New Year, Old News

Consider this a return from “vacation.” It wasn’t a planned haitus, but it was necessary.

Prior to bailing for a few weeks, there were a couple of year-end posts brewing in the tank, such as a Best Minnesota Metal of 2014 list (which still might surface) and a personal Top Ten Tracks list (which definitely won’t; just listen to “Do It Again” ten times). But beyond total Listmania burnout, the prospect of premeditated posts filled me with dread. The current redjacket ethos is steeped in spontaneity. Too much planning and hand-wringing turns fun into work. That’s the death knell for a venture such as this, and we haven’t even started yet.

With that in mind, I immersed myself in the holiday season. I hadn’t had the chance to do that since my primary concerns were procuring a fake ID to see Nevermore at Station 4 and winning the Stanley Cup with the Edmonton Oilers in NHL 2002. It’s not that I had consciously divorced myself from enjoying the Thanksgiving-Christmas-NYE trifecta, but when you spend the better part of a decade in willful, unwitting subscription to wage slavery, you lose the connection. You forget that holidays can be more than an opportunity to sell widgets to people with better jobs.

The opportunity to enjoy the holidays on my own terms wasn’t just a relief, it knocked things into perspective. I’ll just come out and say it: People that are cynical about societal celebrations are just looking for ways to be insufferable pricks. Yeah, I know rocky familial situations can provide a certain amount of chaos and discomfort, but if you don’t like ’em, ditch ’em. It’s all about focus. Fuming about crass commercialization (if you’re devout) or ham-handed evangelism (if you’re not) is merely a byproduct of misguided attention.

Your environment is malleable. Don’t like crowds at the mall? Stop buying worthless bullshit for your family and friends. Don’t want religion forced down your throat? Avoid churches. (Trust an expert: It’s easier than you think.) Don’t want your 4th-favorite Gaslight Anthem song ruined by a freaking Nissan commercial? Turn off your damn television.

Or at least cut the cable, America. Read your news and stream your entertainment already. Get with the program.

Speaking of streaming…the last few weeks have found me in the bleakest throes of Sons of Anarchy bingeviewerism. I avoided it for years because, from afar, it seemed like a mid-budget, white trash, sub-Sopranos soap opera. And it is, but shockingly, that’s not a terrible thing. The producers deftly gloss over sledgehammer dialogue by employing a multitude of Deadwood alums; elsewhere, they give penance for a nu-bro, Sturgis-douche soundtrack with occasional Sun Kil Moon cameos.

Caveat: The third season’s “motorcycle club travels to Belfast to rescue a kidnapped baby from the IRA” arc is as atrocious as it sounds, but if you can make it through The Walking Dead‘s farm season (an admittedly tall order), you can make it through this flabby-ass diversion while you dust your bookshelves and knit a few sweaters or whatever.

Stay tuned to redjacket in 2015, where we’ll continue our condemnation of crabby, entitled assholes and offer flaccid commentary on five-year-old television shows!

Get Red With…

Danko Jones -“Rock Shit Hot”

It’s easy to forget, but ten, fifteen years ago, Danko Jones was the business. Dude’s early work is white-hot, minimalist garage rock, but hardstyle.

A tight counterpunch to the hollowboned, pre-hipster janglerangle of the time, Danko’s rockabilly-infused speedblues was dripping with comic machismo. His tales of using guitar swag to steal poseurs’ girlfriends–only for them to (predictably) rip his heart out–are hilarious, and his testosterone-jacked attempts to rebuild his ego in public are as charming as they are danceable.

Obviously, his shtick hasn’t aged well–he’s become a creepy old guy that still buys Entombed records–but his initial bursts of youthful exuberance (the 2001 compilation I’m Alive and On Fire and 2002’s Born A Lion) are prime slices of uncool coolness.