The Rifles - The Great Escape

London’s The Rifles are probably the best mod band since The Jam and the three-year wait since their terrific debut No Love Lost was well worth it. While nothing here is quite as spectacular as the last album’s twin standouts “Local Boy” and “When I’m Alone,” overall, The Great Escape is a stronger record. Songs like the motivational title track, the unbelievably catchy “Fall To Sorrow,” and the absolutely crushing “Science In Violence,” are up there with anything in the Paul Weller songbook. Weller, in fact, is a huge fan of The Rifles. Like Weller and other legendary mod tunesmiths such as Pete Townshend and Ray Davies, Rifles frontman Joel Stoker does an exceptional job of capturing the emotions of the British ‘everyman’ as on the brilliant “Toerag.” Stoker also pens some pretty great personal narratives too, a prime example being the nostalgic “Out In The Past.” Throughout The Great Escape, the band is on fire. The Rifles create potent guitar pop of the highest order, each song containing amazing melodies and choruses that are impossible to get out of your head. It’s amazing that these guys still don’t have a US record deal. Hopefully that will change soon.


Running Update

Haven't done one of these updates in a while, but the training has been going pretty well and I did my first race in nearly two months on Saturday, June 13, running a 17:12 (5:32 pace) at the Brian Diemer 5K in Grand Rapids, MI. Last year I ran 16:58 in that race, so initially I was a little disappointed but then I realized that this was only my fourth road race of the year, while last year this was my 10th! I feel like I'm ready to get back under 17:00 again and hopefully a decent amount under, so we'll see. Hopefully this was a good rustbuster and will lead to better things. Next up is another 5K on June 27th in Cleveland. There is good prize money for the top 3 open runners so I'm certain it will be a fast field, which will help.


Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers

Despite having released five albums and countless singles on influential labels such as Kill Rock Stars and Wiija, London’s Comet Gain has tended to remain relegated to ‘best-kept-secret’ status for those lucky enough to be in the know. That’s a shame because the group, centered around the amazingly talented David Feck (sometimes he also goes by David Christian) has put out a goldmine of amazing records, combining all of the best parts of mod, punk, lo-fi pop, and soul with lyrical themes that touch on everything from romantic heartbreak, to fallen film stars to international socialism and much more! While Broken Record Prayers is a collection of non-LP 45’s and odds and ends, including three Peel Session tracks, it flows like a perfect album. “Beautiful Despair” is a potent blast of punk energy reminiscent of Buzzcocks’ “Something’s Gone Wrong Again” – you can almost feel the tension pour out of your speakers. Nearly as lethal is a killer cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Seventies classic “Hard Times” and “Brothers Off The Block,” which appears to be a shout out to Black Panther era revolutionaries. On the more mellow side, “Books of California” has a touching nostalgic vibe, while “You Can Hide Your Love Forever” is an Anorak pop gem that would be perfect on a Sarah Records mix tape. For those who have never listened to Comet Gain, Broken Record Prayers is a perfect place to start. Before long you’ll want their whole back catalog.


Riding The Waves

An old friend of mine once said that you need to ride the ups and downs of life like the Silver Surfer and that can definitely be applied to running. Hit a little bit of a rough patch early on this week after a pretty smooth last 5 or 6 weeks. Legs were just dead tired for Monday's 3K time trial (last few laps plain sucked) and Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty so so easy runs and my motivation was definitely lower than usual, but the last two days have been great. Thursday was a nice easy 98 minute trail run and I've got to say that this is my favorite workout. Mastick Woods is a beautiful place to run and worth the drive to get there. I feel weird when I have to drive to run but getting out there in nature and not having to deal with traffic is awesome. Today I did some hill repeats and was really on, even a day after the long run. Wore my Lunar Racers in this workout and I think I'll wear those in the Diemer 5K instead of the Kantana Racers. This week I'm off work and looking forward to decompressing a bit before heading to Michigan for the Diemer race and Founders and Bells Brewery visits. Yeah, beer and running definitely go together!


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