Monday, July 2, 2012

12 O'Clock Track: Rye Coalition, "Heart of Gold, Jacket of Leather"

Posted By on 07.02.12 at 12:00 PM

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Jersey City's Rye Coalition were more of a noisy postpunk band in their earlier days (on Hee Saw Dhuh Kaet and The Lipstick Game), but with 2002's On Top they began a transition to straight-up rock. A nonstop barrage of on-fire licks and hammy lyrics, the album is a masterpiece of rock 'n' roll as it should've been then—as opposed to the often lazy, too-cool piddling of the Strokes and their clones. Rye Coalition sound raw, talented, and fun as hell, and the residual weirdness from their postpunk past lets them poke at cliched classic rock without getting into bed with it. I wore this record out back in the day.

Today's 12 O'Clock Track is "Heart of Gold, Jacket of Leather," a rock 'n' roll song title if I've ever heard one. And the opening riff is foot-on-the-monitor hard—I fear for your soul if it doesn't get you at least a little geared. Recorded by the Albini (like the rest of the album), the track has his expansive, heavy-hitting sound, with a tight, dynamic rhythm section that provides more than just a backbone for the dueling guitars. Ralph Cuseglio's vocals are so sweaty 70s glam that I always imagine him onstage in a bedazzled, ruffled shirt—microphone in one hand, spilling martini in the other.

In related news, the band reunited early last year for a one-off show and has begun editing down material for an upcoming life-and-times documentary.

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Uptown, 1977

Posted By on 07.02.12 at 07:34 AM

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I've been going through the reference shelves at the Reader office (yes, occasionally we use real books for reference) and I've found lots of old, interesting guidebooks to the city. Surely they're out of date and practically useless, I think. But then again, maybe not. Maybe some things are timeless. Maybe some things never change—or just don't change much.

Here's a description of the Uptown neighborhood from Sweet Home Chicago 2 by Tem Horwitz, published by Chicago Review Press in 1977 (with a back cover blurb credited to the Reader: "The latest and liveliest addition to the guidebook shelf"):

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

The worst sports injury

Posted By on 06.30.12 at 12:26 PM

Veyriers Statue of Dying Achilles: I feel your pain, man.
I recently suffered my worst sports injury. While pitching for the greater glory of the Reader in a media softball league game (16-inch, if you have to ask) I partially tore my Achilles tendon.

After a bunch of damn ringers for the Tribune—none of them looking like Eric Zorn or Mary Schmich or even Steve Johnson or Phil Rosenthal—swatted the ball all over the field, the first woman to come to bat hit a dribbler right in front of home plate.

I went running for the ball, but I swear it felt like the heel of my shoe somehow got hooked on the pitching rubber. I went down, and looked over my shoulder to see what had tripped me—and knew right away what I'd done.

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The Reader's Agenda: Sat 6/30

Posted By on 06.30.12 at 06:46 AM

Looking for something to do today? Agenda's got you covered:

Bucktown's Holstein Park celebrates its 100th anniversary with an array of family activities and food served by some of the city's most popular food trucks.

My Neighbors the Yamadas, which J.R. Jones calls impressive for its "mix of snarky humor and sincere sentiment," screens at the Gene Siskel Film Center as part of its Studio Ghibli retrospective.

Fitzgerald's American Music Festival goes down in Berwyn and features sets from JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound and Ike Reilly.

For more on these events and others, check out the Reader's daily Agenda page.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Why I'll never wear headbands again

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 05:29 PM

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Even outwardly fashionable people make missteps now and then—particularly when young. In college, like a lot of people, I tried on a new persona practically every two weeks. The hippie (even though I didn’t like the Grateful Dead), the raver (even though I’d never been to a real rave)—you get the idea. Eventually I settled on wearing only black for a few years. Not because I was a goth or particularly depressed but because it was easy and distinctive.

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Now on DVD: another end of the world

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 04:45 PM

Lovers Ewan McGregor and Eva Green wear protection in Perfect Sense.
  • Lovers Ewan McGregor and Eva Green wear protection in Perfect Sense.
In this week’s long review, J.R. Jones points out the thematic similarities between the new Steve Carrell comedy Seeking a Friend for the End of the World and Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, but it’s worth noting that the apocalypse has taken place in a number of recent movies. Bela Tarr’s The Turin Horse (which played at the Film Center last month), Abel Ferrara’s 4:44 Last Day on Earth (which has yet to receive a Chicago screening), and studio crap like the Transformers series offer fantasies about the end of our planet’s—or at least humanity’s—existence. This wave of movies strikes me as a cultural response to the threats posed by climate change, the exhaustion of nonrenewable energy sources, and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It seems a distressing trend that many people find it easier to imagine the world ending than it getting any better. (One of the more provocative things about Adam Curtis’s 2011 essay series All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace—which I wrote about in January—is that it presented this defeatist attitude as a social construction rather than a rational conclusion.)

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Good news for Kim Dotcom

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 04:18 PM

I will never get tired of posting this photo of Kim Dotcom
  • I will never get tired of posting this photo of Kim Dotcom
Things are looking up a little for flamboyant Internet entrepreneur, accused uberpirate, and recording artist Kim Dotcom, who in January had his rented New Zealand mansion raided by New Zealand police at the behest of the U.S. Justice Department, which was acting at the behest of major media companies who felt that illegal file trading via Dotcom's massively popular Megaupload file-locker service was costing them money. According to Ars Technica, a New Zealand judge has ruled that the search was illegal. The problem is that the New Zealand police didn't know specifically what they were looking for, only that it was linked to copyright infringement, resulting in a warrant so broad in what it allowed the cops to collect—for example "all digital devices, including electronic devices capable of storing and/or processing data in digital form," which added up to a whopping 150 TB of data—that it fails to meet New Zealand's legal standards.

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Reconsidering Albert King

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 03:42 PM

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In the late 80s the blues were a new discovery for me, and I was devouring the music—but there were certain artists I avoided. At the time I was working at Jazz Record Mart, where I got to drink in the genre's entire history, and I distinctly remember picking up a bias against Albert King. I can't remember if it came from a coworker or not, but I know I was skeptical of him because he played a Gibson Flying V, and his fluency with the guitar's upper register seemed to me like a short hop from the self-indulgent blues-rock wanking that followed in his wake (he's been cited as an influence by Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, and Stevie Ray Vaughan, to name a few). That was enough for me to ignore King, even if it wasn't his fault.

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Opening soon: The Do-Deca-Pentathlon

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 03:18 PM

Steve Zissis (left) and Mark Kelly duel to the death in The Do-Deca-Pentathlon
  • Steve Zissis (left) and Mark Kelly duel to the death in The Do-Deca-Pentathlon
A suburban family man (Steve Zissis), fat and unhappy, gets pulled into a long-simmering athletic rivalry with his younger, fitter brother (Mark Kelly), much to the dismay of their mother (Julie Vorus) and the older man’s wife (Jennifer Fleur). This indie comedy by fraternal filmmakers Jay and Mark Duplass (Cyrus and Jeff, Who Lives at Home) is their second in a row about competitive siblings, and one might easily infer a confessional element, given that in the past few years handsome Mark has become a red-hot movie actor. Unfortunately, the comic premise here seems less reminiscent of anyone’s real life than of the Will Ferrell-John C. Reilly comedy Step Brothers, and the filmmakers’ funky camera style (preponderant close-ups, spastic zooming in and out) has begun to harden into a collection of visual tics. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon opens Friday, July 6, at Music Box; a trailer follows the jump.

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Opening soon: The Amazing Spider-Man

Posted By on 06.29.12 at 02:16 PM

Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man
If you’ve seen Andrew Garfield in the British dramas Boy A or Red Riding: 1974, you know he’s a moodier, more turbulent presence than gee-whiz Tobey Maguire, who starred in the first three Spider-Man blockbusters. This fourth installment is a complete reboot, returning to the web-slinger’s creation story, and Garfield, more than any other factor, contributes to the sense of a bleaker vision along the lines of The Dark Knight. Aside from him—and perhaps Emma Stone, an edgier love interest here than Kirsten Dunst in the previous installments—this is a virtual remake of Spider-Man (2002), highly entertaining though superfluous even by the standards of a comic book movie. Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) directed a cast that includes Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Irrfan Khan, and, as the hero’s good-hearted aunt and uncle, Sally Field and Martin Sheen. Opens Tuesday, July 3, with 2-D, 3-D, and large-format screenings.

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