Friday, November 25, 2016

So Good So Far

Twice yearly, I do my best to assemble a quality list of music. My aim is to break it down by late summer and right around Thanksgiving (gobble gobble). I confine this process to albums only, sorry compilations, reissues and live releases. With that said, I drink in music willfully and with a measure of pride—I like music that makes me move, makes me think, or inspires me to do or think more, and go beyond my norm. Most of the time I try to digest these offerings as they are released, other times, it takes time. Enough about that, now onto the goods. 

Anderson .Paak - Malibu
Released: January 15
His lyricism is dynamic throughout. Properly mixed portions of funky soul and hip hop advance his art beyond the typical noise pushed by other contemporaries. Malibu is filled with storytelling and unique characteristics, such as, paying homage to sound-scapes of the past while simultaneously carving out something fresh. There are too many dope tracks to name them all, just go listen to it.


Margo Price - Midwest Farmer's Daughter 
Released: March 25
Margo had previously made my honorable mention. Her album has since become a staple—purchasing Midwest Farmer's Daughter on vinyl was paramount to my revelation. The first track, "Hands of Time," and the final cut, "World's Greatest Loser," are painful stories from her personal life. Both of those songs haunt, spilling almost too much truth. The honky-tonk number, "Hurt'n (On The Bottle)," is a tale most of us can relate to. Thanks for keeping country 100.  

"Hurt'n (On The Bottle)"

Frank Ocean - blond
Released: August 20
Random notes as I continued to absorb this record: I can't stop listening to it. It makes me consider myself; the what-ifs and what am I's. In sharing his world, he reveals how disconnected we are. The real shit, personal and intimate. It's beautiful and a little scary. He presses into the soul, heart and mind...the interludes, snippets of reality and manufactured minimalism of the sound intensify his honesty. Ocean affirms the grandeur of love, it's power to uplift or tear down, the value of it being returned. The personal intimacy of this album isn't draped in camouflage. Thanks Frank. 

Banks & Steelz - Anything but Words
Released: August 26th
Paul Banks from Interpol and RZA make a unique duo to say the least. I seem to stand in the minority, but I really dig this record. I previously reviewed this album. My partner in crime and I caught their live performance the day after Anything But Words had dropped. Bobby Digital has gone steel.

"Point of View"

Phantogram - Three
Released: October 7
Phantogram's latest record delights on first listen. Three stimulates with it's rhythmic and modern pulse, it makes you listen with its words. The single gets all the air-time, but make no mistake, the B-side's where it's at. "You're Mine," and "Answer," are tracks that skillfully tether sonic elements to the bang of sharp lyrics. Other highlights include, "Cruel World," "Run Run Blood," and "Calling All." Pip also loves this record, which means, it rocks.

A Tribe Called Quest - We got it from Here...Thank you 4 your service
Released: November 11
ATCQ captives and educates us once again. Enlightened minds make inspiring art, hopefully their message resonates with you. From the jump, they bring the heat. "Space Program," (with it's sick ass sample of the real cinematic Wonka) and "We the People," punch with straightforward truth. Shaheed blends Elton John remnants into, "Solid Wall of Sound," he crushes the beats throughout. "Black Spasmodic," jabs at you, setting up the hard hitting accuracy of, "The Killing Season."  Kendrick and .Paak follow each other on songs that shine later on. The finale, "The Donald," features sick mixing and wordplay, it may also be too real to be true. We Got It From Here... fills two discs with  pure hip hop genius and a grip of guest spots. I'm truly thankful for this record. RIP Phife. 

"We the People" | Official Video


My personal favorites from 2016 include those listed above, as well as, the albums I reviewed earlier this year. Check out So Far So Good for the complete list. The BESTY's, an annual account of my favorite live performances, are coming soon. Thanks for tuning in.

Second-half honorable mentions include: M.I.A. - AIM, Lewis Del Mar - self titled, Twin Limb - Haplo,


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

PUBlication: Holiday Beer

Happy Holidays!
'Tis the season. One can never have enough quality libations on hand during the holidays. I lean toward selections that take from trees, literally or figuratively; think Alaskan's Winter Ale (brewed with Sitka Spruce tips) or Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale (whose beautiful artwork looks pretty good under the tree and ages quite nicely). Big Sky's Powder Hound is one of my favorites and is available from October through March. Another tried and true original comes from Sierra Nevada. Celebration Ale is a staple in our household this time of year and seemingly caters to all. I stay away from those that over indulge in chocolate or coffee, most typically found in porters and stouts. I can however, recommend Jubelale from Deschutes, if that's a profile you prefer. A nice option in cans is 21st Amendment's, Fireside Chat, a spiced winter ale. Of course, there are many other options, each of the aforementioned can be easily found on the west coast. This is my kind of holiday shopping.

Look for these delicious and seasonal ales at your local grocer, market or bottle shop. Travel safely and may you navigate the madness of the season smoothly. It's time for some justified gluttony, so have at it, just do so responsibly. Enjoy the holidays...with a tasty adult beverage. Cheers.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We The People

A Tribe Called Quest is back. We Got It From Here...Thank You 4 Your Service, is moving, poetic and timely. Tribe's aim has always been geared to the greater good, reminding us that it is the quest. We Got It From Here attempts to soothe the obvious wounds; it's also a battle cry for humanity and civic responsibility. Thanks for keeping it 100. RIP Phife. Long live Tribe. Long live The People. 

"We The People" | A Tribe Called Quest | Live on SNL


Friday, November 4, 2016

Oregon is Calling Me (PDX)

We drove toward Oregon's lone metropolis after recharging in the Wilson River. Rolling into Portland for the first time in far too long, we scored great parking, whew. We were also lucky to have the warm hospitality of our two amazing friends (secret agents K & MM) and their wonder dog, Lillah Dame.

Pearl Court | Wushu Center
Turns out my main man with a hoops plan had wrangled us another good game. The girls went out for some drinks and such, while we headed to the Wushu Center. Pearl Court is top-notch. One wall is full-length glass; the city's Pearl District looking in on the game. The two of us battled almost exclusively on D most of the night after teaming up initially. (We won two quick games and had to break our team up to field the 3rd game.) Games are timed with a scorekeeper.  MM's older brother was the recipient of one dime that still stands out—G and I had good chemistry, making a solid 5-man team along with one of his friends. My 3 was falling, helping me to get into the paint. I finished left on one strong play with a burst. Plus I was rebounding. It was either a one-loss night or we went unbeaten. Hoops at the Wu was one of the better runs I've been a part of for quite some time. I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to play on such a beautiful court, with such an awesome group of guys. Prior to the last games I felt a little gusto. And what do you know? I threw one down at the Wu. Thanks to the little ninjas who broomed the floor. Big ups to all the players, you guys have such a cool thing going. The two Toni's walked out into the late-night air. The Tone had been set.

Day two in Portland began deliciously. A morning walk with Lillah, and a brilliant stop at Sterling Coffee Roasters was the perfect way to get us going. This wonderful small business fits seamlessly into its neighborhood. Cooperation extends inside its doors as well. The tasty brews they're serving are some of the best beans I've ever had. Kudos to their ethics and their aesthetic. MM knows his hood and we couldn't have asked for a better guide. We encountered some of the nicest people. The baristas were friendly, as was the interesting man who peered over his book; he overheard our conversation and opened himself up to it—all of them strangers we had never met. The vibe made me feel I could be myself. What a cool place to get your morning fix. We will definitely be frequenting Sterling the next time we're in town. Cheers to the reader, cheers to their roasting.

Portland, OR
Crossing the river afforded us some time in a local park. We slung the ultimate in the late summer sun tirelessly. Partaking in activities that induce nostalgia usually feels good. It was a timely moment of the day. The three of us met K for a lunch break. Our quartet made it back to the friendly confines of the park. It was a nice chance of pace to just sit in the sun on a blanket. Responsibilities were calling one of us, the three of us who were less responsible made our way to Tin Shed. Holy amazing brunch/lunch. Two words: Spike Wrap. One more: Biscuits! Another couple: Homemade Jam. Do yourself a favor and eat here the next time your in Portland. Just do it. The last stop of the day was Saraveza. The decor is from eras gone by and the bottle selection is ridiculous. A Wisconsinite turned Oregonian has created a craft beer hideout. Their draft list was heavy on locals and diverse. I enjoyed a wit bier before stepping into a rye lager. We left with a couple of heady bottles too. The first, an Urban Farmhouse from The Commons Brewery, the other a gose from pFriem Family Brewers. We reassembled our team, it was time to cross the river yet again.


A two-day stay in Portland reinforced, Oregon is Calling Me. Our Oregon trail was nearing its end, at least for the time being. Night would lead us north into Washington, but that's another story...


Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

Thursday, November 3, 2016

One for the Ages!

Ten innings filled with improbable action. Seven games etched with drama. Two great teams, each with a curse. One champion. Congratulations Cubs. Thanks for an epic World Series.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Oregon is Calling Me (part 3)

Leaving Eugene we headed for the coast; finding our way along the friendly bends of Highway 20. This was our first time passing through Corvallis, which was cooler than I expected. It's potential not yet fully realized. The road ended in Newport, a coastal town similar to many. Yaquina Bay was beautiful, as well as industrious. It was nice to know that a coastal town could have a working personality, rather than becoming just a tourist destination. This coastal adventure was licking us in the face with damp salt air. It was time to stretch our legs and take full advantage.

Coastal Oregon - While taking in the sites and smells of Newport we found parking and needed to munch on something. We decided to a grab an adult beverage and a snack at Rogue. We also purchased a limited edition bottle of their purple jasmine rice pale ale. Proceeds benefit the research for coastal starfish. We saddled up and continued tracing up the Pacific.

Otter Rock
Our next mini-detour stationed us at Otter Rock. A spectacular display of rugged coast, jagged and covered by the moist air. It created a mix of sound and site. The potential to see otherworldly life is real. Leisurely we crept north, discovering a region that resonated profoundly. Siletz Bay and the surrounding area had an unexplainable appeal—I will try however. A single place that resembled both the Great Lakes and northern California. It felt like a hybrid of the two. Now imagine if you can, that those places had a baby, and that the baby was on steroids. That's Siletz Bay. And I could live there...

Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock, just to name a couple, are breathtaking. Their geological stories and continual inspiration have created a vibe that feels almost too good to be true. Or maybe it's because I live in California where regulation looms too large. Pacific City is worth the adventure. It's chill and peaceful in ways that only a small town can nurture. Not-to-mention the pace, which can swallow you in as the day drifts by. We drove onto the soft sandy beach and converted our Element into an ocean front cabana. Intoxicated by the views, we ambled into Pelican Brewing. The sunset and tasty suds were just what the doctor ordered. We kind of went for it and ordered clam chowder, salads and a delicious flat bread with roasted peppers, chicken, arugula and kalamata olives. There were of course more than a few ales consumed.

Pelican Brewing Co. | Pacific City, OR
By the chance of lucky timing we were able to enjoy a Silverspot IPA. This colorful ale helps fund habitat conservation efforts for the Silverspot butterfly. My postalco reminded me of its pleasant spice. The hop blend consists of Fuggle, Sterling and Meridian. 6% | 55 IBU

Another to note was the Dirty Bird, differing quite a bit from the beer mentioned above. It had an almost bubble gum, fruit-like taste. Hops include Centennial, El Dorado, Magnum and Meridian in this northwest-style IPA. 7% | 65 IBU

We also consumed a fair amount of the Kiwanda Cream Ale. With our belly's full and our gift bag in hand, we nestled in for a cool night of car camping. The coastal sounds soothed the energy of an inspiring day. Waking up in Pacific City (with a bunch of rabbits!) we set up shop once again on our beach front property. Being first to the beach allowed us a framed view of Haystack Rock. Believe you me, blankets and crash pads never looked so good. Later in the afternoon we mashed some of the best fish tacos north of Baja. Enough time would pass, forcing us to continue onward. Thanks Pacific City.

The Wilson River
A small pit stop in Tillamook allowed us to refuel and mentally prepare for Portland. Coursing along the Wilson River, we could not help but notice that the landscape was void of homes. Instead, the forested mini-mountains that hugged the panorama were undeveloped. The natural beauty of the Wilson River Valley was refreshing and inspirational. Not being in a rush is fundamental to relaxing—nature's clock has always kept the proper time. Pulling over unannounced, I noticed a small foot trail into the trees. Carefully we walked from outer riparian to inner. As the last few limbs of green life clutched to the banks of soil, we were now in the traditional bed of river rocks. Quickly we assessed the area. We were alone. There are few things as refreshing as the cool water of a clean river. We seemingly had this entire little valley to ourselves. Swimming and lounging alone on the sun-warmed stones made us feel unconquerable. A cold Oakshire cucumber Berliner Weisse doesn't hurt either. I think we both felt like river nymphs, literally soaking in the day and rightfully so. This was a journey within the journey; a new found treasure that may call us back. The Wilson River had reinvigorated us for a night on the town. Portland was on the horizon.


The final installment of Oregon is Calling Me is coming soon.


part 1 - part 2