Bubblegum Lemonade - Doubleplusgood

This review will appear in the forthcoming issue of The Big Takeover:

Scotland’s Bubblegum Lemonade is the brainchild of one man, Lawrence “Laz” McCluskey, and he seems pretty intent on kickstarting a C86 revival with this outfit, as well as his other band Strawberry Whiplash. I’m certainly not complaining! If you are a fan of early Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain, The Primitives and Shop Assistants, as well as classic ‘60s tunesmiths like The Byrds, Doubleplusgood will be right up your alley with its ringing Rickenbackers, fuzz in all the right places, and, most importantly infectious melodies. This is a summery pop record with a lot of substance. Also highly recommended is the "Susan's In The Sky" EP. While the title track is one of the standouts on the album, the three non-LP B-sides, including a poppy reinterpretation of Big Star’s “Holocaust,” are equally fantastic.

More info on Bubblegum Lemonade can be found on the MatineƩ Recordings website


Swervedriver - Raise / Mezcal Head reissues

I wrote this review for the forthcoming issue of Skyscraper Magazine:

Though Swervedriver hailed from Reading, England and were signed to Creation Records in the UK, then considered to be the Mecca of all things shoegaze, their early sound owes much more to influences on the American side of the pond. It’s great to finally see these long out-of-print records reissued on Hi-SpeedSoul. Their 1991 debut Raise blends the raw power of The Stooges, Hendrix, and Nuggets-era garage rock with a solid dose of Dinosaur, Jr. Lyrically, Raise conjures up images of driving fast on wide open desert roads. Virtually every song on the album mentions cars or the act of driving, highlights including the piledriving debut single “Son Of Mustang Ford” and the crashing anthem “Rave Down,” which garnered a decent amount of American radio airplay, when the band was big enough to land a spot opening up for Soundgarden on a U.S. tour. Adam Franklin’s silky smooth vocal delivery, somewhere between Hendrix and Arthur Lee of Love, perfectly matched his band’s neo-psychedelic road rock sound. The reissue tacks on four B-sides, including the stunning UK B-side “Kill The Superheroes,” which holds its own with anything on Raise. As great as Raise is, the 1993 follow up Mezcal Head is even better. Produced by Alan Moulder, the man behind the desk on other seminal albums of the era, such as My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless and The Boo Radley’s Giant Steps, Mezcal Head is somehow even louder, cleaner sounding, and more wide open than on Raise. To use a Stooges analogy, if Raise is The Stooges, Mezcal Head is definitely Fun House! Fortunately, this reissue includes the 11-minutes plus version of “Never Lose That Feeling,” a song which was on the original American version of Mezcal Head, but not available on the UK album, as it was a non-LP single there. That song perfectly captures the essence of Mezcal Head with it’s loud and hypnotic guitar sound, Franklin’s spot on melodies, and a insane almost jazz-like instrumental flurry at the end. Other high points include the punishing “Last Train To Satansville,” which combines a pulp fiction-like narrative with a punishing guitar attack, and the stunning single “Duel,” which smokes like a modern day update of The Who’s “I Can See For Miles” with a sea of fuzzed out guitars. The three bonus tracks, including the super poppy “Planes Over The Skyline,” are also great.

Note: The label just sent digital files for review, but I'm told that the reissues are quite attractive digipacks, so I may geek out and buy them at some point.


Box Car Milkshake

My cat loves boxes, so it was no surprise to see him jump into this one as I was packing up some pairs of old running shoes to donate to Soles 4 Souls, which by the way is a great charity.


Training Update

The St. Malachi 5 mile race was the perfect tonic for dusting off the winter rust. The weather has been pretty great since then and I feel like my training has taken a turn for the better. I managed 58 miles last week and will probably hit 60ish this week. A few days after the race I did some hill reps on the Detroit Ave. hill in the Metro Park and Saturday I did a workout recommended in Pete Magill's 5K training article where I did a fartlek consisting of two sets of 3:00-5:00-8:00 with 3:00 rest breaks. The 3's and 5's were done at 5K race "effort" while the 8's were at tempo pace. I think this is just what I needed with the Meteor 10K coming up in Dearborn in a few weeks. This week I'm going to do some 5K pace reps and on the weekend I'll probably do a shorter, speedier fartlek workout for a little turnover. In between the quality workouts I've been doing a lot of easy 8 milers to maintain the aerobic engine.


Good rustbuster - St. Malachi 5 Mile

I opened up my 2009 racing season with a solid effort at the St. Malachi 5 miler. I was the 2nd master and 11th overall in a field of 1500+. Conditions were not the best -- 30F and pretty windy -- but I ran a solid, even paced effort on a very hilly course. All of my miles were in between 5:45-5:52 so I seem to have a good sense of pacing, which I was afraid I might have lost as this was my first race in 4 months. They seemed to change up the course a little bit from last year and I felt like there were more uphills this time, but maybe I'm just getting senile. Anyway, while my time was 20 seconds slower than last year I felt like the 'effort' was better. I thought all the snow had melted in Cleveland, but there were still a few icy spots in some sections of the course in the Flats! Next up is the Meteor 10K in Michigan on April 4. Hopefully Spring will kick in and I can get some decent workouts in over the next few weeks. There was a race photographer present, so if any decent shots of me turn up, I'll update this entry.

early (first mile): passing people who went out too hard.

They call the neighborhood where the race took place, The Flats, but there was nothing flat about this race!

Bringing it home up that last big hill.

Finally there. I thought I was going to puke at the finish line but I just dry heaved!


Shoe Review: Saucony Grid Tangent 3

I'm a fan of lightweight running shoes as everyday trainers, but ever since Nike discontinued the Elite and, subsequently, the Elite 2, I've had a hard time finding shoes that I've liked enough to buy a second time. I really like the Mizuno Elixir 2, but didn't like the Elixir 3 and just tried on the Elixir 4 and didn't like those either. Why do shoe companies upgrade so much? Hopefully, my problems have been solved. I just got the Saucony Grid Tangent 3's last weekend and really love them. They're light (9.4 ounces) and while comfortable, they're not overly cushioned. I like to feel the road when I run and these shoes feel really good. I wore them on my most recent 12 mile long run and they held up great. Right now I'm alternating these with the Asics Speedstar, another lightweight trainer that I like a lot. The Speedstars are lighter (a bit more like a marathon racing flat) so I tend to wear those on my tempo runs and non-track interval workouts. When I'm feeling really ready to roll I bring out my racing flats. Anyway, enough shoe geek stuff. Really enjoying the Sauconys.


Younger Legs For Older Runners

Younger Legs For Older Runners is a new masters running website, hosted by Pete Magill, who happens to be a multiple American age group record holder at distances ranging from 3K-10K, as well as a four-time USATF cross country champion. His website is a goldmine for information on training, racing, and, perhaps most importantly for us old folks, injury prevention. While the website is only a few weeks old, Pete has already tracked down some of the best masters runners in the world for interviews, including Sean Wade, Paul Aufdemberge, Ceci Hopp St. Geme, Nolan Shaheed, and many more. The training insights are especially interesting as some of the elites featured run fairly low mileage while others really push the envelope. If there's a general theme about masters training, it seems to be that half the battle is staying healthy! The interviews with coaches like Tinman, who regularly posts on my teammate Ron Dorfeld's site The Run Zone, and Joe Rubio are equally excellent.


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