Square One: NFC Champs, The New Day, Three Albums

tom smith | make green bay weird | january 2017

In the September issue of Frankly Green Bay, my prediction for the upcoming Super Bowl was the Green Bay football Packers (I added the “football" because I wanted no confusion – there are still people in Green Bay who package meat) versus the New England Patriots.

In the months since, I have waivered on my pick to win the NFC. In October, I switched it to the Carolina Panthers. In November, I switched it to the Minnesota Vikings. In December, the Seattle Seahawks. Well, it's January and I'm now switching my pick to win the NFC back to the Green Bay football Packers. When I was writing the September column in late August, I had a funny feeling that Aaron Rodgers would have an MVP type season and drag the Packers to the Super Bowl. Yes, I should have had faith in my original pick. I don't see anyone in the NFC playoff field being able to defeat the Packers. No, not even alleged “America's Team," the Dallas Cowboys. The nerve of some people to call the Cowboys America's Team, that's just ridiculous. Everyone knows Green Bay is America's football team. Green Bay could also be Mexico's team if the Packers use my idea of playing a home game every year in Mexico City.

Speaking of my column in last month's Frankly Green Bay, my sources inside the Packers organization tell me that my column last month is the inspiration for their five-game and counting win streak. Aaron Rodgers needs another Super Bowl victory to elevate himself over Favre. Heck, he needs another Super Bowl appearance just to tie Brett Favre. Rodgers might as well do it this year, because he isn't getting any younger. I would hate to see a quarterback as great as Aaron Rodgers only win one title. I also have a prediction in regards to a monkey on the back of Packers. The monkey I'm referring to is the Packers' inability to defeat the New York football Giants in Lambeau Field during the post season. I'm sure another engine that has driven this Packers' surge is the power of positivity. Aaron Rodgers has told everybody not only to relax, but to remain positive. Don't forget folks, during the Packers/Bears game earlier in the year at Lambeau Field, the world's foremost promoters of the power of positivity, the New Day, appeared on the sidelines as guests of the Green Bay Packers.

You may ask, who is the New Day? You may even go, “Who? Who? Who?" The New Day are three professional WWE wrestlers. One of their members, Big E, played college football at the University of Iowa with Packer Mike Daniels. Since the New Day's visit to Green Bay, they made sports entertainment history when they recently surpassed Demolition for the longest reign ever as tag team champions in WWE history. This is a record that quite possibly will never be surpassed. How great of an accomplishment was this? So great that I would put it up with these streaks in sports history: #1 The Boston Celtics' eight consecutive league titles from 1959 through 1966. #2 John Wooden's seven consecutive NCAA men's basketball titles in 1967-1973. #3. The Cleveland Browns' five consecutive football titles from 1946 to 1950. #4 The Oklahoma Sooners football team's 47 game win streak between 1953-1957. The New Day recently had their record setting title reign ended by Cesaro and Sheamus, but rest assured that once again they will be your WWE Tag Team Champions, and I have a sneaking suspicion that perhaps soon the Green Bay Packers will be putting the title back in Titletown.

Alejandro Escovedo

Burn Something Beautiful

Fantasy

Timebomb Rating: 13 of 13

It's been four long years since the last release by Alejandro Escovedo, and his new album “Burn Something Beautiful" is well worth the wait. How great is this album? Well let me tell you, one was the number of listens for me to say, “Ding Ding Ding! We have a winner: Album of the Year." And the crazy part is that the more I listen to this album, the better it gets. It's appropriate that this record is on Fantasy, because to me the fact that this album is produced by Scott McCaughey of the Young Fresh Fellows and Peter Buck of R.E.M. is a fantasy come true, especially since lead guitar on this album is courtesy of Kurt Bloch. Kurt is also in the Young Fresh Fellows and formerly of the Fastbacks. I fell in love with Kurt's guitar playing the very first time I heard the Fastbacks. Back in the eighties I used to refer to Kurt as the Eddie Van Halen of punk. That's why I'm so excited about this album with two of my favorite artists' orbits intersecting. All the songs on this album were written by Alejandro Escovedo, Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey and were recorded in Portland, Oregon, over nine days in April 2016. What I like about this album is it's the perfect album to start the day off with, because it's upbeat, thought provoking and inspirational. The opening track, “Horizontal," immediately shows the dividends of having Kurt Bloch on lead guitar. The second track, “Heartbeat Smile," is the greatest song ever that the Figgs didn't write for Alejandro Escovedo. Maybe someday another fantasy of mine will come true, where Alejandro Escovedo works with the Figgs. The track “Johnny Volume," is another favorite and a track Kurt Bloch gets to stretch out on. It also ends referencing one of my favorite New York Dolls songs. “Burn Something Beautiful" is definitely one of Alejandro's more rocking records and hopefully a great jumping in point for the many who have neglected this national treasure. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Alejandro should be revered and respected at the level afforded to the Boss, Bruce Springsteen.

Holly and the Nice Lions

Your Favorite Ghost

Memorized Dictionary Records

Timebomb Rating: 13 of 13

The third album by Holly and the Nice Lions is easily their strongest effort to date. If I was going to write an article on albums of the year by Wisconsin artists, this would be locked in a Hell In A Cell with “Rubicon" by Space Raft. The lineup of this album is Holly Trasti, lead vocals and guitar; Michael Zink on bass, organ and chimes; and Preston Ely on drums and backing vocals. Michael Zink, of course, is also in Hue Blanc's Joyless Ones and the Silent Drape Runners. Preston Ely plays in Beach Patrol. Michael Zink also recorded this record. Phil Fredrick (also of the Silent Drape Runners) did an incredible job mixing this album. This album received the full deluxe treatment because it was mastered by Justin Perkins at the Mystery Room in Milwaukee. I've heard Holly get compared to Chrissie Hynde of the Pretenders. I don't really hear that. If anything, Holly sounds like Chrissie's former lover, Ray Davies of the Kinks if Ray Davies was influenced by nineties Riot Grrrl music. I play this album a lot in the store at the Exclusive Company and it's always great to hear positive feedback from customers who don't know Holly or aren't familiar with her work. That is a good sign. If a local band's following is just friends, you might be doing something wrong.

Pretenders

Alone

BMG

Timebomb Rating: 11 of 13

If I was going to name a comeback album of the year, “Alone" would win hands down. This album also really deserves consideration as Album of the Year. The producer the Pretenders picked for this album definitely was a factor in this album's brilliance. Who produced this album? Who? Who? It was none other than Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Dan did such a great job that perhaps some artists who haven't had a great album in a while should consider enlisting his services. My first suggestion would be that the management of Steve Miller immediately contact the management of Dan Auerbach so their people could do lunch with his people to hash out a recording schedule. The title and opening track “Alone" sets the bar high for the rest of the album and helps produce a solid album through and through. I love the song “Alone" because the lyrics are brilliant and the song sounds like it was written by Warren Zevon for the New York Dolls. While we're on the subject of lyrics for this album, when I listen to the song “I Hate Myself," as an empathetic human I can't help but feeling sorry for her and wonder what place she was in to write this song. The closing track, “Holy Commotion," is the one track on the album where it really sounds like a Black Keys song. I believe this song is only available on the compact disc. Yes, I did buy the CD of this first, but don't worry, it's so good I'm buying it again on vinyl. Hands down the Pretenders best album since 1984's “Learning to Crawl."

Live long and the New Day rocks.


Since 1984, when he first began selling records at Galaxy of Sound inside the Port Plaza Mall, Tom Smith has been part of the Green Bay music scene. Promoting his first show in 1986 and hitting his stride with the Concert Café (1995-2001), Smith continues to promote shows in Green Bay. He first honed his journalistic chops while serving as a student DJ at WGBW, interviewing such icons as Motörhead and the Ramones. Today you can find him championing live music and managing The Exclusive Company in Green Bay.

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