I like to point out Chicago’s weaknesses. For no other reason than it tends to piss off the many rabid Chicago boosters. And I enjoy nothing better than factual support (as opposed to my usual flat-out fabrications) for these cruel forays into devil’s advocacy. So I was especially thrilled to see these:
Speaking of smog, when did Bill Callahan’s weird folk thing stop sucking and start getting kinda good? Listening to Smog used to be about as much fun as stuffing pencils down your ears. But this is actually interesting:
The Well (mp3) - Smog
From A River Ain’t Too Much To Love on Drag City (Chicago label—see, see!)
Not necessarily my thing, but Gold Coast Refuse (Chicago band!) does the roots rock/Americana thing rather well. I can see fans of Wilco getting into this:
Another good Chicago (area) item: Todd & Holland Teas. I’ve been addicted to their Morning Dew blend—a really mellow, subtly fruity green tea—since I discovered it a couple years ago. I’m not sure how I feel about The Shins Will Change Your Life. Yes, some rock crits abuse hyperbole and yes, a couple of these targets are deserving of ridicule. (I could spend hours discussing my conflicted feelings about Pitchfork and its hegemonic role.) On the other hand, it seems cowardly to yank clips out of context and post them anonymously without comment. When I originally read some of these reviews, they struck me as straight-on, gut reactions to music that may not otherwise get the attention it deserves. Does the medium play a part in molding the message? Of course. Duh. The bigger question is this: Are we supposed to believe it's dishonest or shameful to say there are albums that changed our lives? If so, I'm hopeless.
Finally, if I had a kid, s/he would totally be wearing this. Like every day.