We haven’t talked about music in a while. Well, there was a random music blog a couple weeks ago, but, like, we haven’t really talked about music, y’know? So it’s time for a “music you haven’t been paying attention to in 2015 and also 2014 because I probably didn’t talk about it in 2014” post.
Sons of Bill, Love & Logic
We’re going to start with the 2014 Sons of Bill release. Back in 2012 Sons of Bill released one of the best albums of all time when they put out Sirens. When it came out I broke all of my rules of evaluating new music and immediately put it into my top 10. I also immediately put it into my list of albums I’d play to aliens to attempt to help them understand the human condition alongside, if I remember correctly, Harry Connick, Jr’s Star Turtle, The Beatles Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Paul Simon’s goddamn Graceland.
I have not backed down on my opinion of Sirens. Sirens is amazing. Sirens is probably the greatest thing to happen to music in the 2000s and that includes the reunification of Soundgarden.
So if you’re the Wilson brothers and their two friends whose names I currently forget the big question is, “How do you follow an album like Sirens?” The answer is that you release Love & Logic.
Not long after Love & Logic came out I went to see Sons of Bill at Schuba’s. Tawni, who is now someone I refer to as “one of my dearest friends,” was there. There will eventually be an entire goddamn post on Tawni Waters because Tawni Waters is one of my dearest friends and you should get to know her. When Sons of Bill played “Hymnsong” I held Tawni’s hand because we were in church and there was no one else on the planet who could understand how I felt about “Hymnsong” besides Tawni.
So I suppose the answer to the question of how you follow a great goddamn album is, “You release another great goddamn album.”
Also, Schuba’s sells Revolution Anti-Hero for a relatively cheap price. That may or may not have lead to me having one of those terrible drunken conversations with James Wilson that’s super embarrassing to realize you had. Sorry, James.
Idlewild, Everything Ever Written
A few years back Idlewild was set to tour the US and I had a ticket to their Chicago show. Then word came that Roddy Woomble had broken his something or other (I honestly don’t remember) and the show was cancelled. Then Idlewild broke up. I was beside myself.
Last year, or possibly 2013, we got news that Idlewild was back together. Last year I jumped on their Pledgemusic drive for the new album and immediately got access to “Collect Yourself.”
That, my friends, is a goddamn song.
The thing about Everything Ever Written is that it’s kind of half Idlewild, half solo Roddy Woomble and the whole ends up being neither. That said, who the fuck cares? It’s new Idlewild. And it contains this song:
The Dollyrots, Barefoot and Pregnant
There are few times in life I will say I’m better than other people because of the things that I own. That said, I own a translucent pink pressing of The Dollyrots’ Barefoot and Pregnant. That makes me better than you.
So let’s get to the two big releases of 2015.
Local H, Hey, Killer
This year marks 25 years of Local H. Seriously, read that shit. Read all of that shit. It’s basically my coming of age and the story of how one of the greatest rock bands of all time got screwed over time and time again and still kept coming back for more. It’s also about how music is more complicated than we, the consumers, can ever really understand. Scott Lucas is a rock god in my world because he’s brilliant and aware. Immediately after the release of Hey, Killer they did a weekend of shows in Chicagoland with a Friday night show somewhere, a Saturday night show in Bolingbrook, and a Sunday night show at the Metro in Chicago. I planned on going to the show in Bolingbrook. It was sold out. This is probably one of two regrets I will take to my grave.
I’m not even joking.
The story behind Hey, Killer is pretty simple. Scott wanted to write an unapologetic, kick-ass rock album. He’d been writing concept albums, both with the H and with the Married Men and just wanted to rock people’s faces off. Hey, Killer succeeded beyond all imagination.
So in 2015 we had the re-emergence of Idlewild and the face-melting goodness of Local H. There was, quite literally, only one band that could possibly make 2015 a better year for music.
Veruca Salt, Ghost Notes
Veruca goddamn Salt.
Veruca. Fucking. Salt.
Back in 2013 rumors started up that Veruca Salt was coming back with the original lineup. And by “rumors” I mean “an official Facebook page” and pictures and shit. Veruca Salt was back. Veruca. Fucking. Salt.
Last year they released two songs for Record Store Day.
Last year I saw them at Lincoln Hall on their reunion tour. In July they hit the Beat Kitchen.
How do I explain my love of the Beat Kitchen? Local H chose the Beat Kitchen for the Seven Night Stand back in 2008. I had just lost my job so I only went to the Pack Up the Cats and 12 Angry Months shows. If I knew then what I know now I would have been at all seven without question. The Lovehammers chose the Beat Kitchen for one of their last shows. I was there. The Beat Kitchen is an absolutely fucking amazing venue.
Veruca Salt was at the Beat Kitchen in July. I wasn’t there. Why? Because I wasn’t paying attention. This is the other regret I will probably take to the grave. The following week I was listening to Ghost Notes and actually got mad at myself for being a dumbshit who missed Veruca Salt at the Beat Kitchen.
The thing about the new Veruca Salt is that it basically sounds like they never broke up after 1998’s Eight Arms to Hold You. This is one of those things that fascinates me because I love Veruca Salt for picking up where they left off.
I was genuinely worried about the Veruca Salt reunion because it followed fairly close on the heels of a different reunion that meant way, WAY more to me: Soundgarden. Soundgarden’s 2012 offering of King Animal also sounds like they never stopped making music after 1996’s Down on the Upside and I absolutely hate King Animal.
How can this be? I have a theory.
Grunge was amazing but grunge had a shelf life. That shelf life pretty much lasted from 1991 until 1996. I want to say that the fact that I love Ghost Notes and hated King Animal is some sort of indication that pop music won the battle for rock’s soul but that’s not true. Why do I know that’s not the case? Because Local H released Hey, Killer at roughly the same time Veruca Salt released Ghost Notes. Hey, Killer is an unapologetic rock album. Ghost Notes is a pop-inflected rock album. King Animal was just bad.