALT PLAYLIST

  1. Aerosmith - Rats In The Cellar
  2. The Hold Steady - Spinners
  3. Lush - Ladykillers
  4. Arcade Fire - Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
  5. Girls - Lust For Life
  6. Aerosmith - Young Lust
  7. Cursive - A Gentleman Caller
  8. The White Stripes - Icky Thump
  9. Cougars - Duke’s A Champ
  10. Blink-182 - Stockholm Syndrome
  11. Aerosmith - F.I.N.E.
Well I got stopped by the draw bridge again, only this time instead of waiting I walked around in some wealthy coastal neighborhood. I walked by a large man who was feverishly smoking a cigarette. Perhaps a rough day for the old portfolio. He was cool though. We gave mutual head nods as we passed one another. I love the head nod. It’s the happy place between the awkwardness of staring at the ground and the awkwardness of forced communication. It’s two people acknowledging that they see each other, but also acknowledging that they have zero interest in pleasantries. Social perfection.
Anyway. Really good run. Cloudy, breezy, probably upper 70’s. Just what the doctor ordered.
PLAYLIST
The Royal Concept - Gimme Twice (I’m really starting to love this one. This band does a great Phoenix impression.)
Harvey Danger - Carlotta Valdez
Aerosmith - No More No More
Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner
Arcade Fire - Keep The Car Running
Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime
The Flaming Lips - Fight Test (I’m adding this to the HOF. Sometimes it takes 25 thousand listens for simple little lines to hit you just right. I’ve finally gotten to that point with the chorus of this one. “I don’t know how a man decides what’s right for his own life. It’s all a mystery.”)
Blink-182 - Stockholm Syndrome
Super Furry Animals - Juxtaposed With U
Neutral Milk Hotel - Ghost
Warren Zevon - Poor Poor Pitiful Me
Coconut Records - West Coast
Free Energy - Bang Pop
Fun Lovin’ Criminals - Scooby Snacks
Hüsker Dü - Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Honorable discharge)
Rancid - Ruby Soho (Adding this to the HOF as well.)
Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
Bob Dylan - I Want You

Well I got stopped by the draw bridge again, only this time instead of waiting I walked around in some wealthy coastal neighborhood. I walked by a large man who was feverishly smoking a cigarette. Perhaps a rough day for the old portfolio. He was cool though. We gave mutual head nods as we passed one another. I love the head nod. It’s the happy place between the awkwardness of staring at the ground and the awkwardness of forced communication. It’s two people acknowledging that they see each other, but also acknowledging that they have zero interest in pleasantries. Social perfection.

Anyway. Really good run. Cloudy, breezy, probably upper 70’s. Just what the doctor ordered.

PLAYLIST

  1. The Royal Concept - Gimme Twice (I’m really starting to love this one. This band does a great Phoenix impression.)
  2. Harvey Danger - Carlotta Valdez
  3. Aerosmith - No More No More
  4. Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner
  5. Arcade Fire - Keep The Car Running
  6. Talking Heads - Once In A Lifetime
  7. The Flaming Lips - Fight Test (I’m adding this to the HOF. Sometimes it takes 25 thousand listens for simple little lines to hit you just right. I’ve finally gotten to that point with the chorus of this one. “I don’t know how a man decides what’s right for his own life. It’s all a mystery.”)
  8. Blink-182 - Stockholm Syndrome
  9. Super Furry Animals - Juxtaposed With U
  10. Neutral Milk Hotel - Ghost
  11. Warren Zevon - Poor Poor Pitiful Me
  12. Coconut Records - West Coast
  13. Free Energy - Bang Pop
  14. Fun Lovin’ Criminals - Scooby Snacks
  15. Hüsker Dü - Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely (Honorable discharge)
  16. Rancid - Ruby Soho (Adding this to the HOF as well.)
  17. Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
  18. Bob Dylan - I Want You

Monday Run

Went for a run today, but Runkeeper got screwed up, I’m guessing on account of receiving a phone call mid-run. It recorded the run but said it was only 26 minutes or something which is around when I received the call. Truth be told it was closer to an hour AND was the first time one of my runs has ever been stalled by a draw bridge. True story. And you wouldn’t believe this but there was a troll beneath. He came up when the bridge was drawn and asked me to spare a pittance. So I picked him up and threw him into the Intercostal Waterway. He’s dead now. Anyway, good run!

PLAYLIST

  1. Bruce Springsteen - Johnny 99
  2. The Hold Steady - Spinners
  3. Sleigh Bells - Rill Rill
  4. Friends - I’m His Girl
  5. The Flaming Lips - Race For The Prize (Remix)
  6. The New Pornographers - All The Old Showstoppers
  7. The Decemberists - Sons & Daughters
  8. Lush - Ladykillers
  9. Hüsker Dü - Don’t Want To Know If You Are Lonely
  10. Generationals - Trust (Dishonorable Discharge. Could be an okay song, but definitely wasn’t working)
  11. McLusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
  12. Death Cab For Cutie - The Sound of Settling
  13. Jane’s Addiction - Jane Says (Honorable Discharge. Not HOF caliber, but worked for a long time. Kinda the Harold Baines of running songs)
  14. Beastie Boys - Get It Together (Ft. Q-Tip) [Honorable Discharge. There’s a line in this song that goes, “I got heart like John Starks.” And I just wanted to say, I get why Knicks fans appreciated John Starks. He was a fiery little guy who cared a lot. But those Ewing/Starks Knicks teams peaked when in Chicago we had the best player ever (Jordan), one of the best 50 ever (Pippen), the best rebounder ever (Rodman), and a whole host of goofy ass white guys (Longley, Kerr, Wennington, Will Perdue, Jud freakin’ Buechler). The Bulls were the best AND they were fun. So Beastie Boys, you can have all the heart you want, I’ll happily take the championships.)

The Battle at Shaky Knees: Friday (Part Three)

Alright, we’re back for the third and final Friday round.

6:00: The Airborne Toxic Event vs. Foals

I figured because I knew Dropkick Murphys and Man Man that I’d have a feel for all the remaining Friday acts. But this is not the case. I think I had a chance to see The Airborne Toxic Event for free when I was visiting New York and looked them up then, deciding that they weren’t good enough to bear some rainy conditions. But let’s try again with the song “Sometime Around Midnight" (3.9+ mil). Well this is dramatic! Almost comically grand opening strings before settling into a pretty average rock song tinged with emo. Yeah, this isn’t doing much for me. I can be a sucker for a slow, quiet-loud builder but I’m pretty indifferent about this one.

Onto Foals who’s evidently very popular. The song “My Number" has over 14 million Spotify plays, but it should be noted that every song in their top 10 has over a million. Dancey… This is fine I guess. Not doing much for me, but I think it has the right vibe to get the crowd moving if they’re going into it with previous exposure (and I have 14 million reasons to suspect that will be the case). 

The verdict: Foals I guess. Not really feeling either of these. Could be a good chance to grab some dinner, maybe grab a spot for the next act.

7:00: Cage The Elephant vs. Graveyard

I saw Cage The Elephant perform their hit "Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked" on Later with Jools Holland in addition to a few other tracks. I hadn’t thought much of the song before the performance but they were really fun performers. I’m pretty sure the singer was trying to come off like he was on acid while not actually being on acid, but I didn’t care. He struck me as a rock star.

Never heard of Graveyard but I’m hoping “Hisingen Blues" (1.8+ mil) is as much of a dirge as the band name would indicate. Heh, spooky indeed! This is pretty good. Heavy. The singer wails. I think I just heard a shout out to Lucifer. Wow, I didn’t think this was going to be a tough call…

The verdict: I was going to default to Cage The Elephant, but if we’re actually going by the song I think is better without the benefit of having seen one of the bands perform, I think I’d go with Graveyard. Just listening to this one song, it really feels like they’re probably the more talented of the two groups. The song fucking wails and would be absolutely epic at sunset. This might be a bigger upset than UConn’s run to the NCAA Championship!

8:00: Spoon vs. The Gaslight Anthem

Is this a cruel joke by event schedulers? Full disclosure: I saw Spoon headline the Pitchfork Festival in 2008. At the time I thought the show was just alright, but in retrospect that probably wasn’t a fair assessment. It was the final night of an amazing weekend (the festivities included performances by The Hold Steady, M. Ward, Animal Collective, Vampire Weekend, Fleet Foxes, and Bon Iver among others). But when Spoon came on I was very drunk and had to pee the whole time but didn’t want to leave my spot, almost certainly putting a damper on the experience.

So my first thought when I saw the Shaky Knees schedule was that since I’d seen Spoon in a similar setting I’d take the opportunity to see The Gaslight Anthem this time around. I was also thinking that they might put on a more energetic set than Spoon. That’s probably true, but what’s also true is that I like Spoon more.

The verdict: Spoon, though it makes me sad that I’m going to miss what’s almost certainly a really good live band. Spoon’s ”Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” album is one of my personal favorites and they have a ton of great songs outside of that. I also think Britt Daniel is a better songwriter than Brian Fallon. And at the end of the day I don’t think I can skip a band with those credentials. That said, I’m sincerely not exaggerating my disappointment in missing Gaslight.

Welp, that’s it for Friday. Come back tomorrow for some Saturday fabulosity (that’s a reference to something Jon Hamm said on a 90’s dating show…I promise that fake word is not actually in my repertoire)

You lose it pretty quickly after taking over a week off, but goddamn, this is how the map should look. So much blue! And that’s not even the ocean. This is a pretty glorious place.
PLAYLIST
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - We The Common (For Valerie Bolden)
Santigold - L.E.S. Artistes
McLusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
Fun Lovin’ Criminals - Scooby Snacks
The Suicide Machines - Sometimes I Don’t Mind
Weezer - El Scorcho
Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner
Harvey Danger - Carlotta Valdez
Cursive - Mama, I’m Swollen
Bruce Springsteen - Johnny 99
Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)
For those keeping score, that’s two songs with Hispanic lady names in their titles. If you think I’m not cultured just remember, I listen to more songs about Latinas written by white men than just about anyone. Book it.

You lose it pretty quickly after taking over a week off, but goddamn, this is how the map should look. So much blue! And that’s not even the ocean. This is a pretty glorious place.

PLAYLIST

  1. Thao & The Get Down Stay Down - We The Common (For Valerie Bolden)
  2. Santigold - L.E.S. Artistes
  3. McLusky - To Hell With Good Intentions
  4. Fun Lovin’ Criminals - Scooby Snacks
  5. The Suicide Machines - Sometimes I Don’t Mind
  6. Weezer - El Scorcho
  7. Jenny and Johnny - Scissor Runner
  8. Harvey Danger - Carlotta Valdez
  9. Cursive - Mama, I’m Swollen
  10. Bruce Springsteen - Johnny 99
  11. Bruce Springsteen - Rosalita (Come Out Tonight)

For those keeping score, that’s two songs with Hispanic lady names in their titles. If you think I’m not cultured just remember, I listen to more songs about Latinas written by white men than just about anyone. Book it.

The Battle at Shaky Knees: Friday (Part Two)

I already got the first feedback on part one. I’ve been asked to take another look at American Aquarium via the song “Burn.Flicker.Die." So I’m going to do that quickly before moving on to the next 3 time slots. I’ve gotta say though, I thought that last song was really bad. Maybe that one lyric was supposed to be a humorous nod to Dylan’s "Just Like A Woman" or something, but it really just made me uncomfortable. In addition to that, I really liked the Mutual Benefit song and found that they’ve been reviewed glowingly in the press. It’s gonna be hard to get me to change my mind about that one.

Yeah… I’m just not into this at all. There seem to be references to other songs in here, so maybe that lyric in the other song was indeed a Dylan nod. I think they’re trying to be earnest and reflective within a tried and true rock n’ roll formula, but it just strikes me as tired and cliched.

3:00: White Denim vs. The Bright Light Social Hour

If we’re going by band name it’s White Denim by default. But we’re not so I’m going to have to listen to their song, “Street Joy,” coming in at a shade under 1.1 million listens. Mm. Very pleasant. Singer has a nice, somewhat haunting voice. Simple strumming. They amp it up nicely for the chorus. The jury’s still out, but I could definitely do an hour of songs like this one.

Whatcha got, The Bright Light Social Hour? What’s that? You want me to listen to your song, “Back and Forth?” You want me to add to its 282,441 plays? Well I’d be happy to do that. And I’m sorry to report, I do not like this. Not one bit. At first I thought it might be an interesting change of pace - kinda funky, kinda dancey. But instead of twisting that funk in an odd and interesting way like Modest Mouse does on a song like “Education,” they kind of just stay the course and allow their annoying singer to take the reigns. And he’s most definitely annoying. 

The verdict: White Denim and/or a bathroom/food break.

4:00: Band Of Skulls vs. Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires

Okay. Back from the bathroom. Full of delicious tacos. What’s next? It’s the menacing ”Band Of Skulls.” At least I’m forced to assume they’re menacing with a name like that. And popular! Their song, “I Know What I Am" has a tick under 3.2 million listens. Liking this! Not as menacing as I was expecting, which is probably a good thing. You can put this squarely under the Jack White/Black Keys canopy. Of course Jack White would scoff at putting the Black Keys under the Jack White canopy, which is fair. So I’ll put Band Of Skulls under the Black Keys canopy which sits at the base of Jack White Mountain. Still solid. 

Next up: “The World (Is Going Up In Flames)" by Charles Bradley with 2.26 million plays. It seems Bradley has had a number of supporting bands. His Extraordinaires are not on Spotify, so I’m just going to give his most popular solo song a listen. Mmm, yes. This is really, really good. Soul. Big time soul. I’m hearing Marvin Gaye.

The verdict: I want to say this is close because I liked that Band Of Skulls song, but it’s not really. Definitely going with Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires here.

5:00: Dropkick Murphys vs. Man Man

Alright, so we’re getting to the part of the lineup where I’ve actually heard of the acts. This one is a relatively interesting. I haven’t really celebrated Man Man’s catalog at all, but I’ve seen them live and know that they put on a good show. I’m assuming the Dropkick’s are a fun live act, but do I really want to watch an Irish punk band not named The Tossers for an hour? Also feel like there’s probably going to be an annoying fan aspect to the Dropkick set. Bunch of past and current and wannabe Bostonians drunk and sweating on each other and singing along to everything. Not sure I have the stamina for that.

The verdict: Man Man unless someone can convince me that I’m way off base about the Dropkicks. 

If I’m making a big mistake on any of these, do let me know. Not ashamed to make any course corrections!

Final three Friday decisions tomorrow.

The Battle at Shaky Knees: Friday (Part One)

So I’ll be attending the Shaky Knees Festival in Atlanta next month and was very excited to learn that the schedule was released this morning. I was not so excited to learn of all the conflicts. So I’ve decided to go through each day and create a personal itinerary as best I can. If I don’t know an act that well I’m going to listen to their most played track on Spotify and check out metacritic.com in an attempt to gauge a level of acclaim. First up: Friday, May 9th.

HEADLINER: THE NATIONAL

image

12:45: Mutual Benefit vs. American Aquarium

Mutual Benefit is represented by the song “Advanced Falconry,” coming in at a whopping 512,681 listens on Spotify. It’s a cute title, no question about it. Let’s see if the title has written a check that the song can’t cash. Starts out lovely. Nice strings. I feel like I should be in a forest of lush greens. Guy kinda sings like the dude from the Antlers. I really like this but it might be too quiet to overcome the combination of large outdoor venue, sparse crowd and hot Atlanta sun. Probably better in a club setting.

Coming in at a paltry 103,490 Spotify listens is “I Hope He Breaks Your Heart" by American Aquarium. What a poor attitude in this title! I’d like to go on record as hoping he showers her with keesies! Sounds like we’re dealing with some standard Americana here. Oof. I don’t know about this one. Hard to judge too harshly on first listen, but my first thought was, “This might be hot garbage.” These are some terrible lyrics. Crappy old tropes. “You fuck like a woman, but you love like a little girl…” No. Just no. I’m out.

The verdict: Mutual Benefit by a country mile.

1:30: Blood Red Shoes vs. Sleeper Agent

Solid band names. If I had to pick based on name alone I think I’d go with Sleeper Agent. Alas, bands are not made on name alone. To Spotify! First up: Hachi Machi! 941,164 plays. It’s “It’s Getting Boring By The Sea" by Blood Red Shoes. Solid band name. Solid song name. Let’s do this. A ha. It has this many plays because it was on the Scott Pilgrim soundtrack. Pretty rockin. Kinda Kaiser Chiefy. Lil bit Arctic Monkeys. But a lady singer! I could picture this being really good live. Is she singing, “Can’t escape Hennessy in this town?” Because I’m a drunk and I’ve managed to escape Hennessy my entire life. I shudder to think of this Hennessy drenched town… Anyway, this will be tough to beat.

Next up: At 733,162 plays it’s “Get It Daddy" by Sleeper Agent. Ooh. This is going several places and I like them all, but especially the chorus. We’ve got a male/female back/forth vocal dynamic. We’ve got an out of nowhere island vibe in the middle. We’ve got rockin verses and a power pop chorus. This definitely has greater “slay me” potential than Blood Red Shoes. The organizers really stacked this 1:30 slot…

The verdict: Sleeper Agent by a thread. It was a slug fest, but ultimately I’m going with potential upside.

2:15: Wild Belle vs. The Whigs

I was thinking I’d seen Wild Belle before, but that was actually Belle Brigade. Strong Belle showing in the indie scene this year. And they’ll be first up with a song that has 2.7+ million listens. Wild Belle scoffs at your 941k, Blood Red Shoes. The song is called “Keep You,” which I’ve most definitely heard before. I thought this was Santigold for some reason. I’m just kinda meh on this song. Nice little reggae vibe, but pretty boring vocal. I could see this being mediocre-bad live, but it has the recognition factor working for it so the crowd won’t care. Everyone will sing along and be happy and I’ll be annoyed because I’m a curmudgeon. Pretty sure I’ll avoid this one.

We’ve got a real Spotify mismatch on our hands here. The Whigs top song with only 248,640 listens is “Right Hand On My Heart.” Sounds like it might be earnest, which isn’t a bad thing in my world. Here goes. Kind of a slow burn. Like the refrain, “We’ve got your money now we’ll make a new start.” This is good, not great. Maybe the 2:15 pm block would be good time to grab an - hold on…Googling famous Atlanta food - Abattoir’s Octopus Dog. Maybe not…

The verdict: The Whigs. Because at the end of the day I’m going to lean towards rock n’ roll over dancehall and because I’m prematurely annoyed by the “I know this song therefore I love this song!” vibe that I’m so sure will exist at Wild Belle.

Friday part two coming soon!