Classic Album Review :: Stabbing Westward — Darkest Days

I might be wrong: I think everyone forgot about this album. I find it strange because this album is like a strange radio-friendly version of early Nine Inch Nails mixed with Bush X. It is both accessible and hard-hitting. I do not have it in my pantheon of constant rotation, but it is a very welcome addition to my library.

The album opens with a haunting soundscape, very mechanical and broken. The bass then kicks in driving a simple 4/4 riff while bells chime overtop. It is incredibly haunting, even if it is simple in execution.

The coolest part for me is that the vocalist starts by singing in almost a whisper, only to crecedo when the music does. And how it does! The opening track is in my top 10 opening tracks for demonstraiting the full capability for a band. Nothing is very from a skill perspective, but it is very impactful and hard-hitting.

One of the last lines of the first track (everything I touch I break) gets repeated over and over in the second track. Not in an “I’m 13 and know everything” kind of way, but more that dark and brooding way that Deftones does — point out the horrible in people and exploit it. The kind of angst that never really comes off as whining, but more like that expression of a soul done by someone who has actually seen some shit. The kind of writing that we all wished we were capable of in high school, tried, but came off as spoiled children instead of creating the portrait that we were trying to express.

Have I mentioned that the late nineties, in particular ’97 through 98, is my favourite moment in music? I do not know what was going on in society, but everything was perfect. From Beautiful Midnight by Mathew Good Band to Rabbit In Your Headlights by UNKLE came out right around the release of this fantastic album. I have gushed about the atmosphere of the former, and I plan on writing something on the latter in a bit, but that year is peppered with genre-defining moments of all forms.

Anyway, I have gushed enough. I know that I did not go further into specific instrumentation, as I normally do. This album is better defined through the overall feel, not to say the individual parts do not matter. For a proper breakdown of the instruments, all I can say is nothing special happens and that actually makes it better. Give it a listen. You’ll know what I mean.

Music Review :: Yell the Burden — Lost & Found

I know I usually write about stuff that came out forever ago, but this album just got noticed. It may have just been released.

Anyway, this band is fantastic. I played with them several times, and they are bred from Krhaemer. Krhaemer being one of the first bands that I ever saw. What’s amazing about this band is how they make being ridiculous sound normal. I am getting ahead of myself.

This album has some of the cleanest vocals this band has produced. The vocals are like a less annoying Choke. In fact, this band is like a less annoying several things. Take the best things that the classic punk scene could produce, and distil it all together. That’s right: the best of all the best. Now make it better.

Dillinger Escape Plan meets Belvedere meets Choke meets Fall of Troy. That would be the easiest way I could describe this band.

OH! AND SINGLE KICK! somehow. Seriously, how? The drummer is literally inhuman. When listening to the EP knowing that it’s single kick, you can fathom it. If you had no idea, you assume he used double. To substitute the potential extra hits, his hands strike toms between beats. His hands are so bloody fast.

Have I mentioned the bass yet? One would be put to talk to find jazz with bass this complicated. For the best example, listen to Leaving Shippinsburg and thank me later. The entire thing is just scales and melody’s that shouldn’t be possible.

…and you know that ever part of the band is fantastic if I talk about the ridiculous guitar player last. Considering he is the lead vocal last I saw them, I have a hard time wrapping my mind around playing and singing the songs.

At the end of this short review where I don’t point you to a song but beg you to enjoy this 20 min EP, I am reminded why I usually stick to writing about classic albums. I can delve into political movements and the greater ecosystem that is the music industry. I can examine trends and maybe recommend a track that was ignored by charts and fandom’s. It doesn’t change the fact that if you are a punk fan OR a math-metal fan, you need to listen to this album. You need to explore this bands full back catalogue, but this album is a fantastic place to start.

Download or just listen here.

2019 :: In Review

I don’t have a best album list for the year. I only one EP from the year, which was released by Adam Evers. Though it would end up in my top for the year if I had more, I feel it would be in bad taste if I tried to do a “best of” for the year with such a small sample size.

I might do a “best of decade” list in the new year, but that is not my focus right now.

In the last year, I have produced a couple of my favourite pieces of writing. That includes “Martha.” as well as “Alone.“. It’s coincidence that I decided to put “.” in both names, but it’s fitting that my personal favourites were both accented by periods. “Martha.” has a sci-fi theme and explores memory, time, and trust. “Alone.” is a dystopia-style enigma that is a little more forward in it’s delivery, but has to do with trust again.

Over the last month, I have been dealing with Friessen Press again to repress You’re Not Dead and add in some additional content. I have not firmed a release date as of yet, but it will contain a revised version of You’re Not Dead (with a lot less stupid grammar errors) as well as several anewsin stories. This also includes a couple of new stories that will not be on this site, and the few people that I have had read it over have agreed that they are good.
Just for fun, I also punctuated each chapter with a Depressing Fact, things along the lines of “You will die.” and other… fun… things of that nature. I was asked by one person if there was a point to the piece, and I simply replied with something along the line of refreshingly true.

They did not find that as funny as I did.

I also forwent the idea of updating this blog once a week! So far, I have noticed a bump in stats (obviously) but also a bump in retaining readers for more than just the one update! Thank you all, so much, for staying interested in what I have on my mind.

For things I have watched, Bojack Horseman continues its voyage in being one of the most depressing, yet funniest, things I have ever watched. That, in combination with Archer 1999, it has been a great year for cartoons.

(To be clear: it was not my favourite season of Archer, but it was very good. Especially if you like the deviation they have been taking for the three seasons prior.)

For things that I have never heard anyone talk about, check out Final Space. It continues that rabbit hole of being hilarious shows that are dark. Think Battle Star Galactica mixed with Invader Zim. The second season came out this year, and it contains a few of my favourite lines ever put into a show, but also contains some of the most bleak ideas that you will ever find in sci-fi. Do yourself a favour and start this show from the start. Then thank me. Then watch it again.

For games, I have been a complete and total wallflower this year. My attention has been on watching Kojima releasing Death Stranding and people not knowing what to do. I have been watching an almost resurrection in the popularity of Minecraft and wondering why, and I have been laughing probably too hard at the remaster of every game from my past. Though gaming has taken a back seat for myself over the last year or two, I still look in to witness where the industry is going. I use it as kind of a meter for society as a whole. Not so much on a micro scale: I don’t see them as one-to-one. More as evidence to see where mindsets seem to be.

Anyway, this ramble is complete. I’m mostly happy with these recaps of what I noticed, but if I missed a category, let me know! Though a year is just a blip in the grand scheme of things, it feels long at the time. For instance, it has been three years since my book came out, two years married, and six years in a wheelchair! My leaping fuck time moves strangely!

Classic Album Review :: Kittie — Oracle

I don’t know why I got this album in my head. I was wheeling through my kitchen humming the chorus for What I Always Wanted when my wife, being rather concerned, asked what was wrong with me. The awkward thing is that song is not the only one on the album with singing, but has the least interesting pattern to get stuck in your head.

For being from London, Ontario, this album still scratches an itch that only a few bands can. I hesitate to call it Nu Metal, but it did come out around right around Untouchables by Korn (predating it by a year). Really, a better comparison is The End of All Things to Come by Mudvayne with less “David Bottrill” in the whole sound area.

Very simple guitar and bass. Almost too much (in a good way) drums. Vocals that pierce every inch of your soul. Beautiful singing. To be honest, that is why I have gone this long with never bringing this band up before. I love them, the first 3 albums anyway, but that is literally all I have to say about them.

If you just want something heavy, yet beautiful (in a broken way), you can do MUCH worse. They do the early ’90s sound yet still remain relevant. I mean, Mudvayne and Korn are my only (halfway) decent comparisons, and they really don’t describe this band at all.

Oracle is amazing. Spit and Until the End are good, but a bit more particular. They have one more album, but I hated it.

Personal note: don’t y’all enjoy how I am like “BYE SEE YOU NEXT YEAR” and then publish a review in the same week? I am going to not be doing blog stuff, and I am only going to be writing about music you should check out. I say that not expecting anything fascinating to happen in any other regards this year. I might be wrong.

Music Review :: Adam Evers — Moments

Adam is a talented musician who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is stupid talented, and his voice is amazing. I am getting ahead of myself.

Adam recorded an EP called Moments a few months ago. It blew me away. I’m not normally interested in acoustic jams, but this is exactly what I wanted. Somber, warm, and new yet familiar. I really dig it.

I hate to make comparisons when it is independent music, but it really reminds me of A Perfect Circle‘s acoustic stuff mixed with mild Arab Strap. Beautiful and haunting. I cannot help but feel that this EP is important when I listen to it. The whole adventure last just under fifteen minutes, but the impact it had on me was significant. I have listened to this simple set of recordings dozens of times.

It wouldn’t be a review from me if I didn’t talk, at length, about the instrumentation. The first track is a perfect example of how to do acoustic music right: tasteful violins, huge percussion, wispy vocals, beautiful bass, and minimal (yet poignant) guitar riffs.

I don’t really have a favourite on the album, but I am partial to the song Bodies. I don’t have reason to say any song above another, but maybe because it’s just a beautiful song and a perfect example of what I enjoy about music. Maybe because I am just listening through the EP for the fifth time since I started writing this review and the song just came up again.

Know what? I can sit here all day and talk about how music this EP touches me, or you can listen to it yourself and understand where I am coming from. It’s available on every possible outlet for sale, but YouTube has the whole thing up for stream.

Enjoy!

Classic Album Review :: 65daysofstatic — The Fall Of Math

I would like to start this post with an apology:
I know that I have been doing a fair number of album reviews, but they are fun and easy to put together! That, and I hope that someone somewhere is taking the time to actually look into some of the albums I highlight. Art is important, and music is my heroin. Some people find peace in things, quiet, reading, playing music, video games, building computers…

…I find my peace in listening to music. I get too involved in the industry side when I am in a band, and I forget sometimes to just enjoy the realm that I am in. So, that is why I write these. Not only do I get to listen to some of my favourite albums, but recommend them to someone, ANYONE, who has never listened to them before.

NOW THAT I HAVE SAID I’M SORRY, this album is the start of something amazing. 65daysofstatic was my introduction to the world of instrumental music beyond the occasional track. They are not the only ones I listen to now, but they are still in a minority for me. Even bands like ‘Do, Make, Say, Think’ delve into vocals now and then. If you ignore the bands that are rock based, there are very few who have no vocals what-so-ever.

Why do I recommend them over the other bands doing the same thing? They keep things interesting with surprising dynamics, frantic drum machines, and some of the best musicianship I have ever heard.

Mogwai is in the category: bands with no vocals. Mogwai never appealed to me because I felt either over or underwhelmed at all times. Maybe it was just the album I listened to, but every song had one volume for the entire piece. 65daysofstatic, meanwhile, keep things engaging. For a fantastic (yet extreme) example, look at the title song “The Fall Of Math.” This song goes from literal classical to ear piercing intensity in moments. The best part is how it NEVER stays in one decibel for too long.

I am not a fan of drum machines, usually. I find they are used as a crutch at times, or far too often at others. 65daysofstatic use them as another instrument. I can almost hear the eye rolls, but hear me out! By using them as an instrument, I am implying that often drum machines are used to fill out or are used instead of percussion. 65daysofstatic use drum machines to create a kind of soundscape that their music is based around. This, in conjunction with acoustic drums, creates an industrial sound reminiscent of ’80s bands like Throbbing Gristle or early Nine Inch Nails, where the percussion is used to create atmosphere and emotion. The song “Retreat! Retreat!” comes to mind because it is by far the most organic drum-wise on the whole album. There is still the use of a drum machine, but it is used almost exclusively to create a mood. They explore this palette more on later albums, but this album demonstrates exactly what they are going to be growing into in the coming years.

I will admit: this is not my favourite album by this band. It is VERY good, and the aforementioned “Retreat! Retreat!” stands as one of my favourite songs of all time. They still use swells and white-noise on this album to great effect. The intro is a prime example of what I am getting at. In fact, the first three songs are the best introduction to a band I have found. The album opens with sound clips and static chopped into a grinding beat, the second song had beautiful piano and guitar swells, then a driving bass comes in like an omen of what is coming. Then, it doesn’t. For the first 4 minutes of the album, there is no hint of the absolute beast that is about to be unleashed onto the world.

It is very tempting to do a play-by-play of the album. The emotional peaks and valleys hit in each passing bar is noteworthy and poignant. I could actually see someone forgetting there are no vocals, if only because there are so many other things to listen to.

I went on enough about it already, so I might as well post the video.

Oh, if you’re looking for something to hurt every part of the musician in you, try to count “I Swallowed Hard, Like I Understood” without listening to much more than the first minute.

Classic Album Review :: Circa Survive — Juturna

I find this album very hard to write about simply because I think that it is very close to perfect. It contains the very definition of musical genius while still remaining absolutely beautiful. Somehow, it defies stereotypical constraints of music cliché’s while staying completely attainable and comfortable.

Listening again to write this review, there is no recognizable hook minus flourishes on guitar. The melody is carried by the intense and soulful vocals, and the driving bass carrying any semblance of continuity. Even the drums, while they do carry a constant beat that does tend to repeat from time to time, define syncopation as they flit from time signature to time signature with a deft hand.

Let’s go back to the vocals for a moment. Anthony Green has a range matched by few. His voice is high. I am challenged to find many with his range. Somehow, it strays from being squeaky or overbearing. “The Glorious Nosebleed“, which is also my favourite song on the album, showcases his possible range beautifully. Though he never gets very low, the jumps in what he can hit are incredible. Especially from the 2:00 mark to the end.

Really, this album and the one subsequent (On Letting Go) I declare as my personal picks. Maybe it’s nostalgia, maybe it’s just the absolute shock that a band like this existed when they did, I will always love them.

Enjoy.

Classic Album Review :: Placebo — Without You I’m Nothing

You know that song you heard somewhere and you really liked it but have no clue who it’s by and the internet is such that you cannot look it up and everything is horrible because you need to find that song? Yeah — that was me about 15 years ago.

The song that I could never find was Pure Morning. It is the first track on this not-punk album. Finding that out and purchasing the album brought me down a rabbit hole where I could never find the surface, but I also never wanted to find a surface. With deceptivly simple everything, this album is amazing.

Pure Morning has lyrics similar to a child’s rhyme. Of course, if you heard your child singing these words, you would be far from ecstatic at their choice of vernacular. The entire song appears to be about discovering ones sexuality while also discovering drugs. The title “Pure Morning” reflects the relief of discovering everything the night before. The act of reflecting on your actions and adoring every decision you made.

What did I mean by disceptivly simple? Look no further than track two. The guitar tuning is warped, the bass is full of exact slides that feel improvised but are very concise, and the drums are fast and loose. The vocalist confused me when I was younger. I couldn’t figure out their gender, neither by listening or by looking. That started my journey into the world of learning what exactly what gender is. Immediately, I learned that gender is a created term, and learned a lot of things about the existence of the LGBTQ+ world. Not that the band had lyrics that made me question everything, but the very existing of such people bending social norms in the ’90s intrigued me.deceptivelyWhat did I mean by disceptivly simple? Look no further than track two. The guitar tuning is warped, the bass is full of exact slides that feel improvised but are very concise, and the drums are fast and loose. The vocalist confused me when I was younger. I couldn’t figure out their gender, neither by listening or by looking. That started my journey into the world of learning what exactly what gender is. Immediately, I learned that gender is a created term, and learned a lot of things about the existence of the LGBTQ+ world. Not that the band had lyrics that made me question everything, but the very existing of such people bending social norms in the ’90s intrigued me.

Anyway, off the political stuff. That continues to be a sore topic for a large number of people, and delving down that rabbit hole will take me horribly off-topic from this fantastic album.

How would I describe the sound? Think Pixies meets Pink Floyd with a dance of The Clash. How? Pixies because they buck pop norms while also being pop. Pink Floyd because of the use of effects to not only add to a sound, but actually create a sound. The Clash because… well… there really is no reason. It was a proclamation that I made without putting too much thought into it. At the same time, it kind of fits because someone would have a difficult time making me ignore the obvious punk influence in the music. Yes, they are also a pop band. Maybe saying The Clash is too much of a departure, but leaving the punk aspect to just The Pixies feels like it ignores a whole facet of influence.

ANYWAY. I could go on circles all day speaking of influence, but there is no denying that the title track (Without You, I’m Nothing, track five) is a very Pink Floyd reminiscent track. On the next release (Black Market Music), David Bowie does a duet with the singer. As much as this is, by far, my favourite track on this album, that version of the song is perfect. In acknowledging that, it DOES NOT take from this version at all. It still contains one of the best soul crushing buildups in music that I have ever found. They literally go from minimal instrumentation to ALL the instrumentation in a matter of a few bars. To add to the finesse, it beautifully flows into the next track.

Fuck me, I could go on and on about this album, but most of it would just be repeating what I already talked about, OR it would just devolve into incohearent rambles that drone on and on for much longer than I would like them to. I mean, I have speant this long and I only bought up two songs, one of which I did no description for except saying that it is amazing. So, I will sign off on this review with a song that I didn’t talk about, but is equally amazing.

~Courage My Love — Teenagers {REVIEW}

I admit, I am riding a small hype train here.
The words in this review are genuine, however.

My old guitarist joined Courage My Love roughly five years ago, and I was intrigued at how it would go. Brandon had, to my knowledge, played in only hardcore and metal bands his entire music career. My worry was not whether he could cut it, I was more concerned that he would get bored.

Before I go further, I would like to state that I like Courage My Love. The Twin played with them a few times years ago. Of course, this was before Brandon joined, and their sound was very different from this song. They used to be more punk. Their sound has evolved and, dare I say, matured. I cannot find example of what they used to play, but think mainstream femme punk circa 2007-ish. Very Paramour, without being Paramour. Since I am friends with all the members, past and present, I am probably going to get shit from them for making that comparison.

I MAKE THAT COMPARISON OUT OF LOVE! I MEAN THAT WITH ALL IMPLIED COMPLIMENT!

The new sound is very ’80s pop mixed with a more contemperary sound. Mercedes’ voice is strong. The melodies soar over the cacophony of sound. Phoenix’ drums are simple, but absolutely perfect for what the song needs. I am thoroughly impressed with what they are doing.

A part of me is incredibly jealous. They seem to be flying close to the sun without worry of burning, and it is a placement I have strived for. To think that this was a band that I used to see as that band that would open for me, now I would beg to open for them.

I digress. This article is very hard to write because I know all three of the members personally, and I have to stride a line between honest gushing and the glib, pretentious music-nerd that they know me as.

Regardless, congratulations and praise, Phoenix, Mercedes, and Brandon. Fuckin’ keep killin’ it.

New single, Teenagers.

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.