Have You Not HEARD? Metal Edition

I pretty much started writing this as soon as the last was posted. I am no fool: I know metal is not everyones cup-of-tea, but it contains some of the best musicianship you will ever hear. Some of these albums have warped my mind for years, and those I just found “recently” will warp my mind for many to come.

I will warn you: some of these albums are very-much not metal. The main intent of this list is to point to albums that, I think, should be acknowledge by the community.

Invent, Animate :: Everchanger
An example of one I found recently, this band blows my mind every time I listen to them. Aggressive, beautiful, fast and complicated. If you do not have this album, rectify that instantly. NOTE TO DRUMMERS: The fuck…? People can do that?
The link in the band name is the first track on the album Everchanger called Sol. It is a song that gets in my head, and stays there for days.

Structures :: All of the Above [EP]
You may notice a trend in the metal albums I recommend: they all have ridiculous drumming and general song structure. This EP is no different. I will confess, I have not listened to their full length that came out a few years ago. The vocals are a bit trying, but any musician can appreciate what they do on this.

Straight Reads the Line :: The Author
What does this album do differently than most? It has amazing lyrics and incredible dynamics. I have had the pleasure of sharing the stage with these boys many times, I must say they NEVER disappoint.

Sleigh Bells :: Treats
I can almost hear the cries of disbelief. Yes, I put a pop band on this list, but SERIOUSLY: listen to this album. It is the guitar player from Poison the Well and is so barely pop. The only thing that keeps it in that category is the use of a drum machine and the style of vocals.

Melt-Banana :: Bambi’s Dillema
The best way to describe this album is “What?” quickly followed by smashing someone’s head into a concrete wall. This album is the definition of ridiculous.

Hail The Sun :: Wake
Shown to me by the beautiful Stephen Correa, this album hurts me in all the right ways. Think Circa Survive, but more complicated. Seriously, the drums on this album are damned near impossible to follow, yet make perfect sense.
BONUS POINTS! The drummer is the lead singer! You can find some live videos online.

Buried Inside :: Chronoclast: Selected Essays On Times Reckoning and Auto-Cannabalism
Seriously, with a name that unnecessary, you know the album will be amazing.
This album is unfair with how fast it is at points. From Canada, this band broke up in 2010. I cannot decide if it is too bad they broke up because they could have done amazing things for metal or fantastic because now this album will not be corrupted. With that said, I do have their other two albums. They are good, but not this good. Seriously: how do people’s minds work this fast?

Counterparts :: Prophets
I can hear eyes rolling from friends of mine. I played with this band several times back around the release of this album in 2010. It’s fast, angry, and beautiful. I personally loved the guys in this band, and felt that they always put on a fantastic live show. This band contained, at one time, one of my favourite drummers in the punk/metal/hardcore scene in Ontario.

The Contortionist :: Language
Funny story: I discovered this band about two years before writing this. I had only heard this album up until a month ago. I only like their sound on this album. That is NOT to say that I don’t hear the talent on their prior recordings, but I am a huge fan of the band Tool: this album shares a lot with Tool’s Lateralus album, which was my favourite album up until a couple of years ago. Combine that with my inability to comprehend some of the writing behind the progressions and you have a recipe for me to love every minute of this album.

The End :: Within Dividia
I harp to my friends about this album all of the time. Not prior to this recording, nor after, have I found something more complicated. More visceral. More amazing.
Definitely for fans of The Dillinger Escape Plan, but much less punk. The drummer is nothing shy of a beast. I got the pleasure of seeing this band on a tour for the album after this one, which was much different, but the event was more like a religious experience as opposed to a concert.

Well, that was fun! My attention has been less on metal as of late, so nothing here is very new. I hope you found something new that you love.

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You have not HEARD?

I have not done a music spotlight since the beginning of April. I find that strange because music plays such an important roll in my life, and has since I was a young child. So, for today, I am going to direct your attention to a few albums you really need to listen to that there is a good chance the majority of people have never even heard before.

Kill the Lights — Buffalo Of Love
Band from Montreal, Quebec. Very reminiscent of the indi sound of the early 2000’s including a singer who can’t-sing-but-does-anyway-and-no-one-else-should. This album has some of the fastest drumming I have heard outside of metal. I saw them open for the Constantines a few years ago. At that show, the keyboard player did an awkward chicken dance through most of the set — it was awesome/awkward. Did I mention that it was awkward? Does not change the fact that this is one of the best albums with this sound I have ever heard.

Really unfortunate: I cannot find any music anywhere on the internet. However, it is on Spotify, but I hate that site.

June — If You Speak Any Faster
EMO EMO EMO EMO.
I hate that I love this album. It is in the same veign as Taking Back Sunday’s Louder Now, but less epic and awesome. (sell it better, Jay. Come on) I love this album. It does have it’s low points, but it starts  perfectly. Dueling vocals, playful guitars, and powerful drums. The best part is that it is fun to sing with.

The Junction — ST
I really enjoy the contrast between this and the EP. Half the EP is somewhere on this album, but the songs are SO much darker. It’s just so damned interesting what they changed and what they kept. The first song is nothing but an assault on the ears (in the best way) and it never lets up until the end. Remember Love is so delicate compared to most of the album, but that does not make it less amazing.

The Last Shadow Puppets — The Age of the Understatement
Singer from The Arctic Monkeys, and I find this project so much better. Think Spaghetti-Western but rock. So good.

Pretty Girls Make Graves — Elan Vital
This was a random album that a co-worker threw into the player one day. The result was both he and I scrambling by the end to purchase it before the other. It is haunting, beautiful, complicated… Yeah. I was very tempted to put this on my list from a month ago, but it just lacks the emotional attachment to my life.

Quicksand — Slip
It actually offends me that more people do not know of this album. Yes: I admit that he cannot sing. However, the influence this sound has had on music is massive. This album does it better than every other in my opinion. The fact that his voice is so terrible adds to everything. Again, so close to my list, but not quite.

Samaris — ST
I went to Iceland on the one week where there was no live music. To make myself feel better, I walked into a record store and picked up a random album by a band that I have never heard of. What I got was one of the darkest and beautiful albums I have ever heard. Who knew that you could combine clarinet and electronica so well?

A Silver Mt. Zion — Kollaps Tradixionales
(Probably one of the coolest songs once it gets going. Really watch at the 3:06 mark)
Montreal: you slay me. That city has produced more music that I am obsessed with than anywhere else. I probably should have put “Godspeed You, Black Emperor!” instead of this band. What I find so amazing about this album is that it maintains being equal parts punk and folk.

Stars — Set Yourself On Fire
I hate this band. They put on one of the worst live shows I have ever seen. I say that, but I have never heard such an evocative set of lyrics matched with beautiful music before I heard this album No matter how I try, I cannot top it. Everything in me just has to love an album that open with “when there’s nothing left to burn, you have to set yourself on fire.”

Stills — Logic Will Break Your Heart
I FORGOT ABOUT THIS ALBUM. THIS IS ACTUALLY IN MY TOP 3. CAN’T YOU TELL THE CAPS ARE DUE TO ME FORGETTING ABOUT THIS ALBUM UNTIL RIGHT NOW AND NOW I AM TRYING TO BE CLEAR THAT I LOVE THIS ALBUM AND FEW WILL EVER MATCH HOW AMAZING IT IS.

Ahem.

Full of atmosphere, brilliant lyrics, beautiful tones. There are few albums that I will ever describe as essential for any reason, but I honestly feel like this album is essential for anyone looking for an ironically-dark journey into a depressing-but-funny world. As simple as they are, the drums on this album are what kill me. There is nothing overly interesting about them on the entire recording, but they are mixed to a cathedral level of amazing that is amazing and amazing amazing amazing.

Ikara Cult — Basic Instructions
It took me WAY too long to remember how to spell this band’s name without looking it up.
This song defines punk to me: it’s so fast! I have been trying for years to move my arms as fast as this drummer. I have never succeeded. I’m not here to talk about the drums, this time. It amazes/hurts me how few people know this band. This was the first song I heard by them, and still remains my favourite by this group. The only song that got close to making me change my mind was OneNote, which is similar in how quick it is (and also remains a more-traditional punk sound).

Really, this band is what drove me to make this list. Like I said, I honestly do find it astounding how few people know of this British troupe. If I have sold you on them, get the EPs first. The album is good, but is missing the intensity that comes with the EPs.

A week later, and I have thought of 302130583405914 more bands to share. If there is interest, I will do another list of greats that you need to check out.

The Single Hardest Project Ever

I had a discussion with a good friend of mine whether or not we could come up with a Top 10 list of albums. We both agreed that it would be very difficult, so I tried to make one up after he left. My result was a top 20, so I gave myself further restrictions and now it’s a Top 10, finally. As I am writing this, I am stuck thinking about what I kept off the list.

RULES: One album per artist. No “Honourable Mentions”*. No regrets* with what I have listed.
(Only one exception because it should be on this list, but I made a promise to do 10)

NINE INCH NAILS :: The Fragile
I could not resist putting this album in the list. I love it so. Between “La Mer” and “Just Like You Imagined” I would be set for a very long time in the event I loose everything but this. I have heard rumours of an instrumental version existing: if you know where to get it, please pass me along a link.
Recommended listening: Just Like You Imagined

That song is a strange example of the rest of the album. Beautiful, which is a fantastic snapshot, but extremely tame compared to songs like Starfuckers, Inc. Please enjoy. If you know the album, what is your favourite?

CURSIVE :: Domestica
The album I have listened to the most, hands down, in the last few years. It is actually my favourite album of all time: it flows perfectly from end to end. I do not have it on vinyl because I have never seen it around for a reasonable price ($30 is too rich for my blood, though it is tempting). It honestly has the (second) best ending of an album ever. (the best ending belongs to Sparta on their debut album Wiretap Scars. Only Honourable Mention I will do because it was axed only due to space)
Recommended listening: Radiator Hums

Jazzy and fantastic: this song contains some of my favourite lyrics ever portrayed in a song. It is just so biting: so harsh. Yet, like the rest of the album, self deprecating and pretty. BONUS POINTS: The chorus is so much fun to shout along to.

DEFTONES :: White Pony
Do I really have to justify this being on my list? It’s heavy: both emotionally and musically. A brilliant collection of sounds, it has been a major influence on the music I have collected in the years.
Recommended listening: Knife Party

Beautiful. That statement is even before the chaos that is the ending. Her vocal range is astounding. The drums contain some of the coolest licks I have heard.

DEERHOOF :: Vs. Evil
Everyone has to have a strange album they listen to. This band is in my top list simply because I always am blown away when I listen to them. Like everything great, I do not know how I found this album because it exposed me to what music can be.
Recommended listening: The Merry Barracks

I put the music video as the sample for this song because.

DIE HEXE :: ST EP
Anyone who has talked to me in the last year has known about my obsession with this EP. The beauty in its distopic view of reality is astounding to me. Do yourself a favour and listen to it, please. This collection is easily my favourite independent album to exist in years and one of my favourite albums of all time.
Recommended listening: The Entire Album

Not only is the whole album fantastic, they are independent. It does not seem fair pointing out one song to ignore the feat they have managed.

BIBIO :: Ambivilance Avenue
Think folk mixed with trip-hop and jazz, and you only get a mild idea of what this album contains. Perfect background sounds for writing or meditating. Also, the last thing I listened to before I ended up in hospital.
Recommended listening: Fire Ant

I guess this is not a fantastic example of the rest of the album, but it is, by far, one of my favourites. It is an example of what a hip-hop beat could be if a DJ was given free-range.

WEAKERTHANS :: Reconstruction Site
Punk, but with a twist. Some of the most brilliant and soul-destroying lyrics you will ever hear.
Also, I cannot listen to it without thinking of my good friend, Elianna.
Recommended listening: Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)

This was the first song I heard by this band ever. Not going to lie, the line “yes a penguin taught me french back in Antarctica” sold me almost instantly.

WINTERSLEEP :: Untitled
This was a favourite album of mine for a very long time. The emotional weight it portrays is amazing. The song “Lipstick” perfectly encapsulates being alone while surrounded by people.
Recommended listening: Danse Macabre

I figured it out after years of listening to it, but that drum line is STUPID!

BLONDE REDHEAD :: 23
Hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunting. Really, there is little to write home with this album: there is nothing to it except that it is incredibly pretty. So pretty, in fact, that I love it this much.
Recommended listening: The Publisher

This song has my favourite vocal progression, by far.

DO MAKE SAY THINK :: Goodbye Enemy Airship, the Landlord Is Dead
This is my favourite album. It doesn’t have any words, and that almost makes it better. The juxtaposition of the instruments is spine tingling, the rhythms and flourishes that it finds is jaw-dropping, and the crescendos bring tears to my eyes every time. Every album they have released is astounding, but this one is perfect. I cannot even show this album to everyone because I KNOW that not everyone will appreciate it.
Recommended listening: Goodbye Enemy Airship

That is my favourite song. Full Stop. I fucking love this song and every emotion that it evokes. I have been listening to a playlist of all these albums since I came up with this idea, and I stop everything I am doing to listen to all 12 minuets of this song every time it plays.

WHAT DID I LEARN!?

I toss around top-ten labels way too easily. It is not malicious or a lie, just a spur-of-the-moment label. Most of the CDs I give that label are, in fact, held in a very high regard.

In fact: I am of the assumption that if everyone did that in regards to something that they love, they will notice where priorities lie.

I still feel like I forgot about something very VERY important. I am also upset at the fact that Blood Brothers, Poison the Well, and Said the Whale are not on the list anywhere, but I promised no honourable mentions.

Also, ‘Frequently Played’ numbers are not to be trusted. Sometimes, you get into a habit of playing something because it reminds you of something. That may be a time, a place, or right now. It has nothing to do with the love for the actual album, however. Tom Vek is in my top plays but he was not even a contender for the list.


These are the albums that I listen to almost daily.

One may argue that this is not an appropriate post for this blog. There is nothing about health or life in a wheelchair.

YOU ARE FUCKING WRONG.

A large part of health, in and out of a chair, is finding peace in whatever is around you. I have always kept music a massive part of my life: so much so that when I had to go almost 10 months with either nothing or crappy radio I was horribly depressed because of it. Yes, I am aware that I focus too much on music. I need to, or I will get swallowed up in my situation and dwell on how things can be better. It motivates me to get back to drumming the way I used to. It reminds me of how things used to be and shows me how they will change by being in everything I do. ‘You’re Not Dead’ has a soundtrack, and the book I am working on now does, as well.

Punk.

I have always enjoyed Punk (the subculture) through the lens of an outsider. I barely listened to conventional punk music, I had a mohawk out of convenience more than a statement, and I have always carried my political views close to my heart but out of the ears of others.

Why do I mention political views? The punk scene has a large history of standing up to social issues and government rules.

The mohawk was fantastic, but I never wanted attention for it. I never wear the damned thing up, choosing to go with more of a combover look. The best part is that I can do it myself opting out of going to a salon or to a professional. My fiancé hates it. I tend to get hair all over the bathroom and I never seem to clean it well enough, if I do at all. The ‘hawk was paired with the 15 piercings I had at one time. I did all of this, but I recoiled in fear every time someone drew attention to it. I felt like a poser: I did not think of the statements that were attached to what I was doing but given the chance, I would do it all again.

I say “conventional punk music”, but I use the term lightly. Some would argue that there is a specific sound/mood to what punk should be. That (somewhat ironically) goes in the face of what punk is and stands for.

Looking at what punk used to be, it was a generation of people who couldn’t play their instruments protesting in broken song against the established mainstays of the music industry. It picked up momentum in the ’70s and ’80s, and broke into several sub-genres. In the ’70s, you had bands like The Clash and Exrospecs thrashing their instruments, and their voices. The ’80s saw the rise of Deathrock, Goth, and New Wave. All very different, all having a mainstream band for introductions for the masses.

Pop-punk in the early ’90s brought bands like Green Day, Offspring and Blink 182 into a revival of the punk feel. The message was kind of gone, but the formula of the writing was refined. The underground landscape changed and became both more complicated and more mainstream as time went on. With bands like Propagandhi and Choke carrying the Canadian scene, while NOFX concocted their own sound.

The 2000’s were both interesting and depressing. The Emo sound started to reign king and Pop-punk became more Pop than Punk. Not to be outdone by their more commercial counterparts, Skate Punk poked its head up around this time being fuelled by the video game market. ‘Screamo’ started to become more mainstream, as well: even though it really got it’s huge push by “The Shape Of Punk To Come” by Refused in 1999 and bands like Quicksand in the early ’90s.

This is roughly where I came in. I was never a huge punk fan until about 2007, and my “poison” was the atmosphere of Emo with the edge of Screamo. Bands like Farewell to Freeway and Caulfield in the underground paved the way for my love of Alexisonfire and The Reason (who was my first show around the release of Ravenna).

The explosion of acoustic instruments being used and abused in modern punk excites me to no end. There is also no-end to the labels that have been applied. One thing remains constant, however: punk is a protest with no clear goal. Some are ‘punk’ to rebel against social, political, and institution views. Others are just rebelling the state of music in todays mainstream. Regardless, the one thing I have learned from punk is love each other and respect each other.

GUESS WHAT DOESN’T MATTER?!
Fashion. I fucking hate that people hold it in such regard. Is there a Punk fashion? I guess, but it really just comes down to “wear what you want” most of the time.

I should probably state that I have no research put into this. That is probably clear.

I put the question of “..what does punk mean to you?” to FaceBook out of curiosity what people would say. If you follow me, I recommend reading what others have put. A couple of people just listed bands, which is always awesome, but Linda M. put a fantastic personal account of the classic Punk Scene and how everything used to be.

Also, Kyle W. put a fantastic definition up as well. Read those.

Actually, if either one of them are okay, I would like to post the comments on here in either a comment or as an edit. Let me know.

Classic Album Review :: Sloan — Navy Blues

I feel like I need to remind society, as a whole, about this fantastic Canadian gem. Navy Blues was Sloans fourth album and, in my mind anyway, their most amazing release to date.

The year was 1998. The landscape in the music world was dark and brooding. Refused was asking to get the airwaves back, and Matthew Good Band was slaying society by reminding ourselves how bleak and pointless everything was. It actually remains one of, if not my personal favourite periods in music. Korn was still worthy of respect, Meshuggah was being ridiculous, and The Dillinger Escape Plan followed up to a very technical introduction with one of the most complicated (sonically) albums ever released.

Through all the brooding, doom, and technical insanity, Sloan released a throwback.. Navy Blues is The Beatles in the nineties, but with more coherent lyrics. I will not sugar-coat it: this is a pop album. It stays on my radar by having some of the most interesting and simple drumming I have ever heard.

Between tight harmonies, catchy hooks, and a driving beat, this album continues to bring nothing shy of a smile to my face.

Maybe it is because it is cute and simple that I love it so much. When you have such a fantastic year of really complicated albums coming out, the pop throwback not only stands alone but is more appreciated for not pretending it’s something it’s not.

I won’t bullshit music fans: listen to the album, but realize that it’s not for everyone. Stated again: it is a pop album. It is great to listen to when cruising in a car on a summer day with windows down.

My recommendation is watch the horribly arrogant and hilarious music video I have provided.

Incase you haven’t noticed: I really don’t know what to write about. I felt like bringing this album to light because I feel like it is forgotten in the shuffle. I used to write a fuck-tonne of reviews and highlights like this (only more arrogant) a few years ago. Leave a like if you think I should do more. It’s fun!
Also, I do Canadian Independent Punk reviews over on Mind The Music T.O. most Mondays.

I will have something next week that isn’t just a review. I wanted to do this (it’s been in my head a while).

ALBUMS OF NOTE THAT YEAR:

& You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead — ST
(Not their best, but it does mark the beginning of something great)
Board of Canada — Music Has the Right To Children
(Ambience arguably at its best)
Bran Van 3000 — Glee
(Canadian dance weirdness)

I cannot continue this list. I have 33 different albums that I would have to talk about.
You get the idea.