~Eudaimonia

I was given permission to upload the entire album on YouTube. This was one of my favourite projects to record, plus it remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Please, listen to the other recordings by Livestalk and consider buying something from them.

You can find the link here.

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Classic Album Review :: A Perfect Circle — eMOTIVe

I am breaking two promises I made to myself today! The first is that I would only do these once every calendar year. The second is that I would only review albums around 20 years old. After listening to this album the morning of writing these piece, I felt that it is underrated and ignored.

eMOTIVe by A Perfect Circle is one of, if not THE, most important albums to come out in my life. Between its cover of Imagine bringing the beautiful piece by John Lennon back to the modern times, or its reimagining of other contemporary anthems by bands like Black Flag and Marvin Gaye, it should not be as ignored as it has been since its release.

eMOTIVe is beautiful and haunting. A good potion of the tracks maintain an etherial guitar tone, allowing the vocals to pierce the music and driving their importance to the forefront. Some of the covers are simply reimagining of the original track in a different key, some completely break the mould and do something new. Prime example is “What’s Going On?” and its exploration of different sounds to subvert expectations of what the song could be. Even the most expressed fan of the song would be forced to hear it as a new listener, taking in the lyrics as someone who has never listened to the song before. This gives it new weight in the greater social scene.

There are two songs that really change the cemented pattern on the album. “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” is a track by Black Flag that sounds absolutely nothing like the original. I actually had a customer come into my record store and complain about the track. In the same breath, he asked about the original recording of very song that was playing, then argued with me for a few moments swearing that it was not the same. He then abdicated and claimed that Back Flag would be appalled with what they did to the song. I had to laugh, simply because APC changed it to something that continued Black Flag’s mission to make the upper class uncomfortable.

The second track that doesn’t quite fit is “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums” which is an APC original. The original was taken from the song “Pet” from their last album called 13th Step. In that song, it is just a line. The reimagining is five and a half minuets of tortured wales and distorted drums. The chanting of the title lyrics almost tantric in their repetition. Overall, I will say this song is irritating and abrasive.

I love it.

It conjures the feel of an Orwellian dystopia, and the video supports that image. The drums are a strange combination of distorted stomps and slaps. The bass is overdriven and blown out. The vocals are mildly distorted and harsh. You are meant to feel uncomfortable. You are meant to question a greater part of society while you listen to it. From the two-minute point to very near the end there is a sound similar to a fly buzzing that does not let up. It is grating. It sounds violent. It is the very definition of what music can accomplish when used as an artistic vision. I am having a hard time describing what I feel, so I will post the video here.

Before watching, it is important to remember the political landscape of the early 2000’s. It does still echo what’s going on now, but it is very geared towards the Bush administration and the reactions towards media at that time. The parallels are evident for the current administration, but uses imagery of that time.

My point? This album is amazing and it deserves more attention from the mainstream public. I completely understand if you feel this album doesn’t deserve the praise I am giving it. It’s abrasive, shocking, grainy and strange. If you have it in the background, it can sound mildly bi-polar and as if it doesn’t know what it is, or what it is doing. The reason it is amazing is because it knows EXACTLY what it’s doing.

I neglected to mention how it goes from “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums” to an ambient version of “When the Levy Breaks” by Jimi Hendrix. This whiplash-inducing transition perfectly encapsulates the point and purpose of this album. It demonstrates, in a track, how broken everything can be. Yet, it also shows that there is respite at the end if you choose to find it. There is a calm. There is a point.

~”New” Video

The other day my parents sent me a rather unnerving question. They had found an old video recorder, it was full, but had one video. There was no further information than that.

I was not a bad kid. I would not have recorded anything damning. Not usually, anyway. Still, my blood ran cold at the thought of what I found interesting enough to record.

Turns out, it was me drumming for just over three minuets.

It didn’t suck.

I use the quotations to emphasize the video is new TO THE INTERNET! It was recorded several years ago, and it cuts off randomly. Sound quality is shit, but I was near the top of what I could do musically. Judging by the recording and how it randomly cuts off, I think the really impressive stuff was played just after the end. That does not excuse that the video is still kind of neat, and contains a being not massively explored.

Give it a watch! Let me know what you think.

Just a reminder that Martha comes out on Friday. I am super proud of it, and excited to see what everyone thinks. This also means there will not be a “plain text.” update on Sunday, but I will return the week after with more information and, hopefully, Good News!

Classic Album Review :: Matthew Good Band — Beautiful Midnight

I have not written one of these in a while, but the last one keeps getting new readers! If this is something you want me to do more of, let me know in the comments! I have a few albums I can think of that I feel everyone should remember or experience for the first time.

Oh, Canada! You make such good music!

I know that I keep doing retrospectives in Canadian music of albums from the ’90’s, but that was my bread and butter. I was a huge alternative nerd back then, and some of the best music came from Canada. I am sure, if this article does well, I will hit on Our Lady Peace.

I digress. I lovingly call this album “The Soundtrack for Nihilism” to no one ever.

(I need friends.)

This album has some of the bleakest outlooks on life ever put to lyrics. From the bombastic opening of Giant right through to the somber ending of Running For Home. Every song croons about “everything is fucked is and we’re all going to die so make the best of what you’ve got.”

I love it so much.

Giant is probably one of the best intro songs ever. It opens with a cheerleading group spelling ‘KICKASS’ with no backtrack what-so-ever. Then, with piercing squeals preceding it, the drum line comes crashing over everything. It’s beautiful.

From that point on, the lyrics and music paint a picture of how great it is that everything is the way it is in the most sarcastic, unfeeling way. The music reminds me of the epic crescendo’s of the ’80’s metal scene mixed with the independent movement in the early 2000’s. Leads and little more than jangles placed perfectly over steady rhythms laid out by a steady bass line. This, of course, is punctuated by the slap of crushing swells and pounding drones. The strings sound like they would be simple in execution, but they are covered in flairs you might not notice unless you were looking for them. The drums accentuate the standard pop song structure then vier wildly into the realm of progressive meters and timing without the listener even noticing.

To put it simply, this album should not work in the mainstream archetype, but does so beautifully. The bleak lyrics help along this feeling of ambiguity that the album contrives. Metaphors abound and the similes used illustrate the mind of someone defeated by society, but they do not celebrate it. They are used more to illustrate how messed up everything is, but drive home the hopeless emotion that permeated the ’90’s.

I think my ravings have proved how much I love this album. In fact, I am having a hard time picking a favourite song to share with everyone. When you have massive tracks like the aforementioned Giant and piano ballads like Strange Days with only one song between the two, to find a standout track that dictates the general feeling is really difficult. It would actually be a lot of fun to break the album down, song by song, and write a piece about each one. There is enough content in each song individually that doing so would be interesting. Even taking what they sound like they mean and comparing what they are actually about would be interesting.

I, however, am far from the right person to do such a task.

If I had to make a generalization as to what states-of-mind the album elicits, I would have to say crushing realization combined with an acceptance of just how wrong everything can be.

SO, I TOLD MYSELF I WOULD NOT PICK GIANT.
I found a really good version of Giant live.
The first guitar solo is ignored by the camera operator. Epilepsy warning, though I was okay.

Enjoy.

That time they messed up…

A few years ago, a bunch of friends and I went to see Animals as Leaders and Between the Buried and Me in Toronto. I came with full expectations to have my face melted and my pride to be destroyed, but I left with nothing shy of unbridled hope.

CAFO, and this should shock no one, is one of my favourite songs of all time. It starts with a bang and never really lets up, not to mention that is has one of the strange syncopation bits dead centre of the song. My goal, before I ended up in hospital, was to learn every bit of that song. I knew full well that I would never perform it for anyone but me, but by jove! It would be such an accomplishment.

AaL jumped into their set and I was far from disappointed. Every accent was a perfect match, every solo was nailed, every motion was beautiful.

By the time they got to CAFO, I was expecting them to have already called it a night. I could not believe the stamina, not to mention the level of dexterity, that I was baring witness to. Sure enough, CAFO was going beautifully. I could not believe how fast every member had to be to keep up with the incredible pace already set by the recording, and they had amped up the speed for stage.

For those who know what tempo is, they moved the slider up 40-50 BPM faster than the recording was. To match that speed with the single=stroke rolls present in the beginning of the song is, for lack of a better term, stupid.

Then, they got to the part I could never quite match. They could not do it either, and just made a bunch of noise to mask the drummers flub. Some would say that it was a disappointment to witness a hero fail at a performance.

I was elated. I could not have been my pleased to see a mistake in my life. It was at that moment I realized that the person I put on the highest pedestal was just that, a person. It sounds stupid: foolish even. I argue that we are all guilty of idolizing someone, and we all need to remember that they are just people, even if they are the best at something. They had to become great, and were potentially worse than you when they started.

That is not to say that you should give up and never try, just be easy on yourself. know your limits and do not get too discouraged.

With all of that said: it is not a bad thing to think that you are not good enough! In fact: I would argue that no one ever is good at anything, but can always get better at it! The biggest catch is to not give into feeling inadequate and giving up. That is always difficult, but just realize that there is always better.

Take drums, for instance. You could be the best at what you play, held on high as the epitome of what is possible in the genre. Then, you come across Maps and Atlases, or Chon, and realize you strive to be the best over in that world, as well. So, you start at the bottom of another ladder that is totally unrelated to where you came from.

Now, that may sound daunting and debilitating, but the point is that you should enjoy the journey. There is no end, and you should not try to find one. That would be boring.

Learning to Listen.

For being a fan of music all of my life, I am terrible at listening to it. I usually deconstruct every part, learn lyrics to sing poorly, or use it as a backtrack for writing. Over the last week, I have started to just sit down and let it all happen.

No, it did not revolutionize music for me. Also, if I pointed all the ways that I could listen to it differently would be ironic: I would just be using music as I did in the past. I also will not say that I meditated to it, because that would just be using it as a backtrack again. What did happen is amazing. I just zoned out and let the sounds flow over me. I was able to enjoy music without the distraction of me trying to learn it without learning it.

I guess that comes with knowing six instruments mildly well. I cannot speak for everyone, but I tended to learn the parts without learning the parts. In the past, I would be able to perform songs that I never played along with. Great for pick-up gigs where you are playing covers with a band you have never practiced with, horrible for enjoying something. I tended to get wrapped up in changes. I would avoid things that sounded too much like something else. What I thought was a distaste for a lack of originality was actually a fear of performing an accent or key out of place. I was giving myself performance anxiety without performing.

Self discovery and self exploration are things I find myself doing a lot now. Most people probably look at my discoveries and laugh. They might be embarrassed for me for just figuring that out. Friends might be reading this and saying “no fucking shit you moron” but I feel like my putting this realization out into the world may garnish several other people noticing they do it to.

This thing (rant?) is thanks to me listening to the same channel that I have been listening to for far too long now. It is available 24/7 so I just put it on whenever I want to listen to something but not get distracted by it. It was through that thought process that I gradually deconstructed the way I listen to music and came to that startling discovery

Today I feel like highlighting an album that I have owned for a long time, but only recently gave the proper listening to. Beautiful. Haunting. Amazing. This duo is brilliant at what they do. I will admit, this album is only recommended for the minority. Listen to it first before committing to buying.

Music :: Die Hexe

Between the quiet demise of Mind the Music TO and me just not talking about anything music related for a very long time, I feel like I have something missing. Like a part of me is incomplete.

I recently read over my review of Die Hexe’s first album and realized that I rated it highly, but really did not explain why I loved it. Why I found it one of the greatest albums I have had the pleasure of listening to.

I think a part of my reason for writing the review as I did was that I was just putting it bluntly. I constantly had the task of writing those reviews for an audience who did not know me from a hole in the wall, so I made my statements general and exact without going into long winded explanations and stories detailing why I felt the way I did.

I will now rectify that.

DIE HEXE :: ST EP

If my fist three paragraphs and long winded explanation for revisiting this piece of art was not enough reason, this is (without hyperbole) one of the greatest albums I have ever heard.

The EP starts with a perfectly orchestrated guitar feedback, then launches into chaos. I really reminds me of a strange cross between Counterparts’ Prophets and Buried Inside’s Chronoclast: Selected Essays On Times Reckoning And Auto-Cannibalism.

Now, with that said: it is absolutely nothing like either of those albums. It just reminds me of the same heavy emotional feel that they evoke. The best way of putting the feeling into words is being late for something important and everything is going wrong: that feeling of your heart beating hard with every passing moment. The need, not just feeling, to scream along with the words even if you don’t know what they are.

Now, take that high stress feeling, and puncuate it with absolute bliss and a calm that can only be experianced in music.Yeah, that feeling.

Yes, this is a metal/hardcore album. That should not disuade fans of lighter music to at least expeience it. That is exactly what this album is: an experience. The emotional rolling coaster one feels as the tracks seemlessly bleed into one another is pure extacy.

I think my favourite part about this album is that it is never showy. There are no traditional solo’s. There is a lead guitar part in Long Live the New Flesh, but it is more of a lead than a solo.

Yeah, if you havn’t noticed, I fucking love this album. I want this band to get the recognition they deserve. Please, do yourself a favour and listen to it. I never push listening to the whole thing. Usually the first couple of songs give you enough to go on. I will not go that way with this album: PLEASE LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING. Every song is beautiful. Every emotion is felt in full.

This is where I justify how this recording reminds me of death. I mean, I could do the whole pretentious breakdown how it starts running, mildly slows down,  and ends with my third favourite crescendo ending, only to be topped by Cursive’s Domestia and Sparta’s Wiretaps & Scars, but I will leave that description to you.

Seriously, float them a few dolllars for the album, check them out on FaceBook, and remember that I love them to no end.

Just a friendly reminder that I will be releasing the first of anewsin Publications on the first.. The story is called “Elaine” and I am very excited to hear what everyone thinks. There is a .sample available if you want to read what is coming up. If reception is okay, there will be another story in September. I am working on November’s release already, and my good friend Hannah has something set up for September (more information on that soon). Please, support me on Patreon to help me get through life.

<3

…you will die.

I posed a question to my Facebook the other day: if you had to hear one song and then you died, what would it be?

I never really put any further explanation, nor have I voiced my personal choice. I was just curious how many replies I would get, and what kind of songs people would post.

I found the results of the pole confusing. Granted, I never made it explicit what the circumstances of your death would be. Maybe that is why I found the answers so confounding.

The rules are that once the song ends, you will die immediately. What I had in mind was a gunshot or massive heart attack. This would ensure that there would be no way to recover or survive, and the final song that played would follow you into the void.

I had some interesting replies. One fellow thought that he would break my game and just go with the Song that Doesn’t End (you’re welcome for that link) and from that point he would live forever. With the parameters I placed on the question, I fully understand why he went this way. To him, my official reply is: well played, sir. Well played. Enjoy that song following you around for the remainder of all time.

The other big reply that I got was Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Though, that song is amazing, it is so long. You would be dwelling on the fact that you are going to die for the entire 5:55 that the song goes on for. I do not know about you, but for the almost six minuets it is playing, I would not be able to enjoy it. I would just be cringing and counting until my demise.

That is why my choice would be Mother Night Revisited by Premonitions of War. The song is stupid short (1:21) and it is busy, loud, and distracting. The cacophony it creates would drown out my thoughts of my impending demise and it ends abruptly, not giving me any time to dwell on the fact that it is ending.

Maybe I am just biased, but I want to just cease living, not contemplate my entire life throughout my favourite song.

AMENDMENT:

Well, amendment is a strong word for the situation. More like another idea, or concept, that I would like to share because it is so cool!

The album Transatlanticism by Death Cab for Cutie is one of my favourites of all time. It is dark, cynical, honest, and beautiful. One thing that it does (in the most sneaky way) is open with a machine sound. The album plays and that machine sound seems to stop. Where it gets really cool is that the sound does not actually stop, or even change volume. The sound hovers in the back. It is not fully noticeable again until the very last song where the guitar and vocals clear for a moment to revel that it has been there the entire time. Until then, one may not notice just how invasive the sound has been through the entire album.

Then: it stops.

The album ends, therefore the sound ends. Actually, if you wish to get petty, the sound ends one second before the album does. The silence is deafening. At that moment, you are left to reminisce on every word that was sang up until that point.

I am pretty sure that it was not intentional, but it beautifully demonstrates my view on death. Everything ends abruptly and there is nothing.

Fuck, that sounds bleak.

ANYWAY: I am curious. Please, let me know in the comments what song you would like to die to immediately preceding. Do you have a reason for the choice? What is your take on my choice?

I did a bad

So, I was doing all this planning and research for my next update. It was going to be another top-10 list of albums that I highly recommend listening to. I was planning on going about it entirely differently and I was genuinely excited to share it.

Then: I did something horrible.

I do not have a strong excuse, but it did not save I probably hit the “be a moron and throw away hours of work?” button when it came up.

REGARDLESS: I spent seven hours getting together some amazing albums, finding songs, and writing blurbs about each one. It probably was not all that good, but I thought it was fantastic.

I have talked before on this site about the importance of doing something you enjoy to survive another moment in this bleak existence. I have three sources for distraction: music, writing, my wife. That is not to say that is all I have in life, quite the opposite: between friends and family, my calendar is rarely empty. I will say those are my favourite and most time consuming things because I make them so. I would not have it any other way.

Another Top 10

I awoke this morning with lyrics in my head. I assume that is not strange for the masses, but I am a drummer: I usually do not remember lyrics because I am distracted by the music. I had this urge to highlight songs that actually mean something to me, so here are the top 10. I know that I have done something like this before, but I am going to point out the songs that mean something to me, not the albums. This list contains tracks from albums that would never touch a top ten, and there are one or two that I only listen to the album for that song.

I reiterate: I am a drummer. A couple of these songs are just on this list because the drums are so fucking cool. In the interest of transparency, I will point that out when it comes to fruition.

Animals as Leaders- CAFO
Let’s start with one where the drums sold me on the very premiss. CAFO is easily one of those complicated songs I have ever heard. I think why I put this on my top ten as opposed to something from Godspeed You! Black Emperor is because it remains one of my favourite memories. I saw this back open for BTBM a few years ago. They were playing a flawless set, then they got to this song. The drummer added just ONE snare hit before a fairly easy part (compared to the rest of the song, anyway), and the guitar players got SO lost. It was just so fantastic to see that even Gods can fuck something up.

Samsaris- Góða Tungl
No, I cannot pronounce this title to save my life. I can, however, proudly put it in my top list. This song is absolutely beautiful. There is something incredibly haunting about the clarinet in contrast with the vocals. This song speaks to me on every level, though I have no clue what they are saying.
I refuse to look up a translation. I am afraid of hating what they are actually saying.

Blood Brothers- Love Rhymes With Hideous Car Wreck
A rather bleak way of describing eternal love and blind devotion, I first heard this song around a time when I thought I was in love with a girl. In hindsight, she was horrible. I know she does not read this blog (because we hate each other now) but, this song is for you.
Love love love love love love love. (rhymes with pity now)

Kevin Drew- TBTF
There was a time I almost got those four letters tattooed on my person: TBTF (to beautiful to fuck) is a story about love. Innocent love. A desperate person holding onto the relationship they have with a friend who is attractive.
ALTERNATE MEANING:
Someone who is rejecting someone they should be interested in, but they cannot justify it.
To be honest, I have no fucking idea what this song is about. I just know that I love it and relate far too much to it. Because I am oblivious to what it is actually about, I use it to rationalize uncomfortable situations I found myself in with friends.

The Dresden Dolls- Girl Anachronism
Piano and drums? Yes, please! Is it to bold to ask for sarcastic and self deprecation on the side? No? Perfect.
I play. This whole album is amazing, but I think that it is perfectly summed up by this track. Fast. Angry. Dynamic.

Incubus- A Crow Left Of the Murder
Puns in the name and probably the coolest guitar riff ever written by a band, it is easy for me to talk about how much I love this song. The more interesting way to do it is to leave the link up top and see how many of you listen to it.

Placebo- Without You I’m Nothing
Think Pink Floyd, but modern. I almost put the version with David Bowie on this list, but the original will do beautifully.

Nine Inch Nails- La Mer
I fucking love this song. Soothing, beautiful, haunting. The trifecta of amazing. I actually refuse to look up the translation for this song for fear of ruining the feel of it.

Poison the Well- The Realist
Does this song demonstrate everything I love about this band? No. It does the opposite. This song contains the most beautiful vocal melody I think I have ever heard and I just need to share it with everyone I meet. Listen. Enjoy.

Sufjan Stevens- I Want To Be Well
This was the song that actually inspired me to make this list. I fell in love with this song back when the album came out in 2010. I was working in a record store and was trying desperately to be the cool-indi-music-guy (and failing very hard at it). I had gotten into Sufjan about a year earlier from the Illinoise album, and I thought I got where he was coming from. The Age Of Adz proved to me that I should shut up and admit that I do not understand anything about music what-so-ever.
This song was my anthem. When I was cruising around at three in the morning, I would blare this song out my windows, singing along and staining my voice. I am positive that I disturbed a few sleeping people, but I was earnestly saying those words in all their glory. “I want to be well.” If I only knew then that not five years later I could relate more those words than I did at the time. If I only focused on what I had and not what I was loosing. Maybe, just maybe, things all could have been amazing.

I digress. Do yourself a favour and PLEASE listen to these songs. Especially the last one, it holds a place in my life that only I know of.

To state again: these are just 10 that remind me to listen to the whole album again. They are in no way my top favourite albums, and not even the top recommendations I could make. They are just some great songs that I find myself thinking about a lot.