A music-heavy week awaits your eyes.

And Castle Rock Season 2 is finally picking up steam, so begins my week recapped.


Sleater-Kinney

Sleater-Kinney performing live.
Sleater-Kinney performing live in Detroit.

My wife and I saw Sleater-Kinney this past week. This marks my fourth time seeing them since they got back together back in 2014 and I found this to be my favorite performance of theirs that I’ve seen. Part of it is that I don’t have as strong of a connection with them as their biggest fans do — I enjoy the band, but they’re not my favorite band — but also this performance just felt fresh to me, like they seemed a bit looser.

My wife would probably want to say something along the lines of how their long-time drummer, Janet Weiss, who left before this tour, is a much better drummer than Angie Boylan (they’re about the same), and how it seems like Carrie Brownstein is being pushed to be the frontwoman when it’s really always been Corin Tucker (sure) and that Annie Clark’s (St. Vincent) production on the new album pushed them in this direction which caused Janet to leave (true). But Sleater-Kinney is one of her favorites, so these things matter more to her, while I can just sit back and enjoy the show. Which I did.

(An aside: The photo was taken with my phone, which generally is known to take pretty great low-light photos, but I’m not the type of person to futz with taking a photo at a show with people behind me because I have a hard time feeling like an asshole, so I’m sorry for its quality. It likely could’ve been way better, but here we are.)

Ring Fit Adventure

Eric plays Ring Fit Adventure at a Best Buy.
An unfortunate photo of me playing Ring Fit Adventure in a Best Buy.

I played a bit more of the adventure part of Ring Fit Adventure, and dabbled with a few of the mini-games. I really would like to put more effort into the game, but even with two yoga mats, I still feel like I’m unable to give it my all.

Despite that, my arms and back are feeling great, so at least I have that going for me!

Ozma

Cover of Ozma’s “The Doubble Donkey Disc”
Ozma – The Doubble Donkey Disc

When looking for a band to tour with after the release of their Green Album, Weezer did a Battle of the Bands-style contest. The band that ended up winning, and the reason I even found out about them, was Ozma.

I ended up catching this tour, and in so doing had two thoughts:

  1. Weezer ended up picking a band that was basically a slightly different version of themselves.
  2. Ozma maybe had more to prove opening for such a huge band (at the time, anyways) that they ended up really putting themselves out there and had such a commanding stage presence that, by comparison, Weezer kinda stunk.

So why am I listening to them this week of all the weeks? Well:

  1. I usually listen to them every few months anyway.
  2. I’ve had this album saved in my iTunes/Apple Music library in such a way that it was missing like three of the songs, but…
  3. …Apple Music/Spotify finally have the whole album available for streaming!

Man! What a great album. I suppose if you don’t like Weezer at their best, then you wouldn’t like Ozma full-stop, but I don’t know who wouldn’t enjoy listening to a concept album of solid Soviet Union-influenced power pop rock?

Apple Music | Spotify

Chumbawamba

The cover of Chumbawamba’s album The Boy Bands Have Won.
Chumbawamba – The Boy Bands Have Won

Wait! Come back!

Yes, Chumawamba is most famous for the Jock Jam, sporting-event staple “Tubthumping” (I get knocked down / But I get up again / You’re never gonna keep me down), but what I discovered a while back after going down a weird Wikipedia rabbit hole (I don’t remember where it started), that then led me to look up the band on Apple Music, is that they released quite a few albums after their one-hit-wonderdom happened in the mid-90’s and they turned into somewhat of an anarchistic folk band? To add to that, these albums are actually really good?!

The Boy Bands Have Won might be my favorite of their post-Tubthumping days, and is the one I gave another listen to this week, but they all have a few hidden gems worth mining.

There’s like zero chance of me doing this, but if I found a willing participant, I think I’d enjoy recording a one-off podcast series called “Chumbawambuds” where we’d go album-by-album, track-by-track, and just explore the evolution of the band and their music.

Apple Music | Spotify

Castle Rock

A poster for season 2 of Hulu’s Castle Rock.
Lizzie Caplan is an Annie Wilkes variant in this season of Castle Rock.

My wife and I enjoyed the first season of Castle Rock enough, despite it’s weak-ish ending, that we were happy to start watching the second season. It helps that the series is serialized (each season is a new story), but this season has had a bit of a stutter-start in that there seems to be two or three different stories going on all at once, and we’re not really sure where any one of them should be going.

Even if the rest of the season ends up being garbage, the episode that was released this week, “The Laughing Place,” was a pretty great origin story for this version of Annie Wilkes and was enough to keep me interested for at least another episode.

Liz Phair

Album cover of Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville.
Liz Phair – Exile in Guyville

I have a job that affords me the opportunity to listen to stuff while I work. I’m on a pretty healthy weekly podcast diet, but after that, it’s all music. This Friday, my personalized Apple Music New Music playlist featured a new song from Courtney Barnett, which then got me listening to her first full-length album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which got me to thinking about how my wife has compared Courtney’s style and delivery to Liz Phair who, if I’m honest, I never really gave a fair shake. Or a Phair shake, if you will, but there’s absolutely no reason why you should.

Anyway, I put on what I guess would be the album to put on if you want to try out some Liz Phair. Not only was she correct with her assessment of Courtney Barnett’s style, but this album is pretty stellar to boot. I think that it’s still as witty and relevant today as it likely was in 1993. I might even go so far as to say that this album was likely ahead of its time.

Apple Music | Spotify

Battles

Album cover for Battles’ Juice B Crypts.
Battles – Juice B Crypts

Battles released a new album a couple weeks ago. I forgot to mention that I’d listened to it back then, but I listened to it again this week, and its no Mirrored, but it’s still pretty good.

The thing with Battles is that every album seems to have a slightly different line-up, and now there’s just two original dudes left, trying to do the best that they can with what they’ve got, and they’re doing a good job with keeping up the energy from previous albums, but maybe the ever-changing line-up has taken its toll on them? Or maybe they’re just happy to be able to keep doing something they love despite what the output ends up being, in which case, I am in complete awe of their perseverance.

Regardless, it’s a good enough listen if you enjoy mathy experimental instrumental rock.

Apple Music | Spotify

Chi-Fi

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a pair of inexpensive earbuds (Yincrow X6) I had purchased that sound pretty great for the price. This week, I learned about the world of Chi-Fi, which these would absolutely fall under.

Again, I’m no audiophile, but they sound great, and if you care to read more about this crazy category of audio gear, give this article from The Verge a read.

The Verge – The Wonderful World of Chinese Hi-Fi


A long recap this week, but I listened to a lot of good music, and now you can too.

Chumbawamba.

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