Television Show Review


The Metro, Chicago, IL

May 8th, 2014

Television Live Show Review

Anytime I go to see a legacy act (which I now define as any band touring 15 years since the end of their heyday), I am often grading on a curve. It’s not fair to have expectations for the act to match what they were in their more nimble, youthful days, but at the same time, what’s the point in paying the often pricey legacy ticket prices if you don’t think the show will wow or amuse you in some way. Due to these low expectations, I have often found myself pleasantly surprised and in some cases (like Bruce Springsteen, Paul McCartney, and Neil Young), flat out amazed. Some stars’ star power transcend age and time.

I went and caught Television, the legendary CBGB’s punk band that isn’t actually a punk band at all, at the Metro, which was their first time in Chicago in 22 years, and their first tour in six years. The band is actually set to release their fourth album in 37 years, but is still leaning mostly on their landmark debut, Marquee Moon.

The current form of Television is three of its four members from its debut, the brains, guitar, and voice behind the operation, Tom Verlaine, bassist Fred Smith (who replaced Richard Hell before they signed their first record deal), and drummer Billy Ficca. Guitarist Jimmy Rip also toured with the band, and was arguably the best live performer in the band, even if he looks more like a crazy mix between Nick Nolte and Tom Waits’ than a member of a classic art punk band. All the other members beyond Rip appeared to be just barely keeping the songs together, playing pretty stiff and rusty. Verlaine, specifically hasn’t aged well, and while his guitar skills haven’t faded much, his voice certainly has, and it removed some of the power and weirdness out of the songs.

Verlaine’s decline is all the more stark when compared to his CBGB’s counterpart David Byrne, who has managed to age like a raspberry lambic, getting funkier and more flavorful over the years. Byrne’s voice also still sounds incredible live and probably 90% of where it once was, where Verlaine’s strange warble is more like 40% of what it once was. Verlaine was still impressive on guitar, as the dual lead guitar tradeoffs that Television coined still sounded as fresh today as they ever were.  It was amazing to hear Television perform these classic songs and key in the memory bank on all the band’s that channel their sound, from the Strokes, to Pavement, to Parquet Courts.

Even if the band lacked that perfect live sound, it would have been great to see the band put a little more sweat into it.  Television just appeared a little passive and like they were going through the motions. It was great to see songs like “Marquee Moon”, “Friction”, and “Venus” brought to life, but this wasn’t a full-blooded life by any means. The songs sound more dynamic on record than they do now live, which is never a good sign.

So while I certainly graded on a curve with Television, I certainly hoped Verlaine and company would bring a little more energy and focus than what they showed at the Metro. I still love Television, but in terms of legacy acts worth seeing, your money is better spent elsewhere.




Weak List Wednesday: Top 5 Most Disappointing Albums of 2013



The above picture is a perfect microcosm of how we felt about the albums on our short list today.  We were all excited to some extent or another about each of the disappointing albums found below.  In fact, three of the albums below were on our list at the beginning of the year for the Top Ten Most Anticipated Albums of 2013.  If you look at that list you will see we definitely have some fine-tuning to do in our decision-making of where to place expectations.  I think it may be time to temper expectations so that they are actually exceeded once or twice in 2014.  Enjoy the short list and let us know which albums you found to be the most disappointing in 2013.

5. The Weeknd – Kiss Land

kiss land

After a really solid stretch, The Weeknd went on to release this absolute snoozefest in 2013.  With the only collaboration on the album being with Drake, it stands to reason The Weeknd should have gone a little farther outside his comfort zone on Kiss Land.  
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Album Covers

Houses of the Holy, Led Zeppelin,  Full Album COver

Album covers are an interesting thing. Some artists choose to not put a lot of time into them and just throw any old picture of themselves on there (Bob Dylan). Others try and go for the shock factor by being wildly offensive (Death Grips), while others either hire an artist or come up with a concept themselves. Storm Thorgerson was a graphic design artist responsible for some of the most legendary album covers of all time, including ones for Led Zeppelin, The Muse, Mars Volta, Black Sabbath, Peter Gabriel and most all of Pink Floyd’s album covers (yes, including the infamous prism cover for Dark Side of the Moon) as well as many more. Sadly, Storm passed away last week, and in his honor we bring you the following list. And no, our #1 has nothing to do with the fact that Storm designed it, we just love it that much. This list was fun because there are so many album covers we loved and wanted to include, but also hard because there are many albums we left off but wanted to include. I guess we will just have to do a sequel to this one some day. Onto the list:

10. The Strokes – Is This It
Is This It, the stokes, Album Cover
One of the sexiest album covers of all time was actually banned in America soon after the albums release. Stupid American censorship laws really know how to put a damper on a good thing.
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Top Ten Thursday: Best Artists of the Aughts (2000-2009)


This was a particularly tough list to put together.  On average, order one of our Top Ten lists takes about 45 minutes.  Over an hour and a half into our last meeting, we still only had the top six ironed out for this one.  We ended up just individually ranking the final eight candidates individually, and normalizing the results to select the final four on the list.  It worked out though, and I didn’t even have to swan dive off my balcony, as I threatened several times throughout the meeting.

So let me tell you a little bit about our decision making process in selecting the top ten artists of the first decade of the new millennium.  It was about as simple as weighing quantity and quality.  To some degree, we also factored in the amount of lackluster material an artist had working against them.  In the end, ever artist in the ten had at least three good to great albums during the decade.  Painfully, M.I.A., LCD Soundsystem, and a few others didn’t have the consistent presence throughout the entire decade like most others on here and missed out.  Also, great artists like Beck, Ryan Adams, Spoon, and Bright Eyes just missed out because while they had the quantity, their highs just weren’t quite as high as others on the list.

So there you have it.  Enjoy the read, and as always let us know who me missed, left off, or mistakenly included.

10.  The Strokes

the strokes, full band pic

The Strokes were one of those rare bands where the product lived up to all the hype preceding them.  They produced some refreshingly honest pop music that ushered a whole new group of fans into “indie” music.  Beneath the surface of The Strokes instantly accessible music were simple but perfect harmonies, taking them beyond what was expected of an early-20’s rock outfit in the early 2000’s.
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The Strokes Review: Comedown Machine

The Strokes
Comedown Machine

The Strokes, Comedown Machine, album cover art

Somewhere in the flood of good music that came about as a result of The Strokes’ post-punk garage-rock revival, people began to forget about The Strokes themselves. In 2001 they were a breath of fresh air to the music world as they released us from the chains of 90’s boys bands and wuss-rock like the Gin Blossoms. They brought back new wave, fuzz, and not giving a shit all in one fell swoop. Now when they release an album people shrug their shoulders, which is somewhat ironic since Julian Casablancas was the one who taught us how to shrug again in the first place. Even as early 2006, after the release of very good third album, I remember wondering why people had already seemed to not care about them as much. And yes First Impressions of Earth WAS actually good. Sure, they have a formula and they stick to it, but I commend them for that. I really love the seemingly simple yet quite intricate way they execute their songs. So after struggling more than usual to find greatness in their new release, I still have found enough victories in Comedown Machine to find it enjoyable.

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