OK, I know that sounds all wrong for the Empire. I would add a “fuck” in there, but it would make the joke not work.
Extra introduction. I left a teaser back in the last Year of Hell, and this is just easing me in. My music posts have always been easier than my political posts; talking about things I love is much easier than about the things I hate; unless I just went on an unrestrained primal scream of FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK…. (yes, I realize, I did that as well). But I recently had a reason to dredge up the beginnings of the proto-Empire, and it was the constant horror of the Cheney Regime that made me start doing that. So I am thinking that I will likely go to rage, horror, mockery and incessant zombie apocalypse jokes in Our New Reich (I promise to never refer to Orange Hands MicroPenis as “President”). Heavy on the mockery, because that is what gets him the most irate. In the interim, I am easing myself, and you, Dear Reader(s) into that with a music post…..
Here’s the source, a new album by Chicago Musician’s Band, The Flat Five.
Word of warning, it is music that will make you wonder if I took a blow to the head, as it is jazzy, poppy, unabashedly retro, and pretty much nothing that I normally like. ZOMBIES, THEY DO THE UNEXPECTED!
But really, the band – Scott Ligon, Casey McDonough, Alex Hall, Kelly Hogan, and Nora O’Connor- do hit me in two of my sweet spots; first, a bunch of musicians who truly love to do what they do, and second, an amazingly adept mix of stupendously talented singers making your hindbrain tingle with their harmonies. They are a band that has been performing around Chicago for ten years (!) and this was the first time they played Milwaukee….
Here’s the crazy shit. I had been aware of Kelly Hogan for a bit of time, and when she did a show in the Pabst Theater (bar) Good Friend Rory and I went , and it was SUBLIME indeed, friends and guinea pigs, yes it was…and in the after, going to the merch table, I realized I had seen this amazing talent once before:
just out of college, in my first professional job I was delegated with one other guy to go down to Atlanta to a CAD convention try and find the best system for our operation. And after a day or so of doing so, we went to what looked like a coolish pub to get food and drink. And a band started playing, The Jody Grind. I loved it.
And I recognized that she was the amazing vocalist that sang for that band, and she remembered the bar we saw her in. She is a flat-out fucking ASTONISHING vocalist, and she is currently singing with the Decemberists, Alejandro Escovedo, and Mavis Staples. But really, that is the story of all of the people in this band; they are the kind of band that other musicians say is the best band they’ve seen. And THAT, is, of course, my ultimate sweet spot.
So yeah, Wife Sublime and I braved the fucking cold to see them on Saturday (not far from ZombieHome and directly next to one of my projects, yea!) with about 150 other people (in a venue that had insufficient toilets for that number of people, LOL, that’s what I notice)
The sticker on the band’s vinyl says “Chicago’s underground twisted sunshine pop vocal band” and while that sounds like adjective mania, it’s not bad. The played all the songs off their new album, which are mostly jazz-pop (play them quiet, and they are easy listening) but an amazing array of covers; ranging from Beach Boys, to Phish, to Nilsson, to somebody they found on YouTube.
The thing about this band is that as a group and as individuals, they are all embarrassingly talented. they trade instruments, while Hogan mocks their inability to get their shit together.
And at one point, Hogan admits they have been playing together for ten years (What the FUCK Chicago; are you keeping them secret, as bitter retribution for your sports teams? And now, with a World Series, you let us see them? I will need to see documents) and that a few years back, they decided they wanted to focus on, more positive, sunnier songs. DAMN! There goes my hope of seeing a stupendous version of the Magnetic Fields’ genius song “Papa Was A Rodeo”….
One of my favorite songs of all….
So anyway, here’s the thing. The band admits this is dark times. We all do. And there is nothing wrong with that, recognition of Darkness On The Edge Of Town is an important element in being able to approach and deal with that fucking orange darkness… but I know my readers are not hopeless. Not lacking hope, I mean. And even if you are feeling a bit down, then this band and their album is like a sweet sunshine ray of hope from the 60s and 70s to help you out. The band, themselves, who have individually and together explored all kinds of musical genres (including gospel music that doesn’t mention Jesus. “short set list”, they say) said that they made the conscious decision a few years back to concentrate on music that has positive connotations. Without being overly chirpy, you understand…
As you all two may know, I say that I think music is one of the most noble ways of making people better. And after watching the Flat Five assault me with positive pop perfection, am I better? Well, fuck me I am more cheerful and I treat that gassy orange dog better. YOU TELL ME
The band played two sets, and Hogan said that as the daughter of a police officer, she knew she was playing with fire by playing overtime, but they felt like they had ignored Milwaukee for far too long (and you HAVE, Hogan, you have). To our pleased amusement, Wife Sublime recognized one of the songs (Bird of Paradise) although she mis-identified it as a Phish song although it is a Joe South song (THANKS STEVE JOBS).
It was a helluva night, yes it was. The band was as good as anyone could ever expect, and better than they have any right to be. The songs were fun and varied and rendered with amazing versatility by wonderfully talented musicians.
And to circle back, they help me find a focus for the Empire going forward. As I have hinted, I feel like I have to re-invigorate the shit out of this damn ugly blog, and was looking at the worst days of horror, rage, spit, and breaking shit but I started to realize something…. the thing that aggravates the Idiot Bigot Brigades the most, is the fact that not only do we not knuckle under to their Reich, but we continue to NOT take them seriously, we continue to fight for our goals and our ideals, and continue to argue that they are objectively wrong. They feel like they won, so we should perforce be obligated to acknowledge they are right.
Well, they’re not.
THEY REMAIN WRONG. THERE ARE FOUR FUCKING LIGHTS!
But what they hate most of all, we continue to tilt against the Knights of Ni, laughing at their idiocy and mocking their shrubberies. We continue to laugh at their ridiculous concepts, their laughable logic and imaginary science, their small hands and tiny weeping swords. As Molly Ivins, a liberal in Texas, said, this is a fight that you can only take on with laughter in your heart. We will lose battles. Things will get horrible. And I am not saying we belittle the losses of other Americans we care about who will be damaged and, yes, killed. But, like vampires who shrivel in daylight, the Right is allergic to two things: Facts. And humor.
So, going forward, while I will not lie to anyone by saying that the Empire will not devolve into anger, Fuck You Fridays, and screaming Diz-Buster fits of pinwheel rage; I think my major effort will be to take Molly’s lead (Chthulhu grant me the blessing of a modicum of her talent) to make mock of them. Make much mock of them. Mock mock mock.
Jebus. Lucifer, the Orange, Leaky Ass Dog Who Has Been Less Leaky Ass Of Late, is now leaky ass again. I’m not looking forward to getting older….