Music Analysis :: Queens of the Stone Age

I was initially going to write about “Songs for the Deaf” (SftD) when I realized that “Era Vulgaris” gets scrutinized for not being SftD. I will not argue with the fact that SftD one of my favourite albums of all time, but I really feel like Era Vulgaris is still fantastic.

Let’s start with a dissection of why SftD is so amazing.
Dave Grohl.
DISSECTION OVER.

No, that’s not fair. To hold an album as the pinnacle of a band’s career based on the efforts by one member inclusion is shallow. Though, it is true that Mr. Grohl does some amazing work on this album. I mean, just listen to the opening track and you can see what you’re in for. Once you get passed the mock-radio intro you are hit by a wave of pure Metal-Awesome. Track two was a fantastic single when it was released, and was my introduction to this band.

Track three, First It Giveth, is by far my favourite on the album. The punishing and driving beat over the corus mixed with the polyrhythmic verse drumline make it one of the more interesting endeavours I have ever witnessed in music. Then, track four, probably the coolest excuse for an extended drum solo ever.

My analysis of the first three songs on this album are what lead me to believe that it should not be held as high as it is in the QotSA catalogue. I mean, every instrument does amazing things all through this album. It feels like the “Dave Grohl” album we needed, instead of the Foo Fighters. Due to this fact, I refuse to give it the “QotSA best album” lable.

Then, the forgotten (and hated*) sequel, Era Vulgaris.
*it might not be as hated as I read into the discussion, but it was not received as well.

I feel bad for this album. It had to follow up one of the most interesting releases in “metal” that we have heard since “Destroy, Erase, Improve“. It got so many things right, it just could never live up to SftD produced.

It had a much more polished sound, and played it safer by being both accessible and radio-friendly. It focuses more on Josh Homme’s guitar playing. The lyrics are more whimsicle, the bass much chunkier, and the drums are more conventional. Still bloody intricate, but less head-‘splody ridiculous.

The first single, “Sick, Sick, Sick“, focuses on more of a traditional song structure that QotSA have moved on from. More of journey as opposed to a song, the orchestration of layers and subtle changes leave the listener waiting to see what comes next. SftD was this strange combination of floaty-and-whimsical and brain-punch.

I know that I am making up words and phrases, but listening to these albums you quickly notice that my adjectives are apt.

Dehumanization

First off, I’d like to point out how awesome of a word that is. It almost looks like a death metal band name.

What do I mean by “dehumanization”, I pretend to hear you ask. I simply mean the actions of other reducing your self-esteem, whether that be by accident or on purpose. To be clear, I don’t mean reducing self-esteem like “I’m no pretty”, I am referring to no longer feeling worthy of any sort of human interaction. I mean the kind of state that makes someone no even ask for basic human needs because they don’t feel worth it. I mean locking yourself from the world because you feel like it would be better without you. And, before you ask, I am not talking about how depression and mental state could render that possible. I am talking about physical actions taken to reduce someone to a shell of a human, even if the actions are meant as an innocent gesture of goodwill.

Let’s start with an example: I use a commode. What is a commode? it is basically an indoor outhouse, which I realise how stupid that is to read. We are in the process of building a main floor bathroom, and I use that because I cannot make it to the second floor bathroom.

In order to maintain any semblance of cleanliness, my parents empty it into a traditional toilet. They insist, and continue to insist, that they don’t mind doing so. In fact: they insist that they are completely happy that I continue to do so, and constantly remind me that it is a temporary measure. When I implied one day that it is completely (yay! A proper use of the word of the day!) dehumanizing, they scolded me for being so proud.

Okay, so here is my issue with it. I have to announce when the commode has anything in it, regardless of whether or not there is a meal there. Regardless of whether or not someone is busy. Regardless or not if there is company over.

THERE IS NO NEGATIVE REPERCUSSION BROUGHT ON BY MY FAMILY.

It is a mandatory step that is temporary. I know this, but it does not change the fact that I hate it.

That’s right: I have taken away the burden from those around me and have internalized the shame. I am well aware that they are completely okay with the situation. I am well aware that this is temporary. I am well aware that the shame I feel is only because of my own pride.

It does not change the fact that I find it horrible.

That is one, and maybe the most extreme explanation I could use. I will now make things more general.

Let’s say that a group of friends are going to a festival. Jimmy is hesitant because the loud noise of the crowd, let alone the music, will set off his PTSD, and his reaction could ruin everyone’s time. His friends understand, and decide to not go. They are sympathetic, and kind to him. They constantly reassure him that it is not a big deal.

Nice story, right? Did you see where it went wrong?

Jimmy’s friends should not reassure him after the first time. He knows that he could not go, and he never intended for his friends not to go on his behalf. There constant reassurance makes things worse because he eventually would have just moved on, but now he is being told over and over again how “it’s fine” and that “he should not worry.” Now, he is left with the sinking feeling that it is far from fine. Even though they keep saying it, and they may actually mean it. He might just be running in his head for no reason.

Now, I am not saying that placating someone once, or twice, is not necessary. Quite the opposite, saying something is fine, and reassuring someone that everything is fine, can help. Just know when to move on.

I know that I use a strong example, siting PTSD as the cause for the mental anguish. This can be related to depression, physical limitation, or any other limiter in someone’s life. The best way to deal with it is to initially placate, then only mention things when brought up by the party affected.

Also: know the person. I am saying all of this in a general way, but it does all apply to people who think like me. I am not implying that it would be the same for everyone. I feel as though some over placate, which can be worse than anything.

I’m Not Dead

I hope this is a good idea: I have this thought that talking about mental stress, in any capacity, is a good thing. If I am wrong, I will pull this down.

My thought process is that more conversation about anyone with mental issues will help everyone who deals with them on some level.

I have, for a very long time, dealt with my own mortality. I actually feel guilt for being alive.

Now, that does not imply that I am depressed. I actually feel this way whether I am having a good day or not. I am constantly thinking about how I am squandering aspect of life, even when I am doing everything right. I have released more albums in a period of 10 years than most people will in their entire lives. I have written a book. I do a PodCast, and I have produced a number of songs. I am married to an amazing woman. I have three beautiful dogs, and a cat that is amazing. Even this blog could be seen as an accomplishment, though even on paper, I don’t see it as anything special.

I feel constantly hounded by the fact that I am heavily in debt. Things I do don’t get the attention that I think they should. A large part of that is my examples are ludacris to live up to. I have constant reminders from other YouTube personalities, musicians, and writers who have great success and reach limits unheard of by history.

The biggest component is my health status. I get daily reminders that I am not walking. A close relationship tells me often how my seizures are self inflicted, and I believe it even though I know that they are not.

I am trying, but I feel as though that I have done this all to myself. I then start to feel horrible because there are people (friends and otherwise) who have died before they could do anything eternal. I feel as though the system wasting it’s time on me is for not. I am literally living my life because other people want me to for them.

That is something never talked about: how we don’t get reprise from life. Even on a day off, we have to make sure that we do X and Y for ourselves so we can get back to doing things to “better” humanity. It does not help that, because I am over 30 years old, I have signed a collection of confidentiality agreements to prevent my doctors explaining certain things to family and friends.

Couple this exhaustion from life with my disdain for existence, and I am having a hard time. I AM NOT DEPRESSED, but I am feeling trapped and pulled thin. I make morbid jokes because I find them hilarious. I talk about killing myself, NOT AS A CRY FOR HELP, as a way to express emotions at that time and date.

I tell everyone that I love them, because I genuinely do. I am going to start signing off every PodCast with “I love you” because I don’t hear that being uttered enough.

I know I said that I am taking a break, but I really needed to get that out.

I love you.

I think today is special…

Seven years ago, I opened my eyes after my 20-something day coma.

I say “I think” in the title, because I have been told this from my parents from very soon after I awoke. My friends tell me all sorts of days different from this. I like it being today because it’s easy to remember.

That makes me, by some accounts, seven years old. I think that’s kind of funny, seeing how I just turned 32 on the 12th.

Any-what-its… I recorded and published the next PodCast on my YouTube channel. Give it a listen, tell me I suck!

Yes, it’s posted as a video. There are no visuals. Feel free to just do something else whilst I drone on and on…

Remembrance Day

Today is a day I hold higher than any other day: even my birthday. I only learned recently that it is only recognized by the Commonwealth nations, and I find that sad.

For those who don’t know what I am talking about; Remembrance Day is a day put aside to remember military conflict, primarily the World Wars, but has extended out to any military action over the last 100 or so years. It is a day to remember the sacrifices made, the lives lost, and the peace gained.

The fact that it’s only celebrated by the Commonwealth nations makes me very upset. It is important to remember what we have achieved, both as nations and as people. I feel as though remembering the lives lost has garnered a kind of reverence in regards for life and a collective respect for the potential atrocities of war.

ANY-WHO, I just wanted to kind of explain why this day exists for those who have never heard of it before. I learned recently that it is far more than I imagined, and that makes me upset. Even if you don’t recognize it, for whatever reason, knowing what it is rates as very important: to me, anyway. The only thing that is asked is a moment of silence at 11am today.

TO MAKE IT CLEAR: Remembering the actions of the men and women who give their lives is NOT compliance with the military. I, myself, am very anti-conflict. I still recognize the importance of today because we need to learn about what went wrong in the past to make the future better.

(Tomorrow is my birthday, then starts the usual time off until the next year!)

…now for step two…

The results of the election are out. I am happy T*mp lost, but I feel that some people don’t share my sentiment for why.

I wanted T*mp out, but not to see a huge change in American policy. I think we’ll see one, but it will be mostly superficial. So many of the issues noticed by the populace have been things in place for over a century. Biden, though I honestly do think there will be huge changes, needed to take over T*mp because T*mp was the issue. The way he conducted himself just made it socially acceptable to be a bigot and a liar.

I would love to be proven wrong. Obviously, it is still way too soon to tell exactly what is going to happen. The racist and homophobic moron needed to be ousted. He was dangerous, stupid, buffoon-like, and fascist. I am not even pointing anything new out, and I was very isolated from a majority of his decisions because I don’t even live in the States.

That brings me heavy handed to my next point: well, it’s more a question. Do the States not realize just how poorly the world viewed his policies? Yes, he was just a figurehead, but his actions made that very clear to the rest of the world for the first time in my life. Even Bush Jr. seemed a better leader, and that’s saying something. He decisions were dangerous, he could be pointed at for the deaths that shadow 9/11, and he made stupid allegations when he lost the election that threatened democracy.

I’m not even a huge fan of democracy, but he challenged the populace on their voting tattics, questioned their validity, and seemed geared to make himself a “leader” for another term. The fact that the vote was so close just amplifies how stupid all of this is.

Okay, I’ve lost my point in the midst of my angry rants.

Oh, right! I wanted to say that Biden probably will not illicit huge changes on the ground floor, but his respect on the world stage is already making the difference. T*mp made politics a spectator sport, for lack of a better term. We, internationally, would read headlines to mock the States and the backwards bullshit that came to the forefront. Biden has become immediately famous because his VP is a black woman. Seriously: this is a fact that should not matter. Since it does, we see just how backward the American view on, not just race, but gender really and truly is.

Goddamn, I cannot even finish my paragraph about how I have reclaimed my opinion without going on another angry tangent about how archaic the American system is.

Okay, that’s it. I will now concede my rants and leave my American readers with this:
Your emotional support Canadians are still here, and fuck knows that people from other countries feel the same. Things will change. Kamila sounds amazing on paper, and we have great hopes for the upcoming year. T*mp was a dictator, and Biden sounds like he is going to be much better. The bar for improvement is very low, however. Things will not change overnight. We are here for you.

(Image in regards to Spec Ops: The Line. Fantastic commentary on war, the human psyche, and video games in general.)

Hi there, depression

I recently made a post on FaceBook that instigated some polarising opinions from “I appreciate this” to “you fucking hack”. I now feel obliged to explain my reasoning further.

The initial post read as follows:

Some days, I worry that when people don’t talk about suicide or depression because the feeling is potentially fleeting and they don’t want the stigma of being “that” person following them around

I will now be an over-explaining ass and further dissect what I meant:
I have a couple of friends, myself included, who are afraid of reaching out because what they feel is very much temporary. How can depression be temporary? Well, it cannot. However, sadness can be. You could be overly stressed one day, or feel crushed under the oppressive thumb of reality. You could want to say something about it, then hold back because you don’t want to be a burden, or be forever stigmatized as a sad sack.

This post was not to say that no one should reach out. Quite the opposite. It is simply reminding people to isolate the situation from the person until you know the full story. To reiterate, it could be a bad day. It could be a bad moment. It might be a bad week. It doesn’t always mean that the person is chronically depressed or in need of public sympathy. Quite the opposite: there are occasions where public pressure may push the person over an edge that they may not recover from.

A better way to handle it is to simply acknowledge it. Leave a “like” on their message. If you notice a pattern, then reach out privately. If that doesn’t seem to result in anything, move on to getting a hold of family or friends if you notice an ongoing issue.

Don’t assume that talking will do anything. Don’t gaslight or rehash. Don’t guilt.

There is also a chance that the depressing thought might be simply a song lyric (something I have fallen prey to many times ove). There is also a chance that it was an expression of frustration over one event.

Or: maybe they are depressed. If that is the case, just make it clear that you are willing to listen, but make sure to do so privately. Public expressions could be seen as shaming. Shaming could lead to putting up walls, or worse, sprialing.

Again: a private extension of a branch is often all that the person would want if they want anything.

Of course, every expression of depression is unique. That’s what makes it so hard to deal with. Keep in mind that there are a lot of people out there who do not want people to know that they are actually sad. Again, assume that the person doesn’t want to share their emotions privately. Don’t just jump to “sad post therefore sad person” and keep in mind that there is a large number of people born after the year 1980 who just like sad music.

Here is a link for the depression and addiction resources that I have for the Kingston and South Frontenac region. If you need help and cannot reach out, for whatever reason, please look into this. I am not trained, nor do I have any facts that I need to share. These are all just opinions and the point of view from someone who suffers from mild depression themself. Please, use the link above. Get proper guidance if you are actually worried about someone and don’t know what to do. It’s not a secret that I have failed time and time again.

Serious question…

Just wondering: how many pages would be satisfactory for a novel?

I realize that is a loaded question. Inquiries may arise over how interesting the content is, or does the story miander, but I like to set a realistic goal to strive towards.

Right now, my goal is 100,000 words. That’s roughly 200 pages. I feel pretty confident that I can hit that goal. One of my favourite books (Fight Club) is only 49,962 words. My last book, in its final form, clocked in at 39,130 words. I currently sit just shy of 10,000 in my next work. I set myself a deadline of the end of May to have it completed. I feel this is very possible. I just have not decided if being finished includes editing or not…

I implore you to respond in comments, either on here or my FaceBook page, to tell me what you think is a good length. Am I over-reaching? Under-reaching? Both, somehow?

Metric of age

I have an actual delema that I have faced for the last little while, but I have not voiced it (to my memory). This year, on the twelfth, I turn 32. The last time I flatlined was seven years ago on the twelfth. So, my issue is simple: am I 32? Or should I go by the more morbid timestamp of 7?

I mean, I say morbid, but that implies that I have reservations about that fact. I died. I’m okay. I would say that it’s common, that everyone goes through that. I am not sure that is the case, however. Neither of my parents or my brother have. In fact, I only know of a handful that have the ability to say that they have ever flatlined in their life.

Let’s go over the horribly happy list of me not dying! (keep in mind, this is just what I have been told.)
– I was born not breathing and didn’t for a full minute after being born.
– I apparently died on my way from Brantford to Toronto.
– I died on my birthday when I was in hospital.

Now: should I be more disturbed at this list than I am? No, I don’t think so. I would make a sash and have them as badges if I could. Scream at me for being fucked if you want, but I take a great deal of satisfaction that I have the tenacity to survive all of this. I just feel bad for every person reading this right now: you have to deal with me for a long time.

Now, do I want to push my luck? Do I have a great deal of disrespect for mortality now? Do I view myself as immortal?

No. If anything, I am a bit more paranoid of certain events now.

I wonder if I have literally pushed my body through what I have left. Maybe, next time I won’t wake back up. Or, I’ll reach my final form of a potato? I have no idea.

My external hard drive dropped off my desk today. It died, and all my music was on there. So, that’s approximately one terabyte of audio gone. I am not happy about it, obviously.

It’s not news that I usually hate not having physical forms, but what I don’t advertise is that I have a love for my library of digital audio. There is something nice about having all of the music I enjoy at my fingertips.

As far as I can tell, the files are still there. I just need to bring the device somewhere to have them extracted. So, I guess it’s not all horrible. It’s just inconvenient.

BITCH BITCH WHINE WHINE.

How are you?

Really, I’m fine.

The strangest thing has happened over and over again.

I will post something: a picture, a status, a video. Someone will post a comment asking if I am able to do X now, or if I am “better”, or something to that effect, and imediatly people start telling me that I’m okay and shouldn’t be too down on myself.

I am NOT cursing those people out. I am not shaming them for trying to get ahead of negative thoughts or actions. I am NOT ungreatfull for the kind words that are never rude.

I am mildly worried that people think that I am having a harder time than I really am.

I want to make it as clear as I can: I am okay. I am doing things to improve my life day by day, but I am very aware of what I will never be able to do again. I sustained brain damage thanks to the surgeries to save my life, so I will probably never be able to drive again. As far as walking goes, I am making strides in other parts of my body which prove to me that I have not strengthened the muscles I need to walk yet. Muscles like the ones at the sides of my core, for instance. I did some bending the other day, and noticed the struggles I was having to bring my torso back to centre. I have been doing not–sit-ups since, and have noticed a tonne of new advancements in other areas.

My current mental slippage has little to do with my physical being. A Millenial struggling with the economy, politics, and disability in society? Weird! Never would have figured myself someone with a cause, but here we are. Thirty-almost-two and still figuring out shit.

I have my next PodCast half-scripted, and I hope to record it soon. I also made a huge mistake in my next book, but have since found a way to use it to my advantage (I think…). I hope to have that part all settled in the next month or two. In the meantime, I will just keep myself sane by listening to old favourite songs, watching stupid videos online, and writing my thoughts out to the aether.