Check out my guest post on the Rangers Report blog, which by the way is the best source for Rangers analysis and fan-banter.
Do you like summer? Of course you do, because you’re not a crazy person! This year, we New Yorkers endured a hellish, nut-numbing winter because we’re too stupid to move to like Florida or something. BUT WHAT WOULD WE DO WITHOUT DA PURDY SNOW?!!!! Oh I don’t know, maybe work at Disney World then sit outside and drink Corona’s all day in the middle of January. Duh!
Thankfully, it’s June, so it’s high time to get outside, burn your skin off, and jump in that shark-infested ocean for a bit. The summer’s finally here… we did it! Well done, everybody. Of course, it wouldn’t be summer without some sweet tunes to go along with it. You know, the kind of songs you’d play at a BBQ as you try to drown out those annoying neighbor kids who are either playing tag or getting brutally murdered next door. Or maybe, these are the songs you blast in your car on your way down to the shore, until you get stuck in traffic and maybe you should turn it down a little because the guy in the white van next to you looks a little angry.
However you may listen, summer songs are important because they’re going to forever remind you of a particular year’s summer fun. I mean, tell me you don’t smell sunscreen whenever you hear “Steal My Sunshine.” Oh, just me? Anyway, it’s all about good times and good vibes maaaan. Last year, for me, the song of the summer was a tie between “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” (thanks Pharrell!), and if it were up to me, these would be the songs of the summer EVERY year. But alas, out with the old and in with the new, right?
So, without further ado, below is a playlist of songs released since Labor Day 2013 that just got that summery feel to them, and I think they’ll bode well in the heat. Put your shades on, lather that sunscreen on your ghostly pale body, crack open a cold one, and turn the music up!
Feel free to complain/praise in the comments. TURN DOWN FOR WHAT!
(Writer’s note: I was so tempted to include “Latch” by Disclosure feat. Sam Smith on here, because I really hope it makes it big this summer in the mainstream, but that song came out like 2 years ago, so I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Think of it as an honorable mention, I guess.)
(Also, damn right I made a playlist with both Justin Timberlake and Fucked Up in it! Wanna fight about it?!)
One more thing: the following song is not available on Spotify, but it damn well better make your summer playlist. Why? Because I said so!
That Sunday Barrel’s 2014 Songs of the Summer
by Jeff Yerger
Never call a Welshman “British.” I learned that the hard way once at a bar in Florida after I asked where the bartender was from. Needless to say, I didn’t get the quickest refills after that. However, the next time I went to that same bar, the bartender calls me over and gives me a gift: a t-shirt with a big Welsh flag on the front. “You better wear it,” she tells me with a sly grin, and I do. I wear that thing with as much pride as any true Welshman. Cymru am byth!
See, I’ve come to find that people from Wales are very proud of their country and of their culture. Most of us in America take our lovely country for granted, but not the Welsh. They may be a relatively small, mountainous piece in the United Kingdom puzzle, but they’re an important piece, damnit, and they’re going to let you know about it. So, it comes to no surprise that Welsh rockers The Joy Formidable are proud to be launching “Aruthrol” (“formidable”), an all-Welsh monthly, vinyl singles club.
Although they’ve released a Welsh version of their breakthrough hit “Whirring” in the past, The Joy Formidable are now diving further into their roots with this project. “We’ve been talking about making a Welsh record for a long time, but we’ve been busy touring,” says guitarist/vocalist Ritzy Bryan, per the press release. “We had a few weeks back home over Christmas and that became the perfect time to set everything up, among all the memories of being back home where the band started.”
Recorded at the band’s studio in the North Walean hills, the songs on “Aruthrol” are sung in Welsh and will be released as collaborative split 7” singles, sharing sides with other Welsh bands members of the Joy Formidable admire. “They’re double A-sides,” bass player, guitarist and co-vocalist Rhydian Dafydd emphasizes. “Not an A-side and a B-side. Both sides have equal importance.”
The first release for “Aruthrol,” titled “Yn Rhydiau’r Afon” (“In The Fords of the River”), picks up where the band’s last album, 2013’s Wolf’s Law, left off. It’s a sweeping epic, featuring rafter-shaking energy interwoven with solemn interludes led by Rhydian’s Spanish guitar. In a way, it recalls the band’s earlier, pre-The Big Roar material in that it has a certain frantic, raw energy about it, and yet, the song still pushes the band forward, introducing new sounds and textures along the way.
This first installment, Aruthrol “A,” which also features Welsh band Colorama, is available for pre-order now at thejoyformidable.com, but get ‘em while they’re hot, because they will be very limited (only 500 copies of each vinyl pressing). In the meantime, have a listen and watch the video for yourself below:
“Roses are red, violets are blue. Foxy Shazam, baby. Fuck you!” – Eric Nally, Foxy Shazam
Eric Nally, charismatic frontman of Cincinnati rock outfit Foxy Shazam, has always had a way with words. “The best advice I can give you is if you ever feel lost, the best way to not be lost is to very simply change where you were going.” This is what Nally expresses very carefully to the crowd at the Bowery Ballroom in New York, NY before diving onto the floor as his band launches into “Holy Touch” from 2012’s Church of Rock and Roll.
Certainly, Nally speaks from the heart. Their latest Steve Albini-produced release, GONZO, sees Foxy Shazam as a band that is changing the way they’re going in order to find themselves again. They dug deep, shaved their facial hair, traded bedazzled jackets for purple turtlenecks, and found primal art within their theatrical persona.
Touring in support of their latest release, Foxy Shazam has turned their show into a two part act. The first half showcases GONZO in full, and as much as they reached deep down inside of themselves on record, they dig just as deep on stage. Draped in purple, Foxy charge forcefully through GONZO with newfound focus and grace. There’s a raw power to these songs that comes to fruition in a live setting. “Brutal Truth,” “Shoe Box,” and set closer “Story Told” are quite poignant and sound better than they do on record.
After a short intermission, Foxy Shazam reemerges as the band we knew before: shirtless, sweaty, and hungry for another rowdy audience. The colors on stage are brighter, and Nally is more talkative again. The band kicks off the second set with a raucous rendition of “Bombs Away,” off their self-titled release. As they plow through favorites like “Oh Lord,” “Yes Yes Yes,” and “I Like It,” the band sounds as tight as ever, and Nally’s voice remains strong. The highlight of the night goes to “The Only Way to My Heart,” one of Foxy’s best songs in their arsenal. During the song’s crescendo, Nally, pianist “Sky” White, and trumpeter/back-up vocalist Alex Nauth wretch, stomp, and sway like skeletons in high wind. As a strobe light flashes in back, it all becomes a very surreal experience, which is on par with a typical Foxy Shazam show.
Foxy ended their show with the glam-anthem “Unstoppable.” As they left the stage, the raucous crowd was loudly pleading for more, but to no avail. The band never reemerged for what would’ve been a natural way to perform an encore. But that’s okay… always leave them wanting more, right? Foxy Shazam has always been known for their wild live shows, but up until now, they’ve been taken for granted. We came to expect the cigarette eating, rambling jokes, and microphone flip tricks, and they delivered like puppets on a string. Coming into this tour after releasing a demon-cleansing album, nobody was sure what to expect. We hoped, but didn’t expect. How could we? Thankfully, after their utterly fantastic Bowery performance, it’s very clear Foxy Shazam is a confident band that is no longer lost; they’re finally in control of where they’re going.
by Jeff Yerger
Can you feel it – that buzz in the air? For the first time in 20 years, the air smells fresher, the sky seems bluer, and the sun feels warmer, because the New York Rangers are finally back in the Stanley Cup Final. Is this real life? How did we get here? It’s been such an incredible journey, and as Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault put it, if you told me back in October… hell, even four weeks ago… that the Rangers would be the hottest team in hockey playing for the franchise’s 5th Stanley Cup in June, I’d ask what you were smoking.
The elation we die-hard Ranger fans are feeling right now is hard to explain to someone who isn’t a huge sports fan. You might get some weird looks, a scoff, a “pssh, whatever”, or a “you can’t get a tattoo of Henrik Lundqvist THERE!” from people, but we know this is a special time and it’s truly a special feeling. The Rangers are in the Stanley Cup Final… I mean, just typing those words made me giddy. There is a buzz about the city and the tri-state area that’s usually reserved for the New York Giants every four years. You can’t walk five feet without talking about the Rangers or seeing someone wearing Rangers apparel. Just the other day, on the way into the city, my friend and I struck up a conversation with this random dude only because he was wearing a Brian Leetch shirt. We spent nearly 40 minutes talking about the Rangers and their magical playoff run. For those 40 minutes, the three of us were the bestest of friends!
Being a Rangers fan is like that. Once you discover that a person is a Rangers fan, they immediately become family. It’s cool, no worries, just as long as you know who Mark Messier is. Wait, you don’t? I’ll give you a minute to do a quick Google search. It’s okay, I’ll wait. [whistles and looks around aimlessly] … [checks watch] … [Googles Mark Messier anyway, gets lost for an hour watching Messier highlights on YouTube] … woah, sorry about that, where was I?
Yes, it’s a great time to be a Ranger fan, and if you don’t want to miss out on the Blueshirt Mania, there’s plenty of room aboard the bandwagon! But before you hop along, you’re going to have to know a few things first. So, I’ve decided to make the definitive Bandwagon Guide to the 2013-14 New York Rangers. Let’s get you up to speed…
At the end of the lockout-shortened 2013 season, the New York Rangers were in a bit of turmoil. They didn’t quite capitalize on the 2011-12 team’s success, and after losing to the Boston Bruins in 5 games in the second round, the Rangers management fired then-coach John Tortorella, and replaced him with former Vancouver Canucks coach Alain Vigneault. With this transaction, the Rangers went from a shot-blocking, defensive machine to an offensive and speed-minded philosophy. I’d like to tell you that it all clicked right away, I’d also like to tell you we were one of the top teams in the East this year, but alas, it didn’t quite go that way. The Rangers struggled adapting to the new system, which in hindsight, is understandable. Patience was needed, but Ranger fans are anything but patient. It was a struggle for this team, but around December and early January, things started to click. The Power Play finally looked like a Power Play, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (more on him later) started playing like himself again, and suddenly, the Rangers looked like a contender. Well, at least a playoff contender. In March, the Rangers made a trade deadline deal to secure their status as a playoff contender, trading beloved captain Ryan Callahan to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for superstar veteran forward Martin St. Louis, who, along with center Brad Richards, won a cup in 2004 with the Bolts. The hope was, with him and Richards reunited, their chemistry from 2004 would reignite.
The Rangers opened the playoffs playing against hated rivals the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a rough series, but the Rangers prevailed in seven (and it also produced one of the greatest hockey gifs of all time). In the Second Round, the Rangers were pitted against Stanley Cup (and Pierre McGuire’s) favorites the Pittsburgh Penguins. After winning the first game by scoring twice in overtime, the Rangers suddenly found themselves down in the series 3 – 1, after a pitiful game 4 in which the Rangers were booed by their own fans (we’re not always that mean, trust me… it’s tough love). Following that dreadful performance, the next day news came out that the mother of Martin St. Louis passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack. Despite a heavy grieving heart, St. Louis decided to join his Rangers team in Pittsburgh, and from there, the team bonded out of tragedy. St. Louis provided an emotional lift the Rangers desperately needed, and scored a huge goal in Game 6 at the Garden with his family present. The Rangers came back to defeat the Pittsburgh Penguins and move on to play the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the playoffs.
Following an emotional second round victory, the New York Rangers came out swinging in Montreal for Game 1, scoring 7 goals in an arena that has plagued the team for years. They won the first two games handily in Montreal, and in Game 4, St. Louis scored a magnificent game winner in overtime to put them up 3 – 1 in the series. Finally, in game 6 at a manic Madison Square Garden, Henrik Lundqvist stonewalled the Canadiens in a 1 – 0 shutout, securing the Rangers place in the Final. It’s truly been a hell of a run, and the previous paragraphs don’t even come close to conveying the waves of emotion we Ranger fans have been enduring these past couple weeks. It’s been fun, but there’s still a story yet to be written.
Here’s some Rangers-related music you need on your iPod:
The New York Rangers Goal Song
The New York Rangers Victory Song
The 2013-14 Rangers Locker Room Victory Song (for some reason…)
Here are some players you need to know:
Ryan McDonagh – #27 – Defenseman
Nickname: Mack Truck
The lowdown: Since joining the Rangers in 2011 after we practically stole him from the Montreal Canadiens, Ryan McDonagh has become an absolute monster of a defenseman. Not only is the kid smart as hell defensively, but he can really contribute offensively (he has 2 goals and 10 assist thus far in the playoffs). Mack Truck is going to be a true star in this league. Look for him to continue to improve in the final round.
Mats Zuccarello – #36 – Left Wing
The lowdown: When he isn’t journeying across Middle-earth, Mats Zuccarello – a.k.a. the little Italian kid from Norway – is racking up points and creating plays like no other player on the ice. It’s incredible how well he can see a play develop. Perhaps the view at 5’7” is pretty good. The bite-sized forward will beat you with his speed and certainly isn’t afraid to fight the big boys.
Rick Nash – #61 – Left Wing
The lowdown: Despite being arguably the Rangers’ most skilled forward, Rick Nash hasn’t exactly lived up to the lofty expectations set by Ranger fans. Nevertheless, when Nash plays in the dirty areas of the ice and gets to the net as much as possible, he is an absolute force.
Derek Stepan – #21 – Center
Nickname: Steps or D-Step
The lowdown: If you watched the last few Rangers/Habs games, you might be wondering who that bionic man wearing that goofy obnoxious helmet was. Well, it was Derek Stepan, and here’s what happened: in the previous series against the Canadiens, his jaw was broken in Game 3 by former teammate and friend Brandon Prust after he blindsided Stepan with a vicious high hit. Stepan stayed in that game, despite his jaw being broken (though he didn’t know it at the time). He then had jaw surgery, missed only one game (!), and despite barely being able to talk and drink food from a straw, Stepan came back for Game 5 to score two goals. Hockey players, amirite?
Chris Kreider – #20 – Left Wing
Nickname: THE Kreider
The lowdown: Here’s another young budding star from the New York Rangers. Chris Kreider has 10 points in these playoffs (4G, 6A), but the kid has done a lot more than that. For a man his size (6’3”, 226lbs), he should NOT be allowed to be as fast as he is. And boy, is he fast, which is part of the reason the Rangers have been so successful in the post-season. Teams can’t seem to adjust to the Rangers speed, thanks to players like Kreider, Carl Hagelin, and Derek Brassard.
Brad Richards – #19 – Center
Nickname: Broadway Brad
The lowdown: Brad Richards has become the vocal veteran leader every good team needs. He leads both on the ice and off, and despite an inevitable buyout looming this summer that should send him packing and free up cap space for the Rangers, Richards is having quite a productive post-season run (5G, 6A). And to think it was only a year ago he was benched by Torts in the playoffs due to lack of production.
Martin St. Louis – #26 – Right Wing
The lowdown: Along with Richards, St. Louis has become another veteran presence in the locker room. As mentioned above, he has persevered through some pretty tough times this post season due to his mother’s passing. Yet, despite his slow adjustment to New York and his recent personal troubles, St. Louis has been arguably one of the best players this team has to offer, and he has given this Rangers team a huge emotional lift.
Dominic Moore – #28 – Center
The lowdown: If you should root for anybody this June, root for Dominic Moore. In 2012, Dominic Moore, while playing for the San Jose Sharks, left the team during a playoff run to be with his wife Katie, who had just been diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer, a disease that ultimately ended her life in January of 2013 (you can view their story in an emotional video here). Moore did not play at all last season. Last summer, he re-signed with the Rangers (the team that originally drafted him in 2000). Today, Dominic Moore plays in the memory of his wife Katie, and along with Brian Boyle and Derek Dorsett , he is an essential part of the Rangers’ strong fourth line. On Thursday, in true poetic fashion, Moore scored the game-winning goal to send the New York Rangers to their first Stanley Cup Final in 20 years.
Henrik Lundqvist – #30 – Goaltender
Nickname: The King
The lowdown: Where do I even begin? Henrik Lundqvist, the biggest and best-dressed athlete in New York, has been the foundation of the New York Rangers for nearly 10 years. Did I mention he is also incredibly good-looking? Since first stepping on the ice for the Rangers back in 2005, Lundqvist has quickly become one of the world’s elite goaltenders. When Lundqvist is on his game (which is A LOT these days), he’s virtually impenetrable and he is on a whole other level than anyone else. Just take a look at his 2013-14 playoff stats: 12 wins (1st in the NHL), .928 Save Percentage (1st in the NHL), 2.03 Goals Against Average (2nd in the NHL), and a shutout (where he made this ridiculous save) to send his team to the Stanley Cup Final to boot. The only thing missing from his resume is a Stanley Cup.
Jack White, the palest man on earth and occasional guitar player, announced yesterday that his new album, Lazaretto (6/10 on Third Man), will also be released in an “Ultra LP” format. The Ultra LP will contain all sorts of whozits and whatzits galore, per White’s site:
-180 gram vinyl
-2 vinyl-only hidden tracks hidden beneath the center labels
-1 hidden track plays at 78 RPM, one plays at 45 RPM, making this a 3-speed record
-Side A plays from the outside in
-Dual-groove technology: plays an electric or acoustic intro for “Just One Drink” depending on where needle is dropped. The grooves meet for the body of the song.
-Matte finish on Side B, giving the appearance of an un-played 78 RPM record
-Both sides end with locked grooves
-Vinyl pressed in seldom-used flat-edged format
-Dead wax area on Side A contains a hand-etched hologram by Tristan Duke of Infinity Light Science, the first of its kind on a vinyl record
-Absolutely zero compression used during recording, mixing and mastering
-Different running order from the CD/digital version
-LP utilizes some mixes different from those used on CD and digital version
Wowee!! A 3 speed record?! What a GAME CHANGER! Let’s see your shitty-ass 128 kbps mp3 do that! Sarcasm aside, I’ll admit it that it’s pretty cool White is putting so much thought into this product, which will be available at a reasonable price too. I’m just surprised he left out all the other features of the “Ultra LP” in this press release. Here are a few more features of the upcoming Lazaretto Ultra LP Jack White forgot to mention:
- record can be used as Frisbee
- this vinyl will be more vinyl-y than regular vinyl
- free fedora hat with every purchase!
- if placed on a table, record can be cool decorative place mat
- blew a tire on your bike? Replace it with the Lazaretto LP!
- add tomato sauce and cheese for a delicious vinyl pizza
- use this LP as a cool belt buckle. The ladies will love it!
- Absolutely zero originality used during recording, mixing and mastering
- Dead wax area on Side B contains a hand-etched hologram of Tupac, the first of its kind on a vinyl record
- the end of the album features a never-ending loop of Robin Williams talking
- if played loud enough, you can drown out the sound of your pathetic cries and hopes for a White Stripes reunion
- when played backwards, this album will reveal satanic messages as well as the whereabouts of Meg White
- hidden tracks are actually just Jack White farting whilst talking about vintage guitars
- finally, you can trade this record for the new Fucked Up album Glass Boys, available June 3, which will no doubt be a better investment in the long-term than this gimmicky bullshit
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! There’s snow on the ground, the air is chilly, and some exciting hockey is ready to be played. Why yes it’s… [checks calendar] mid-April, and the NHL Playoffs are finally here!
Even for the first round, there are some really exciting match ups going on: San Jose vs. LA, Boston vs. Wings, and Rangers vs. Flyers. There are also some interesting questions waiting to be answered, like: Will this finally be the year the Blues hoist the Cup? Will this finally be there year San Jose doesn’t choke (spoiler alert: it won’t)? Will Columbus win a playoff game for the first time in franchise history? Who will have the best playoff beard? Will Canada win a Gold Medal AND a Stanley Cup all in the same year (those friendly bastards will be relentless if Montreal wins)? And… can anybody beat Boston?
Like Vince Gilligan, the NHL Playoffs always provide the answers, but it’s more fun to predict the answers yourself isn’t it? Below are my picks for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, coming from a biased (but reasonable) Rangers fan:
Ducks over Dallas in six
LA over San Jose in six
Avalanche over Wild in five
Chicago over Blues in seven
Boston over Wings in five
Montreal over Tampa in six
Penguins over Columbus in seven
Rangers over Flyers in seven
LA over Ducks in seven
Chicago over Avs in six
Boston over Montreal in six
Rangers over Pittsburgh in six
LA over Chicago in seven
Boston over Rangers in seven
Stanley Cup Final
Boston over LA in six
Notes from the Rangers fan in me:
I think the Rangers are actually in a good position for a long playoff run. Obviously, with Henrik Lundqvist in net, they’ll have an advantage over anyone they play. Despite a really poor start to the season, the King has been lights out since January, and he looks more than ready for the playoffs. This year’s breakout line of Zuccarello-Pouliot-Brassard, as well as the emergence of a strong/reliable fourth line, will be the difference makers this year. The Rangers will also need to cash in on the Power Play more often than not, as that’s always been their Achilles Heel in the Spring. And if the Rangers’ big name forwards Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis actually play like the stars they are, New York’s chances are pretty good. While I believe it’s Boston’s Cup to lose this year, this New York Rangers team can beat anyone in the East, as long as they use their speed and play smart defense.