It’s a simple yet sublime pleasure, and just thinking about it can make you feel a little calmer, a little more content. Imagine: You bring out one of the good rocks glasses (or your favorite mug or a special occasion tea cup) and pour a couple fingers of amber liquid (or something dark and strong or just some whole milk). You drop the needle on the jazz platter (or pull up a blues album on your mp3 player or dig out that mixtape from college). Ensconcing yourself in the coziest seat in the house, you crack the spine on a classic (or find your place in that sci-fi paperback or pull up a biography on your e-book reader). And then, you go away for a while. Ah, bliss.
In this series, some of NTSIB’s friends share beloved albums, books and drinks to recommend or inspire.
Earlier this month, I extolled the multi-flavored virtues of Chicago’s Mutts and their latest album Separation Anxiety. It’s a wily, skittering creature of an album, difficult to capture in one of those pigeonholing boxes that music press and label execs seem so fond of – and I like that! Many a rich and long-lasted musical love affair has begun with the question “What the hell is that?”
(And, at the time of that previous post, I didn’t know that singer/keys man Mike Maimone is from Cleveland, so I have to give a little O-hi-o salute for that.)
Mutts covering Tom Waits’ “New Coat of Paint” at 90.3 WRST in Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Now these fine gentlemen are joining us to give us their recommendations to aid us in our favorite activities of reading, listening, and drinking, and, oh, it’s a good one they’ve put together for us. Sit back and give it your full attention.
MIKE MAIMONE (Keyboard & Vocals)
Good Read: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart
If you’ve ever felt embarrassed to be at a table where more people are on their phones than not (even if you were in the majority yourself), this novel is your best friend and your worst nightmare. Set in the not-too-distant future, it uses a middle-aged man’s obsessions with “analog” books and a modern young woman to cast a bleak projection of where our instantly-gratified, plugged-in, debt-laden, class-divided, age-defying nation is heading. And to a degree, it anticipated the Occupy movements in New York.
Good Listen: “Jon Three Sixteen” by The Field Auxiliary
This track from their recent EP is where I would recommend starting on your journey with one the best bands Chicago has to offer. “When in doubt, put records out.” But don’t stop here; the new LP, Nomenclature Fever, is incredible.
“Jon Three Sixteen/When Yer Twenty Two” – The Field Auxiliary (for Audiotree Live)
Good Drink: Woodford Reserve, neat.
CHRIS PAGNANI (Drums)
Good Read: 1984 by George Orwell
Although not what I would consider to be “light reading,” this would probably count as one of the most important books I’ve ever read. I taught high school English for five years before joining Mutts, and this book was one that I taught the last few years I was working. When I’d introduce it to my students, I’d tell them, “I’m not concerned that you like this book. I care much more about you actually getting something out of reading it and looking a little more critically at your surroundings because of this experience.” Every time I read the ending, I’m surprised at how tragic yet also beautiful it is.
Good Listen: All Ages by Bad Religion
When I was in middle school back in the late nineties, my idea of a punk rock band was Blink-182. This was around the time some friends and I first picked up instruments with the intention of creating music together as a “band.” My buddy, Jason, turned me onto this record, actually a compilation of songs from previous releases, and I don’t think I’ve been the same since. The songs here changed both my taste in music and my world view. I spent hours looking at all the show fliers the band used to decorate the liner notes, and the artwork on the back cover still scares and moves me at the same time. After all these years, I still come back to this record at least once a year and am surprised by how fresh and angry the songs still sound and the way the lyrical content remains relevant.
“21st Century (Digital Boy)” – Bad Religion
BOB BUCKSTAFF (Bass & Guitar)
Take Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s The Letting Go from the top and crack open David Berman’s poetry collection Actual Air. (Both of these fine releases hail from Chicago’s very own Drag City.) By the time the needle lifts from the final track, you’ll be nose deep at war with Berman’s Mirrornauts. An experience unparalleled. It will make sweet molasses of the mind.
“Cursed Sleep” – Bonnie “Prince” Billy
Let’s not forget the secret ingredient, a twelve pack of Olys from the corner store. Throw that sugar on top and you’ll be writing in Bukowski and speaking in a slurred sort of iambic pentameter for days to come. That’s some trippy stuff, Bill Shakespeare.
Shew, right? A good one.
If you’re in the Chicago area, you can catch Mike and a kick drum playing out live.
11/28, LiveWire Lounge, Chicago
12/5, Mike N Molly’s, Champaign
12/6, The Bridge, Columbia
“So Many, So Many” – Mutts