My Favorite Album of 2022 / Mi Disco Preferido de 2022

was ‘Cuatro Chavales’ by Carolina Durante. Feel free to listen to it here while reading along.

Spain is going to feature prominently within my first few publications of 2023. I will obviously post an update once it appears, but Riffs, an unconventional journal on music and material culture, has recently accepted an article I wrote about how Madrid’s early-2000’s bootleg CD market turned me into a Suede fan. Like all untidy music writing, it’s complicated, but hopefully you will like it.

Cuatro Chavales, the sophomore full-length from Madrid quartet Carolina Durante, is remarkable for many reasons, but for me, it boils down to two. First, on a personal level, it required me leaving North America and the physical act of “being there” to feel genuinely excited about indie rock again. Second, as much as Spanish culture feels off-center from even the rest of “Europe,” the record just hits the global popular music zeitgeist on the head (and then keeps on smashing). In October, America’s biggest pop-star (who adopted a polymorphous indie aesthetic to reinvent herself in her thirties) declared, “It’s me, Hi, I’m the problem, it’s me.” Eight months earlier, Diego Ibañez sauntered across a bridge over the autovía at sunset, lighting a cigarette and loudly declared the same thing. Did the sheer joy of returning to gigs unmasked last year bring out a collective, subliminal acceptance of responsibility?

2022 was great by transitive property, as any year where I get back to Spain is great. My prior visits to Madrid and Segovia, in 2015, came on an extended weekender flying in from Paris. The following year, Carolina Durante formed in Madrid and began recording quintessentially Spanish rock n’ roll shout-along power-jams. Though I had been obsessively listening to the Estepona power-pop trio Airbag since 2008 and had taken notice of their new label Sonido Muchacho, I still managed to snooze on the emergent movemnet which newer groups like Carolina encapsulated. Or, maybe it never went away; I was just gone for too long.

When you’re cursed to be born in a country that celebrates ignorance, it’s easy to fall out of touch with an entire cultural spark that happens to be sung in another language (even if it happens to be your own homeland’s close-second language). Airbag helped confirm my long-standing suspicion that I had been born in the wrong country – namely, the first time I heard the live recording of their 15th anniversary gig and the beachball-bouncing crowd mouthed the synth solo to “Big Acuarium.” In a truly amazing twist, the pandemic drove Airbag into a phase of their greatest activity since the mid-2010’s. They released a great little EP called Discotecas, which included “Disco Azul” a heart-rendering ditty about falling in love with a coworker that sits high atop my favorite songs they’ve ever recorded.

As soon as it was legally possible for Americans to travel to the EU again, Airbag announced that they would play a special gig at Club Ochoymedia (the 8:30 Club, in other words) in Madrid in mid-May. As I did with Blur’s Hyde Park Reunion in 2009, I bought tickets for the gig and then made the necessary arrangements. My partner and I planned our Iberian journey (her first time overseas) around a pop-punk concert, which feels just as cool to write now as it did to plan a year ago.

Less than two weeks before the gig, Airbag announced that their opener would be someone called Temerario Mario, which means “Reckless Mario” (as everything sounds dumber in English). Possibly influenced by Mario’s detached, lo-fi aesthetic online, I let my excitement to see Airbag drown out any curiosity about who the opener was. My presumption was that it would be some Spanish analogue of Christopher Owens (not great) or Ariel Pink (much worse).

I will proudly say now that I was amazingly wrong.

Like a lot of aging punk fans, my early-’20s dalliance with (indie-)rockism had left me largely apathetic about the prior decade of chaff that labels like Sub Pop and Matador had been spitting out. This prevented me from falling in love with artists like Mac Demarco, the War on Drugs, and other references from 2016. Even in the minutes before Mario del Valle and drummer Juan Pedrayes (who constitute half of Caroline Durante and play in several other bands) walked onstage, I let myself chomp at the bit for Airbag to begin.

Mario began his set with a few solo songs – just him, his acoustic-electric, and (what appeared to be) everyone in the audience below the age of 35 screaming along to everything. “Oh, this dude’s a phenomenon here,” I told my partner, “Of course he is.” Within a couple songs of Pedrayes joining him on drums, I found myself yelling at her, “I kind of love this kid!” unable to wipe the smile off my face. He and Pedrayes covered “The KKK Took My Baby Away” during their set (a potent reminder of just how important the Ramones have always been), and they spent almost all of Airbag’s thrashing through the crowd, climbing onstage, and embracing in tandem stagedives. I had never seen anything like it before, particularly as such a flagrant fuck-you to Spanish laddish machismo (even more so considering how “chaval” closely translates to “lad”).

Carolina Durante: Juan Pedrayes, Diego Ibañez, Mario del Valle, Martín Vallhonrat (via Sonido Muchacho)

All four members of Carolina Durante present different visions of sexual ambiguity, too, which, coupled with their unconventionally photogenic looks, make them the perfect rock n’ roll band for the 2020’s. Even their respective ages are difficult to guess, since they’re tight as hell musicians who still carry themselves as if they looked and sounded like shit (recalling musical urbanitas like The Strokes in their rawest moments). Diego Ibañez delivers a glorious mix of David Yow’s madman energy and David Gedge’s purposefully unsophisticated vocals, beneath a unibrow-scowl that brings to mind a brash young Liam Gallagher. If they’d formed ten years earlier in the UK, they may have supplanted the Arctic Monkeys as “the century’s saviours of Rock music,” but they formed in 2017 in Madrid, so they’ve had to settle for being one of the most exciting rock bands on Earth, largely unknown to the 7.35 billion people who don’t speak Spanish. Their Iberian contemporaries who chose to sing in English such as Hinds and Mourn have earned a following in that world, but they haven’t exactly taken it over. Either way, cultural traits like “la retranca” (ambiguity of personality/intent) are impossible to translate lyrically, no matter what language. The more I understand what Ibañez is singing, the more confused and intrigued I get about where he stands. And that’s fine.

I’ve grown increasingly skeptical and/or distasteful of outsider, English-language analyses of Spain – as enjoyable as Gerald Brenan and that ilk can be to read – but if I could insert my two cents as an English-speaking outsider who’s developed my own complicated relationship with the country: visiting Spain as an American feels like you’re sitting in a stranger’s living room with your feet up on their coffee table. It finally hit me just how off-center Spain is from “Europe” in 2015, and this time last year, it felt even more like a peripheral bubble with its own universe of art, food, and quality bullshit (even their interpretations of stuff created in the English-speaking world) that anybody from anywhere could enjoy or appreciate, but never understand.

This is all strange to write, since Carolina Durante has myriad points of reference in English-speaking indie music. It reveals their Spain to be an (infinitely better) alternate universe in which Doolittle made the Pixies – perhaps Carolina Durante’s most obvious Anglophone influence – superstars in their prime. The whole first half of Cuatro goes straight for the throat in that loud-quiet-loud way, and if “Tu Nuevo Grupo Favorito” doesn’t come true by its first chorus, well you’re about to start yelling along whether you want to or not. By the fifth track, “Urbanitas” (perhaps my favorite track on this thing) the scream-along choruses pound into your skull and played at the right volume, feel like they could peel your wallpaper. Cuatro Chavales feels calculated to be the record that should make Carolina Durante the biggest band in the world, even if that “world” is the self-contained one south of the Pyrenees.

So, let me return to that first point about what makes Cuatro Chavales such a landmark album to me. Ageing American music writers (cough) love to offer opinions about why rock music has “declined so much in cultural prominence” without even thinking what a tiny slice of the world we are. It’s that imperialist mentality that’s so easy to fall into without seeing how and why things don’t have to be that way.

Venues wouldn’t be so stringent and overpriced if our government weren’t too chickenshit to dissolve Ticketmaster and Livenation. People would pursue their creative dreams and be happier if they weren’t tied to soul-crushing employment for health insurance, and more people would come out and stagedive if ambulance rides didn’t cost $1000. Most importantly, it would be easier for us to admit that, sometimes, we are the problem, if we lived in a country that didn’t make a vast majority of us feel that way from birth. I make no pretenses that Spain is bereft of its own problems, but for me, hearing Carolina Durante shines a bright light on just how much more fun we could all be having.

Upcoming Talk on How Minstrelsy/Blackface are Baked into American Pop Culture

For anybody in Central Michigan, I’ll be delivering a special lecture next week for the Honors Program Personal Development Project (PDP) series.

I’ll be bringing back one of my favorite lectures from my curriculum on the Geography of American Popular Culture. From the poster/site description:

Pop Culture in the United States, like American History at large, must address uncomfortable realities about its past (and present) to embrace what has made it remarkable. Early forms of American music, theater, and eventually film, radio, and television are inextricable from the minstrel show – generally speaking, mockery of African-Americans by white performers and audiences. However, as with anything in popular culture, the realities, appeals, and most influential performers exist within gray areas. As this lecture argues, much of the most persevering and influential American art – all the way from The Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup (1933) to Childish Gambino’s “This is America” (2018) – has happened as a reaction to minstrelsy rather than embrace of it.

See you next Thursday, October 20th, at 6pm in DOW Science Complex Room 102 (not Pearce 127, the original location as posted on the Honors site).

The Only 30 Day Song Challenge that Matters: NOT BY THE CLASH

Happy August, everyone. A busy month ahead.

I don’t know why it took me two+ years to land on this one, but in honor of Joe Strummer’s upcoming 70th birthday, the time felt right. So I present the:

NOT-BY-THE-CLASH CHALLENGE!

Feel free to share on whatever platform(s) you would like, tell your friends, and don’t forget #NotBytheClash. And above all, KNOW YOUR RIGHTS.

Tyler’s Favorite Albums (1998): The Afghan Whigs – ‘1965’

“[Greg] Dulli’s a Catholic boy blessed with a filmmaker’s sense of story, a robust, overly industrious voice that can’t quite stay on key, sexual hang-ups for days, and the seeming conviction that he may, in fact, be black.” – Joe Gross on the Afghan Whigs in The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th Ed), 2004. 

Columbia Records Promotional still from 1965 era (photo by Marina Chavez)

For a substantial portion of my twenties, I lived with venerated guitarist and session musician J. Tom Hnatow. We met because I needed a room when I moved to DC, he had a room to let, and we both loved Tom Waits. He spent a lot of time on the road, but whenever he was home, we would, predictably enough, bullshit about music. To this day, whenever I listen to the Afghan Whigs, I occasionally remember the first thing Tom said when I brought them up: “It must have been no fun at all being in that band.” I trusted Tom then, and I still trust him now, given his pedigree from years of hard-scrabble touring and babysitting various collaborators with various addictions. 

Though the Afghan Whigs emerged from Cincinnati at the height of the hair metal/scuzz-rock era, which their long-lost debut album reflects, there was always something different about their scuzz. Their first album on Sub Pop, Up In It was just as problematic as it came out in 1990 as if it had dropped last year (despite the term not having dissipated into popular discourse from the academic bubble yet). However, Greg Dulli’s blatant love and admiration for Miles Davis and Billie Holiday made listeners wonder how serious he was about the band’s whole “track-marks and rage” persona. Bob Gendron did a good job demystifying Dulli’s story in his 33 1/3 book about Gentlemen, the Afghan Whigs’ 1993 major-label debut which frequently centerpieces any listicle about “bands who actually got better when they sold out (imagine that)”. 

First of all, I think that ideology is flawed, considering how my favorite record of 1998, the Afghan Whigs’ swan song 1965, is sandwiched in between two other records by underground artists who generated their finest work using major-label machinery*. Of course, there was no rhyme or reason to how or why certain music of the Nineties has aged better than most. It feels like a lot of the most timeless shit from the 80’s went against aural and production trends (fucking saxophones…), but the timeless shit from the 90’s were about purposefully bucking whatever was popular and giving LOTS of love to your pop forebears. 1965 isn’t even the only “apart-from-indie-and-punk” album named after the authors’ birth year to top one of my favorite-albums lists this decade**. Maybe it was the sudden floodgates of cultural-text access which the internet had opened, but both Greg Dulli and Tim Wheeler both seemed like they would have had a hell of a time being able to experience their birth years as adults. I often waver on this about my own year of birth. 

Either way, the Afghan Whigs’ completing their transition to noirish R&B made 1965 a perfect title. The cover featured Ed White walking in space outside of the Gemini 4 less than one month after Dulli was born. Though it take a few glances to notice it on the cover, he was attached to the spacecraft via an umbilical cord – entirely to symbolize Dulli’s own introspection about his birth following extensive treatment for clinical depression. Granted, what the hell do I know? I’ve only met Greg Dulli once – briefly – in 2007 at a Dinosaur Jr gig in New Orleans. He told me that he and Mark Lanegan were bringing their Gutter Twins project to DC that March, welcomed me to New Orleans, then went outside to smoke. Maybe he isn’t as complicated as we imagine he is, or at least no more complicated than anybody who’s made a career out of writing songs about fucking and fucking up. 

To wit: 1965– perhaps the album that I’ve listened to more times than any record ever made. I’m unsure why that is, outside of the fact that I love it, the CD has always found its way into my car(s over the years), and it puts me where I need to be when I’m in a place I want to avoid. I did first hear it at that pivotal point in my adolescence, when “Something Hot” made it onto the radio while sounding nothing like anything else on the radio. I also took a major coming-of-age trip to New Orleans in 1998 and was still reeling from that six months later when the album came out. I remember buying my used copy of the CD, opening the booklet and seeing that they had recorded part of it in NOLA. The album definitely feels like the pulse of the Northernmost Caribbean City, dribbling in Creole voice samples and steel-pan drums over “Citi Soleil” and nodding to “some old boy who lives Uptown” in “Crazy.” There’s a moment in “Neglekted,” just short of the 3-minute mark, when a key change drops and releases the song into a gorgeous lounge, full of smoky background vocals and a suddenly ebullient protagonist, floating through it all. 

Like many bands who became my favorites in high school, the Afghan Whigs split up around that time, too. Given the demons that seemed to permeate the band’s aesthetic, it wasn’t a big surprise. Within a year and change, Dulli had returned as the Twilight Singers, which at first felt like the unfinished business of a guy who had scrubbed his old garage-punk band of all grunge influence. Within a few years, Greg’s buddy Ted Demme died, he scrapped his solo album, and he poured his noirish melancholia into what would become my favorite album of 2003. After spending a decade channeling his middle-aged angst into the Twilight Signers project, he reunited the Afghan Whigs and, in the past decade, has released two very good new albums (with a third on the way). Imagine that.

*Ween in 1997 and The Dismemberment Plan in 1999; the latter had been dropped before the album came out, but they used that Interscope money-fountain to record it.

**Ash’s 1977 also earns that esteem from me for 1996.

It’s your (Are We) Not-By-DEVO Challenge for April!

I tell ya – this modern society a select few have built has got me jerkin’ back and forth between thinking “Maaaan, what a beautiful world” and “we’re all deep into de-evolution, everything is controlled by morons.” Well, once again, I’m back in the crate of the Not-By 30-Day Music Challenge monster I created toward the beginning of the COVID era, and yet again it is my birthday month. So, prepare yourselves to get sloppy while fighting that uncontrollable urge with the…

NOT-BY-DEVO CHALLENGE!

I had another idea that I may unveil this coming summer provided the usual suspects I know are still engaged with these song-a-day challenges then. But for now, go ahead and download this, share it with your friends, and hashtag it #NotByDEVO to guarantee good times.

If you’re curious, someone on the internet there’s a photo of me dressed up as Mark Mothersbaugh (or Bob, or Gerry, or Alan, technically) for Halloween in 2010. I even made my own energy dome. My best friend dressed up as Thor (bear in mind this was a year before the first Marvel movie for that character came out), and that January we put on a variety show called ‘Ragnarok’ where I hosted one segment in character as Mothersbaugh. Five years later, my friend hit me up, practically freaking out when they announced that the music for Thor! Ragnarok (2017) would be done by Mark Mothersbaugh. Life imitates art imitates full circles, sometimes.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Ben Irving Photos from Florida – A Gator and a Dolphin (and more on Marineland)

I scanned these photos with the impression that Irving took them both at Marineland, a marine life expo located on Highway A1A between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach. According to the manager behind Marineland’s social media accounts, the first photo (of a trainer with a gator) was not taken there, but the second photo, which features a dolphin jumping for a treat in a tank with spectators, absolutely was.

This certainly creates more questions about where Irving may have snapped a photo of a trainer with a Gator. I wonder if the St. Augustine area had any accessible “gator experiences” at the time. It may have been at Gatorland, which has been called such since 1954, but that was far down the road in Kissimmee.

Marineland, especially in the last two decades of Florida’s pre-Disney era, was a well-established attraction. The cover of the Marineland guide, which I’ve scanned into JPEG format and will share below, along with a few other highlights from the program, has become an enduring image of Florida’s pre-Mickey tourist trade.

Cover to a 50’s-era Guide to Marineland of Florida. Scanned by Sonic Geography.
Click to enlarge.

The guide’s opening salvo is particularly interesting, especially because it begins with a reference to Mohammed. The reference was hardly inaccurate (given the can-do attitude that permeated throughout Florida’s post-war attractions), but something tells me a program for a popular tourist destination on Florida’s space coast (ghost to ghost) would not open with a Mohammed anytime this century.

Click to enlarge the above pages and check out their sales pitch to visitors! Read about how new and exciting Oceanariums were at the time. I’ve also cropped and enlarged the “Gull’s-eye” view of the park, which appears to be facing south, looking at the Porpoise Stadium under the Marineland sign.

It’s still difficult to tell exactly which of the Oceanariums (Oceanaria? …It’s not a word I tend to use much in conversation or writing) Irving’s photo of the clever jumping dolphin was taken in. The Porpoise School tank at the foot of those blue bleachers would make sense, but according to the program, the Circular Oceanarium had dolphin shows as well.

Click to enlarge.

Tyler’s Favorite Albums (1985): The Replacements – ‘Tim’

“Crack up in the sun / Lose it in the shade.”

How great does a songwriter have to be to pen a generation-defining anthem? How about when he does it at least twice on one album, all while drunk and highly allergic to success? Such is the legend of Paul Westerberg, the guy who made it seem so effortless.

There have been multiple books published trying to unravel this legend, but the more I learn about similar great songwriters of the 80’s (e.g. Paddy McAloon, responsible for my third-favorite record of 1985; see below), the more I realize they’re just humans with the same insecurities or apathies as anyone. Westerberg himself had a career painted by what the major labels of the 20th century referred to as “failure.” You wouldn’t know it listening to his band’s major-label debut, which sounds like the retroactive soundtrack to an entire era. Westerberg’s hero Alex Chilton accomplished something similar (retroactively) for the early 70’s with those Big Star records. Paul would sing tribute to Chilton in what mayyyy (shrugging while saying it like a question) be the best-known Replacements song on “Pleased to Meet Me,” but today’s essay isn’t about the totally okay, Bob Stinson-less Pleased to Meet Me.

I remember finding it curious that Michael Azerrad cut off his Our Band Could Be Your Life chapter on the Replacements when they left Twin/Tone, but he had every right to. Critics still have a weird relationship with Tim, though I never understood why. The cover art is grotesque, and I’ll begrudgingly admit that the band does sound like they’re on autopilot for a couple of tracks here (“Lay It Down Clown” and “Dose of Thunder” were once denounced as ‘filler’ in a Rolling Stone classic review), but there’s nothing on Tim that couldn’t have been on Let It Be.  This did turn out to be Bob Stinson’s swan song with the group – taking a bit of a subordinate role as lead guitarist before slipping out the back door and disappearing into various Twin Cities kitchens (and his addictions) until dying in 1995.

The Replacements in 1985 (image from JConnelly72 on Reddit)

The thing that was so easy to forget about Westerberg was that he did have big-time aspirations. He wanted to write songs that spoke to people. He wanted to sell records. In fact, he spent the better part of two decades as a major-label artist – albeit, personally, I would struggle to name a single one of his solo tracks. In fact, the first time I can remember hearing his name was in a family friend’s car sometime in 1996. My friend Beth implored her mom to put Paul Westerberg on (it would have been his second studio album Eventually), but we wound up listening to Ben Folds Five’s first album instead (it was “Julianne;” you never forget a lyric like “I met this girl she looked like Axl Rose”). Soon, though, I discovered The Replacements, but ironically, I don’t remember how.

What I do remember, though, is listening to Tim on repeat in my discman on a trip through Spain in 2000. Songs like “I’ll Buy” and “Kiss Me on the Bus” will always bring me back to those long rides through parched Iberian landscapes. Also, I split a hotel room in Barcelona with a friend named Tim. I don’t remember if that coincidence had any bearing on my time there, but it was definitely linked to that coming-of-age experience.

I wouldn’t make it to the Twin Cities for another decade, but I got the impression that by 2011, the Minneapolis and St. Paul that created Prince, The Replacements, and Husker Du (three artists at the peak of their powers in 1985) was a distant memory. A lot of the old Scandinavians and Catholic VFW-dwellers had been dying out, and gentrification had certainly done a number on the cities, right? 

Downtown MPLS, Fall 2017 (Photo by Tyler S. for SonicGeography.com)

I was wrong. The Twin Cities’ landscape had changed a good bit since Westerberg, the Stinson Brothers, and Chris Mars first ground out a demo of “Raised in the City,” but the spirit still felt there. I had spent many nights on couches in punk houses, but I’d never before stayed in house in a punk neighborhood. Two of the Midwestern punks I stayed with brought me through a series of alleys to Matt’s Pub, where we got (absolutely worth the hype) Jucy Lucy burgers. I returned in 2017 for the Oral History Association conference, which I now regret not having returned to since then, looking back through that linked entry. I think that, sometime in the coming years, I will make it a point to converge with the OHA again. Apparently, they are returning to in-person next Fall in Los Angeles. Anyway, I’m veering off of my point.

As my shared thoughts above on Tim demonstrate, it’s exceedingly hard to write anything original about the Replacements without getting somewhat personal. So, because I don’t have much else to contribute to that conversation, here are my three favorite lyrical moments from Tim and why:

  • A good friend of mine from the Midwest once overheard “Here Comes a Regular” while walking home after a bad night, and he was convinced the universe was mocking him. I immediately knew how he felt, considering how that’s one of the saddest songs ever written. “I used to live at home / now I stay at the house” just HITS me every time I hear it, even on nice, sunny days with no worries.
  • “If I don’t see you, for a long, long while, I’ll try to find you left of the dial.” As much as it physically hurts to pick a favorite track from this album, I always wind up going with “Left of the Dial.” It’s so goddamn powerful and such a love letter to the entire cultural landscape that Westerberg knew. There’s a reason that Rhino Records milked the title for at least one 80’s Underground compilation.
  • The entirety of “Bastards of Young.” Westerberg, at least in my mind, named that micro-generation after the Baby Boomers but before the Gen-Xers. I was going to single out the bridge lyric “Unwillingness to claim us/ you’ve got no warrant to name us,” even though I had long heard it as “Got no War to name us,” which would also be a powerful line. 

Here’s to you, Paul Westerberg. May all of your Walgreen’s shopping trips go uninterrupted my local news teams.

LINER NOTES: to round things out, these are my full top 10 favorite albums of 1985 – another mammoth year for great music (and American pop culture at large -although two of these albums are British and one is French).

  1. The Replacements – ‘Tim’
  2. Gray Matter – ‘Food for Thought’
  3. Prefab Sprout – ‘Steve McQueen’
  4. Tom Waits – ‘Rain Dogs’
  5. The Jesus & Mary Chain – ‘Psychocandy’
  6. Berurier Noir – ‘Concerto Pour Detraques’
  7. Dead Milkmen – ‘Big Lizard in my Backyard’
  8. Husker Du – ‘Flip Your Wig’
  9. Husker Du – ‘New Day Rising’
  10. RUN-DMC – ‘King of Rock’

The Pine River Task Force Pays a Visit to ENV 300

One of the classes I teach, ENV 300 (Environmental Justice) is divided into two halves: environmental disasters on a global scale, and engineered disasters in our own backyard (i.e. Michigan). The second half kicks off with the 1973 (and ongoing) Michigan PBB disaster, which was foisted on the state by the Velsicol Chemical Company, whose plant in St. Louis made Love Canal look tame in comparison.

Last week, we were fortunate to have visits from the Chair and Vice-Chair of the Pine River Superfund Citizen Task Force, Jane Keon and Dr. Ed Lorenz.

Jane and Ed both visited both of my sections, telling the story of just how badly the Michigan Chemical plant damaged their community. I knew a whole lot about the PBB crisis that the plant stumbled the state into (largely learning from Joyce Egginton’s brilliant book The Poisoning of Michigan and an eponymous BBC documentary from 1977), but I didn’t realize the vital role the community has taken with the EPA’s work to right decades of wrongs by Velsicol. The amount of money spent on cleanup (all of which, since 1995, has come from taxpayers) has long superseded the profits generated by the plant’s production of however many “-master” products.

If you’d like to join in on the Pine River Task Force’s next meeting and learn more about what they do, it will be happening on Zoom on Wednesday, November 17th at 7pm ET. They will post the public Zoom link on their website a few days beforehand.

The “Not by The Cure” Song-a-Day Challenge

Happy November, everyone. To many, that means we’ve just passed another Halloween celebration. Also to many, that means that Dia de los Muertos is fast approaching. To infinitely fewer, that means a new Song-a-Day challenge from Sonic Geography.

I should elaborate; I retired from building these things months ago. A pair of my friends from DC who began a supportive Facebook group during the pandemic shutdown in 2020 gladly took over delegating the responsibility once I told them I was stepping down from the monthly task. But, never content to let sleeping dogs lie, I decided to reverse my “retirement” for a month. This is hardly a Jordan/Hašek/Eminem/Jay-Z move on my part; I merely had another set of Not-By song cues ready to go last year that I never got around to building into a full month.

With no further ado, I give you: THE NOT-BY-THE CURE song-a-day challenge for November!

There’s no real November connection I can ascertain for The Cure. Robert Smith was born in April, and Faith came out in April 1981, so it’s not like there’s a major anniversary here. Why can’t we just use November to celebrate the existence of one of the greatest and most unique British rock bands of the past fifty years, anyway?

So, please do download the image to your phone, play along, use the hashtag #NotbytheCure, and just try to see in the dark. Just try to make it work.

Tyler’s Favorite Albums (1984): Minutemen – ‘Double Nickels on the Dime’

Via artrockstore.com

I once devoted an entire episode of my first radio show to playing this record in its entirety, and I would do it again. Despite it’s prodigious length for a punk record, it still takes infinitely less time to listen to than Ulysses takes to read.

Not to be too hyperbolic, but this is the best album of the 1980s by the best band of the 1980s, and deserves to be considered one of the great works of Western Civilization. If you haven’t listened to Double Nickels on the Dime, just do so now and begin the next chapter of your life.