With the recent releases of the biopic Control, which focuses on the life of frontman Ian Curtis, and the documentary, Joy Division, interest in the legendary Manchester post-punk band has been as great as ever since Curtis’ tragic suicide in 1980. If for some reason you do not own the group’s two groundbreaking studio albums, Unknown Pleasures (1979) and Closer (1980) (both have just been given the Rhino Records deluxe reissue treatment), this compilation serves as an excellent introduction. While initially inspired by the manic punk energy of The Sex Pistols and The Buzzcocks, Joy Division explored much bleaker terrain. The combination of Curtis’ tortured lyrics and the band’s moody soundscapes, often dominated by Peter Hook’s haunting bass rumblings, led some to call Joy Division the godfathers of goth rock. It’s hard to pick out highlights from a band that was never short of amazing, but some personal favorites here include the dark disco vibes of “Transmission” and “She’s Lost Control,” the orchestral epic “Atmosphere,” the pummeling “Shadowplay,” and, of course, the band’s most famous track “Love Will Tear Us Apart” (see video above). As a side note, it’s nice to see that my all-time favorite track, “New Dawn Fades,” made it here after being ignored on some previous best-of collections.
Lincoln, Nebraska’s For Against have been nothing short of great since their formation in 1985 and Shade Side Sunny Side, the group’s first release since 2002’s Coalesced, is the band’s best effort yet. With the return of original guitarist Harry Dingman III, who left the group after 1988’s incredible December, For Against have gone back to a darker, edgier sound that recalls the best of early Factory Records, namely Joy Division and Section 25 (an amazing cover of the latter’s “Friendly Fires” is included here), as well as the spooky atmospherics of Wire circa 154, The Chameleons, and The Comsat Angels. The interplay between Dingman’s guitar pyrotechnics and frontman Jeffrey Runnings’ low rumbling bass on tracks like the slow burning opener “Glamour,” and especially, the smoking hot “Aftertaste,” which strikes with a similar potency to Joy Division’s “Shadowplay,” put the likes of Interpol and The Killers to shame. This is what post punk is supposed to sound like! Lyrically, Runnings is totally on top of his game here with some of his most personal and heartbreaking compositions ever. Songs like “Spirit Lake,” the stark piano ballad “Game Over,” and “Why Are You Angry?” will cause even the toughest soul to tear up.
Ran the Brian Diemer 5K in Cutlerville, MI (Grand Rapids area) yesterday and I lowered my masters PR from 17:18 to 16:57.60! This was one of those days where everything clicked. Fast, flat USATF-certified course, tough competition (I was 27th Overall and 7th master -- 9 of us broke 17!) and perfect weather (heavy rains last night lowered the temperatures from upper 80s to about 70 at race time). Outside of the Crim 10 miler, this may be the most competitive road race in Michigan. As the gun went off, I almost felt out of my league. I felt like I was running hard, but people were just shooting out ahead of me and by me. Luckily, I trusted in my pace because it felt 'right' and I hit the mile in 5:33 feeling very relaxed. I knew then that I was on PR pace, so I just kept passing people who were dying ahead of me. I hit 2 miles in 11:03 and still felt good so I knew I would PR barring a major blow up, so I just went for broke. Up ahead I could see a fast masters guy I knew from Michigan who ran 16:49 at Carlsbad earlier this year and he looked like he was struggling a bit, so I told myself if you can catch up, you'll probably break 17. I caught him with about 600 to go and then he passed me again, but I dug deep and pulled away by a second or two in the last 200. This was the strongest kick I have had all year. Just one of those magical days that we all live for as runners!
Note: The official results that were posted yesterday had me listed as 16:57.60, but they've been posted online with everyone rounded up so now I'm at 16:58. No worries! I'm just glad I didn't run 16:59.6. It would have really sucked to run 17:00 on the nose.
Record high temperatures were there to great us at the 31st annual Columbus 10K yesterday. At race time it was already over 90 degrees and humid as all hell. That said, Team Run Zone ran great, sweeping 1-4 in the Masters category. Brian Stern led the way with a stellar 35:51 (1st Master, 19th OA), followed by Rob Moore in 36:11 (2nd Master, 21st OA), Ron Dorfeld in 36:58 (3rd Master, 23rd OA) and yours truly at 37:23 (4th Master, 25th OA). The course itself was challenging and I would love do do this race again in more ideal conditions. After a flat first three miles or so, you wind your way off the city streets onto a scenic bike path that is gradually uphill, flowing along the Scioto River. When you come out of the park you then hit an absolutely brutal half-mile climb that takes you back into the downtown area. After that, it's flat and you just try to hang on as best as you can. The combination of the heat and the hill made the last portion of the race feel like an eternity. Anyway, I was really happy with my time. Though I was 59 seconds off my PR, I think that I definitely would have run sub 36 if it was say 60 or 65F outside. That said, racing -- especially in Ohio where it seems like it is either too hot or too cold -- is akin to a surfer chasing that elusive 'perfect wave'. Every once in a while you get that perfect course in ideal weather with lots of competition and it's surfs up! That's what us runners live for.
Here's a photo (LR) of me, Ron and Brian pre-race: