Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Top 5 - 2017

Friends -
Another year has come and gone; a painful year in many ways. When times are challenging the influence of art becomes of paramount importance. So, it is with great pleasure that I review with you the year in music.

St Vincent and Weezer returned with albums that may have not been perfectly in their idiom yet pleasing to the ear. Cloud Nothings and Japandriods started the year off with a BOOM! John Darnielle released his first ever non-guitar record with humorous story telling about depressed people... he also created a great podcast.

All the guys from Vampire Weekend released solo records (and they were all good). Iron & Wine had a record as did Josh Ritter. Bleachers introduced a year of great electronic pop. Billy Corgan made a great record of piano ballads (unfortunately he also did a bunch of interviews).

Vancouver Sleep Clinic relinquished wonderful sunrise music. Rural Alberta Advantage brought us back to the snow. Julien Baker made gigantic music from her tiny little self. Tim Heidecker's political album was well-versed and surprising well performed. Eminem also hates donald trump.

Dave Bazan and Partner made the 6th & 7th best records of the year.  :)

We laid to rest Lil Peep, Gord Downie and a bunch of others. :(  

Here are the Top 5 Albums of 2017!

5. Birdie by Slaughter Beach, Dog
Best not to give this album too much context other than to say that Jake Ewald has put aside the youthful exuberance of Modern Baseball for a more thoughtful lament. This album reminds of John K. Samson in the way the landscapes visited guide a path for the human spirit (this time in America). Thoughtful lyrics and simple cord progression. A great Sunday morning record.

4. Pure Comedy by Father John Misty
A friend mentioned to me that this record is pure blasphemy (all the more reason to listen). Josh Tillman does not just pose questions regarding worship; he demolishes pop culture, questions love/lust and raises a predetermined eye brow at the political landscape. All these topics force fed with discomforting reality over soothing soundscapes. There has never been a more-relevant time for Pure Comedy to be produced, if only it would embarrass us all into acting more human.

3. Tremendous Sea of Love by Passion Pit
Michael Angelakos suffers from Bi-Polar disorder.... his music seems only to reveal his lighter side. Passion Pit has been producing bouncy, vibrant electronica with soaring choruses for a decade. "Sea of Love" takes the light into the sunset on the water. Angelakos' songs emerge as a salute to the power of the female in perfect time. The heart pours in rhythm with the smooth beats and synth that make this album a joyous lament.

2. We All Want the Same Things by Craig Finn
Hold Steady fans know the transient power of Craig Finn's song craft. The middle-aged Brooklyn resident writes frequently from the spirit of the twenty somethings in his hometown of Minneapolis. The intricacy of Finn's character development, geographical references and his ability to narrate from a million different voices give the listener a different experience with each spin of the record. Addiction, the indecision of youth, drug distribution, love and death remain provoking themes; all from the reflection of a snow dirtied windshield.

1. Going Grey by The Front Bottoms
It's no secret that The Front Bottoms have been my favorite band of the last decade so the anticipation of this album was a roller coaster. Critics are indecisive about the long-term relevance Going Grey will hold in The Front Bottoms extremely impressive record collection. While the production hints at major label ting where once there was the open space of a 4 track recorder, the spirit of the Front Bottoms remains ever-present. Going Grey delivers instantly anthemic chorus, detailed verses and mixed metaphor in a way only the boys from New Jersey can. Brian Sella and his mates are older but hardly any more mature (in a very, very good way). I, too, miss the way things used to be.      

Thank You for Listening!

- Dave

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Million Oysters

One of the world's finest chefs crashed and burned. He was at the absolute apex of one of the world's mostly subjective and challenging professions serving transformational cuisine in Paris. With his success came the pressure to be original, creative and relevant.... every evening. With that pressure came substance abuse and the manipulation of those around him. When his vices disabled him, his restaurant (an art gallery for the palate).... closed. His friends were left unemployed and those who yearned for the art he produced depraved.

Chef did not seek rehab, the company of family or the comfort of friends. He sentenced himself to shucking 1,000,000 oysters. He moved from being the finest chef at the finest restaurant in Paris to the most painful form preparing meals in the french quarter (back on US turf).

I believe each milestone in life starts by eliminating the things in your life that are distracting you. Be it alcohol or the people who serve it.... sometimes, you have to drop everything that makes you feel good in order to check your privilege.

What have you eliminated?

Have you checked your privilege?

There are people whose lives are inescapably terrible. If you are not one of those people, let's start from there.

A Back Pack
If you had to leave the planet today with only a back pack, what would you bring with you?

Those who have children, spouses and mortgages have their anchor sunk deep. With every inch the anchor sinks, one's heart fills with a little more love. With every person dependent upon you, the privilege of leadership becomes greater and the rewards for service more profound.

Are you a leader?

Very few will accept the responsibility of supporting others if someone else is willing to do it. The other who took the job simply proclaimed that he would.... and so it was.....

... and that's not OK

The first way of distinguishing what is genuinely important to you is by identifying what is not, then determining where your time will be spent.

Have you done your job as well as you possibly can?

Are the most important people in your life those you assume are consistently aware of your affection?

Without sharing affection have you depraved the very people who deserve the majority of your attention?

I bet you remember where you were when you made the best decision of your life... ? You may have forgotten where you were when you made the worst decision of your life. Losing focus is not an abrupt process, it's a slow burn.

Do you need to shuck a million oysters to find out who you really are?

The problem with human beings is that we are rarely self-aware enough to monitor the slow burn that is making us complacent. Then we look up and we are 65 years old and no one finds us useful anymore.

"Make me something somebody can use" - John K. Samson

The people I know who have experienced genuine success did so by always being willing to do the least glamorous work. Maintaining an underdog mentality without forgetting where you came from will keep you sharp. When you forget what got you here, you may no longer have it.   

Protect the Dream
Being a parent requires an extraordinary amount of realism which also can serve to suck the optimism out of an individual. I enjoy hanging out with kids more than adults because they've not yet been jaded by the world's cruel reality (which makes them more mature). We all forget our innocence, get desperate and do things out of spite. When spite is the impetus of success you have truly lost your way.

The best moments of your life are still ahead of you. Where will you be when they happen?

Don't destroy your potential to the point that you have to shuck a million oysters. Don't let anyone mock your potential if you've been slotted into a category that you hate.

Categories suck and so does hate.... don't waste your time on either!

Don't Forget to Remember!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

So Much Wasted Time

As a 70's pop singer departed the earth his final words were, "so much wasted time".

After 67 years it would be a shame to discover your precious time had been wasted. Or would it?

When your time is up, how will your legacy present itself?

Having spent only half the time on earth as aforementioned man with great hair, I am willing to add a few thoughts to his final words.....

Assessment of The Moment
In my 20's I had the motivation of a thousand armies. Time on my side but my every action was a reaction. I waited for instruction, cleaned my plate and asked for more. I was motivated but I had no idea where to put my energy.

I eventually discovered that it is better to get there second with a better plan than to show up first without an idea why you are there.

Assessing a situation means understanding who you are talking to, what problem they may have and how you can assist in solving said problem. It's as easy (and as difficult) as that.

People tend to talk too much and listen too little.

I could have the most innovative dog food on the market but it you have a cat I'd be barking up the wrong proverbial tree.

Problem Solving comes down to: Who, What, Where & Why.... but mostly WHY.

If all you have is dog food it's probably best to avoid the cat lady's apartment.
Passion Can Get The Best of Us
I used to pound my fists on the table because I was so fired up by the potential of our team... my actions were deemed reprehensible. I wanted people to understand my motivation but I was channeling my energy in a disastrous manner. I couldn't understand why I wasn't getting promoted.

I recently witnessed a man 6 months from retirement throw a fit in front of a room full of customers. He was 65 years old and had spent 2/3rds of his life working his tail off... but his influence had waned.

We all get fired up!! Those who succeed have learned to encompass their passion into a few wise words.

The Edges Get Rounder  
I'll never forget the image of Laird Hamilton after he conquered Peahi. He had spent his entire life searching for the perfect wave and 30 seconds defined his pursuit of perfection in poetic imagery. He had perfected his craft. After he thanked God for the opportunity, he probably questioned what he would do with his life going forward.

What do you do when there are no more dragons to slay?

Professional athletes get too old to play the game.

Even you will get to the point where the job you love will have passed you by.

Now What?

The determination of success can be a tricky thing.

At some point you come to realize:
1. Only you can determine the things that will make you happy.
2. What you will need to do to achieve what you feel to be meaningful.
3. How to eliminate all of the other things that are are getting in your way.

Don't Forget to Remember!