Farewell to Freeway

The first live show I ever saw was Farewell to Freeway opening for The Reason. There were other bands, they were also very good, but those two stood out. Not just because they were the headliners, but also because. well, the formed a basis for my taste in music for the early 2000’s.

To be clear, and to flex my independent music knowledge because I’m a pretentious prick, I realize that Farewell to Freeway was initially Sewing With Nancy, and they changed their sound dramaticallly from almost a skate-punk sound to emo in 2000. Hell, Like Home was my introduction to the band roughly two nights before I saw them.

Again, I feel that it must be stated how amazing the whole lineup for the night was. Those two bands stick out for me because I really had no referance for heavier music. The absolute heaviest that I got at that time was Tool’s Lateralus album. If you know that album, saying that it’s not metal is rediculous, but seeing it as heavy is laughable.

If memory serves, Farewell to Freeway (hereby refered to as F2F) started their set with songs from the Between Yesterday and Today album. Still a rather emo-tastic album, but they perfected the sound from that point on.

I was in bliss. They went from being a really solid local-ish band to being something amazing to me. They closed their set with the title track from their, at that time, upcoming album (song here). I am not too man enough to admit that I cried, I thought it so beautiful. Even though I was silly and considered it metal (oh, baby me…), I didn’t dare mosh for fear that I would miss a note.

So, yes, I was floored. The Reason topped off a fantastic night. Ironically, that was the last time they were heavy (that I saw on stage) before they made the jump to a more mainstream sound three years later. (The Reason Meta-ish)(The Reason Pop feat. Sara Quin from Tegan & Sara fame)

Anyway, the reason I write about this album (aside from how instrumental it was in my taste in music) is: even though music has evolved and “improved” since this simple eight track album came out, I still return to it with great anticipation for everything to be okay for the 27 minutes that it takes to make this beautiful journey. If you are a fan of 2000’s emo or anything in the punk world from that time, I am very sure that you will love this piece of 519 history.

Morning Person/Night Owl

I will start this post by exclaiming that all of this will be conjecture and observation. More of an expression of my own experience than fact, so take my words as “fun” rather than actual truth.

I have noticed a discrepancy in the labels of “morning person” and “night owl”. In western society, anyway, we toss those terms around to describe either someone who is good in the morning, or seems to perk up as the day continues. I wonder, however: can you be both?

I am rarely in bed before midnight, and I am usually up around eight in the morning. I usually get the mandatory eight hours of sleep, and I don’t have a nap most days. I am able to stay up later if I am stimulated, so I often get the label of “night owl”. This ignores the fact that I am most productive in the morning, where my evenings are reserved for entertainment and waffling. One could say that I am a “morning person” most days. From simple description, I fall into both categories.

While dwelling on this fact today, I got analyzing categories, in general. Whether they be to define sexuality, or personality types like into- or extrovert.

Society, as a whole, seems determined to place everyone into boxes. I am not immune to this, but I do not use them to judge people. Some people seem to wear them as a badge of sorts: proudly declaring to the world which camp they belong to.

Some things, I do understand. Race, sexuality, gender, disability… these are all things that are discriminated against and identifying as one is not a choice. Taking a stand with a label like this is announcing a kind of political stand in regard to the discrimination faced by these minorities. I do honestly wonder if people who do not belong to one of these categories are jealous in a way. They, therefore, attach themselves to ideas and regiments that are supposed to benefit, for example, introverts.

The other way I have been contemplating is that this is a way to employ people. If you work in a high-interactive environment where your employees are talking to potential customers all day, it is easier to ask if someone is an extrovert as opposed to running down a list of questions to figure out if they would be a decent fit. That, however, doesn’t explain the rampant obsession that goes along with these, seemingly arbitrary, labels.

Like stated in the first line, this was a concept, and far from scientifically backed. If you have insight, leave it in the comments below or on my FaceBook page. I will respond to every one of them, even if they are unrelated and talking about pants.

Total Collapse

I have been ruminating on writing this for literal weeks. Not because I am afraid of offending people, the people who would be offended somewhat need to be offended. No, simply because there is too much that has been going on in my head.

I hate the culture of ignorance around this pandemic. It feels like there is willful ignorance and too many fake professionals giving their two cents. If I hear how horrible it is that Canada hasn’t opened its borders to the US again, I think I will actually lose my voice screaming at the screen. Same goes for letting kids back to school, or how the vaccine has a microchip, and the most egregious: how the mask is inconvenient.

I get the allure of having kids go back to school. “Free” daycare so parents can go to work. There are so many things wrong with these sediments, but the easiest rebbutle is that this will cause the pandemic to spring back up in numbers. Kids are gross and needy. They will touch each other, no matter the precautions that are put in place. This puts teachers lives in danger. This puts families lives in danger. I cannot even express how blind and arrogant this whole idea is. Again, I understand the want. I just have a hard time accepting that we (as a society) are ready when we just have quintuple digits worth of new cases spring up in some places in the states.

Do you have a license? Do you have pets? Do you notify the government when you move? Do you collect mail? Do you have a cellphone? Do you belong to a country with universal healthcare? Do you have a bank account?
If you answered yes to any of the above: THE GOVERNMENT DOESN’T NEED TO MICROCHIP YOU.
There is nothing that they cannot access already that they could learn from checking your blood. Health records are accessible to government agencies, so they know everything from your blood type to your diet.
And no: you cannot figure out sexual orientation or physical disability from blood. I HATE THAT I HAVE TO WRITE THAT.

The states have literally created an Orwellian police state. Here is a video showing and explaining much better than I could.

Wear your fucking mask. Just, wear the fuking thing. Yes, it can be uncomfortable, but there is no excuse whatsoever. If you think there is, then doctors shouldn’t wear one when they do surgery. Wear your fucking mask.

I am not an expert. I am just sick of being assaulted constantly with so much misinformation that I don’t know where to start my tyrades.

Classic Album Review :: The Flaming Lips — Embryonic

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Song Review :: Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry for the inevitable ads.

Music Review :: FbcFabric & Reindeer — It’s not who you know, it’s WHOM you know

Yes, I am doing a music review anyway. Why? Because I’m listening to this album for the first time in a while and I cannot fathom NOT knowing this album. Plus, I am remembering just how important some of the lyrics are in regards to capitalism and consumerism.

This is my perfect hip-hop album. The tracks are all minimalist beat tracks. It adds to the lasefare tone of the vocalist in ways that I cannot articulate. His lyrics are cutting, sharp, and almost vindictive. There is no swearing, which adds weight behind his message.

I saw Reindeer by accident in Guelph with my friend Joel. We went to a hip hop show, to which I have only been to one. Independent hip hop is actually more intimate than any independent metal or punk show that I have been to. There was an admittedly small crowd of only 25 or so people, and the stage was just an idea mic’d up at one end of a bar (cafe?).

The performers were all over the map. There was one gentleman who was clearly just apart of the scene because of the poetry of the lyrics, there was a duo who loved the idea of mainstream hip hop, then there was Reindeer. He stumbled his way on stage, in a way that I cannot discern if it was showmanship or if he was strung out on something or REALLY drunk.

Regardless of what he was, the show he put on was magical. He didn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t imagine being the only one on stage. Even if the crowd was small, to recall lyrics with meaning, even if the meaning is explicitly personal, is unfathomable to me.

It was more than a show, and more than a concert. It was a performance.

I remember not having money for any merchandise, so I borrowed Joel’s CD for probably way too long. Think Massive Attack mixed with Gorillaz, and that an okay comparison. I have not found something so original or pure my entire life.

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.

Writer’s Block is Weird

I find myself at a bit of a stop in my next book. I am proud of what I have so far. It comes out just over 20 pages. Strangely, I am able to think of a blog post to write, but not a continuation on my writing.

Why does the brain do this? Yes, blogs are a little more auto-biographical usually. That, or they are explaining from a very biased (in my case) source. My stories are usually birthed from reality. They are all situations that I have either lived through, or exaggerations on events. No, I have never been part of a terrorist organization, nor have I taken a bullet for my cause. I have been publicly ridiculed and emasculated for my beliefs. No, the comparison is not one for one. It could be argued that being publically hung to dry is worse than being killed. At least, when you’re killed, you don’t have to keep surviving in the hellscape that comes after.

On that note, at least if you don’t die, you can patch and fix your image. It may take a long time, but it’s doable.

On a very unrelated note: I got a new chair! I’m not using it! Thanks!

Okay, details: I have been using the same chair for 6 years at this point. I have learned many things about what I want from a wheelchair since I put together my initial order, and grew out of certain things that were put in place all that time ago.

Unfortunately, the chair I received until they have constructed mine has a misplaced centre of gravity. Small imperfections in my movement would result in me suddenly tipping backwards. Luckily, wheelchairs have anti-tip bars in the back. They saved my life on multiple occasions, but I hate having to rely on them. Due to this, I moved back to my old chair with a new seat cushion: at least for now. I hope that all is sorted before August.