IT'S OUT!

I still don’t have my copy, but the second edition of You’re Not Dead is now out on Amazon!

It’s triple the length!
Triple the good!
Way less spelling errors!
Has a sexy black cover on the physical versions!

Get yours today! Help me pay off debts that pressing this caused!

Classic Album Review :: Alexisonfire — Self Title

I just noticed that this album was almost 20 years old. I was in grade nine when then came out, I was just discovering scremo/emo, ska, and skate punk, I was very embroiled in the metal scene. Then, when watching some music video program way too late at night, I saw the debut for Pulmonary Archery. I did not get it, but Holy Fuck I loved it.

What’s absolutely brilliant about this album is how simple everything is if you remove the guitars. Yes, the guitar lines are incredibly ornate and demonstrate what can be done in punk music, but everything else is simple and fantastic! The bass drives the songs and keeps the structures attainable, the drums do little more than drive the beat, and the singing is just simple enough to get melodies trapped in your head forever. Even the screams are perfectly placed to ensure that you notice them.

Now, let’s get back to those guitars.

My prime example of how incredible the guitars are is the song Counterparts and Number Them. The parts individuly, though weird, are not difficult. The impressive part is in knowing they were ever not entwined. They bounce between being lead and rhythm every bar, and they never leave the listener bored. The best part about the guitar is that nothing, not even the drums, cast the dullest shadow.

There is something magical about how simple the drums are. They just compliment the music and never become overbearing. I think every not-real drummer in my high school could play Pulmonary Archery. Not as a slight! It just leant itself to being replicated.

Now I sound like an arrogant asshole so MOVING ON.

I started to write this, decided against it, and then discovered that they were inspired by Quicksand. I love that band to no end, but never hear anyone talk about them. I was forced into writing this because of that fact alone.

Seeing as there has been nothing this hard hitting in the punk-scene since Refused, and this is a fantastic tribute. I recognize that there have been other near-hits in regards to this sound, but nothing is near as iconic.

Music Review :: Dear & the Headlights — Small Steps, Heavy Hooves

I was torn whether I label this as “Classic” or not. The album is over ten years old, but no one knows this band. I find this a travesty, though I do understand.

Small Steps, Heavy Hooves is a fantastic album by Dear and the Headlights. It was released through Equal Vision records at the WORST possible time ever. On Letting Go by Circa Survive was getting all the marketing and this album was being released in a post-Transatlatism world. This album did not have a chance, but really should be loved by everyone.

It is the perfect combination of pop rock and (I don’t want to say) country (but I have to). The guitar lines can either be simple and magical, or complex yet griping. The guitar players are some of the best you can find in this style, and that ability does transcend through every other member of the band. Nothing is mind blowing levels of complex, but nothing in distasteful in anyway.

The “weakest” link is the vocalist. He jumps between notes, and his transitions are rarely clean. I put weakest in quotations because it is actually more of a stylistic choice as opposed to a lack of ability.

CAN I GO BACK AND JUST TALK ABOUT HOW FANTASTIC THAT BASS PLAYER IS?!

I am going to put this song as the sample at the bottom, but the bass line in “Sweet Talk” is possibly the coolest bass line I have ever heard. Jazzy, but perfectly encapsulates the sound of the entire album. I don’t say this enough, but I think this bass player actually makes this band.

Anyway, this album changes tone with every song. Not in a whiplash kind of way, more just ensuring that you won’t be bored with future listens.

Jesus, I’m rambling. I’m sorry, I just love this album so much.

My point is simply that I love this album, and I really feel like it was under appreciated. It still holds up, and I know that people would love it. Recommended for fans of Death Cab for Cutie or any other of the myriad of bands that came around that time. Perfect the remember that sound, but find something that sounds completely unique.

Classic Album Review :: Thursday — War All the Time

Happy new decade! Yes, I am aware that there was no year zero, thus next year is the new decade. I like 0’s, though: so you have to put up with my excitement for a bit.

This is the best “emo” album ever created, and I have no regrets saying that.

It’s a bit unfortunate that everyone just associates this album with the political climate of the early 2000’s: specifically in response to the “war on terror” and the invasion of the middle east. This album puts a spotlight on the financial situation that we are still plagued by. Everything from a priority put on finances to the abandonment of happiness in a pursuit for the advancement of financial gain.

I digress, let’s start with the music.

I don’t think I have ever found a better intro for an album. “For the Workforce, Drowning” starts this album off with seven of the most abrasive hits that have ever been composed. The entire song highlights the musical prowess of this band. Beautifully harmonized guitars, tasteful drum lines, and an almost off-key singer. I am ready to be proven wrong; but, at least from my personal plunge into music, this marks the first time a bass was used as more that just rhythm. From the 1:52 point until 2:32, the guitar takes a back seat to beautifully composed bass-lead that eases the listener from the barrage that just occurred. It only last for about 30 seconds before the slap-in-the-face that is the ending. It almost creates a false sense of calm before the climax of the chaos.

I use the first song as a kind of beautiful depiction of the album as a whole. “Sleep Ascending” starts a reprise before the brutal sincerity that is “M. Shepard” to the end of the album. This is one of the few albums in my collection where the vocals match the desperation of the music.

I feel out of my depth. I find it very hard to talk about this album without gushing about the vocals which, I have made clear, I am terrible at talking about. I’m a drummer, not a vocalist. I know enough to know that the singer is NOT a good singer. Much like The Cure, I could not fathom this band existing with a different singer.

Long story short, I love this album. Definately for fans of punk and emo from the turn of the millenium. I cannot even say that this album is musically fantastic, but I find it one of the most important releases of my life.

On a personal note, I have been let down three times by this band. Since the first Taste of Chaos Tour in 2005, they have canceled every show that I have tried to see them in. Yes, they always had valid reasons, but teenaged-Jay was disappointed anyway. If you have seen them, let me know how fantastic they were.

This review was written after a discussion with my old bass player, Caitlinn. She brought up the fact that she just found a burned copy of this album, and I reminded her that I made that for her forever ago.

The Decade

I was feeling like I haven’t accomplished much in the last little bit. I am used to being pushed in all directions at the same time, and I have been on this path of writing and blogging over the last six years. To overcome this feeling of uselessness that I have been burdened by, I revisited everything that I have done over the last decade.

2010: I played on the Livestalk & the Bodies LP. It still stands as one of my favourite albums of all time, let alone one of my proudest musical moments. I only played three songs, and they are not my favourite on the album, but they are a clear mark for my leaving of the punk/metal of All Cut Up and the beginning of my voyage into more complex structures.

2010: Release of the first Twin EP. We had a demo before that, but it was terrible. Nothing I was used to, and was literally a 180 from the Livestalk album I played on the same year. The EP did not turn out how we wanted it to, but I am still proud of it regardless. The same year, we released Victims and Dirty Dancin’ as singles. I believe The Twin have since released them as an EP, but I still consider them stand-alone projects because we went to two different studios to record them.

2011: Went on first tour. Though it was not very far: when the route is calculated, it’s over 1000 KM in total. It spanned roughly a week and had seven stops. We were joined by my good friend Gerald, who lent us his van that was more long-haul ready than mine at the time was.

2012: Played Warped Tour. That was a dream of 15-year-old Jay, and it actually happened!

2013: Inner Demons. Yes, The Twin took 3 years to go back into studio. That was because of relentless playing, writing, and fighting. Two new members on this EP, and it sounded like something new. It was so very different from what we had done before.

2013: I left The Twin because of non-exciting reasons. Teamed up with my old bass player and a good friend of mine. There was this poorly constructed demo they wanted me to listen to, and immediately I knew that I had to help them come up with the dream they had. It turned into my favourite recording I have worked on. Called the band Chance Procedures.
Became manager at the record store that I had worked in since ’07.
Died.
Then, didn’t die.
I spent from November to the end of the year stuck in a bed. Paralyzed from the neck down, and spent the little bit of the end of the year I was conscious being unable to emote.

2014: Was transferred between five different hospitals before finally being able to go home. Have been in a wheelchair since.

2015: Moved to Hamilton. Met Natasha. Started college.

2016: Failed out of two programs in college. Released You’re Not Dead. Got engaged. Moved back to Cambridge.

2017: Got married. Moved to Burlington. Had seizures. Discovered that I have had epilepsy for a while. Got our third dog (Tina).

2018: Started anewsin Publication. Let the first press of You’re Not Dead run out, but started harder work on the second edition to clean up some (lots) of missed errors.

2019: Assisted Hannah with some Chance Procedure demos that she had lying dormant in her head. Nothing to report on those, yet. I did construct a “music video” for one of them.

THINGS NOT LISTED: Our 3 cats. Our other two dogs. The litters that Tina had. The puppy-fiasco that was selling them. My previous band (All Cut Up) was from the decade before, and was not listed for that reason.

What have I learned? That I have done some pretty cool things. I am far from done doing cool things, and I want to double the length of this list next decade. I already have new projects in the wings. I have ideas and plans and some cookies! Oh, good flying fuck, I am so ready. So, please, help me to do something fantastic by considering a donation to my Patreon. It helps more than I can ever state.

A decade in review…

Thank God I don’t work in a music store any longer. Not that I didn’t love it, but this task was stupid hard.

As you may have noticed, I posted a recommended media for the year and NOT a music list this time because I was lacking in new releases for the last year. I only had one, and though it was amazing, it doesn’t make a whole list.

I decided to do a decade long list. Recommendations that have come out in the last decade: break it into years, and that equals ten! That sounds like a good idea right? RIGHT?!

Wrong. There are several albums that I go back to over and over, and there are multiple years that, though they had a few good releases, don’t hold my attention.

With much blood (and tears) I managed to get my list down to 50ish. I picked the best release that a band had that decade, which is harder than you might think. Some of the bands had a good portion of their discography come out during this time! So, instead of doing an in-depth dive into what makes each album amazing, I’m going to try to sum it up in a sentence or two, and link to a good (if not the best) song from each album.

BEFORE I START THIS LIST! I am so sorry for any advertisements that play at the beginning of songs. I tried as hard as I could to find ad free versions, but I was unsuccessful most of the time.

HERE WE GO

Adam Evers — Moments
You have heard me done on and on about this EP over the last couple of months. It belongs on this list for many reasons. Read my full review here.

Balance & Composure — Separation
A grunge throw-back. I saw them open for Touchè Amourè a few years ago, and fell in love.
Song: Void

Bloc Party — Four
What pop-rock can be. The classiest vulgar that you can find.
Song: We Are Not Good People

Boards of Canada — Tomorrow’s Harvest
Ambient electronica. Incredibly peaceful and beautiful. Sounds like the tracking from a ’70s movie, and it’s amazing.
Song: Reach For the Dead

Broken Bells — Broken Bells
I love this album. There is something enchanting about it
Song: The High Road

Cage the Elephant — Thank You, Happy Birthday
It’s a shame that this album wasn’t bigger. I would argue that it is one thousand times better then their first, but the public has spoken.
Song: Always Something

CFCF — Radiance & Submission
Two ambient electronica albums in one list? I’m loosing my edge! In my defence, this one is French
Song: In Praise of Shadows

Chon — Grow
NO ONE SHOULD BE THIS GOOD AT INSTRUMENTS. PERIOD.
Song: Splash

The Contortionist — Language
What the latest Tool should have been. Complicated, but not unattainable. Absolutely beautiful.
Song: Intuition

Counterparts — Prophets
I’m going to be that guy: I played with them around the release of this album. Nicest. Guys. Ever.
Song: Goodbye Megaton

Crosses — Crosses
Deftones without Deftones. Very different from Team Sleep, though the same idea.
Song: Option

Cursive — I Am Gemini
I have trouble putting how I love this album into words. Smart, but not arrogant. Self deprecating, but not pathetic.
Song: Twin Dragon/Hello Skeleton (I really love from the 4 min mark on)

Dead Weather — Sea of Cowards
I was a moderate White Stripes fan, and I never listened to The Kills before this came out. This album, turns out, to be a great blend of the two. Cool drums, as well.
Song: Die by the Drop

Deerhoof — vs. Evil
Just cool. Oh, and fucking complicated. It is truly amazing what you can do with music, and this band proves it time after time.
Song: The Merry Barracks

Deftones — Diamond Eyes
Not their best, but far from their worst. Almost didn’t make the list, but it has my third favourite Deftones song on it.
Song: CMND/CTRL

Die Hexe — Die Hexe
This was a surprise that I didn’t realize that I needed in my life. Might be one of my favourite albums of all time.
I reviewed this one, as well.

The Dø — Shake, Shook, Shaken
Just a good ol’ pop album! So damned catchy, so damned cool!
Song: Despair, Hangover and Ecstasy

Fall of Troy — OK
I am going to try to describe this without swearing, so I will just say that it’s the best album they have released since Doppelganger. I’m not going to say their best, but very close.
Song: Inside Out

Hail the Sun — Wake
WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE DRUMMER SINGS? Think Mars Volta meets Circa Survive… BUT ADD A SINGING DRUMMER!
Song: Human Target Practice

Heart & Harm — Damage
Think A->B life by mewithoutyou. Now, forget that.
Song: Damage

Hot Hot Heat — Future Breeds
Such a good departure for this band. So many interesting takes on music but without reinventing the wheel.
Song: Times A Thousand

Invent, Animate — Everchanger
A more intense (better?) Misery Signals.
Song: Nocturne: Lost Faith

Kennedy — The Guilty Poor
The album opens with a monologue from 1984. It sets the mood for the entire album.
Song: Stillborn Believer (any album that opens with a monologue from the 1984 film automatically wins)

Livestalk & the Bodies
Okay, I put one of the albums I performed on this list. To be fair: it’s here because the rest of this album is amazing which does not have me.
Just go listen to the whole thing.

Melody’s Echo Chamber — Melody’s Echo Chamber
Psychedelic and ’60s sounding. I don’t know why I went through this phase where everything had to sound old, but I’m happy I did.
Song: Quand Vas Tu Rentrer?…

Minus the Bear — Infinity Overhead
Not my favourite MtB album, but Listing IS one of my favourite songs of all time.
Song: Listing

New Design — Far From Home
I was contacted to review this album around its release. I was not prepared for how good this group is. Also, they remind me of what emo was when I was in high school,
Song: I’ve Never Seen the Ocean

OK GO — Of the Blue Colour Of the Sky
I was on the fence if I was going to include this album, then I realized that there is nothing quite like it. Don’t get me wrong: I love this album, it just doesn’t quite measure up to the one prior.
Song: WTF

Periphery — Periphery
Never has a band started so strong to end up so pathetic. At least we will always have this banger of an album!
Song: The Walk

Rah Rah — Breaking Hearts
Probably one of the best bands that I have ever seen on stage. This album is just so damned cute!
Song: Henry

Ratatat — Magnifique
I hate everyone for not telling me about this album when it was released.
Song: Cream on Chrome

Regina Spektor — What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
There seemed to be this time in music where there was an influx of “girls-sining-and-playing-piano.” We are past this time, and this was actually a pleasant surprise. It doesn’t help that she comes off as incredibly condescending.
Song: All the Rowboats

Respire — Gravity & Grace
Metal and trumpets? Yes: metal and trumpets.
Song: Ascent

Samsaris — Samsaris
Sick of me banging on and on about this album yet? TOO BAD! I loved it when I picked it up, and I still love it to this day! I want to compare it to Bjork? But that might just be because of the Iceland comparison.
Song: Goda Tungl

Sigur Rós — Kveikur
SPEAKING OF ICELAND! Haunting. Incredibly beautiful. Heavy lyrically without me even looking into translations. Even if I found out that he was talking about how much he loved petting dogs, it would not change the fact that the first time I heard the first track, I almost cried from the intensity.
Song: Brennisteinn

A Silver Mt. Zion — Kollaps Tradixionals
I BUILT MYSELF A METAL BIRL I FED MY METAL BIRD THE WINGS OF OTHER METAL BIRDS…
If those words intrigue you in the slightest, I found your new favourite album.
Song: I Built Myself A Metal Bird

Sleigh Bells — Treats
What happens when you cross metal and pop? Something beautiful yet horribly disfigured, and I love it.
Song: Infinity Guitars

Slender Loris — World Tour
I am proud of myself for not loading this list with friends releases, but this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard of ever.
Song: (not as hardcore as) Dismantle

Squarepusher — Ufabulum
I hate that I love this album so much. It’s electronica. No other caveats there.
Song: The Metallurgist

Stayce — Huck Dunter
When I was writing for Mind the Music, I found so many great albums! This is another one I came across in my short-lived travels on that site. Grunge? Not really. I don’t really have a category for them.
Song: Basement

Structures — All the Above
Still have a hard time trying to figure out some of the drum patterns. I gave up trying to learn it a while ago, but it would bring me much closure if I could AT LEAST FIGURE OUT WHAT HE IS DOING!
Song: Still Waters

Sufjan Stevens — Age of ADZ
Neat. Just, neat.
Song: I Want to be Well (personal anthem)

Title Fight — Shed
One of my favourite punk albums of all time.
Song: Shed

Tokyo Police Club — Champ
I do not have an excuse why I love this band so much.
Song: Bambi

Tom Vek — Leisure Seizure
This guy cannot sing, but his attempts are what make this album so amazing.
Song: Aroused (WARNING: If you smoke or DID smoke, this video will drive you nuts)

Touchè Amourè — Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Some of the best lyrics that you will find ever. It really didn’t help that they are really nice guys who just love music.
Song: Home Away From Here

Vampire Weekend — Contra
Do you have an album that you love and you don’t know why and when people ask why you have so many plays on it, you hesitate to tell them it’s because you love the album dearly? Yeah, that’s my relationship with this album/Vampire Weekend in general.
Song: Giving Up the Gun

xx — Coexist
Minimalist, haunting, beautiful. There permeates a feeling that something is something horribly wrong, and it makes the album feel like a movie*.
*might be why the songs are featured in a few films and TV shows from that year
Song: Fiction

65DAYSOFSTATIC — We Were Exploding Anyway
This is the band that I wish I created when I was in high school. Stupid talented and imaginative. I love this band.
Song: Dance Dance Dance

Again; sorry for any ads that may have bombarded you. I tried to pick my favourite songs, the Melody’s Echo Chamber probably being my favourite of the last decade. Though I do recommend listening to all of these, I understand that it is a lot. There is enough for one a week, though!

Classic Album Review :: Arab Strap – Elephant Shoe

Fuck, I love this album.

REVIEW OVER

I play: this album is pretty well of opposite of what people think I would be into. Not only is it primarily acoustic, the vocalist has a thick Scottish accent which makes it sounds like he has marbles in his mouth. What gets neglected is just how perfect it fits cold days sitting in front of a computer screen.

As always, my favourite track is the opening song, Cherubs. I opens with a very digital kick drum accenting the two and four beats of the measure. The majority of the song is carried by an almost etherial acoustic guitar and a ghostly piano line that dance gracefully over the vocals. Maybe it’s because of how almost stereotypical the accent is, but it feels like someone narrating over a dreamscape.

I cannot hear a bass in most of the album. The low end is filled by the guitar, and it is a risk that pays off. The almost minimalistic approach maintains a dream-like quality to every track. This is accentuated by the playing with structure.

Though it can be argue, the songs on this album seem to buck traditional organization in favour for an almost natural feel. Parts repeat when they don’t seem to have rhyme or reason to, other parts that feel like there should be a reprise with never return. It can either be frustrating or liberating. In some ways, I feel like it’s the best part. The feel of this album is the main selling point, and the incomplete frustration that occurs almost adds to it.

As mentioned, Cherubs is my favourite track. However, I cannot say that any song is not worth a listen. A few songs elaborate on the fake drums, which never detract from the music by the way. I actually appreciate the fact that the members knew that they were not able to perform the drums. That way, the hits are perfect for what needs to be played.

No one seems to know of this band. If you like this album, I recommend whatever you can find. I admit, I have done little research into this band before today. I can confirm that they get more elaborate with later albums (like how their is a full band on “The Last Romance”) and the structures remain somewhat the same.

Of course, I cannot mention this band without bringing up my friend Adam Evers and his EP that he released earlier this year (2019). Fantastic release that needs all the attention in the world.

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!