Some Guy Named Rob

I recently started a dialogue with a person named Rob. He is fantastic.

He showed interest in You’re Not Dead, so I directed him to my site to order a copy. Unbenounced to me, he did a review.

It’s great. His voice is amazing, his vernacular is astounding, and his wit is dark and dripping with cynicism. I am sharing this because I am an arrogant fuck and it’s about me, but everything he does, between his podcasts and his music, is fantastic.

I really recommend following him on Twitter, as well. That is where I found him, and even in the constraints of the character count given to you by that medium, his charm still flourishes.

Classic Album Review :: The Weakerthans — Reconstruction Site

Do you ever look up from your day-to-day and realize you have not done something important? In my particular case, it is YELL at you about possibly the MOST important album EVER RELEASED!

ahem… got a bit excited there…

I am actually nervous to talk about this album simply because it’s hard for me to talk about it and NOT quote it incessantly. I realize that I have stated albums are my favourite in the past, so I will attempt to state the importance of this album in a way that dictates just how it has impacted me without using hyperbole. Any comparison I make, therefore, is warranted.

I still remember hearing “Our Retired Explorer” forever ago and thinking that it strikes that very delicate balance of being silly, yet poignant. I am going to start the review at that time, even though it’s a song in the literal middle of the album.

I was just in high school, so early 2000’s, and saw the music video on one of the many alternative music video shows that dotted the airwaves at that time. The song starts with a strike, the jumps into lyrics that tell a tale of a weary explorer. That’s right: the title of the song gives a hint of what the song is about. The entire song, on face value, is talking about a man who has dreams of going back to antarctica and spending time with penguins. Really, the song is a metaphor talking about longing after a time in the past using memories of exploration of lands undisturbed as a metaphor.

How do I know that it’s something deeper than the aesthetic? I don’t. All I can do is inject my personal ideas onto it to find some sort of deeper meaning.

The whole album is like that: a descent into the mind of someone running out the clock. The reason I have this sort of perception of the content is that the album has two tracks that break the album into sections. These tracks clearly share a narrative, and it is bleak and beautiful.

I can say, with great certainty, this album contains some of the greatest lyrics ever written. Songs like “One Great City” are silly and irreverent, meanwhile tracks like “Plea From a Can Named Virtue” are depressing and honest.

Musically, the album is a combination of punk and country. It might be a more common combination, but I have honestly not come across it prior, or since. I am NOT a country fan, but this album uses the ideas perfectly. There is little complicated about the composition, and minus a couple of excellent solo’s, few albums this plain hold my attention this well.

Yeah, I pissed off people because I had to write this. I am not sorry, and I will probably write about them in the future. This is such an important album lyrically, and the next album they released was the “next chapter”, if you will — getting even darker and more cynical.

Also, you need to be proud of me. I went this entire retrospective without quoting the lyrics for (Manifest) and (Hospital Vespers).

Classic Album Review :: Tears for Fears — Sowing the Seeds of Love

Hey! I’m actually doing an album that I consider a classic from the perspective that it came out around when I was born!

I have grown up in a household where this album reigned supreme. I have still yet to find a collection as varied as this album can be. It’s like a strange combination of pop, jazz, and electronica. Even other albums that this band released never touched just how eclectic this track list can be.

I am very proud to state this is my favourite release by TfF, though I am expecting some flack for not saying “Songs from the Big Chair”. The main reason that I place this higher on the admiration scale is because this album feels more mature: almost like it just wants to be whatever it can. The best example I can offer to better define what I am trying to say is the song “Badman Song“, which still has one of my favourite opening drumlines over 30 years later.

Know what? Just some of the best composition ever throughout the whole song. Bass and drums. Fight me.

Playlist of all the songs.

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 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

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.