Classic Album Review :: The Flaming Lips — Embryonic

Little text explaining why I am doing so many reviews right now. The world, or at least North America, is fucked. Everything is breaking (because it needed to) and there is little happy that I can find to be exposed to. So, I focus on coffee and music. Since it would be boring to just keep reading about how great my black coffee is, I hope that you aren’t too sick of the music!

Interesting bit of information: I have almost exactly 38 days worth of music on my computer. I deleted about 3 days worth of stuff I either will never or have never listened to: so, biased as the claim may be, I only have the best the world has to offer!

I had my full collection on random yesterday, and was reminded of this album. It could be argued that this album isn’t old enough to be placed in the ‘classic’ category yet, but 2009 is a while ago. In my broken mind, I can justify it being two decades old. I can do simple math, I know it’s not. Shut up.

ANYWAY: This album borrows greatly from the ’60s psychedelic sound that the Flaming Lips have always used. I actually watched a video compilation using a song from this album over footage from the original Woodstock, and it fit rather nicely. I cannot decide if the Flaming Lips are in the wrong decade, or if they are just really good at appropriating sounds of the past. They fuse old sounds and ways of composing with new technologies and methods. It creates this almost timeless kakophonie. The sounds leave the listener in the middle of a miasma of ideas.

Of course, I am a huge fan of the drums on the album. They are really kinetic and almost lure the listener into a kind of trance. Most songs sport a simple 4/4 pattern, but there are deviations. The song ‘Your Bats‘ comes to mind, where it adopts a 6/8 in a way that isn’t noticeable at the start. Or, at the very least, I didn’t notice it. Maybe my mind is simple, I’ll let you be the judge.

The vocalist takes some getting used to. If you can accept his very high voice, it becomes impossible to consider any other style over the band. If someone cannot get over how shrill his voice is, however: it can render the album almost unlistenable. I could never fault anyone for being unable to get over it. I would pity them, however. It is far from a slight to point out how every instrument being played is being done so by a deft hand.

I mean, if I wanted to do a full career retrospective, I would be writing forever. This band has been producing albums in some capacity since 1983. The band has been through 16 members, with only the bass player staying absolutely consistent in his role. Even the individual who is now the lead singer didn’t start off that way. I really recommend reading the Wikipedia page about them, it’s fascinating!

Classic Album Review :: Broken Social Scene — You Forgot It In People

I have no idea what inspired me to tackle this album. This is one of my favourite albums of all time, and it will be very hard for me not to say “just listen to it because”, but I will write something more substantial because you should listen to it.

You Forgot It In People came out of nowhere on the Canadian music scene. The early 2000’s were an amazing time in Canadian Indi and pop rock, and this album helped cement that statement as true in multiple ways.

First off, and most importantly, is the pedigree of musicians on this album is amazing. Though this band does not hold the record for the most performers, it still holds 18 credited actors. I say credited only because I would not be surprised if someone did clapping on the song “Stars & Sons” and they just forgot to give them a shout-out.

The part of this album I love the most is the flow. The album starts with an ethereal string portion, track two begins with roughly ten seconds of simple guitar mixed with violin then launches with a kinetic energy from the percussion that I have never found prior or since. Track three is very subdued compared to track two, and this album continues this tug-and-pull between being calm and chaotic.

The lyrics are this strange combination of being incredibly important and highschool poetry by that guy who thinks he’s deep. It works beautifully. The reflective nature brings to mind someone who has finally identified the last parts of their sexuallity.

Standout track has to be “Looks Just Like the Sun” simply because it’s the sore-thumb track: it doesn’t quite belong in the mix, but dares you to not pay attention. It relies on almost jazz chord progressions and a very laid-back drum track. Again, not a great example for the album as a whole, but easily my favourite track in the mix.

I usually drop hints on my person FaceBook as to what album I am going to write about next, so I posted KC Accidental on my wall. My friend pointed out how “Cause = Time” is his favourite, so as I write this, I am listening to that song over and over again. The song is kind of great at accentuating the overall message of Kevin Drew’s collection of lyrics which are sexual exploration and a dower look at law enforcement. Far from police bashing (unfortunate choice of words, but I’m going to leave it there), but does belittle the institution while expressing the potential for an abuse of power.

In summary: just listen to it because.
It’s amazing,

They uploaded the whole album, so you don’t have to spend the money. Do so anyway.

Music Comparison :: Pretty Girls Make Gaves v. Mars Volta

I am not saying these two albums are one-for-one. In fact, I am not even saying that they are remotely the same. I am claiming that fans of one can find something to appreciate about the other.

The Mars Volta seemed to come out of nowhere. Unless you were a fan of Sparta, these two seemed that they came from a cave and released probably one of the most original albums of that time. De-Loused in the Comatorium was a force to be reckoned with from the ambient track one right through until the end of track ten. It is kinetic with how involved every instrument is placed. Nothing feels like an accident. The mix is beautifully orchestrated. It’s hard to discuss this album without diving headfirst into individual tracks and dissecting the music theory knowledge involved. I mean, the ending of track one (bleeding into track two) changes time signature nine times on top of simple standard time time. The album then launches into a chaotic 3/8 and then does not let up until track nine.

Pretty Girls Make Graves (hearbye known as PGMG because I’m lazy) evolved out of the emo scene in the early 2000’s. They take elements of punk and mix it with almost art-house/ambient rock. This album stays pretty well in the same energy level through most of it. None of the instrumentation sticks out, particularly. What makes this album so incredibly important is how much it impacts the listener. I know very few people who have heard this album that have not loved some part of it. The vocalist sings over a calamity of orchestrated noise that has a purpose to lull the listener into a sense of pure bliss. Though Èlan Vital is not their first, or last, album, it remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

De Louced in the Comatorium is the Mars Vota’s first full length, though they had a very decent EP prior to that. There is not a lacking member on the record. Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is on bass and he is (arguably) the weakest member of the crew. This album feels like you are listening to a performance instead of listening to an album.

Èlan Vital is, in comparison, very simple. They share aspects of the same ethereal plain, but they do not have much more in common where instrumentation comes into play, except for their use of onenote progression used several times in both recordings.

Now, I am positive there is a music theory reason for this progression. It probably dates all the way back to songs of olde. Back when the progression was far from news and, instead, was used by every minstral from here to Eden.

However, this is not the time of olde. This progression is not used often any longer, and I hate that I don’t know enough to give a name to it. It’s a huge part of Bullet Charm (which is the PGMG song I am going to link below) and is very prominent in the song “Eria Tarka” from The Mars Volta. This note progression, plus the emphasis on ethereal soundscapes, makes the comparison between the two bands more apt.

I made a big deal about track nine on De Loused in the Comatorium then dropped it! The song is Televators, and was the first song I had heard from the band. It is also acoustic and has little to do with the rest of the album. Even though it has little to do with the rest of the album, it will still be the track I place for Mars Volta below.

I’m not going to lie, a big part of why I wrote this is just to have an excuse to listen to these two albums over and over again for “research”. Also, I feel like PGMG have vanished from the collective consciousness, and any excuse I can find to talk about them feels important.

I’m posting this being well aware that I am going to get a bunch of shit from people saying how I’m wrong.

Song Review :: Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Maps

I have this song in my head. It just loops over and over and I have never been happier to have such a beautiful melody stuck in the recesses of my mind than I am right now. So, instead of reviewing the gem of an album, I thought I would just focus on this song.

Why? This album is amazing all the way through, but this song stands out. Not because it is the best song, that is arguable. No, it stands alone as almost a lullaby on an almost-punk album. It’s peaceful, it’s beautiful, it’s haunting. It stands as a kind of slap-in-the-face transition from the rest of the mix.

I have a slight tendency to prefer music from the early 2000’s. A large part of it is because I came to my auditory maturity in that time, a lot of it is because there was such a revolution in sounds not seen since the ’60s. Sure, it could be argued that most of it actually started in the ’90s, and I cannot argue that. Regardless of when the experimentation started, it got popular around the turn of the century, and we were all better for it.

Anyway, back to the song. It opens with a simple tremolo on one note, then thunderous drums kick in. After a swell, Karen O adds her voice to the ensemble as a type of whisper. The tones all mix together in an almost ethereal medley until the end of the first verse.

At just shy of 2 min. in, a Pixies like blast resonates from the guitar. This song is the perfect example of the quiet-loud-quiet formula invented by the Pixies back in the ’80s. The formula is simple, but the almost juvenile writing adds to how beautiful the song is. There is nothing to cloud the almost dream like state that this song creates.

Again, this song stands completely alone in it’s execution. The album is stuck somewhere between punk and almost dance pop. Songs like “Date With the Night” are incredibly violent (but still fun) compared to Maps.

Do I recommend this album? Whole heartedly.
Do I acknowledge that it came be disarming in how skattared the tone can be? Absolutely.
Is Maps a good example of the overall feel for the album? Fuck no. I will say that if you are intrigued, I recommend this album with every fiber of my being.

Sorry for the inevitable ads.

Classic Album Review :: The Breeders — Last Splash

There are two different ways to describe this album:
that fantastic first jam session you have with a new band that just seems to work perfectly.
OR
The embodiment of the pre-Nirvana ’90s.

For the first definition, this album always illicents that feeling for me. It’s just loose enough to give it that improvisational feel, but just tight enough to know that it isn’t the case. Everything is very simple in the best way possible.

The second description is a little more in depth, and shares being easier and harder to define.

When you find out that it’s Kim Deal from The Pixies, it all starts to make sense. They have the same sort of “quiet-loud-quiet” song structure that The Pixies made famous. The biggest difference is that The Pixies always felt like they were trying to revolutionize music and change the pop landscape. The Breeders feel like the accept the way music is going and is just trying to produce a perfect album.

I almost feel as if this band would have been absolutely huge if not for the existence of Nirvana. This album has little to do with that bordering on metal sound that came from the Nirvana camp. Again, when you know that it’s Kim Deal on guitar, the comparison is easy.

The Breeders focus a little more on the pop angle of the music, and that’s far from a bad thing in this case. Really bass focused, and non-intrusive drum patterns; the emphasis becomes more vocal-centric as opposed to Nirvana’s and their contemporaries “lyrics are important but listen to how cool this riff is” style of doing things.

I know I just went on a rant about how this band puts more emphasis on lyrics, but songs like Roi are very easy to get lost in. The effects on the strings and the dreamy definition of the vocals almost lull the listener into a trance.

I am reviewing this album because it’s the only one by this band that I know. The Breeders have eight studio albums, and this album (though I love it very much) doesn’t inspire me to check out the rest. It’s a perfect encapsle of the time, but I’m afraid to spoil the perfect image in my head of this band. Seriously, listen to this album. It should be easy to find at your local second-hand music store, if nowhere else. The band is touring again, at least as of 2018.

Music Review :: The Light in the Ocean — The Pseudo​-​Scientific Study of Oceanic Neo​-​Cryptid Zoology

So, it appears that this week is the week of silly long names for albums. I like it! It’s a fun way to explore the many facets of english.

TLITO is a band that I know very little about. My friend Jacob is the drummer, and they are experimenting with Djent and Jazz in a new way.

Well, I say new, but I promise that someone somewhere has done this kind of combination before. The question arises, however: is it as good?

This album is a beautiful combination of everything that you can do with music. It is complicated, but not unattainable. It is silly, but not cringe worthy. Parts are the ’80s power metal progression without the cheese.

Okay, what do I mean by “silly but not cringe worthy” you may be asking? There is a song that the lyrics are using He-Man and The Masters of The Universe as the bases. I pointed out how silly that was to Jacob, and he replied with an explanation of how the video will have 4 unicorn costumes.

AM ALOUD TO EXCLAIM HOW AWESOME THAT IS?

I think my favourite part of the instumentation is that the drums feel “floaty” but never off. It’s a weird thing to point out, but I feel it is important to point out.

What do I mean by Floaty? Everything is on beat, don’t worry about that. Where you would find very exact drums in such elaborate compositions, the drums sit at the back of the “pocket.” Thus, they are not (even remotely) off, but they give this very relaxed feel. Thus, my descriptor as floaty.

I will try not to gush too much. This is quite the expression of musical exploration. I am so happy that this exists.

Bandcamp || Spotify

Classic Music Review :: Vex Red — Start With a Strong Persistent Desire

The biggest plus of working at the music store I did was finding albums that were never anything, but that really should have been. Whether it was because of poor marketing, a small label folding, the band breaking up, or all of the above.

Vex Red is a band that I found purely by accident. I always looked into the bands that we no longer carried to find something that tickles my fancy, and this one day; I hit the motherload.

They remind me of a mix between Stabbing Westward and Flaw (another band that I have to highlight one day). They would have joined right in with the early ’90s pseudo-goth scene. In fact, saying that they would have worked on the Blade soundtrack would not be too far fetched a statement.

They combine electronica with metal beautifully. Pre-programed drums mixed with synthesizers and a love for the low end. This is complimented by the singer, whose voice sounds strained on purpose to convey the bleakest of emotions.

Lyrical content is a bit more mature, even if they rarely swear on this album (with exception with the track “Can’t Smile” where it feels mandatory for the narrative.). It is the kind of pointing fingers and blaming everyone else for your misfortune, but it never sounds pathetic or unnecessarily angsty. Instead, it comes off as a plea from someone who has been tortured for a majority of their formative years.

SPEAKING OF THE SONG CAN’T SMILE!
I did not know until I got to this point of the review that there was a music video produced for the song. It is NOT GREAT. Unfortunately, that song is one of the better examples of the album. So ignore the poor censorship and awkward vacant gaze. and just enjoy the everything else.

Music Review :: Amitié / Karloff

As I mentioned recently, I have been asked by .no funeral records. to look at a few of their releases. To start the collection of notes, I have chosen to focus on a split by Amitié and Karloff.

Full discretion: I am friends with two members of Karloff. I feel like pointing that out is important, though I promise you that it has not tainted my opinions at all.

Music is music. To say “you love it or you don’t” feels antiquated. I rather go with the idea of someone either understands and relates to what you are trying to say, or they don’t. In the case of these two bands (they each do a song on this EP), they define that idea. This sound is incredibly off-putting if you are not quite sure where to place your attention.

I know, I fucking know, that grindcore (and all its many facets) are not everyones bag. When it comes to the -core’s, even I become quite discerning. I tend to lean heavier on the mathcore side of things, because I’m an arrogant fuck. This does NOT mean that I cannot appreciate incredible skills when I hear them.

Amitié starts off the two track journey with a slow, low toned dream scape. That dreamscape, however, turns into a nightmare quickly. The track is only 1:18 long, and transforms into a high-end massacre of all that you expect. The drums use a much higher ratio of cymbal/snare, where as the intro was almost exclusively toms.

Karloff opens their track with a simple hold of anticipation before the hammer falls. They take a more jazz chord structure, and delve further into a feeling of anguish before just leaving the song where it began. At 1:03, this song packs in everything you could want from metal track minus the annoying 80’s guitar solo.

I would say Karloff reminds me mildly of Buried Inside (in regards to crushing oppressive tones mixed with blistering fast metre), where as Amité elicits feelings closer to Fuck the Facts. Amité has a more polished sound, but the Karloff doesn’t sound out of place: just the mids seem a bit wonky.

Overall, if you like heavy music, I very much recommend this split. It is everything one needs in less than 4 minutes.

Arbeitary number rank: 30912385 out of a possible 2.865

Bandcamp || Cassette

Why I write about music.

I am very certain I have written about this topic before, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to search through hundreds of self-indulgent words mixed in with only a small amount of importance.

First and foremost; I think music is THE most important thing in life. I realize that you cannot consume it for nutrients, therefore it can be argued that food is the most important. This is MY blog and I will make my sweeping statements that cannot be backed up in anyway!

AHEM: I make that claim trying to keep my past out of the equation. It’s not a secret that I spent more than a decade working very closely with the music industry. Hell, I worked at a record store for seven years. I was playing on albums and playing shows since 2005. I produced a few albums and EP’s. I have almost 40 days worth of music sitting on my hard drive. I ran a record label. I review albums because it’s fun and I think I don’t suck at it…

So, why put music above everything?

It’s the one medium that collaborates every aspect of the arts while being recognized by every single culture.

What about the deaf?
They can feel beats and rhythm, and can even tap out an approximate flow if they can focus on the direction of the metre. As far as writing guitar or piano, if they know their music theory, they can easily do that. Not to mention that, if they went deaf later in life, they can probably remember things that sound good together.

Now, to elaborate on my claim about combining every art. To combine poetry and music seems like a simple task, but after watching others do it for years, I now can confirm that it is not as easy as one might think initially. You need to keep flow and metre in mind, as well as emotional weight and emphasis. That’s two of the arts down.

Let’s keep going.

Album art takes care of the visual arts, on the surface and immediate level, anyway. Again, I ran (a very bad and unprofessional) record label for years. Visual representation does generate sales, as shallow as that sounds.. If the album cover is appealing, people are more likely to pick it up. I am under the impression that is why vinyl came back in a large way: the larger cover plus the appeal of having something tangible.

(That’s what drew me in, anyway.)

Let us not forget music and lyric videos. Though music videos have kind of shrank in importance, the few that come out can greatly add OR detract from the appeal of the music. Lyric videos are huge.

Stage performance is a kind of acting. Even the “roots” acts one may see have cultivated that image, whether it be intentional or not. I have played with many acts who (consciously or subconsciously) do a full change when they go on stage. As a musician, you learn to play off the crowd expectation. That could be reactions to a previous move you make, or observations on how the other acts that evening maintain the attention of the masses.

So, after explaining all of this: let’s get back to the initial question of why I write about music so often!

  1. I love everything about music. The concept, the sound, the feel… Every part of music makes everything in my life have context, and it’s very hard for me to go a day without thinking critically about it in some way.
  2. I think that it is important. Whether it is in regards to mental or physical healing, the effects that it has on a being cannot be ignored. I cannot be bothered to source all the facts I know, so I’ll just bring up the emotional well-being it brings myself. I know that music makes me happier, and therefore I try to do things in life. Without music, I would have little context for waking up in the morning.
  3. I’m good at it. Well, I think I’m good at it. I at least find it fun to do, and if you don’t like it, stop reading my blog.

With all of this said, if there is a topic that you would like me to explore in further depth, please get hold of me somehow. I have been contacted by .no funeral. records to examine a few of their releases, and I am excited to roll those out over the next bit.

Classic Album Review :: Nothingface — Skeletons

I posed a question to my Facebook asking whether I should do a comparison between this and Mudvayne’s End of All Things to Come. The response was just to do the review of LD50 that I did the other day, but there were a few people that said I should just focus on this album.

This album sits in a strange place in regards to all the other metal from the early 2000’s. It starts with a pretty series of chords then quickly devolves into chaos. Ironically, in a bubble, the first song is probably the weakest on the album. That really is saying something when it slaps so fucking hard.

The best part of this album, in my opinion, is how it feels like a pop’d up David Botrel production. For those who don’t know, David Botrel is famous for the work he did with Tool as well as various other emotionally heavy albums.

What I find interesting, also strange for an album that I hold in high regards, is how the vocals are the centre of the mix. It is actually mixed like a pop album that way: where the instrumentation takes an almost backseat to the vocals. Most metal I listen to is very much the opposite, and this makes the lyrical dynamics much more important.

This is a double-edge sword, however. Some of the lyrics are (for lack of a better term) stupid. On that note, I do get the over arching message this band is trying to portray. They tend to lean in heavy on the idea that society is messed up. Unfortunately, the phrases they choose to highlight sometimes fall flat (see the repetition of “Kill That Motherfucker It’s All That I Think About”). It tends to quash any respect this band might have garnished from the general public.

On that note, some songs are amazing lyrically. Ether stands out as one of those, where the content is talking about the systematic disillusionment of the masses starting at a young age. Songs like this save the album from coming off like it is written by a 15-year-old who can’t get a girlfriend.

I cannot talk about this album without bringing up the drums. On first listen, they are not impressive. All the songs (minus the occasional hit) are in simple meter, so one can be forgiven for thinking that the accompanying rhythm would be simple, as well. Once you sit down and try to figure things out, it is quickly apparent that this drummer is a beast.

I say simple, but the song “I Wish I Was A Community” opens with oppressive crushing hits that do not, in any way, sound simple. Actually, before writing this retrospective, I had forgotten about this song completely. Not my favourite on the album, but damned close.

I comfortably put this album in my top list of all time, though I never bring it up as an example for my taste. Not because I’m embarrassed to admit it, but simply because it is a outlier. Very few things (that I have come across) have this sound. You can find things that have elements, but nothing that has the complete package.

Talking to a couple of friends, they pointed out that Violence is the better album, and I fully admit that I don’t know that album. I have probably missed something amazing, and if this album is any indication, I should probably go back and check that out. IN THE MEAN TIME, enjoy.