Saturday, April 30, 2011

This Week's Music: Face to Face, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Telekinesis

Not a bad bunch of records this week. Face to Face is a long time favorite. Their record is solid, not amazing. Both the Does It Offend You and Telekinesis albums are good, but not quite as memorable as their debuts.

Face to Face
Laugh Now, Laugh Later

Over the past 20 years, Face to Face front man Trever Keith hasn’t been afraid to experiment. There was the slowed-down “Ignorance is Bliss,” the nostalgic cover album “Standards & Practices,” and the nuanced solo record “Melancholics Anonymous.” But what Keith does best is write punk rock songs. After calling it quits in 2003, he recently decided it was time to get the band back together. The band picks right up where “How to Ruin Everything” left off. Following the signature Face to Face formula, the songs are both immediate--with machine gun drumming and lightning bass lines--and laid back, thanks to Keith’s behind-the-beat vocal delivery. Despite the musical detours throughout the years, “Laugh Now, Laugh Later” is right on track. On “I Don’t Mind and You Don’t Matter,” Keith sings, “I’ve come full circle/And I’m almost where I started from/In spite of all I’ve done.” That’s a good thing. This is where Keith belongs.

For fans of: Pennywise, Bad Religion
Rating: 3.5 of 4

12 Desperate Straight Lines

In the studio, Telekinesis is one-man act Michael Benjamin Lerner. It’s not surprising that his upbeat tunes caught the attention of Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla, as his tunes aren’t far removed from Death Cab’s early work. Walla has produced both Telekinesis records, allowing Lerner’s sense for hooks to stand front-and-center on both records. Though “12 Desperate Straight Lines” is deeply rooted in guitar-based indie rock, it wouldn’t be out of place in the ‘90s-college-rock bin, with the fuzzy bass lines and recorded-in-the garage feel. Many of the lyrics may be about heart break, but this is an album built for rejoicing.

For fans of: Death Cab for Cutie, Say Hi
Rating: 3.5 of 4

Does It Offend You, Yeah?
Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You

The second record from British synth rockers Does It Offend You, Yeah? doesn’t vary much from their impressive 2008 debut. The band still vacillates between brash electronic riffs (“The Monkeys are Coming”) and straight-forward new wave throwbacks (“Pull Out My Insides”). What makes this band so interesting is their ability to occupy both spaces--often in the same track--without ever sounding disjointed. The most noticeable difference with the second record is the underlying haunted-funhouse feel, with spooky synth lines sneaking into nearly every track. Though slightly off-kilter, the sounds work perfectly for a band that doesn’t quite fit in.

For fans of: Pendulum, !!!
Rating: 3 of 4

Friday, April 29, 2011

Bend it Like....

Dance class is over. Now it's soccer time. And it's serious. (This fact is made abundantly clear by Paige's intense goalie stance.)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Callin' Baton Rouge

Though much of our attention has been on Tate lately, things haven't slowed down with the other two terrors. Paige just had her second dance recital. This time, things got a little bit country.

For those with 1:45 on their hands, here's a clip from the big performance.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Beautiful Boy

More photos from Tate's first fashion shoot (and second day on Earth).

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pick Your Poison

For 20 years, I have struggled with a question for the ages. Which "Poison" is better? Alice Cooper's ode to the evil woman, or the Bel Biv Devoe tune that gives the best advice ever put to music ("Never trust a big butt and a smile")?

On an unrelated Alice Cooper note, if you type "Alice Cooper" into the Google toolbar, it wants to auto-fill with "Alice Cooper Mormon." That takes you to Celebrities Rumored to be Mormon.

About Cooper:

His father's name was Ether Moroni Furnier. Jay Evenson, who is the Deseret News' editorial page editor and teaches an opinion writing class at BYU, interviewed him once. His family belonged to an offshoot of the LDS Church, but his father was later ordained a minister in the Baptist church.
(The site also reveals the genesis of "Steve Martin is a Mormon.")

Thursday, April 21, 2011

When a Blockbuster Video Dies

A weird blanket and socks store is born. Everyday as I drive by, I see
all of the blankets that would perfectly complement our decor. But
which should I choose? The N.W.A. or the Dr. Dre?  What am I saying? I
need something the whole family can enjoy. I'll go with the Tupac.
That'll keep us warm at night.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Drie Jaar Oud

Three years of this kid. We still [mostly] like him. Happy birthday to the kid born on 4/20 (also Hitler's birthday).

Invoking Snoopy power

Feels like I'm looking at a picture of Tate

This Week's Music: Yellowcard, The Strokes, Smoking Popes

When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes

Of all the Blink-182-inspired acts of the early 2000s, Yellowcard made the biggest splash. In less than a decade, the band has experienced both huge commercial success and the stresses that led to a two-year hiatus. On their fifth full-length, Yellowcard sounds renewed. They've ratcheted up the tempo and pushed Sean Mackin's violin back into the forefront. Though this is a clearly a nod to the band's early sound (it's hard not to think that Ryan Key is singing to longtime fans when he says, "Let me back in/Love me again" on the opening track), it doesn't feel like they're pandering to the past. Instead, "Say Yes" shows the band is continuing to hone its craft without losing track of its strengths.

For fans of: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy
Rating: 3 of 4

The Strokes

Before making "Angles," The Strokes had been broken up almost as long as they had been together. With the band members each filling the past five years with different projects, it's not surprising that "Angles" is all over the musical map. "Machu Picchu" dips into reggae, "You're So Right" is cold and robotic, and "Games" is filled with dreamy synths. Everything here is delivered with precision, from the live drums that sound like a drum machine to the guitars that sound like keyboards; only Julian Casablanca's sleepy and often-distorted vocals eschew the glossy production. Despite the strong execution, the tunes lack the emotional pull of the band's early records. The parts are all there, but somehow the whole is missing.  

For fans of: Arctic Monkeys, Interpol
Rating: 3 of 4

Smoking Popes
Wish We Were

Not many 40-year-old singers can deliver lines like "I don't want to go college/I don't wanna be another puppet of the man" without sounding like an idiot. But Josh Caterer is no average singer. Since the early '90s, he's found a way to mix punk rock with Sinantra-style crooning. He uses "Wish We Were" to relive his teenage years--chasing unrequited love ("Wish You Were"), mortgaging his future ("College"), and sleeping on stranger's floors ("Punk Band"). Even though the record is a tongue-in-cheek look at high school drama (the vocals on "Diary of a Teen Tragedy" are straight out of "The Wonder Years"), the songs are seriously catchy. I can't stop singing "I want to come out to the show with you tonight/But I've got mono, I've got mono."

For fans of: Green Day, The Ramones
Rating: 3 of 4

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Radio Flyer

I pulled Curtis around the neighborhood in the wagon yesterday. Paige decided to stay home. I couldn't believe how quiet it was without her. Just the day before, I had to have this conversation with her in the wagon--completely unprovoked.

PAIGE: I don't ever want to live on Neptune. It's waaay too cold there. I would freeze to death!

ME: Why do you know that? Where did you learn about Neptune?

PAIGE: And I don't want to live on Mercury because it's too hot and I would boil up.

ME: Who teaches you these things? [It's clearly not me, because I do not know these things.]

PAIGE: I only want to live on Earth. My favorite country is Australia because kangaroos live there and so do The Wiggles.

Curtis just sat quietly in the wagon. Wonderfully quiet.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Naming Convention

As usual, we went to the hospital without a name for this kid. We had a shortlist, but while we were in the delivery room, we quickly realized that we didn't have them ranked in the same order.

It drives hospital folk crazy when you don't have a name. The nurses want to write the name on the whiteboard and on the tag on the bassinet. The doctor wants to call the kid by name to coax him out of the womb. And the person that's most worried about it is the lady who hassles you every five seconds to fill out the birth certificate forms.

We officially decided to call him Tate the night before we left the hospital. So that everyone could the announcement at once, I sent a text to all of our family members. Because I know that the entire concept of text messages enrages my mother, I called her directly as well.

My dad answered the phone. Before I could even ask if they had seen the text, he told me that he and Paige had decided on a name. Max. This didn't surprise me, as Paige had been calling the kid Max for months.

"Well, about that. I'm calling to see if you got my text. His name is going to be Tate."

"Tate? Paige, your little brother is going to be called Tate."

Through the phone, I could hear her disappointment.

When I picked the kids up from my parents', we had a have a long talk about it.

"He's not Tate, he's Max," Paige began.

"What if we called him Max as a nickname?" I countered.

"No, let's call him Max and Tate can be his nickname." I could already tell I was losing.

"How 'bout you call him Max and mom and I will call him Tate."

"Daaad, grown-ups don't get to choose the name. The oldest kid gets to choose the name because kids love the baby the most."

We finally found a compromise. She could call him Max and even make him a Mii avatar named Max. (Everyone in Paige's life has a Mii--from her cousins to Alvin and the Chipmunks. We just found out that the Wii can only hold 100 Miis. Paige reached the limit.) We immediately went in the house and created the Max Mii.

Apparently, all she needed was to sleep on it. The first thing she said to me in the morning was, "Dad, I think I'm going to call little brother Tate, too."

And that was that. He's Tate.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Process of Belief

As I've said before, when I started writing for IN, I had a short list of bands I wanted to interview. Bad Religion was near the top. My first chance to talk to them came in advance of  the Warped Tour in 2009. Of course, I had hoped to get singer (and book writer) Greg Graffin. Instead, I got the only guy in the band I didn't want to talk to, drummer Brooks Wackerman. Not only is he the new guy (he joined the band back in 2000), but his former side project, Hot Potty, was possibly the worst band I'd ever seen live. 

As it turned out, Brooks was great to talk to. So good, in fact, that I take back all the bad things I have said about him in the past. 

Goodwill aside, I was pretty excited when I heard that was going to get to talk to founding member, bassist Jay Bentley this time around. Jay is the big, smiling face of the band. On the phone, he was just as charismatic and full of laughter as I had hoped. 

I asked him the usual questions about band longevity, influences, etc. But I really wanted to ask him about faith.

Bad Religion was formed by a bunch of high school kids in the Reagan era. They chose the band name (and the "cross busters" logo) as a response to the televangelism of the '80s, and of course, to piss people off. It would seem, though, that as they grew up, their black and white anti-religion sentiment would become more gray. Alas, nay. It is is still a constant lyrical topic for Graffin and the whole thesis of his book hinges on the lack of God. 

I wanted to see if that stance was shared by the rest of the guys. I didn't get a real straight answer but I did enjoy these two responses: 
It’s been a long time since you guys decided to call yourselves Bad Religion. What would happen if you walked into the room today and said, “Hey guys, I’m a born again Christian! I converted last night.”

[Big laugh] There is no hard/fast rule about anything. I’m sure if [guitarist] Brian [Baker] came in and said, ‘Guys, I’ve never told you, but I’m a Republican,’ we’d all have a laugh, point fingers, giggle, and get back to work.

There’s one thing about this band that I can honestly say that we’ve learned--each and every member has their own individual ideas and purposes. We’re not a team, not a unit, not a gang. We don’t all wear the same clothes and we don’t fly a flag. We are all separate people who have learned to make room for all of our ideologies.

There is more faith in this band than you might know. It has never been a problem. It is something we always talk about--how can you have this type of belief--those are the long discussions we have on 10 hour drives. There’s room for everybody here.

Are there a lot of religious Bad Religion fans out there?

I’ve met more people than you can imagine--whether they are parents or kids--who have a faith or an organized religion that they belong to. One of the things that we’ve always said is, ‘There’s nothing wrong with religion, it’s what people do with it.’ When it seems selfish or egocentric, that’s when there’s a problem.

Everyone deserves to be happy. And whatever makes people happy is completely awesome. But there seems to be people in the world who can’t leave well enough alone, [and say] ”I’m happy, but I need more. I want others to believe what I believe and if they don’t, they’re automatically considered an enemy.” I can’t agree with philosophy ever.
Good conversation, good interview. I'm bummed I wasn't able to make the show.

Happy to be Home

Despite the constant chaos, Tate seems pretty content with his home.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

So You Were Born, and That Was a Good Day

It's already been a week since Tate came home from the hospital. Having a new little one in the house doesn't exactly create tons of free time, so I excuse myself for not having written before now (though I still feel a bit guilty). So let's start with the most important part. The pictures.

Fresh out of the oven

Shirt fits like a glove

The eyes eventually opened
First day home, rockin' the guitar jammies

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Behind that megaphone is a pretty cute girl

Paige and I went to the Real Salt Lake game tonight. She was a total super fan, cheering into her RSL megaphone for all 90 minutes.

At one point she was shouting, "Defense! Defense!" and then she turned to me and asked, "What's defense?"

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Brotherly Love

The kids' first interaction with Tate went about as we had expected. Paige was super excited. She could hardly wait to give Traci the letter she made us:

"Congrations to Our New Baby. Love Paige." (She had also printed off and included the picture of Tate that I had texted to our parents. I guess that was to remind us what he looks like.)

She ran right over to look and him and gasped, "Oh, he's so cuuuute."

Curtis was indifferent to his new brother, but excited to find that he could see the train tracks from our window.

I took the kids from the hospital to Paige's preschool. On the way to the car she kept saying, "This is a special day because baby brother has joined our family. This is our special day."

Curtis was just happy that we were leaving so we could go home and play Rampage on the Wii.

Welcome to the Family

Traci wasn't due until April 17. But this little guy decided to come early. Traci came home from work at 9:00, with that look in her eye.

Spencer: Are you alright?

Traci: Um, yeah. I think I'm having contractions. I'm going to get in the shower. Maybe that will make them stop.

Spencer: I don' think it works that way.

And it didn't. After the shower, we decided it was time to go. We transported Paige from her bed to the minivan (no sleep disruption for party-guy Curtis, who of course was still awake). We dropped the kids off at Traci's parents and arrived at the hospital at about 10:30 p.m.

Once at the hospital, things moved pretty quickly. At 2:00 a.m. the doctor and her posse of nurses gave Traci the green light and granted permission for me to lie on the couch in silence and concentrate on not passing out. At 2:45 a.m. we were greeted by a screaming ball of hair and red skin.(From what I could hear with my eyes closed, Traci was a champion child-birther.)

Tate Spencer Sutherland weighed in at 7 lbs. 2 oz. and 20 inches. After his bath, Tate's hair was less dark brown and more strawberry blond. Yes, we may finally have a redhead.

Newest member of the family. He's not happy about being here.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

This Week's Music: Avril, Rise Against, Aquabats

One of these things is better than the others. (Hint: the answer is Rise Against.)

Rise Against - Endgame So much rage against the machine. Love it.

Aquabats  - High-Five Soup! Souds more like Yo Gabba Gabba and less like the Aquabats. I realize this is a subtle difference, but noticeable nevertheless. I've never been a big fan of the Aquabats, and even spent a few years being a hater. But I actually really liked their last album Charge! quite a bit, so I was bummed out about being bummed out by this one.

Avril Lavigne - Goodbye Lullaby I like the Hot-Topic-angsty Avril, not the divorced-lady-ballad Avril. Not good. (Still the hottest of the three bands.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Feels Like Spring Time

At the start of the winter, I was this close to writing the following:

In continuation of the Utah-based guilt that got us hiking this summer, I am going to try to enjoy winter for once. 

But I didn't write it. And thus, I had no obligation to acknowledge the season. With yesterday's 70 degree weather, I thought I had successfully bested winter.

When it came roaring back this morning with four inches of powder, I figured fate was telling me something--namely, to get out and play in the snow with my kids.

Here's some pics of our adventures:

Curtis is up to no good

Paige is rocking the monkey hat I bought her in NYC and her gangsta attitude

Yes, this pose is still in her repertoire

Now we're officially ready for winter to depart.