In Honor of the Return of Sports, Let’s Take a Look at Some of the Greatest Sports Films of All Time

It has, without a doubt, been a wild last few months here. And by here I mean everywhere. For me, you – all of us. And in all the commotion, I have been really bad about posting. So I apologize. But we are back now, officially. That means more routine, scheduled posts. So tell yo kids tell you wife and please help us share our content as we get this bad boy going!

Indulge me to take a quick step back from the nonstop carnage of our world for just a moment, though – we do have one thing to be thankful for, as weird as it sounds. And that is the return of Professional sports. Even sports feel a little odd though – all these tournaments, round-robins, playoffs? Where are we and what is this universe. But thank the good lord we have something to stare at on the TV that isn’t terrible, sad, or depressing. Although watching the Bruins actually brings the stress levels up to max capacity, it’s still the greatest thing on cable. Also, shout out to Celtics and Bs both winning their series quite handily.

Ah – Sports, the medium where we can all kick back, put our feet up, and watch some of the most talented, spectacular human specimens around the world compete for glory on the biggest stage. The stage feels a whole lot bigger this year, though. Your audience for every major sport that has returned (MLB, MLS, NBA, NHL, UFC, etc.) is probably going to double in terms of viewership, for the pure fact that there has been such a drought of athletics for so long that literally anything is better than nothing. It’s a unique opportunity for sports to try and bring us together a little more than usual – even if your favorite teams are not playing (or have already been eliminated). Because finally, we actually have someone, or something, to root for.

Sports gives us the chance to put aside our bullshit for a minute and actually focus on a cause outside our day-to-day lives, even if it isn’t for anything more than pride and pure regional allegiance. But hell, is it fun. And these films I’m about to list capture the best in sports in such a light that makes them worth regular re-watches – because they give us that sense of the majesty that can only be achieved on the field, on the big screen. Whether you are a sports fan or not – there is a very high probability that if you grew up watching movies, even occasionally, your life was touched by one or many sports films. As a kid watching some of these, I know it got me hyped up beyond belief – and it still does as an adult.

Sports films have their inherently corny moments, we know this as a tried and true fact. And there have been a fair share of terrible ones, indeed. But this is to be expected, because really a lot of the corniness that we see as just cheese is in all actuality the same substance that makes these movies great. While there are an equal amount of sports comedies out there, I will save that for another post and stick with the more “serious” of the group in this one.

Rudy – 1993; (My Score: 10/10): Need I say more. The greatest sports film of all time? I think many would agree. Rudy Rudabeger is the iconic underdog story – the story that shows all of us that with enough drive, energy, and genuine passion for the game and doing what you love, you can and will achieve your dreams. In short, its a classic (and true) story about an underdog recruit / walk-on for the Notre Dame football team who leaves everything on the field for his chance at a shot at glory. To get there, he has to get through the death of his loved ones, work his ass off on and off the field to support his education, work hard in class to maintain his standing and balance the life and dreams of a young man who wants to leave his mark on history. Plainly said, a requirement for all sports fans, and one of the most inspiring films ever made. Also this film stars Samwise goddamn Gamgi, I mean what more could you possibly ask for (although this was many years before LOTR).

Miracle – 2004; (My Score: 10/10): One of the greatest movies about US sports ever made, and absolute triumph of filmmaking, it should be a requirement by age 18 that every American should watch this movie at some point in their lives. The film follows the historic 1980s U.S. men’s hockey team in the Olympics, led by Herb Brooks (Kurt Russel) in the deep days of the cold war. The team is a ragtag group of college studs , all with their own agendas and ways of playing – but they unite under a dream, a dream to beat the heavily favored Soviet team who had been dominating opponents for years. It is an epic tale of perseverance, grit, excitement, and the ultimate underdog story. AND – its based on a real story! This is piece of American history we are talking about. Kurt Russel shines as Brooks here, and is really the centerpiece of the entire film. “Who do you play for?” – “I play for the United States of America”. You owe it to yourself to give this one a look – about as close to perfection in a sports film as you will see.

Rocky – 1976; (My Score: 9/10): A movie as American as apple pie, and the film that shot Sylvester Stalone in to the limelight. Rocky is the classic underdog (noticing a theme, here?) story. Fun fact, the film had a budget of just $1M, and remains one of the most successful sports films of all time to this day, spawning a half dozen or more sequels as a result. The original is, in my opinion, the best of these for a variety of reasons. It personifies Americana of the day and age and really shows the grit and hard work required to be come truly great. Rocky could be any of us, and I think that’s why this film resonates with so many. He is just an average guy, living in below-average circumstances, who wanted to be great. Rocky is a tale that shows us we are much more than our income, job title, looks and dress. What really matters is heart (see, corniness again but its true I mean just watch the movie!). The ability to “go the distance” where no fighter has gone before, to earn the respect of himself above all. He didn’t even want to win, the man just wants to prove himself and show he’s actually much, much more than just your average joe. And for that, Rocky has been immortalized in sports and film fame forever.

Million Dollar Baby – (My Score: 10/10): An academy award winner for best picture, and deserving so – MDB is an absolute masterpiece in every way. I have never met anyone who watched this film and didn’t have positive things to say. I watched this movie at age 10 or so, when I first really started to get into movies, and I remember just the raw, incredible emotion Hilarry Swank brought to the limelight. Not only is this movie heartbreaking, but it just shows you how unfair and cruel the world can be, even when it should have every reason to be behaving differently. You laugh, you cry (frequently), but most of all – you actually feel like you are going through this incredible struggle of a female boxer in a world where everything is turned against you, as a participant, rather than a viewer. One of the most raw, uncut views at sports and the cruelty behind violent ones in particular. Outstanding cast and directing by the amazing Clint Eastwood. This one ain’t no picnic, so don’t go in expecting one!

Coach Carter – (My Score: 8/10): Another excellent sports film that explores deeply both questions of race and the struggles of growing up in a challenging world as a young man, and the efforts of one, unique coach in bringing together a struggling band of misguided students. One of my favorite Samuel L. Jackson roles and an iconic message about the importance of focusing on your future rather than always thinking about RIGHT NOW. As in, you have to be able to succeed off the court if you can ever ac ahieve your dreams on it. Because otherwise, you are just prioritizing one thing and eventually setting yourself up for failure. There is more to life than sports, and Director Tom Carter showed us this here.

The Hustler – 1961; (Score: 10/10): The greatest movie about pool ever made, and a Paul Newman classic. This piece of film legend follows a young, suave pool shark and hustler who makes his living challenging unwitting opponents and making a name as one of the greats, until he blows his shot at success against the greatest player in the world due to vanity alone. He must then work against his own demons and face the problems in his life before making his way back to the table to take on his opponent again in one of the most satisfying conclusions to a film I’ve seen in recent memory. A classic, but dated and definitely not for everyone, and very different from most on this list.

Raging Bull – 1980 (My Score: 9/10): One of the grittiest, most intense films ever made about boxing starting the immaculate Robert De Niro, a middleweight boxer who risks his life, love, health and family as his rises through ranks to earn his first shot at the middleweight crown. It shows you the highest highs he achieves within the ring, and the lowest of lows when his life becomes completely consumed by his drive to succeed at his career. Scorscese is brilliant as ever in this black-and-white biographical drama based on Jake LaMotta’s life and story. I personally found this film a little hard to watch at times, but that in no way is a reflection of the quality of the film and more just my preferences. This is a masterful piece of cinema and is widely regarded as one of De Niro’s greatest roles and Martin’s best films. Gritty. Gritty. Gritty. Loving that word today. But the best of the best films generally are in that they touch on the uncomfortable things we don’t always want to see or hear, but need to see or hear. Because life isn’t always cupcakes and rainbows.

Remember the Titans – 2000; (My Score: 9/10): One of the finest football films ever put to screen, RTT is a true story of the first Black coach in a segregated Virginia community who is in charge of leading a recently integrated group of athletes through the trials of the game, and everything involved off the field around the time it is based (1974). I watched this at a very young age and was blown away by Denzel’s strength as an actor, and the his ability to command a screen and lead this group of divided individuals together towards one common goal. Particularly in light of recent BLM movements, I think this movie is as good a watch as ever, and an important piece of history we should all look to for a message of unification and the ability to find common ground where there seems to be very little.

Hoosiers – 1986; (My Score: 10/10): This is one of my personal favorites ever. It follows the story of a small town, underdog school basketball team in Indiana, who through grit, perseverance and sheer will – and thanks to the coaching of Gene Hackman -transforms into championship contenders. Its a tale of redemption, determination, and improbable victories – everything a good sports film requires. It’s a classic, and I guarantee if you ask you parents they will have something nice to say about it. Hackman’s acting as coach Dale is exceptional, and showcases some emotional sides that he usually hides in his more serious roles we so frequently see him starring in. His assistant, Dennis Hopper, is equally enjoyable to watch alongside his boss as he battles internally and externally alongside the court to transform a group of students into true believers in themselves and their team. Outstanding score, picture-perfect sets and an underdog atmosphere set the stage for one of the greatest endings in sports movie history. Just a terrific film right here.

The Sandlot – 1993 (Score: 8/10): What story better personifies the love of baseball and childhood than Evan’s The Sandlot? It’s a childhood right of passage (at least where I come from) to watch this movie, whether you are an athlete or not. The reason this movie is so great is it is as much a sports film as a movie about growing up. While the centerpiece of the film is, quite symbolically, the sport and love of the game that keeps this team of misfits and friends together, equally important is the story of growth outside of the diamond and the adventures of this iconic young crew of pals. Is it a perfect movie? No. But it excels in being authentically about the experience of the young athlete, and the joy of playing together as a team where I certainly met many of my best friends, to this day. I think we can all relate to this one, even a little.

I could keep going, but let’s stick with this for now… What would YOU have on this list?

P.S.: Three others I would put on this list: Moneyball, Field of Dreams, and a League of Their Own.

Have an awesome week my friends.

NMF: WEEK OF AUGUST 8th – 14th, 2020

TOP 10 SONGS OF THE WEEK

1.) Shepherdess – SheHealsEverything (2016) Porter Robinson
[Electronica]

Wow. I’d say I was speechless if I didn’t have to write a little section here. August 12th was the 6th Anniversary of his first album Worlds and Porter blessed his fans with quite possibly the greatest birthday gift ever. “Shepherdess/She Heals Everything” is a live edit previously only heard at Worlds live shows. For the last 4 years, fans have desperately tried to find a full auto quality file of it, even going as far as to remake the song, with zero success. To the surprise of every single human being, Porter released it on SoundCloud with a full quality download. I could not be happier. For the last few years, I’ve told everyone about this special track. It is, in my opinion, the most beautiful song ever created. These feelings and opinions stem largely in part to the visuals and vibes you experience at the live show, so I’ve included a video of it at his Second Sky performance last year. This song will be on replay most likely for the rest of my life. A 10/10 song that will leave you crying and headbanging all at the same time.

2.) The Prince Madeon
[Electronica]

New Madeon AND Porter Songs this week?! I’d call this week one of the bests for music within the last few months. A continuation of the Good Faith era, The Prince sounds like it was too dark and moody for Madeon’s sophomore album, but definitely fits the vibe. Taking some synthwave influence with his signature Madeon vocals, drums, and synths, this song should be simply labeled as “epic”. It’s a guaranteed pump up track. After debuting it at Porter’s festival Second Sky in 2019, I’ve been bumping the low quality of this for over a year now. I’ve prayed to my French God Madeon for this release, and he delivered.

3.) escape Jaron
[Electronica]

I’ve been following Jaron for about 3 years now ever since Madeon (see a trend in this top 3?) would play his song “Sonder” in his sets. Also forgot to mention that Jaron is CURRENTLY 17 YEARS OLD. So if my math is correct, I’ve been following him since he was 14. How in the world so much talent is contained in this kid is possible, I will never know. But I’m happy it is. “escape” is another masterpiece from the wonderboy. The music video is oddly similar to Porter’s “Get Your Wish” music video, but the song is just a production treasure. Jaron has this incredible ability of making his synths and supersaws sound massive while still light and airy. At only 17, the world is Jaron’s oyster and if he continues this impressive trend, we’ll be treated to some of the best produced music for years and years to come.

4.) Sweet Summer Sweat (feat. Dijon) Jim-E Stack
[Electronic]

One of the top producer’s in the world at the moment, Jim-E Stack has been dropping some fire lately. The follow-up of his previosu single “Note To Self”, “Sweet Summer Sweat” is a beautifully crafted summer-single with a catchy guitar hook and vocals borrowed from the talented Dijon. Will be bumping this on the beach (once COVID will let me) while simultaneously sweating.

5.) Why Do We Shake In The Cold? Elderbrook
[Dance]

A brand new song off his debut album “Why Do We Shake When It’s Cold?” set to be released September 4th, if the album-titled single is a foreshadow of what to expect off the album, we’re in for a treat. Elderbrook has quickly become one of my favorite dance-house producers as of late. “Why Do We Shake When It’s Cold?” provides another hauntingly beautiful vibe that Elderbrook seems to have perfected. Excited for the album release!

6.) Chicane QUIX & Juelz
[Dubstep]

Throwin’ in a heavier one for y’all. I try to limit posting my “scrambled eggs brain” music on here since I know it’s not the most popular among the general public, but I couldn’t resist with this QUIX and Juelz collab. QUIX is so damn good at producing such clean yet heavy mixes it’s absurd. And the RL Grime protege Juelz knows the formula for epic breakdowns. This banger is a collab made in heaven. Be sure to wear your neck break when listening.

7.) Buggy Yotto & Lane 8
[House]

I feel like it’d be weird to have a NMF without seeing either Yotto or Lane 8’s name on the list. The two have been consistently pumping out songs throughout 2020 with zero loss of production quality. In fact, they may continuously be getting better. “Buggy” is a melodic house journey that’ll take you deep inside your soul. The perfect song to vibe out to or drive around. Yotto and Lane 8 quite literally always deliver.

8.) Zeit & Raum Ben Böhmer
[House]

Another familiar name to NMF (and in the same “house” club as the previously mentioned Yotto and Lane 8), Ben Böhmer’s newest single is absolutely phenomenal. What are these melodic house dudes drinking cause they’ve just been pumping out quality for the last few years and show no signs of slowing down. “Zeit & Raum” is a gorgeous tune, with horns driving the melody throughout the song and that signature slappy Ben kick. Loving this tune.

8.) FleshNet Eprom
[Experimental Bass]

Eprom has been blowing up in the scene recently for good reason. His production skills are incredible, having the ability to cleanly create such complicated yet coherent mixes. He sits atop the experimental bass scene with friend G Jones creating complex sounds neatly arranged into musical numbers (somehow). For those curious about the experimental bass scene, “FleshNet” is a decent place to start. Killer 808’s & subs that’ll shake you to the core and eerie detuned synths to make feel uncomfortable, yet wanting to dance your little white collar ass off.

10.) Outta Here RL Grime & Whethan
[Trap]

Two dudes who need no introduction, I was pumped for this collab when I heard the announcement. Being completely honest, I’m a tad disappointed. It’s not bad by any means, but there’s nothing special about the track considering the two names pasted on it. Five years ago this track would’ve been a chart topper. Today, I fear it’ll get lost in the over-saturated trap anthem club. Not terrible, but I expected a whole lot more from these two.

CHECK OUT & FOLLOW THE “Best of August 2020” PLAYLIST BELOW:

BEST OF JULY 2020: TOP TRACKS OF THE MONTH

TOP 5 SONGS OF THE MONTH

5.) Problems (feat. Olan) Mat Zo
[Electronic]

Mat Zo is just a music production machine. There are very few people as respected and revered in the producer world as the British phenom is. The man behind some of my favorite songs of all time (queue “Easy” by Mat Zo & Porter Robinson next) returned this month dropping this electronic masterpiece. The vocals mixed with those slappin’ kicks and snares in the intro makes me so desperately wish I was in some steamy, sweaty nightclub somewhere in the heart of Berlin. Then come the ridiculous synths in the second drop. Zo is the Picasso of the producer world.

4.) Douha (Mali Mali) (feat. Fatoumata Diawara)Disclosure
[House]

The brother duo that needs no introduction, Disclosure has returned strong in 2020 prepping for a big album release soon. There more recent work has taken some heavy African influence which, admittedly, took some time to grow on me. The drums are the key driver of these songs and it goes without saying that they’re absolute perfection. If you have some patience with this track, my favorite part of the song comes in at 3:47 with an incredible synth section reminiscent of that classic trademarked Disclosure sound. It should go without saying that I am absolutely STOKED to see what these boys are dropping in the very near future.

3.) Blue (Flume Remix)Eiffel 65
[Future Bass]

Obviously this track was going to return to the top of the month charts. Since its release, I’ve constantly been bumping this on my work commutes. It’s just the perfect remix made by the perfect producer. Objectively (okay maybe a sprinkle of subjectivity). Flume is the best producer in the world right now.

2.) Post Humorous Gus Dapperton
[Alternative]

Prepping for his sophomore album “Orca” set to release September 18th, Gus Dapperton dropped this delightful single. A little more pop-influenced, this direction Gus seems to be taking his music is stupid exciting. His quick rise has been a treat to watch. I honestly don’t know who would call his music bad. If you were to look up “good music” in a dictionary, Gus’ face (and wild hair) would be smiling right back at you.

1.) I’m Gone Oliver Tree
[Alternative-Pop]

A meme lord, professional scooter rider, and one of the best modern alternative artists in music right now. Just a quick, condensed resume for the man known as Oliver Tree. Ugly Is Beautiful is my top Album pick for July and “I’m Gone” was the standout track in my opinion (it was a hard decision. Check out “1993” and “Jerk” as well). As the closing track of the album, it seems Oliver may be retiring the “Turbo” persona. If this is truly goodbye to Turbo, the memes may be gone, but some of the best music in pop culture at the moment is hopefully around to stay.

Check out the rest of the “Best of July 2020” Playlist below:

NMF: Week of July 18th – 24th, 2020

CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO: TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK

TOP 10 SONGS OF THE WEEK

1.) Nescience Galdive
[Electro-Pop]

If you’re looking for some chill summer feels, then look no further. Nescience oozes early Louis the Child vibes. From it’s beautiful piano chord progression in the intro, to the dancey filter envelope synths, this song is treat throughout it’s whole duration.

2.) Hurting On Purpose (feat. K.Flay) Whethan
[Electronic]

The Chicago native Whethan joins up with the incredibly talented K.Flay for this brand new summer banger. The perfect combination of pop and some pretty heavy electro, Hurting On Purpose is just another weapon added to Whethan’s arsenal. Not sure it’s possible for him to drop a bad song.

3.) KEEP MOVING BRONSON
[Electronica]

When Odesza and Golden Features announced their new collaborative project, I was excited, but had zero idea what to expect. What the pair have been releasing isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but I’m glad I was wrong. This heavy four-to-the-floor style may not be too familiar to Odesza fans (more of Golden Features’ expertise), but my lord is it banging.

4.) Central Time (feat. Mick Jenkins) Vansire
[Dream-Pop]

The duo known as Vansire has been quickly becoming one of my favorite indie groups. With the release of their single Central Time, it just adds further validity to their rising stock. Merging their familiar indie sound with some Mick Jenkins hip-hop vocals has me continuously hitting the play button today on this track.

5.) Pac-Man (feat. ScHoolboy Q) Gorillaz
[Alternative]

In my opinion, this “Song Machine” series that Gorillaz has been releasing music under has been some of their best work in years. Their song Aries released back in April has been on constant replay for me since and Pac-Man might be another finding its way into my playlists. Borrowing vocals from ScHoolboy Q, this mellow yet still oddly energizing track is nothing short of magic.

6.) 90′ IROC-Z (feat. Wiz Khalifa) Curren$y & Harry Fraud
[Hip-Hop]

Loving this stretch of songs with 90’s hip-hop instrumentals being released lately. And what could be more perfect than a feature from none other than Wiz Khalifa to join Curren$y and Harry Fraud on this fresh vibe. The whole The Outrunners album Curren$y and Harry Fraud dropped today is great. But this song is definitely a standout.

7.) Library Theme Dumage
[Lo-Fi / Jazz-Hop]

What makes a song easy to listen to? I guess we should ask Dumage (whoever that may be) since this short but sweet track nails it on all fronts. The jazzy piano melody and chord progressions are simple to the ears, yet eloquent and complex to make it interesting.

8.) Problems (feat. Olan) Mat Zo
[Electronic Dance]

One of my favorite British boys, the always intricate and never boring Mat Zo just dropped some of my favorite work of his. Dancey and heavy in the verses while tying it together with some beautiful vocals and harmonies in the choruses, Zo knows how to keep his listeners happy. Zo knows…

9.) Get Your Wish (DJ NOT PORTER ROBINSON REMIX) Porter Robinson
[Electronic]

Finally Porter is giving his fans what they want…kind of. After releasing the Anamanaguchi remix of his song Get Your Wish last week, Porter returns this week with a remix that is most certainly NOT Porter Robinson. This sped up, chopped up re-imagination of the original song kinda gives me Virtual Self vibes (NOT Porter Robinson) and is another additional take to the incredible single. However, fans still have their fingers crossed we’ll see a new single soon. In the meantime, I’ll not not settle with DJ NOT PORTER ROBINSON…whoever that may be.

10.) What You Said (feat. Manela) MADDOW
[House]

BANGER ALERT. There’s just something about a four-to-the-floor pattern, groovy bass beat, and those defining female house vocals that I just can’t get enough of. What You Said is gonna make you wanna shuffle them footsies even if you don’t know how. But that’s the beauty of rave culture’s judgement free zone. You’re free to dance like a seal with epilepsy if you want.

TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK

1.) George Clanton and Nick Hexum George Clanton & Nick Hexum
[Alternative]

I have been absolutely loving everything this duo has been putting out recently. When they dropped their initial single, I was a little let down we weren’t seeing solo George Clanton work. But Nick Hexum’s vocals have truly grown on me and mixed over George’s production is what the French call “le magnifique!”. Another album that just oozes Summer vibes, be sure to bump this until the leaves change.

2.) Wherever You Go / Reflecting Light The Avalanches
[Alternative / Electronic]

I feel like I cheated on this one as it’s more just two singles than an EP, but let me get excited for new Avalanches. The Aussie music group dropped Since I Left You back in 2000, which is widely considered one of the greatest electronic music albums of all time and cemented their position as trend setters. These two singles are overflowing with features from talented artists, like Jamie xx. Reflecting Light is definitely the standout track for me and gets me hoping we’ll see a full length album soon from the group in the near future.

3.) The OutRunners Curren$y & Harry Fraud
[Hip-Hop]

If you looked through my top songs of the week, you may have seen 90′ IROC-Z crack the list. After listening through the rest of the album, I knew I would be crazy to not throw it on the Top Albums list as well. This vibe is unrivaled. Old school hip-hop sounds courtesy of Harry Fraud’s production throughout, mixed with incredible smooth flow from Curren$y’s vocals. If hip-hop continues this trend, we may see a nostalgic revival.

4.) FINISH LINE EP SpeedStr
[Speed-House]

FINISH LINE EP by SpeedStr on SoundCloud - Hear the world's sounds

Who is SpeedStr?!? Popping up out of absolutely nowhere and feeding everyone the “Speed House” they never knew they needed, people in the electronic music scene are buzzing over this masked racer.

5.) Sad in Scandinavia (Part 1) Seeb
[Electronic Dance]

June Weekend Flicks Part 2: 12 Years as a Slave, Deadpool, Air Force One, Annihilation, etc.

Back to it… let’s finish the list (for now)!

12 Years as a Slave (2016) – Drama, Timepiece – Score: (9/10): This is a film I went into viewing quite ignorantly, to be honest, as in I had no idea what to expect. I was shocked I hadn’t gotten around to seeing it after its high praise at the Oscars several years back. I was truly and deeply affected by what I witnessed in ways I really didn’t ever anticipate. The experience I had watching this film was one of the most uncomfortable, painful, physically gut-wrenching, sad and heartless, all while exploring stories of the horrors of slavery during the first half of the 1800’s. The sheer depiction of brutality, the incredibly ambitious focus on the slave trade and all its depravity in every conceivable way was bold to say the least. But it conveyed the message it was looking to convey in the absolutely best way possible. Every 15 minutes or less, I found myself cringing and physically sick to my stomach watching anything from brutal treatment of the slaves by the slave owners, whippings, poor living conditions, tense moments… it really had it all. And what really put the icing on the cake for this one is that it accomplished it’s intended affect in the most profound way possible. I left this movie feeling no resolution, no sense of satisfaction, no redemption, no feelings of joy or happiness – just a shallow shell of sadness and grief that this poor man had been through so much for reasons he never deserved in the first place.

And the worst part is – none of the men and women who treated he and his fellow slaves throughout the film EVER received any sort of punishment or redemption. It made me physically angry and I was shouting in my head demanding justice for these humans who had been treated worse than animals for hundreds of years without an afterthought at the hands of the slave owners. It was the most accurate depiction of slavery I have certainly ever seen, and I’d imagine one of the best ever made. This movie is not easy to watch, believe me. It hurts, and it leaves you feeling incredibly drained. But you have to power through – because it provides an enlightenment into an era swept under the rug of american history as if it never really happened. The fact that so many Americans had the pure evil and broken moral compass to perform this horrid shit makes me question so much about humanity and what, deep down, the kind of evils so many of us hide within us. Cultural beliefs and years of appropriation are dangerous tools, and I can only hope that in our new day and age, we can continue to recognize (and I genuinely think we are doing a food job doing it right now) that every life has value, regardless of their background, skills, intelligence, race, etc. We are all humans, all deserving of the same manner of respect and opportunity as our fellow man, so long as we are not infringing negatively on the lives of others. All in all, this movie should be shown to anyone questioning slavery or what it really meant in the early days of our ignorant country. Times change, people change, and cultures change – but these things take time, far too much time to the point where the affects of slavery are still being felt in society today. This film showed me he horrors men can do when pushed into a society that enables their behavior, even when it lacks any complacence of a moral compass. And that, genuinely, scares me. What a powerful, fantastic film – although one I font think I will ever be able to watch again.

Deadpool – 2016 – Action/Comedy – Score: (4/10). Sorry Ryan, I think you’re a great guy and all, but what was the hype about? This is a C+ action flick at best. I mean yeah, the action scenes were well done and clever, exciting and climactic (although you knew Ryan was always gonna pull through, obviously because the due is literally superman healing strength which made it much less appealing to me). I think me and Simon (my viewing buddy) realized about 1/3 of the way through that the constant, constant commentary from Reynolds character became so annoying that we almost had to stop watching completely. It was so damn in love with himself that I wanted him to actually get the shit kicked out of him half of the time. The humor was directed at the 10-18 year old demographic (which is fine), but like it also had these incredibly violent scenes and some sexual innuendos everywhere. I didn’t really see any clear direction on where this was going, who it was for, or why it was even made. Acting was sub par to say the least. Save your money (and time) and explore something else.

Air Force One (1997) – Action/Thriller – Score: (6.5/10) – I’ve been on a Harrison Ford kick lately, and honestly I’m loving it. This was your classic Ford scenario, a well loved and respected intelligent character, thrust into an incredibly dangerous and outrageously serious situation where the offs are no incredibly stacked against him. In this case, being the sole free man on a hijacked plane full of hostages. Instead of escaping (which he totally could have done 1/3 of the way through the film), he chose to pull his routine bad-ass trend and stay with the ship to save his family and crew. I had a lot of fun with this one, and loved the tension, the buildup before every encounter, and the epic conclusion that leaves you more satisfied than ever. Oh, and this film is PACKED full of big name actors, like it’s actually outrageous and made the whole like like 10x more entertaining. Gary Oldman as the terrorist leader was such an great surprise (HUGE fan). It has its share of cornball moments (as to be expected), but let;s be real – you can have a great time with this movie with not too much serious investment. A Terrific popcorn film and fun the whole way through. Maybe I’m just a sucker for a good hostage situation though (I’m thinking Die Hard or something to that affect).

Lawrence of Arabia (1962) – Epic/Action/Adventure – Score: (10/10): This film deserves all the praise it gets, truly. It is an incredible, amazing, groundbreaking film simply from a cinematography perspective that helped influence countless directors on their paths towards greatness for many years to come. There is really nothing in this movie that is poorly done – nearly every scene, every piece of dialogue, every cut, take, angle and shot was so deliberately constructed that you can tell David Lean’s director was instrumental in crafting this masterpiece. Oh and he also directed The Bridge on the River Kwai, Doctor Zhivago and A Passage to India – just to name a few. The man has a taste for epics, and this is his magnum opus in every sense of the world. The setting itself is gorgeous and draws you in from the moment Lawrence arrives in the hostile desert environment. The sights the sounds, the colors, the culture – it is all captured so artistically and beautifully in settings both small (a bar or restaurant) or across the sweeping dunes of Arabia. My only gripe about this film is that it is quite long (like we’re talking its broken into two-parts, long). But hey, it is a true Epic in every sense of the word, and it deserves its time on screen – very little is wasted. The standout acting performance from  Peter O’Toole as the enigmatic British hero of the first World War is beyond amazing and will have you hooked early as you follow his amazing journey into the battlefields of Northern Africa and beyond, driven by his own moral compass and a strong intuition and incredibly tactical mind that one would never expect from a man in his position. I really can’t say enough about the cinematography and filming here, though. The shots of the Moroccan desert brought me back to travels many years back and gave me this nostalgic feeling I really enjoyed. The scenes of Toole traversing the desert, the shots of him leading his men into battle, and the ginormous scope of the film is just extraordinary for its time and place in the history of film. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest films ever made. and the best part, it was filmed in 1962!!! Incredible. It touches on so many intense, real, visceral themes of life, including authority, respect, passion, morality, courage and inner strength and bundles it into one astounding package. A movie for every film buff, indeed.

The House of the Devil Score: (7/10): this film was a refreshing take on the horror/slasher genre (I tend to stay away from Slasher-types in general), and I was very pleasantly surprised by the uniqueness of this film. A mysterious caller requests a babysitting job at an odd hour which brings a young teenage girl to the home of she accepts a babysitting job even after she finds out there is no baby. Mr. and Mrs. Ulman are the older couple who lure Sam out to their creeky Victorian mansion deep in the woods, just in time for a total lunar eclipse. Victor at first seems like just a creepy guy lurking around the house, but quickly makes it clear that Sam will end this night in a bloody fight for her life. There are plenty of throwbacks to the tense movies of Halloween, and Friday the 13th, but I really enjoyed how they went their own way with this one. The atmosphere this film builds is terrific, and in my opinion is one of the most essential elements to any successful or actually impactful horror or thriller film. Lots of vert TENSE moments spent wandering the house, looking for clues and trying to figure out what the hell was going on – which really helped me as a viewer step into her shoes in a way many movies fail to do so. Worth a watch!

James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) – Action/Spy – (Score: 8/10) Not much to say here, just a perfect action film. I’ve seen every bond film at least once and regularly come back for a showing when I’m needing a little popcorn time. I’m a massive bond fan (as I’ve said before and a sucker for Pierce Brosnan flicks for some reason. This particular one takes you down a complex rabbit hole, following the exploits of a media mogul mastermind (strangely reminiscent of the word of today – hint-hint) who is scheming to start a war to capture all of the media coverage across the world, utilizing his international conglomerate of media leaders to drive terror in the headlines and create fear. “Words are the new weapons” according to our villian, and in many ways, this holds truer now more than ever. Certainly one of my favorite bond villains because he is so distinctly different from many (and played by the wnderful Johnathan Price) ho usually are just trying to cause mass destruction or chaos. While this is not entirely NOT his goal, they way he approaches it through the lens of the media s a powerful and interesting take on how the world responds to information , particularly the biggest news headkubes, and how they shape our world in eery conceivable way. Aside from that, youve got some amazing action as always, a fun bond girl who can actually hold her own in Michelle Yeoh, and Brosnan leading the charge from submarine to scuba to bike to car to anywhere in between. Great gunfights, stunts – everything is really on point here. I think it’s my favorite Brosnan behind Goldeneye and the World is not Enough. Maybe I am biased as a bond fanatic, but man, these movies always get me, despite the underlying cliches and corniness that are inevitable.

Annihilation (2018) – Sci/Fi / Horror. (Score: 8/10)

I had this movie recommended to me by a friend who commended it as being both a thriller and “psychedelic”. I can confirm it was both of those two, and a whole lot more. This is a movie that I think you should go into blindly, like we did – no preconceived notions. All you need to know is Natalie Portman stars, and that’s good enough for me. The pacing on this film is fantastic, while watching, we felt like the 2 hour run time went by in 20 minutes, we were gripped and genuinely intrigued by what was going to happen to the crew of misfits investigating this strange, unexplainable new world. It takes you into the hearts and minds of these characters, without much semblance of backstory (which worked very well for some reason), in the sense that you are sort of thrown into this situation without too much context or general information on where, what, why, or how the “thing” as I will refer to it, is happening. That is vague as hell, I know. but in a nutshell I would describe it as much more of a sci-fi / psychedelic thriller with a lovely ending that can be left up to the viewers interpretation. I’d highly recommend this one.

That.s enough for now – plenty more coming in the next few weeks! stay tuned my friends and thanks for reading 🙂 love y’all

NMF: WEEK OF JULY 11th – 17th, 2020

CLICK HERE TO JUMP TO: TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK

TOP 10 SONGS OF THE WEEK

1.) DesireBob Moses & ZHU
[Deep House / Electronic]

The first single of Bob Moses’ upcoming album. The collab with ZHU is breathtaking and even comes with an interactive music video which can be found here.

2.) Friends Rome in Silver, Chae
[Electronic]

Get familiar with this dude cause I’ll be posting him a lot. Incredible production from the Huntington Beach native with amazing vocals provided by Chae.

3.) Note To Self (feat, Empress Of) Jim-E Stack
[Electronic]

Jim-E Stack is a producer legend and delivers on this hopeful yet nostalgic piece. Check out his entire discography and prepare to be impressed.

4.) twenty20 Maxime
[Alt-Pop]

Maxime is an artist I’ve been closely following since I discovered him. Every release has been more impressive than the last. The Canadian is scheduled to release a new album in late-2020 we’re excited to hear

5.) When You’re Dreaming Kaskade & Finnstagram
[Lo-Fi]

Kaskade, who sits atop dance music Mt. Rushmore, dropped an unexpected but incredible Lo-Fi track with Finnstagram.

6.) Answers Au5
[Electro]

Au5 bringing the heat and funk all in one track. Incredibly diverse yet still organized and satisfying, this song will surely be on repeat for some time to come.

7.) Run Lane 8 & Kasablanca
[Melodic House]

One of my favorite house producers, it’s almost a guarantee that any Lane 8 song is going to be incredible. And as usual, the Colorado native delivers teaming up with Kasablanca for a house hit.

8.) Get Your Wish (Anamanaguchi Remix) Porter Robinson
[Indietronica / Alternative]

While fans were a bit disappointed it wasn’t a new Porter Robinson single dropped on Wednesday for Porter’s birthday, the Anamanaguchi remix of “Get Your Wish” is a fantastic consolation prize. The group from New York are experts in creating electronic rock (not even sure that’s a true genre) and always show the edges music can be taken to. Check out their incredible Secret Sky Set on YouTube!

9.) Rain On Me (Purple Disco Machine Remix)Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande
[Nu-Disco]

Purple Disco Machine has been murdering the remix scene lately, giving funky disco house makeovers to songs you never knew you needed. Lady Gaga’s most recent album did a fantastic job bridging the gap between commercial pop and dance music, but PDM gives dance music fans that little extra push to perfection.

10.) Tear It UpEliminate & Shaquille O’Neal
[Dubstep]

Yes you read that correctly. Shaquille O’Neal has ditched the basketball and picked up CDJs under the name DJ Diesel over the last couple years. He’s even DJ’d legendary festival Tommorrowland spinning to the excited, yet understandably confused European crowd. But all credit here should be going to Eliminate who, in my opinion, is near the top of the Bass Music producers list. The LA based bass producer has the ability to create diverse projects while still retaining that signature “Eliminate” sound. Great move adding Shaq into his song to get some exposure and this music video is A+.

TOP 5 ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK

1.) Ugly Is BeautifulOliver Tree
[Alternative Rock / Pop Rock]

After a few album delays, fans weren’t sure if we’d ever see the release of Oliver’s first album. But patience has paid off and Oliver has exceeded all expectations. Oliver Tree’s style is incredibly unique, blending multiple genres into a cohesive masterpiece. Don’t think that his goofy persona means he makes goofy music. This album is a showcase of impressive musical talent with top notch production that will hook you from start to finish. I’ve already listened to it multiple times through.

2.) Brightest Blue – Ellie Goulding
[Pop]

Ellie will always have a special place in my heart as a dance music fan for the many times she’s lent her voice to some of EDM’s biggest names. But Goulding is probably bigger than each of those artists now. Even my mom knew who she was when she performed at half-time for the Cowboys Thanksgiving Day game. And today, she’s proved yet again why she’s one of music’s biggest stars. Goulding is uncompromisable. She has a vision and makes what she wants, which is rare today in the industry from such a big act. Brightest Blue proves yet again why she’s on top.

3.) Infinite Structure EP – Shadient
[Experimental Bass]

Shadient skyrocketed to the top of the bass scene within the last few years after deservingly garnering the attention of top producers like Porter Robinson, NGHTMRE, and more. Experimental bass is a pretty broad term, but just by listening to this three song EP, you’ll completely understand what that genre means. Crazy sounds perfectly placed to create a soundscape you’ve never heard and probably will never hear again. This is just the tip of the iceberg for the 21 year old London native, so be on the lookout. Check out his recent Reddit AMA to learn more about the producer extraordinaire.

4.) The Light Pack EP Joey Bada$$
[Hip-Hop]

This EP feels like a breath of fresh air for the hip-hop scene. Joey even states it’s “the mumble rap extermination”, which I’m completely on board with. My only critic is that it’s only three songs and leaves me wanting more. The instrumentals give me a 90s hip-hop vibe and with Joey’s incredible voice, flow, and lyrics, it’s a recipe for one hell of an EP.

5.) Delta / Bartok EP – Nora En Pure
[Melodic House]

If you haven’t heard of Nora En Pure, prepare for an introspective experience with this highly anticipated two song EP. Don’t let her beauty fool you. The South African native is a trend setter in the dance music scene and knows how to get you shuffling while simultaneously crying your eyes out.

June Weekend Flicks Part 1: The Fugitive, Cloud Atlas, My Cousin Vinny, and more.

It’s been another weird month of quarantine, indeed. But at least the weather here in New England has been for the most part, excellent. No complaints on my end. In fact, I actually got plenty of time to sit down in June and enjoy some films on my watchlist I have been putting off for sometime. Fair warning, these are ALL over the board in terms of age, genre, etc. As in – I wasn’t really focused on exploring any particular style or category this month. Fitting with the craziness of our times, let’s say.

Here are a few films I saw in June:

The Fugitive (1993) – Action/Thriller. Score: (9/10). Quick plot summary, the story follows a middle-aged, successful surgeon (Harrison Ford) whose wife is killed by a one-armed man, but the surgeon is sent to death row by a miscairage of justice. But his bus crashes on the way to prison, then a train crashes into the bus crash, then Dr. Richard Kimble escapes to go on the run with five U.S. marshals on his heels. It sounds a little absurd, I’ll admit – but this film is WAY better than the plot would make it seem. Complimenting Ford is the ever-awesome Tommy-Lee Jones, who plays the veteran US Marshal charged with leading the task force to track down Kimble. The two are both protagonists in their own right, with plenty of hilarious diologue from Jones and those classic, suspenseful stone-faced stares from Ford throughout. WHat this film does best though is build a real sense of suspense. And it is not just some moments – the whole damn movie is a thrill ride of non-stop suspense and awesomeness. The – I had a hard time walking away to grab a beer halfway through for fear of missing something relevant – kind of suspenseful. The stunts seem real, the set pieces are (actually for the most part) real and believable, and the raw tenacity of Ford, pitted against the most formidable arm of the US Judicial system, makes for some great entertainment. Ford is clever, likeable, and just trying to survive – all the while tracking and tracing the man who DID kill is wife. Its part thriller, suspense, part action and mystery. Thats a 4/4 for me. A classic you will not want to miss with some of the best of Tommy Lee and Harrison.

Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade (1989) Action/Adventure. Score: (8.5/10): Somehow this movie had escaped me for years despite how much I enjoyed the first two. I’m a huge Sean Connery fan so this was long overdue. Another classic Indy tale, filled with the same fun, comedic tone mixed with actual danger and relentless action you would expect from Lucas, wrapped up with amazing set pieces, solid acting and beautiful cinematography. I was very satisfied and would say this is my #2 favorite behind Raiders of the Lost Ark (because, come on now – that movie is just too good). I loved the early cutaway to early Indy at the beginning, and was a huge fan of the father-son banter between Ford and Connery throughout. I loved how this film started with some mystery elements (Indy’s father has gone missing in his pursuit of the “Holy Grail”) – because it gave the film a little more life than say the previous Temple of Doom. It felt like there was much more on the line here, and the obvious end game which could result in one hell of a score. At the end of the day, the Indiana Jones Trilogy is something every moviegoer should see in their lifetime.

My Cousin Vinny (1992) – Comedy/Courtroom Drama. Score: (8/10). This is a classic. All I can say is I walked into and away from this one incredibly happy and satisfied. I love me some Joe Peschi, and it was genuinely refreshing to see him in a role where he wasn’t murdering people or beating the shit out of someone, or yelling “fuck”, every third word. Instead of killing people, he kills it in this performance as a beleagured, small time lawyer who is the last hope for his nephew and his friend who are wrapped up on a serious murder charge for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The movie had me laughing, feeling hopeful, getting just a little nervous, and even a bit melancholy at times. Not bad for a courtroom comedy film (you don’t see too many of those, honestly). The jokes are suburb, timed beautifully, and are genuinely fun, if not slightly corny at times (as to be expected). Everyone from the Judge to the boys were well casted, and Marisa Tomei was honestly fantastic. She brought this fire and energy to the film I didn’t expect but enjoyed thoroughly. All in all – this one is fun for the whole family, and a great pick-me-up, feel good one to throw on some weeknight after a shit day at work. Loved it.

Prometheus (2012) – Sci-fi/horror. Score: (5/10): I really had higher hopes for this one. When I look at a film like this, directed by Ridley Scott (Alien franchise films), blending sci-fi and horror into one wonderful package that hints at uncovering the “reasons for humanity” – you know I’m sitting down and at least giving it a shot. Well, I made it through, and it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped. It was intense, driven and definitely action packed, but I didn’t really understand ever what was actually going on or what the ultimate goal of the mission was. Everyone just seemed like they were running around getting eaten by the alien spores we have come to know and love from Scott’s previous films (in this case, I was annoyed they just used the same aliens from the other movies, like come on – let’s try something new here). I never really understood what each character’s REAL motive was for being on the mission, or why they were sent there in the first place. The film had some fun moments, scares and that classic Alien-type suspense, but I was never into it enough to enjoy it. The plot was muddled and didn’t seem to have an end goal. By the last scene, I was left more scratching my head than feeling satisfied. I would avoid, honestly.

Cloud Atlas (2012) – Action/Adventure/Epic. Score: (8.5/10): this movie was in every sense of the word, a “trip”. It has taken me a few days to digest and I have to say I was pretty amazed by the scope of this film. It is certainly an epic, sitting at nearly 3h long and switching between characters, scenes, timelines and thoughts every 10 minutes or less. It was at first glance quite confusing, but upon further reflection, I’m finding I appreciate this film even more. A trip across time, across generations, across lives and love, space and time, good and evil, morality, religion, society and persecution – all wrapped into one incredibly bold and provocative film. This is the kind of film that sticks with you for awhile after you see it. While I was not a fan of every single sub-plot that developed or occasional (sometimes what felt like underlying) corniness, I was blown away with the immense amount of thought and detail that went into producing this movie. 6 timelines across human history sharing distinctly different but eerily similar stories involving the themes listed above, and how we as humans deal with conflict and change. The blending of these timelines, which is most effectively done by using the same actors throughout the film in each separate motif/sub-plot, which really brings forth the idea: “Are we just reincarnations of our past selves?” and “Do the same things happen over and over again throughout history, just with different characters in new settings?” – but most importantly, it makes you ask (and eventually realize): “How does the life of one individual impact another.” This isn’t a movie you can take lightly, and it should by no means be taken as a relaxing Sunday viewing. This thing was a lot, and it gave me plenty to process. I look forward to watching it again at some point to pick up on everything I may have missed, and I think it might get better with age. Oh, and the cast is absolutely stacked and fantastic, which made this much more entertaining along the way. I loved almost every character – and the casting was perfect for each character, whether major or minor, bold or quiet, big or small. This was one of the more ambitious films I have seen recently. I recommend this to anyone who is willing to explore the ideas, feelings, upbringings, morals and societal norms that help form us as humans, and the connections we make with others that transcend time and space. It’s a lot to take in, but in my opinion – well worth the ride, even if it does feel slightly forced and cheesy at times.

This is part 1 – look for part 2 (and possibly 3) coming soon!

NMF: Week of July 4th – 10th, 2020

Hope y’all had a fantastic 4th of July and got some well-deserved chill time. Check the “Top Songs” and “Top Albums / EPs” of the week list below. Got a doozy of a lineup for you here to make your upcoming social distancing plans go off with a bang:

TOP SONGS OF THE WEEK

1.) Blue (Flume Remix) – Eiffel 65 – [Future Bass]

Spotify Apple Music

The Aussie producer legend gives the Flume Future Bass treatment on this electronic music classic.

3.) Die a Little Bit (feat. Ms Banks) (Remix) – Tinashe & ZHU – [Dance]

Spotify Apple Music

ZHU knows how to turn those pop bangers into club smashers.

5.) Ghost of Kodoku (Tycho Remix) – Tycho – [Electronica]

Spotify Apple Music

Tycho drops a remix for an upcoming video game soundtrack. If every song in it’s like this, I’ll probably have to buy the game.

7.) Night Goggles – Mindchatter – [Indie-Electronic]

Spotify Apple Music

Stumbling upon Mindchatter for the first time last month turned out to be a blessing. This dude is the real deal.

9.) Another Riff For The Good Times – Yotto – [Melodic House]

Spotify Apple Music

Yotto and melodic house is as perfect as peanut butter and jelly. A living “four-to-the-floor” legend.

2.) No Fear No More (Remix) – Madeon, EARTHGANG – [Dance-Pop]

Spotify Apple Music

Madeon collabs with EARTHGANG to give a pop rendition of his album hit.

4.) Final Days (Bonobo Remix) – Michael Kiwanuka – [Melodic House]

Spotify Apple Music

The legend blesses us with an incredible remix that’s sure to carry you off to some mystical realm.

6.) Touch (Hermitude Remix) – Big Wild – [Electronica]

Spotify Apple Music

Hermitude brings his trademark vibe to funk up this Big Wild track.

8.) Somewhere Else (feat. Danyka Nadeau) – MUZZ – [Drum & Bass]

Spotify Apple Music

Very cool and unique track. Hits you with the feels and then punches you with the energy

10.) Lost & Found – WanderLight – [Future Garage]

Spotify Apple Music

A beautiful garage track, WanderLight opens the door to overlooked musical genres.

TOP ALBUMS / EPs OF THE WEEK

1.) Lime Cordiale – 14 Steps To a Better You – [Pop Rock]

The Australian Pop Rock duo further progress the argument that the Aussie music scene is dominating the industry. Phenomenal album for all types of music lovers.

3.) Le Youth – Waves – [Dance / House]

Released on Lane 8’s label, Le Youth is proving to become a force in the melodic-house world.

5.) Megalodon – Hunter EP – [Dubstep]

Prepare your neck for breakage and grab a skillet to pour your scrambled-eggs brain into once you’re finished with this EP. Megalodon isn’t here to chill with you.

2.) Twin Peaks – Side A – [Indie-Rock]

Quickly rising to the top of my favorite indie-rock band, Twin Peaks delivers what seems to be the first installment of an EP project that’ll have you excited for more.

4.) Zes – Somewhere in the Middle – [Indietronica]

Zes delivers an incredibly unique and beautiful EP. His rise in the industry is inevitable and you’ll soon be hearing his name everywhere.

Missing Live Music? Me too. Let’s talk about it.

I will be the first to say I’ve had it very, very good when it comes to the ability to see live shows in the past year and a half. Not only has the greater New England area been packed full of artists, big and small, but they are all in relatively accessible venues at (mostly) reasonable prices. Me and my trusty RAV4 (and a sizeable fleet of Ubers) have been here there and everywhere it feels like recently, sometimes packed with friends and sometimes with just one other person or no one at all – travelling back and forth to venues. I’ve got a two hour drive to Portland, few hours to NY, an hour to Providence, etc. It genuinely felt like I had hit my golden era of concert viewings – at least one every two weeks. Life was good and things were rolling. I was ready to get the creative juices flowing. Time to start my music blog and start reporting on all these shows I’m going to!

That was pre-March 2020.

On top of that, like many of you, I have already had to miss several shows that were scheduled throughout March, April, May and June (so far), with the large majority of any summer shows already completely off the books. I’m talking the likes of Real Estate, Kaytranada, Getter, Santana, Phish – just to name a few. If you know my music tastes, those are literally some of my absolute favorites so I was pretty devastated. Some rescheduled for the same time next year (which is actually pretty cool), but many also being cancelled altogether. Many of my fellow concertgoers have experienced similar struggles, but these struggles extend beyond the stage and into every aspect of life. A major bummer, indeed. Far from the end of the world, considering the horrible things happening around our country and otherwise – but hey, this is a music blog and I have the creative license to be a little dramatic.

I have surrounded myself over the years with an amazing group of friends, the majority of which generally love music, have strong music opinions, play and write their own music, attend shows, regularly make Spotify playlists, scour the web for new music, etc. etc. These are the people that keep me going to shows and keep my love for music alive. Undeniably, one of the best parts of the concert experience for me is getting to share the love of music with the people you love. That experience of your favorite jam coming into formation on stage, and that little side glance you toss to your homie with a slight, knowing, head-nod. Like “oh yeah, here we go baby”. The constant side bets and guessing games of what the DJ is transitioning into next. The anticipation between set breaks. The rush to the bathroom and the beer line before the last song before set 1 ends (if it’s not one of your favorites). The feeling of seeing a show with a parent, experiencing the music you love together and just jamming out. The shared experience of absolutely cutting loose in or at the back of a crowd and dancing your ass off to the music you love with your boys. That knowing look you share with your buds when something particularly insanely good is happening in front of you, and you know you are seeing something special. The feeling of being with your girl, and hearing “your song” come on – cheesy as hell, I know – but man is that a real-deal experience. The connections you make with friends, old and new, at shows is something you can only really understand by being there, deep in the thick of the music.

And that’s just one aspect of what makes it so great. Actually being there, being surrounded by tons of strangers in a strange place, surrounded by crazy conversations, dancing, sweaty humans who spill beer on you accidentally and are usually too trashed to know what is going on, the jaded vets who have been following the band for years (or the whole tour), the rubes who look always out of place drinking their Claws, the Karens who have been dragged along by their husbands and wives, the kids who are starry-eyed – looking up at one of the first real live music experiences of their lives, the buddies who reunited for the first time in months -catching their favorite band on the yearly pass through the city, the young group of teens who have been looking forward to this show for months and months, just to name a few. The smells, the sights and the sounds… there’s nothing quite like it on this earth. The people you meet, the faces you see, young and old, never cease to make me smile. And the music, the no-holds-back attitude of a live performance – it brings me such satisfaction I can’t even describe. You want culture, you want a memory, you want something that makes you feel, think, or rattle your senses in some way – see some live music.

I live for that. I live for all of it. And I know a lot of you do too. It’s not always glamorous, but it sure as hell is fun. It’s one of the most honest, raw, visceral experiences you can have – watching some guys and gals throw together some home-made tunes together, putting everything out there for the world to see on stage, holding nothing back, on a (usually) cramped stage in a tightly-packed venue, with nothing but a slight view and some space to hold your beer. Not every show is amazing, you learn that after awhile, but I will say the very large majority of the shows I see, I remember and enjoy in some capacity. And I usually enjoy them very much.

So, the question remains: what do we do in this situation? We have a craving for live music, but no way to get any fresh content, despite the occasional webcast. Will this disease, or any future diseases (because who really knows what the hell is coming next), result in the postponement of future concerts well into winter of this year? Into next year? The concert experience going to be tainted for awhile because of the calls for social distancing (which are totally justified, btw – at least for the time being and what looks like the near future), and this I think is the only thing we can all agree on. But, where do we go from here.

And, where do venues go from here – the ones who have to host the shows, pay rent, uphold functioning venues with investors, owners, staff and a need for patrons to keep everything running smoothly. Sure, the longstanding, large venues owned by big investment partners will survive, but what about our local guys – the ones who can hold only a few hundred humans and who don’t get the big name acts? I feel for these people more than ever. I encourage each and every one of you to consider a donation to your favorite local venues during this time, who are being hit as hard, if not harder than any small business given their entire model runs on live events hosting packed groups of people in one setting. I’ve already seen a handful shut down for good, which is terribly saddening, and it feels really, really unfair. Why do bad things happen to good people? I’ll never understand.

I, for one, have taken this as a great opportunity to start scouring the web for new music – specifically YouTubing old concerts, scouring my favorite Reddit and Instagram feeds for old live music clips (I have to say, my music-focused communities have been especially awesome in bringing together live music finds during this time) and taking any chance I can get to catch a band planning a live stream here and there. It’s honestly a great chance to clean up some old playlists, research some new artists, find new interests, explore different genres, and really branch out your tastes. All we have is free time right now, and we might as well use it to our advantage. I’ll be doing my best to share any and all live, pre-recorded content and music updates as they come my way with y’all as much as possible. So stay tuned!

I miss you, live music. And I hope to see you again, real soon.

BEST OF JUNE: TOP 5 TRACKS OF THE MONTH

5.) Speed Run – CloudNone

Spotify / Apple Music

CloudNone dropped his Lights Out EP this month and a project I stepped into with little expectations ended up blowing me away. The second I heard the chopped up piano sample at the beginning of the song, I knew “Speed Run” was going to be a special track. This groovy dance track has some heavy Japanese influences that feels like some collab Porter Robinson and Tchami did in some alternate universe. Loving this track and the whole EP. CloudNone will now be on my radar in the future.

4.) What’s The Matter – Twin Peaks, Ohmme, V.V. Lightbody

Spotify / Apple Music

Another Chicago band I have my Chi-Town friend to thank for the introduction, Twin Peaks has been absolutely killing it under the radar. What’s The Matter just oozes summer vibes and good times. A killer backing guitar melody drives the song through the incredibly chorus. And once the flute is introduced, it’s basically musical game over. This group is incredibly talented and even grew up as classmates with hip-hop icon Chance the Rapper. Be on the lookout as this band is prepped to make waves throughout the music world.

3.) Stratego (Mindchatter Remix) – Amtrac

Spotify / Apple Music

Amtrac has quickly been becoming one of my favorite artists with his killer indietronica vibes. When I saw a remix for one of his songs off his Oddyssey album, I was intrigued as to how someone could expand off his already near perfect sound. Mindchatter completely nailed it. Having not been familiar with his work previously, Mindchatter’s discography has been impressing me this month. This remix seems to have maintained that indie vibe while adding a subtle yet exciting grooves to the verses that elicit a dreamy, nostalgic atmosphere. This track has been on repeat since I first heard it and certainly will find its way into multiple playlists.

2.) Topanga State of Mind – George Clanton, Nick Hexum

Spotify / Apple Music

George Clanton has been one of my favorite artists since I found his incredible album Slide (2018). Since the album’s release, George Clanton has been teaming up with Nick Hexum to provide a multitude of impressive songs and EPs. Topanga State of Mind maintains that signature vaporwave Clanton sound, but ditching the darker tones for a more summer and sunshine experience. Partnering with vocalist and lead front man of the band 311 Nick Hexum may seems like a weird combination on paper, but your ears will conclude that it’s a match made in heaven. While I’m still hoping to see some solo George Clanton work in the near future, I’m perfectly content with this duo occupying my summer with their phenomenal jams.

1.) Last – Tourist, The Range

Spotify / Apple Music

The king has returned with an absolutely beautiful track that tops this month’s best songs chart by miles. The British Grammy award-winning producer teamed up with American-born producer The Range to deliver what may be a song of the year candidate. Last, according to Tourist, started as a collab project with The Range a few years ago. The track remained unnamed for a while because of a dispute between the two over whether the vocal sample was saying ‘last’ or ‘lost’. Tourist enjoyed the double interpretation the lyrics carry, but sat on releasing the song until the unfortunate and untimely passing of a close friend recently, to whom this song is dedicated to. Tourist, born William Phelps, said:

“‘Last’ to me, is a reflection on grief. I started this track with James a few years ago, and while writing it we noticed that we were hearing the lyrics differently, I was hearing ‘you know you’re lost’ whereas James was hearing ‘you know you last’. The duality of that truth resonated with me, as both meanings are applicable when someone leaves us. It’s taken on a more personal chord recently, as one of my dearest friends passed away suddenly“.

Tourist’s ability to cast emotion and beauty to his listeners through his music is one of his biggest strengths as a musician. From the very start of the track, you know you’re in for an incredible treat. His songwriting abilities are some of the best in music today as Last proves with its sentimental and passionate buildup that leads to a release of emotional drum sequence in the verse. If this song doesn’t leave you with some wet eyes and a heavy heart, I have to question whether or not you are human.

Check out the rest of the Best of June 2020 Playlist below: