Wednesday, December 30, 2020

So, So... So Far (?0?0 edition)

Big winds of change continue barreling down, causing us to brace, to wake up to the inevitable that is confronting us; it's in our face. What will you do, to do what's right? Challenges are ominous yet able to be overcome. Together is how we bring love and awareness into the light. Obvious injustices and loss have rendered this year a depressed point on history's calendar, and perhaps on our own as well. Let's do our best to stay up. 

This year has changed us. If the world gets too heavy, remember to also care for yourself. Place yourself in sound and listen to the vibrations that will heal, inspire, or cause you to think. Music is constant and relentless in its abilities, so much so, that it can soothe our souls and even guide us into action.

Below is a short list of the music I've found captivating throughout the last five months. Back in August I dropped my first half list of favorites. Checkout these artists, maybe they'll catch your ear. Support live arts and performance venues if at all possible. Who doesn't long for concerts or a play? I'll stop rambling, here are the best tune makers of the 2nd half. Those with an * are my top picks. 

So, So... So Far 2020 \\\\

Jeff Tweedy - Love is the King \ These Songs: "Gwendolyn," "Bad Day Lately"

* Marika Hackman - Covers \ A favorite album from the year. "Playground Love," "All Night"

* Adrianne Lenker - Instrumentals \ Sharp, delicate, room for thought, all in two songs

Emily A. Sprague - Hill, Flower, Fog \ Imagery, coherent, portal-like, deeper than

Ana Roxanne - Because of a Flower \ Soft, induces listening, atmospheric, lucid, thematic

Leslie Mendelson - If You Can't Say Anything Nice... \ Talented, unheralded, capable, range

Nels Cline - Share the Wealth \ Depth, a willingness to go, frenzied yet measured

Justin Bieber - Changes \ He can sing, does Drake better than Drake, "Yummy"

Tobe Nwigwe - Cincoriginals \ Vision, purpose, immense creativity, timely, "Cujo," "Wildlings"

Best EP's \\\\

Yo La Tengo - Sleepless Night \ "It Takes A lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry"

* Tobe Nwigwe - Pandemic Project \ "I Need You To," "Try Jesus"

Experiencing music can be an outlet, here's to finding yours. Maybe some reflection will show that this year wasn't entirely terrible, and that some good was gleaned from the last twelve months. Have fun, stay safe, and be good to one another. There's only one way to go in the New Year — ahead.



Saturday, December 26, 2020

Xmas & O's... Ho Ho Ho

The NBA is back in what has been the fastest turnaround in pro sports history. Aside from early training camps, only the Rockets were inept while returning to their home market. A small group of Houston players got together for haircuts, prompting contact tracing protocols. James Harden disregarded most forms of professionalism, respect and safety. He may be a walking playoff birth, but I will no longer be cheering for him. Houston was the only team reckless enough to cause a cancellation during the first slate of games. The Association will hopefully deal with less boneheaded moves down the road. 

I wish all the teams good health and sound bodies. I'll begin to dive into some hoops thoughts with the 20-21 season underway. I watched the battle for LA on opening night and then caught the Blazers on night two. I obviously tuned in again for the Christmas day bonanza. Whether or not I was fully compelled to watch, games were beaming onto my screen all day. I'm glad to see it back. Let's touch on some topics from an assortment of games...

Brooklyn looked good, like really good, on both nights of action. KD was back and Kyrie had it going. Nash's vibes are all over this team. If team play and the extra pass mentality are truly pillars, this team will be the best in the east. The Nets defense was also frisky. Often times their scheme on that side of the ball resulted in the opposition being forced to act with the least offensive-minded player stuck with the ball, or a last second bailout (seen time and time again in the Boston game). Golden State was no match for this team from the Borough of Brooklyn. More on the Warriors later.

It's good to see Durant back. In the third quarter of their second game against Boston he totally took over. His jumper is as pure as ever and there's no hesitation on his part to go by people. The threat of his wet jumper causes not only his man, but the entire defense to have him in focus. With Kyrie sizzle'n and KD unassailably looking like KD, a healthy Nets team is the team in the east. 

Golden State is in trouble, on a Yikes level. Curry hasn't shot the ball well, perhaps the result of defensive schemes that have no one else to worry about. Sure Oubre plays with fire and grit, but he and the Andrew Wiggins experience are shooting like 2 for 100. They don't make shots. Curry alone with this roster hasn't the same gravitational pull. This year is going to be a rough one for dubs fans. 

On a positive note, Wiseman belongs. He's springy and has the athletic abilities to overcome inexperience. It'd be nice to see Steph create some on-court chemistry with the young big man. The rook has potential to be a rim-running monster. Curry and Wiseman should be running some defense-wrecking screen and rolls. That two man game could serve up some mismatches in a hurry, both directly and on the backside.

The Lakers are a decidedly different team, as such they will need time to iron out any newly packaged wrinkles. In the opening night battle for LA the championship team looked unfamiliar on defense, a calling card that I'm sure will be renewed. Remember calling cards? Overall their speed didn't feel right. The Lake Show came out for big rings, while the Clippers came out with a huge, playoff-blunder-sized-chip on their collective shoulders. The Clip joint had a longer offseason and bye-bye P actually hit shots instead of clipping backboards

With that being said, LeBron didn't play particularly well when compared to his own lofty standards. He missed a few bunnies at the rim and had some serial turnovers. LBJ also mildly rolled an ankle. Wise to manage his minutes in a year so condensed. After all, the Lakers are playing for Championships. 

AD didn't play a ton on ring night either, but did flash some of his Finals mojo. He's tough to stop, sky's the limit for Davis. Other bright spots in the loss were the flashes Schröder showed and how well Trez seems to fit in while producing. Gasol was a step slow and in constant foul trouble. As the season wears on he'll be tasked to bang bigger bodies and be up to speed come playoff time. There will be a future time and place when we sing his praise. The Lakers aren't overly concerned with their December record.

When Dallas played LA on Christmas we began to see how potent this Lakers team could be; mind you the Mavericks are not known for their defensive prowess. LeBron showed out a little, AD is unstoppable in those gotta get a bucket moments, and both Schröder and Harrell are shot makers who ain't scared. Los Angeles has a lot to be thankful for this basketball season. 

Rip City got ripped. Utah looked every bit the team that could be dangerous come playoff time, Portland on the other hand has some work to do. As a Blazers fan, and Dame believer, the upgraded parts need to be properly used. In an ugly loss Lillard was taken away by the Jazz defense. Whether Dame should've been more assertive is a valid point, yet I don't think that his change of demeanor would have rendered Utah's precision any less damaging. He did perform terribly however scoring only 9 points. Covington and Jones Jr., the two new forwards brought in, combined for 10 points. Those type of performances are not going to get it done. CJ was the only Blazer who showed up. 

Portland looked out of sorts on both ends and they cannot take a step back offensively as they try out new tactics to improve their defense. I'm worried that Stotts is overthinking things a bit; Nurkic and Kanter are not fleet footed. Giles, and perhaps Collins when he returns to action, could be the type of bigs ready to contribute to a more aggressive approach on defense as it pertains to the perimeter. Realistically they should aspire to rank somewhere between 10-17 on defense. The Trail Blazers gotta muster something from within, something more than the norm, which I believe they are capable of. 

If Dame is going to get singled out, the playbook has to diversify on offense too. Mix in some actions where Lillard is moving without the ball. Spring him free without him dribbling the ball. Dame might be the best in the league out top with the ball in his hands, but you can't do that all the time. This team is built to score and Portland needs to be elite offensively. With ten fewer games in an über competitive west, implementing new schemes and players is an even tougher ask this year. I'm intrigued to see how the Blazers play tonight against a haphazard Houston team. Let's go Rip City. 

With so much to process in the world right now I understand how minuscule this post is. I also have an obvious affinity for hoops; there are worst things to be sidetracked by than basketball. Thanks for checking in. Soon I'll be dropping the year-end roundup of my favorite music. Cheers to all during the holiday season, have a happy new year too.

Stay safe and be kind to one another, 


Thursday, November 19, 2020


Mood Music |
Tobe Nwigwe, Olu & Duckworth | "Wildlings" |

You cannot come up, till you get down. On every level this is ART.


Saturday, November 14, 2020


Mood Music |
Lucinda Williams | "Joy" | Car Wheels on a Gravel Road |

An all-time Lucinda song from one of the best records. "I don't want you anymore, cause you took my joy... you took my joy, I want it back."


Thursday, November 5, 2020

Brew Detective: Fresh Hops / 2020

OR Fresh Hopped Beers / O-R they?

Brew Detective | Fresh Hop Eliot IPA | Ex Novo 
    I believe Goschie Farms provided the Centennial Hops for this particular Eliot, which was canned on 08.31.20. The first thing I noticed was a wet, dank, earthy presence up front in the nose, which I enjoy. A doughy head formed. Surprisingly, the first good gulp showcased subtlety I didn't expect. Carbonation playfully added to the somewhat clear ale. Well placed notes of bitterness hit early, then eased off while still providing finishing flavor. 

Fresh Hop Eliot went down with ease (6.6%). This delicious beer pairs well with Little Creatures, by The Talking Heads. Ex Novo is one of my faves, and in my hood. Sorry for the hiatus. Hope you dig the tasting notes...

Brew Detective | Fresh IPA | Fort George 
    Strata Hops are front and center on this wet hopped and unfiltered IPA from Fort George, perhaps my favorite Oregon brewery. The can created a good 'popping' sound and a tropical nose pushed itself out. Guava and late summer blooms blended with the warm air. The clarity is crazy, an awesome cap of foam insulates the wood and pine aromas. Slight trickles of carbonation stream upward, this beer pours great.    

More bitterness is present in the tasting than the nose suggests, plus I smell a damp forest, and I like it. This fresh hop IPA was canned on 09.08.20 and registered in at 6.4%. Most of these tasting notes were hand written in a journal during the Oregon fires of 2020. Sorry for the late takes.

Brew Detective | Green Keeper | Little Beast 
    A crushable, fresh hopped American pale ale, thanks Little Beast. The smell of rained on veggies filled my snout. Once poured I noticed a much lighter hue than the aromas had crafted images of. It looks unlike any pale ale I've seen. The Centennial Hops offer some funkier aromas once poured. Clarity is almost pilsner-like as a fluffy head forms atop the ale. Crispness wins out, but there is a slight bitterness late. This was unique at 5.2% and approachable for those looking for a change of pace.

I'll be sleuthing craft suds a bit more regularly, with some additional fresh hop reviews too, as I sprinkle in some music along the way. Enjoy the seasonal transition as changes occur, fall has arrived in the PNW. Change is on the horizon in more ways than one. Be safe out there and try to be kind (it can be hard sometimes). Thanks for checking in. Consume craft beer responsibly. 


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Election Day / Live 2020

Mood Music |

Jack White Trio | "Don't Hurt Yourself, Ball n Biscuit, Jesus is Coming" |

The medley of songs was fueled by a rock'n and powerful three-piece. Jack White reminded everyone why live music is so infectious. Make no mistake, live music is something we long for, it's vital to our souls. 

His squealing guitar was an onslaught of arrows, every squall piercing with inflection. The drummer added force and measure, remaining constant and attached to White's timings. Bass players do as bass players do, their job, holding it down, yet full of capacity. Their collective sound was minimal yet cavernous and banging. Though there were abrasive elements, welcomed by this listener, it was approachable, understandable. 

The lyrical change-ups during "Jesus..." were dutifully scripted for the here and now. Different segments showcased the band's abilities, energy, timing, power and emotion. Raw, dripping in talent and hard work, shredding, they were just what I needed. Thanks Jack White. Long Live Live Music.