Lou’s 2016 Breakout Bands vol. 1: Darlingside

January Is An Odd Month When It Comes To New Releases In Music

There. I’ve said it. Not much in the realm of titles.

It’s a cold month. Christmas is not only over but you can no longer hide from any excuses. This is it. If you haven’t learned by now how to keep yourself warm, you freeze. Duct taping windows with hot chocolate on the stovetop while fumbling around the house in your middle-layers of layered clothing…that’s my kind of time in winter.

When the name of the band ‘Darlingside’ first came to my attention, it immediately made me think of the name of the band Nickelback. Not trying to knock my readers that are fans of Nickelback, if you ask me, I feel like most people that hate on Nickelback have no way to justify the hate. For me, it’s bad memories of working in a restaurant kitchen under a manager who swore by their music. But I can see how some people find them entertaining. One look at them and you feel like your shopping at a department store in a suburban mall.  They’re like the Guy Fieri of the musical world in relation to all the over-hate with the even sadder result of it not ever becoming cool to like them (though I love Guy Fieri).

Darlingside is no Nickelback. In terms of current music I’d lump them in a category of a Mumford and Sons or Avett Brothers. In the bigger realm of pop culture, they’re a modern day CSNY with their vocal harmonies and acoustic arrangements. In a more lou-description, I will tell you that their sound reminds me of the feeling you get when you bite into a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, that feeling of delay where you get a little smile in your tummy. You can practically feel yourself on that childhood sled, flying down a snow-covered hill. I can also see their music as good music for the credits of a dramatic network program or a movie, which could also be the untimely downfall of my like for them. In the meantime, on these coldest days of the year, their sound has provided nothing but ample warmth from the cold air.

Check out the song ‘White Horses’ from their new album ‘Birds Say’ and for any of you Philly folk…they’ll be playing at Johnny Brenda’s on Saturday April 9th with the David Wax Museum (another new band I’m digging) and Haroula Rose!

White Horses—Darlingside



Lou’s Great Songs of 2016 vol. 1: ‘Hanged Man’ by the Mynabirds

Paint Your Pony

This past Monday, after a busy weekend at work, I signed-in to this page. My inclination was to write a brief post about my thoughts over the newest David Bowie album which came out last Friday (January 8th.) If you’re a loyal reader, you may remember a post from back in November about listening to his song ‘Blackstar’ for the first time. Back then, the one component of this track which stuck out instantly was its length (around 10 minutes) and how this reminded me of his classic track ‘Station to Station,’ which runs around the same length. Listening to the album, I found a couple other similarities. For one, the two long tracks also served as the title tracks, and two, each album has seven or less tracks, shorter tracklists in comparison to his other albums. Add this with the fact that ‘Station to Station’ is my personal favorite David Bowie studio album and it’s pretty easy to make the assumption that ‘Blackstar’ would be right up there, or at least in the Top 10, which in his catalog is pretty significant. There was something special about this new album. It signified a sort of transition that you can hear in ‘Station to Station’ which (if you’re a Bowie fan) signals the transition from some of his more soulful post-Spiders albums of the mid-Seventies to the more innovative, new-wave-ushering Berlin Trilogy albums from the end of that decade. My hopes was that Bowie was going to come out of retirement and tour the world for the first time in over ten years. It got me thinking about Phil Collins recent announcement about coming out of retirement and thinking that Bowie, who in my opinion is a thousand times more legendary than Phil Collins, would follow suit.

I must admit, I began to get a little excited about these impending tour dates. In my head I dreamt about him playing the Linc or Citizen’s Bank and going to the shows with my cousin Larry. Or getting the opportunity to see him at a more intimate venue, say the Tower Theatre for instance, screaming like a teenage girl as he takes the stage or at least using that kind of imagery as I eagerly blog about his performance the next day. There was something about this album that just seemed so different from even his previous effort, the wonderful 2013 release, The Next Day, which is also worth checking out. I woke up Monday morning and the first thing I did was open the laptop on my bed. I titled the post “Pretty Thing” and it was going to be about seeing David Bowie perform live and no matter how poor I was or how hard my life has been I’d be there to see him put on what presumably would be his final bow before ultimately retiring. I was thinking about the exchange I’d have on pm or comments with a couple friends and family over the music, possibly even coming up with a gameplan on how to score tickets. I get online and the first thing I see is that David Bowie is trending. Immediately I think to myself that his album has gotten the praise it deserved and I missed out for waiting until Monday to post. In fact, the line “Monday I have Friday on my mind” (a line from the song  ‘Friday on My Mind’ which Bowie covers on his covers album ‘PinUps’) was in my head as I woke up.

Thankfully I knew (thanks to artists like Bowie) that I could make light of my procrastination by using a little bit of creativity. When I scrolled down on social media, the first inclination was that I’d read a couple reviews about his new album and think about how I could maneuver my thoughts a little differently from other posted reviews. I credit artists like David Bowie with encouraging me to challenge myself by thinking differently. Any time I approach a topic it is important to look at it in my own way while not sacrificing my voice in the process. Another lesson which, I may add, should be credited to the influences of artists like David Bowie for teaching me. That artistic voice. We all have one. For some of us it hides deeper inside than others. Some of us never find it. Others find more conventional ways, like manual labor, in expressing their inner artist. I find mine in how this blog provides a sense of balance toward my life, preventing it from falling completely off the ledge. You may infer that it keeps me rather civilized, especially during those times where I appear to be the most down. Monday morning would pose no different of a challenge. It was nothing more than another day and another opportunity to write. With a heightened sense of anticipation to post, I scrolled hoping to read that first review.

Unfortunately, there was no review to be found. Nothing but tribute after tribute after tribute. People posting pictures and old videos, a surreal moment to be online or as surreal a moment as I ever imagined. It was at this moment that I was realizing while lying on my bed, lap top on my pillow, half-naked on a Monday morning…David Bowie had died.

I’d like to say it was a strange January day but it was rather ordinary except for the fact that it seemed everybody around the world had all of a sudden become a big David Bowie fan. I had no problem with this. In my mind, I always thought the world would be a better place if everybody was a fan of his music. My local station, 88.5 WXPN, played David Bowie’s music all day long. Particular highlights were hearing a couple of his deeper cuts throughout the day such as ‘Prettiest Star’ from Aladdin Sane or the acoustic version of ‘Always Crashing in the Same Car’ that aired on a late 90’s telecast of VH-1 Storytellers. David Bowie’s first live album which was recorded at the Tower Theatre was played in its entirety and people were showing clips of kids with painted faces in the late 70’s and early 80’s going crazy for David Bowie’s local Philly shows. Even Kidz Korner, the daily kids show on XPN that I despise with all its cheesiness, got in on the mix by airing a 1978 recording of David Bowie reading Peter and the Wolf in conjunction with the Philly Pops. You would think that after this day I’d find something to use as a tribute to the artist’s life. However it seemed every single person online had beaten me to the punch. It wasn’t until Echoes with John Diliberto came on, just before midnight, that a light slowly began to shine.

That light was in the form of the song ‘Hanged Man’ by the Mynabirds. You would think on the day Bowie died I’d have something better to write about. Like how the final song on his final album (I Can’t Give Everything Away) brought tears to my eyes the first time I heard it post news of his death or a story from the 80’s about the song Modern Love coming on the radio while driving home from Church with my dad and having him turn it up and tell me it’s his favorite song. Maybe even use this as an opportunity to write how David Bowie was a big fan of Kendrick Lamar’s last album or how he was not only a fan of black music but very vocal in the early days of MTV about the lack of airtime for black artists. Instead I’ve decided to focus my first post about great songs from 2016 on a song which was released late last year by a group whose music probably never reached the legend’s ears. And for some strange reason, I feel like David Bowie wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

When I’m driving around late at night and a song hits me, the first thing I usually do is pull over and try to find it online. ‘Hanged Man’ by the Mynabirds is one of these songs. Usually this is an indicator that the song is worth sharing. Once locating the song, I’ll listen to it a bunch of times and dive into the lyrics or look for any videos associated with it. The hanged man is a powerful symbol in the world of tarot cards. Many apply it to the world of love, considering the stereotype that a lonely person would be the type of person to participate in a tarot reading, and if you draw this card it’s a sign telling you to start looking in another place. This song to me has a bit of a different meaning, one that perfectly complements David Bowie’s death. If you apply the meaning to the world of art, you can find great works by looking in different places. An artist’s greatness is shown when they can maintain their voice while aways trying to be a little different. On a day where the world honored Bowie, it was the moment when this song came onto a late night radio program where I truly felt his true intentions shine the brightest. Besides being a great artist, David Bowie was a huge ambassador to the arts. On the day of his death, when the whole world including myself honored him by listening to his catalog, I happened to discover a new artist. It was very comforting hearing a brand new voice considering the world was putting a great one to rest. If you ask me, I can’t think of any better way to honor his legacy than by being an open-minded and loyal patron to the arts. As we begin to 2016, my biggest hope is that more lesser known artists get much deserved recognition.

Check out a video for the song below…

Hanged Man—The Mynabirds




Lou’s 2016 Ice-break Post

A Lou Hope

It’s the New Year. This is a great time of year to attempt changing something about yourself that you may not like. Or for finding more excuses. While there are many components of my personal life that need to be adjusted, this is neither the time nor place. What I will do is list a couple things I set out to accomplish on this blog last year yet for some reason fell short. Hopefully this brief exercise will help to wipe the slate clean as I slowly get back into my rhythm again.

1.) Missing the Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Tribute…or any 30 year anniversary tribute for one of the TOP 3 Movie Years of All-Time…1985.

Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Goonies, Rocky IV, The Breakfast Club, Rambo First Blood Part 2…yeah, don’t even get me started. If you do not think 1985 is one of the greatest years for movies of all-time, you have poor taste. I started this blog in the middle of the last summer so in all fairness most of the anniversaries had passed even Back to the Future’s premiere date which was 4 days before this little site went live. However, I still had Future Day aka the day Marty McFly goes to the Future (10-21-15), as a great opportunity to talk about one of my favorite movies of all-time. It would’ve been a good time to get sentimental and talk about going to see movies with my cousin while growing up and how we still like to watch movies together as adults even commenting on how the Eighties (our childhood) can look like the Fifties (our parents’ childhoods) looked on film in the 80’s (if you catch my drift). This observation was made when we saw Straight Outta Compton together back in August. Memories of Christmas and watching this iconic American film starring Michael J. Fox. Of course, you also had the added bonus of going into detail of how significant all the other movies from this year…the year I dub the Year of the Summer Blockbuster has shaped American Cinema up to this day. Yeah, I screwed this one up. Sure! I can write about the 31st anniversaries, and if I get inspired maybe I will, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t hit that reader psyche as hard. Or does it? Well…there’s always 2025 and the forty year anniversaries of this great Summer of Movies. Maybe it’ll be the basis for a book, who knows.

2.) The post I wanted to write comparing the campaigns of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump.

This idea has been brewing in my head since both campaigns began. I’m not versed in talking about politics. My opinion on politicians has always been that they care more about themselves than the people they are trying to convince in voting them into office. I find both of these candidates engaging because I truly think either candidate (as controversial as it sounds) value people over politics. This statement does not sound crazy talking about Bernie but it sounds asinine when lumping Trump into this category. I’m not a supporter of Trump but I do not think Trump is as racist or xenophobic as the media paints him out to be, he just has no filter. The one good thing about him is that he’s not completely tied to the Republican Party particularly when to comes to some of their social policies. Bernie Sanders, in theory, sounds great to the typical under-employed American citizen like myself and ninety-five percent of this country. I’ve been saying all along how most jobs…jobs you go to school for, under-pay in relation to the cost of living. It’s refreshing to hear a voice that conveys the frustrations of the American people. Unfortunately, what will squash the campaigns of either of these candidates is the reality that they have no support within the parties they are hoping to represent in this year’s presidential election. As we will find out, the political process is rigged and we-are-all-fucked (unless we’re in bed with the right people).

3.) Timing (and commenting on horrific events in our world that have a psychological impact on me)

I want to use this first post of 2016 as an apology to the timing some of last year’s posts went up on social media. One example I still feel bad about is posting something in the midst of the atrocious attack that went down in Paris a couple months back. Being somebody who enjoys going out to see a ton of live music, this attack had a bit of a psychological impact on me. Not that anything good comes out of massacres, if one good thing came out of this horrible attack it’s that the world was given a chance to discover The Eagles of Death Metal. Not to make light of a horrible situation but how much worse would it have been if a terror attack went off while a shitty band was playing, giving more undeserving artists worldwide attention. To me, that’s almost as bad as the act itself. This kind of thinking is the reason why I tend to not comment on these tragedies. The reality when it comes to anything online is people have a short attention span however if there is one person that may be turned off as a result of my timing in 2015, I apologize. In my defense, with the speed news travels these outlets have become the modern day CNN. What can I say, news breaks on social media. In the future I’ll be more conscientious of the times I post.

First great song of 2016?

In my last post of 2015, I left out a song I first heard a couple of weeks ago but couldn’t remember how it went. All I know is that it made me very excited, like driving double the speed limit excited. It had an Andrew W.K. feel to it, you know the feeling, that feeling of being young again where you go out and just want to go crazy with your friends. It’s not an official song of 2016…but a great transition song into the New Year. A good theme song for a guy like me with a mantra I can totally get down to…welcome 2016…we don’t belong anywhere;)

Stereophonics- C’est Le Vie