The Social Experiment

As some people saw, I released a poll asking what the content of the next update should contain. It was a success in some ways, and a miserable failure in others.

So, why am I calling it a failure if I got some input? I only had 13 votes, and that kind of hurts. It kind of tells me that there is a very small portion of people who read this, and possibly even less that actually care. I DIGRESS! To those 13, thank you. I really do appreciate it!

The winner was the topic “something else”. I have had a recommendation by the amazing Katie Maz (that should be your superhero name) asking me to do a book review. I think that’s a neat idea! There is a catch, however: I haven’t read a book since I ended up in a wheelchair. I would love to, but the damage to my oculare nerve makes it hard to focus on reading. Even typing this, I barely look at the screen, and proofread at the end. Red squiggly lines make that part easy. I will try, regardless. I mean, I will do my favourite book. I remember most of that one pretty well.

Can you guess what my favourite book is? You would be forgiven if you guessed 1984, especially because I yammer on and on about how amazing that book is. No, my top spot is filled by Rant by Chuck Palahniuk. The best part is, even if I read it today, I would still only be able to talk about half of it because it’s so full of twists and false-flags.

The word of the book takes place in a dichotomy of two existences. You have the people of the day: very similar to what we have now, and there are the people of the night: think midnight shift somewhat permanently. The two planes of existence rarely intermingle. Not by any expressed issue that may incur, but by just happenstance. It feels more natural than a government force imposing some sort of anti-mingle rule.

The story follows around the character of the title (Rant) as he experiences the world around him. He is accompanied by a collection of misfits and weirdos that he calls friends. They enjoy destroying things, and lead a very normal (or, “normal”) life.

The book becomes surreal when time travel comes into play. I am NOT going to go any further into the plot because it will ruin parts, but my GOD the path is worth it. To give an example of how convoluted (in the best way ever) this book is, it is NOT a massive spoiler to say that he is his own grandfather.

That’s right: him being his own grandfather is NOT a massive spoiler. More of “well” as opposed to a “NO WAY” when you read it.

The writing style is what you can expect from Chuck Palahniuk. Grotesque, unnecessary, overly descriptive, and completely perfect. One thing that I have championed for a very long time is that he is my favourite author. To call him unique is underselling his works, and also short-changing his very stark look on society.

Like Fight Club before it, this book has a way of looking at society. It is not bluntly chastising, nor does it feel like he is going out of his way to attack. It simply feels like he is focusing on aspects as literary expression as opposed to critical commentary. It’s more of a “this is how things are” as opposed to “look how things are.” The difference is how he doesn’t explain things: doesn’t try to fix them.

I will be keeping the poll open for the next little bit. Vote on it, and if I notice much of an interest, I will adapt.

Classic Album Review :: Kill The Lights — Buffalo [of] Love

I have wanted to share this album with as many people as I could, and FINALLY someone put it on YouTube, so now I get my chance!

I saw this band back around the release of this album. They were awkward and it was amazing! Not only is the drummer one of the fastest drummers I have ever seen, the nuance and intricacies of the music blew me away. As I mentioned, I saw this band back when this album had been out for not a year, but they made playing these songs seem effortless! I was floored.

Okay, I need to make my amazement seem a bit more warranted. I had never heard of this band before. Like most independent bands in Canada, they were over shadowed by the bands that got huge around that time, whether it was deserved or not. Since this band was from Montreal, the French part of Canada, they got little to no attention from even the circles they belonged to. This is a fact that KILLS ME, but it hurts me even more because I understand it.

What this band did that few other did was combine disco, indi-pop-rock, and jazz. It sounds like an unpleasant mess, but a few notes in, one awakes to the fact that it works in the most inappropriate way.

Did I mention the part about the drummer and how I rate his one of the fastest I have ever seen? If I had not have seen them live, I would swear the drums on the album were sped up or manipulated. To add insult to injury, he is the least impressive looking man. Not that musicians have a look, but you would pass him on the street minutes after seeing them play. I only bring that up because it was actually STRANGE to see someone who looks so… well… plain!

I digress, love this band. I mean, LISTEN. Well, and love. There is something endearing about them that makes you fall in love with the almost-off-key squeals and almost-not harmonies.

Little side note: there seems to be some conflicting reports on if the album is Buffalo of Love or just Buffalo Love. That’s why I put the square brackets in the title.

Album Review :: Samaris — Samaris

I know that I have talked about this album before. It has been a while, though: so I will take this opportunity to talk about it some more!

I think even if I was to limit myself by genre, I would find a way to shoe-horn this release into that list somehow!

Think hip-hop with a live clarinet. Confused? GOOD!

This album was a literal random buy on my trip to Iceland that I enjoyed with my brother. We missed seeing them by a matter of days, which bothered me when I finally got to listen to this album in all its splendor.

This album is both incredibly beautiful, and incredibly haunting. Very synth and vocal based, which makes the clarinet stand out even more. The voices (though in Icelandic) lull the listener into a trance. The harmonies are perfect. This album is perfect. If you haven’t listened to it in its entirety yet, DO IT!

Album Review :: New Design — Far From Home

I don’t think that I mentioned it in the last two reviews, but I was given some stupid FaceBook task where I was just supposed to put an album cover up (no additional information) and tag someone in it. It was lazy, pointless, and I decided to give myself the task of writing a full review for whatever I felt like deserved to be part of the decathlon of recommendations. The reason? Combination of arrogance, and bands like this.

New Design is a group from Brampton which is near the GTA. If you know nothing about Canada, they are from a city close to the city that you assume is our capitol that isn’t. If you are from Canada, you know how hilarious that sentence is.

*pause for laughter*

ANYWAY. New Design is beautiful. They take all the best parts of the emo movement of the early 2000’s and do away with the annoying bits.

They are beautiful. The music, I mean. Well, the members of the group are beautiful, as well.

…now I’m just being awkward….

I need to stop being so sidetracked. New Design are emo without being whiny. They got hold of me while I was writing for Mind The Music TO a couple of years ago. I really do love the independent music scene: you get some of the most creative and beautiful things to come out of it.

I have waffled on long enough about various things, and I have stated that I love this band. Though this album is a great introduction, I highly recommend anything by this band.

All the music can be streamed from their Bandcamp.

Classic Album Review :: Jill Barber — Chances

How’s this review for whiplash? Jill Barber is the opposite of Mudvayne, but also just as good.

Think 40’s jazz but modern. She has the cutest voice, and the most simple symphony behind her. I love the way the record sounds. I already mentioned the fact that it is a 40’s inspired voyage, but there is something comforting about the lyrics.

Yes: they can come off as petty and juvenile. They can also be endearing and alluring. Her narratives are cliché, but that is what makes them so great.

The track “Oh, My My” will always be one of my favourite tracks. It really reminds me of a Blossom Dearie song, but up-to-date and grittier.

The ONLY complaint that I have about this record is Jill Barber wears her country origins on her sleeve at times. Not so much in the orchestration, but in her voice. She does runs that you only hear in country music. The saving grace, in this instance, is that she is doing them in a different medium. It keeps things bearable.

Wow. I put a bow on my love for this album with that last line didn’t I?

I digress: this album will probably remain in my top ten for all time just because it is both beautiful and safe. I know that if I put it on, I will listen to the whole thing and thoroughly enjoy every second of it.

Classic Album Review :: Mudvayne — L.D. 50

This was not my choice, but a choice made on my personal FaceBook page. I wanted to do either Skeletons by Nothingface of The End of All Things To Come by Mudvayne, because I felt that these two made similarities that go unmentioned. Then, people pointed out how amazing LD50 is, and now I am going to go down that rabbit hole because I have been screamed at to.

Oh, and I really want to.

L.D. 50 has possibly my favourite bass in all of Nu-Metal that’s not Primus. I feel like that is an important point to state. Not many bands can be mentioned in the same breath as Primus, so that’s a thing.

ANYWAY

L.D. 50 is one of those albums that influenced much of what I listened to for 20 years. Also, that album is 20 years old this year and that is all kinds of weird to think of. I saw the music video for Dig forever ago and was floored by anything so heavy. Keep in mind, I wasn’t 12 yet. I was stupid.

It doesn’t change the fact that Dig was interesting because it could be in the same vein as Korn and as Cannibal Corpse. It’s heavy, the lyrics are important, and it is strangely catchy. Assisted by the make-up worn by the band in the video, I remember every single hit from this song. I made it my mission when I was 14 to learn every part of this song on drums, and it took me another few years to get it to a point where I was happy with my abilities.

I purchased the album after Death Blooms became a single. The song revolutionized what I thought of metal lyrics because of it’s poetic prose and almost elegant handling of the english language. Yes, they deal a lot with violence and gore. They also explore mental illness (Internal Primates Forever) and grief (Death Blooms) in an almost elegance that most bands do not pull off with such finesse. The music embodies the overall message they try to convey. To this date, I cannot figure out what came first between lyrics and music. I want to say music, but there is just such as elegance that is portrayed.

My personal favourite songs from the album are not singles. It’s actually interesting to divide the album between singles and non-singles. If you had never heard of this band before, you could still figure out which songs were used to sell. Yet, the singles do not feel cheap. They feel like they belong, and were used as almost a pallet cleanser.

In writing this retrospective, I found out that there is a music video for Nothing to Gein. This is my second favourite song on this album next to Prod. Enjoy.

Classic Album Review :: Nine Inch Nails — The Fragile

This album sits comfortably in my top five. It is two discs of oppressive perfection. It somehow retains the depressive anecdotes of all things in the darker side of the world without sounding like it was written by a 14-year-old who got dumped.

I think my favourite part is how it jumps from mood to mood. It starts with the hellish “Somewhat Damaged” where Trent Reznor reminds us how it is possible to be destroyed and still have teeth to bite, then transfers to “The Day The World Went Away” where he cries about how everything is broken and horrible. I know that, on paper, it doesn’t sound like the dichotomy I praised the album for is apparent, but it goes from machine-based rhythm to having no precussion in the traditional sense. Track two relies on the hits of the bass string to relay the points drums would in most other songs. It keeps the song incredibly heavy, but makes it more so on an emotional level as opposed to instrumental.

The album keeps going back and forth on these two kinds of songs. They are either peaceful/almost classical; with precussion taking a back seat. Or they are very mechanical and abbrasive.

Two songs stick out from the fray. “Just Like You Imagined” builds and builds using the most intense drums in a loop. It remains organic feeling, but creates a tension that can only be found elsewhere accompanied by some sort of visual. Somehow, this song is as intense as a movie.

The other outlier is my personal favourite in the compelation: “La Mer” is one of the most beautifully composed pieces ever. Or, at least, I think it is. It is just a simple piano line that slowly gets more complicated as time moves on. The drums kick in shortly after two lines are recited in French. I have refused to translate it in all my years being in love with this song for fear of it ruining my illusion.

The best part: that’s all disk one. Disk two is much more angry. The closest it gets to being uplifting (or, as uplifting as Nine Inch Nails can be) is the song “Into the Void” where the lyrical content is just as happy as the name of the song. At least it has a danceable beat?

This album is very hard to find a track to best encapsulate the entire collection. I would direct attention to La Mer or Just Like You Imagined, but those songs stand out BECAUSE they are so different from everything else. So, I think I will put the song “I’m Looking Forward To Joining You, Finally” because OF COURSE I WOULD.

Seriously, this has been the hardest album to write about. Two reasons; I love every second of it, and it contains so many brilliant examples of what someone can do with the art of music. I beg that you look into this album yourself. Even if you don’t care for the song I singled out, there is something you will love somewhere on this album.

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!