Traffic referred

My writing traffic has moved to here (a personal blog about music and philanthropy), here (a music journalism zine I write for) and here (content and blog for School on Wheels, the Indianapolis nonprofit I work with).

I hope you’ll meet me there!

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Brain pains.

So, I have to admit blogging is the last thing I want to do these days.

It’s not that I don’t like the idea- It’s that I’m, among other things, chipping away at a new website design at work. And you guessed it- It’s a WordPress site.  Something about spending half my day editing text and html on that software makes me a little weary when I think about my personal blog.  It’s a great design, but after starring at the off-white-on-white stylization, for three hours in a row, I get a headache just thinking about it.

Thankfully, there hasn’t been too much WordPress for the last day, since I’m waiting for my last round of work on the site to be reviewed before I move on. But still, right around 4 pm today, my head begins to pound.

I stay late to help with a tutor training today and I casually mention this dilemma to my co-worker Laura (Program & Volunteer Manager Extraordinaire).  She tells me that, as-a-matter-of-fact, it is the weather causing my pains.  Weather gives her headaches all the time, she says.  However, hers happen the night before the occurrence of severe weather, allowing her to predict weather without any pressure meters, ancient dances, or computer science.

But my senses don’t go red until during the middle of the day, when the sky is 75% black (but 25% blue as the opening credits to The Simpsons).  Some of us, it seems, are blessed with foresight.  I, however am more hands on.  Continue reading

RobCrowHeThinksHesPeople.jpgRob Crow    He Thinks He’s People    2011    Temporary Residence Limited

Buy at iTunes

As the old saying goes, “a lie has speed, but truth has endurance.” To be perfectly honest, I had only a perfunctory knowledge of Rob Crow’s discography going into this review. I’ve been vaguely familiar with the name for years now, through his background vocal appearance on Drive Like Jehu’s “Luau,” as well as a few name drops here and there. I have my own fair share of underground legends and obsessions, but since I’ve always lived at least half a country away from San Diego, Crow has never made it onto that list. Yet 2011’s He Thinks He’s People has changed that fact for the better.

The press release boasts that He Thinks He’s People contains “13 Depressing Pop Hits!”, an odd claim that rings true on this album. Whether he’s crooning along to a syncopated math-rock snare in “Sophistructure” or harmonizing in acoustic contributions like “This Thread” and “Purpose,” Rob’s compositions all have a heavy heart and a beautiful execution. With topics ranging from clearing out your desk after being fired to a man wearing a dress, Crow takes irregular subjects and delivers their message in a manner both appropriately dark and absurdly meditative. From the dark but blunt content of his lyrics to his dynamic musical influences, which range from XTC to Elliott Smith, what Crow offers in this release is nothing if not honest.

The landscape of the album as a whole is gorgeous. With 13 tracks that range from 1:05 to 3:26 apiece, the album is a reasonable length, and each piece flows into the next with precise timing. I particularly enjoy the way “Build,” “Pat’s Crabs,” “So Way” and “Locking Seth Putnam in Hot Topic” roll into each other. Just one more way Crow displays the level of thought he puts into every move he makes.

So yeah, this is the first complete album I’ve ever heard by Rob Crow. But I listened to it six times today, and found something new to embrace at every turn. And another positive side effect is that it’s only made me want to dig deeper into the recesses of Crow’s vast catalog. Whether you’re a Crow devotee or a newcomer as well, take that as reason enough to take the album for a spin on your own.

Similar Albums:
Elliott Smith – From a Basement on a Hill
Dead Heart Bloom – Strange Waves
Pinback – Autumn of the Seraphs

Stream: Rob Crow – “Sophistructure”

Originally published by Alex Keys on Treble Zine– 10.18.2011

Live Review: 10% for the 10%: Yuck

Review by Alex Keys                              Originally published on Treble Zine  on 10.14.2011

Seriously short concert reviews for serious concertgoers, our new column “10% for the 10%” takes on a band’s live experience in ten categories, each representing 10 percent of a possible 100 percent score, in 140-character, Twitter-friendly reviews. For our first installment of this brand new column, we give the rundown on UK indie rockers Yuck, and what fans can expect from their live show.

Yuck

Radio Radio – Indianapolis, IN

Choice of Venue: Dark lighting, walls decorated with soundfoam & no backstage made mood grunge enough; full length bar & lounge seating classy enough.
8 of 10%  Continue reading

Celebrate the Catalog: R.E.M.

by Treble Staff; intro by Adam Blyweiss

To this point, Treble’s Celebrate the Catalog has covered a range of musicians from those still making noise (Sonic Youth) to those long-gone but not forgotten (Miles Davis). For this installment we examine output from a band who just announced they were calling it quits, namely R.E.M. of Athens, Ga. Michael Stipe, Mike Mills, and Peter Buck looked at 31 years together and 16 studio releases and decided they’ve pretty much done everything they wanted to do, and said everything they needed to say. They announced an amicable, almost happy split in late September.

Along the way, R.E.M. broke some of the half-joking promises that helped define their independent spirit, namely that they would neither continue after losing a member nor beyond the turn of the century. Following a world tour that saw him survive a brain aneurysm, founding drummer Bill Berry left in 1997 to become a farmer. Five studio albums-four since 2000-have followed. Fans and critics debate whether Berry’s departure took the wind out of the band’s sails.

Still, the band also broke many unspoken rules Continue reading

Back On The Planet

They say less is more, right?

Turns out that’s not a good blogging strategy…

So, I started a blog… in July.  And neglected it about two days later.  I’m sorry for the mis-targeted hype, but I promise I’m back on board.  The last several months have been intense for me, and I’ve been getting my ducks in their basket and my eggs in a row.  Here’s just a taste of what all has happened. Continue reading

Album Review: Mogwai–Earth Division EP

Mogwai      Earth Division EP     2011      Sub Pop

Mogwai does not fear progress.

Whether it’s a new album, an EP or an under-promoted collaboration, Scottish post-rock legends Mogwai, never seem to fear the act of taking a 90-degree turn. Although the Earth Division EP only contains four tracks, each one boasts the potential for an entirely different step towards some potential future direction, each distinctively different than this year’s full-length, Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. Yet the most distinctive characteristic of all is that each song lacks a traditional drum-set.

While opening track “Get to France” shouldn’t come as a surprise for die-hard Mogwai fans, it definitely varies from their past four studio-albums. In addition to being a scaled-down piano waltz Continue reading