Classic Album Review :: Kittie — Oracle

I don’t know why I got this album in my head. I was wheeling through my kitchen humming the chorus for What I Always Wanted when my wife, being rather concerned, asked what was wrong with me. The awkward thing is that song is not the only one on the album with singing, but has the least interesting pattern to get stuck in your head.

For being from London, Ontario, this album still scratches an itch that only a few bands can. I hesitate to call it Nu Metal, but it did come out around right around Untouchables by Korn (predating it by a year). Really, a better comparison is The End of All Things to Come by Mudvayne with less “David Bottrill” in the whole sound area.

Very simple guitar and bass. Almost too much (in a good way) drums. Vocals that pierce every inch of your soul. Beautiful singing. To be honest, that is why I have gone this long with never bringing this band up before. I love them, the first 3 albums anyway, but that is literally all I have to say about them.

If you just want something heavy, yet beautiful (in a broken way), you can do MUCH worse. They do the early ’90s sound yet still remain relevant. I mean, Mudvayne and Korn are my only (halfway) decent comparisons, and they really don’t describe this band at all.

Oracle is amazing. Spit and Until the End are good, but a bit more particular. They have one more album, but I hated it.

Personal note: don’t y’all enjoy how I am like “BYE SEE YOU NEXT YEAR” and then publish a review in the same week? I am going to not be doing blog stuff, and I am only going to be writing about music you should check out. I say that not expecting anything fascinating to happen in any other regards this year. I might be wrong.

No.

I have been stewing over this topic for days. The idea that you can do anything if you try hard enough, you can make it. I hate this concept, and I want to fight it to the best of my ability. The wall I hit, however, is that I cannot dispute the necessity of trying regardless of end position. If you work hard, you will be compensated. If you do not work hard, you will be repremanded. To assume that it just takes time and elbow greas to make it somewhere can actually be both heartbreaking, and damaging to standing in the greater endevour climate.

I spent over 10 years in bands trying my hardest to make it. There was a constant climb upwards in the scene, do not misunderstand my points, but I always put out multiple times what I made. I offset any sort of financial downfall with jobs. I did music because I loved it and needed to do something creative. I never had any illusions that I could live off of it, though it was an end goal.

That unfortunate reality goes for any artistic doing. You can try, you can succeed, and you can fail. Sometimes, all three in the same week. To assume that you are going to make it big is dangerous. It does happen, but it does not more often. There are so many things at play when considering a career in the arts, and doing one thing is often not the path to go down. To assume that if you just write that one song that everyone will love and you’ll be fine is actually a safer bet than believing that your band will do gang busters.

Another way to look at it: I was a drummer. That means, that under copyright laws in Canada for a musical composition, I had rights to the recordings of my drums. If the primary song writers could rerecord my drums without my knowledge, they could have stripped me of any financial rights. Lucky for me, I played with collections of stand-up people who never even thought of doing things like that. Instead, we kept playing. Getting gigs whenever we could, going on short tours, recording albums out of our pockets, and not eating.

10 plus years of that. Now, three years writing. No money made, but a fuck-tonne put out. That’s part of why I opened up the Patreon. just $1 a month gets you a subscription. That means you get a list of your name on this site, plus you get ansP releases about a month before anyone else in a fancy PDF! Hell, if you donate $10 a month, you get the pleasure of knowing that I consider you a fantastic human being and I will love you for a very long time! Your name gets put on the list with a little note of FANTASTIC put beside it. Even if you cancel your donation, or lower it, that denotation NEVER goes away!

~a bit of transparency about money

I try to keep the financial side out of this blog for two reasons.

  1. It always feels either preachy or like a plea for something. Either I feel like I am dictating to those who cannot get a foothold, or I am begging for more from the masses. Neither is 100% true, however. Yes, I do want/need help. Don’t we all? Also, it is very hard to get a handle on what exactly is available and what the limits I can push are in those directions.
  2. I HAVE NO IDEA all of the caveats and obligations. Like, if I beg people to gift me something on Patreon, do I have to declare it? Is what I do worthy of donation?Then, I self destruct into a world of “what makes me better than most?” and “what can I offer that no one else can besides this blog?” to which my self-worth gets eroded over time.

Those two point are why I never ask, or beg if you see it that way, for people to donate anything fiscally.

I HAVE (kind of) FOUND WHAT TO DO NOW!

I am on CPPD (Canadian Pension Plan Disability) which gives me just over $800 a month. It sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t break the poverty line. There are no benefits (like insurance) and I have to put the money out for things like my medication, wheelchair, and other necessities. It feels a bit broken, and a bit worthless.

WHY DON’T I JUST GO ONTO ODSP OR ODB?

They require a minimum income available, and look for any reason to not give me a helping hand. Since my wife had a decent job, I lived at home and/or my parents were well off, I was not eligible through the government of Canada for any sort of benefit. I am going to reapply, but the soonest that I can go through wit that is next month and the process takes about a month to complete. In the mean time, I have all three of my meds coming to an end, and I really need new wheels. Which actually segues beautifully into my next point…

DOESN’T THE GOVERNMENT FUND WHEELCHAIRS?

Easy answer is no. Harder answer is “explaining the caveats and bullshit reasons” no.

To get a new chair, the only way to government will put anything towards a replacement is if repairs cost more than a new chair would. If that is the case, the government (through ADP. I don’t know how it works with ODSP since they keep saying ‘no’ when I apply) will pay 75% back AFTER you put the money out for a new chair.If I am not mistaken, wheels are covered on a 5 year cycle (again, AFTER the money has been put out) but I have not looked into that yet.

My purpose for writing this all out is to demonstrate that being in a wheelchair does not create a win-fall financially unlike what I have seen the public assume it does. I cannot have a conventional occupation because of my epilepsy, wheelchair, and various other medical situations. They cannot NOT hire me for any of thees reasons, but maybe I don’t have the education that they like. Maybe my job experience isn’t quite up to their standards. There are many reasons not to hire someone without pointing to their medical and physical limitations.

I have ranted at you long enough. I basically wrote this for a semi-excuse to say PLEASE support me on Patreon. I will never ask for much. There are nine beautiful people on there whom I am forever indebted to.

Classic Album Review :: Matthew Good Band — Beautiful Midnight

I have not written one of these in a while, but the last one keeps getting new readers! If this is something you want me to do more of, let me know in the comments! I have a few albums I can think of that I feel everyone should remember or experience for the first time.

Oh, Canada! You make such good music!

I know that I keep doing retrospectives in Canadian music of albums from the ’90’s, but that was my bread and butter. I was a huge alternative nerd back then, and some of the best music came from Canada. I am sure, if this article does well, I will hit on Our Lady Peace.

I digress. I lovingly call this album “The Soundtrack for Nihilism” to no one ever.

(I need friends.)

This album has some of the bleakest outlooks on life ever put to lyrics. From the bombastic opening of Giant right through to the somber ending of Running For Home. Every song croons about “everything is fucked is and we’re all going to die so make the best of what you’ve got.”

I love it so much.

Giant is probably one of the best intro songs ever. It opens with a cheerleading group spelling ‘KICKASS’ with no backtrack what-so-ever. Then, with piercing squeals preceding it, the drum line comes crashing over everything. It’s beautiful.

From that point on, the lyrics and music paint a picture of how great it is that everything is the way it is in the most sarcastic, unfeeling way. The music reminds me of the epic crescendo’s of the ’80’s metal scene mixed with the independent movement in the early 2000’s. Leads and little more than jangles placed perfectly over steady rhythms laid out by a steady bass line. This, of course, is punctuated by the slap of crushing swells and pounding drones. The strings sound like they would be simple in execution, but they are covered in flairs you might not notice unless you were looking for them. The drums accentuate the standard pop song structure then vier wildly into the realm of progressive meters and timing without the listener even noticing.

To put it simply, this album should not work in the mainstream archetype, but does so beautifully. The bleak lyrics help along this feeling of ambiguity that the album contrives. Metaphors abound and the similes used illustrate the mind of someone defeated by society, but they do not celebrate it. They are used more to illustrate how messed up everything is, but drive home the hopeless emotion that permeated the ’90’s.

I think my ravings have proved how much I love this album. In fact, I am having a hard time picking a favourite song to share with everyone. When you have massive tracks like the aforementioned Giant and piano ballads like Strange Days with only one song between the two, to find a standout track that dictates the general feeling is really difficult. It would actually be a lot of fun to break the album down, song by song, and write a piece about each one. There is enough content in each song individually that doing so would be interesting. Even taking what they sound like they mean and comparing what they are actually about would be interesting.

I, however, am far from the right person to do such a task.

If I had to make a generalization as to what states-of-mind the album elicits, I would have to say crushing realization combined with an acceptance of just how wrong everything can be.

SO, I TOLD MYSELF I WOULD NOT PICK GIANT.
I found a really good version of Giant live.
The first guitar solo is ignored by the camera operator. Epilepsy warning, though I was okay.

Enjoy.

A tale of Toronto ALSO news about selling out.

It has been far too long since I last wrote about me. Although, it could be argued that the post I made in reference to Shameful Sheep back in April was just that, but I digress. There is something horrible about Toronto.

For those who do not know, Toronto is Canada’s biggest city. I mean, sitting at a population just shy of 3 million is laughable to some, but living there has been a dream of mine for what seems like forever!

My wife and I have made three separate attempts to go to events there. Though we were late for the first couple, it does not forgive the fact that it is one of the least wheelchair friendly cities I have ever tried to explore.

For example, and since it literally just happened so it is fresh in my mind, we had tickets to a comedy festival. We found out after the fact that it was outside and got canceled due to weather not being fun and whatnot, but we could not get parking anywhere near the place. In fact: the only parking we could attain was down a 45 degree hill 20 minuets from the venue. That is not saying that it was not possible, not at all. What it is saying is that we would have had to have been 45 minuets earlier to even pretend to arrive on time.

Gumble grumble something about first world problems grumble grumble…

Whee! Tangent time!

Something I have been working on is now I am an associate of Amazon.ca/com/co.uk. Why? I want to do this full time.

Check that.

NEED to do this full time. I am, after all, an epileptic paraplegic. I am not saying that the workplace is against hiring such a high-risk individual, that would be illegal! What I am saying is that it is very hard to find a place that would be interested in hiring someone of my “medical pedigree.”

With that said, if you know of somewhere that would hire me, please let me know! My animals need all the foods they can get!

Fancy new tier rewards on the ol’ Patreon! $5 and $7 dollars will either get your name used as a hero or a villain in an upcoming ansP release!

So, my plan for the next while [anyway] is to post a link to a recommended item every week. Each item will have a brief description and a reason to love it, and the image that accompanies that will link to the Amazon page selling it. Please, consider this.

It took me FAR too long to figure this out, but below is a link to one of my — *AHEM* — my FAVOURITE album of all time. The lyrics paint such an honest portrait of love ending. The music is haunting, yet beautiful. It is honest, yet fantastical. Seriously, look into it. If you are going to buy it, try through the link below. It goes right to the Amazon page. Album is for fans of Sparta and, well, people into good music. It is far from metal, but a good appreciation of heavier music would help in understanding why I consider this album so Godly.

Recommended for fans of Sparta, At the Drive In, and people who want Death Cab For Cutie to have more of an edge.

Click the image below if you are interested in purchasing!

Guess what I have been doing?

What a misleading title. It implies that I have been doing something interesting, but, alas, unless you find me rewriting You’re Not Dead interesting, you will feel cheated.

You’re Not Dead is coming up to being released two years ago in July. My contract with Friessen is up, and I am planning on doing a second release with more meat in its bones. I have already fixed two grammar and a continuity error. Both of these items embarrassed me greatly, but filled me with much rage as I had an editor who, apparently, did fuck all.

UPDATE A FEW HOURS BEFORE UPLOAD! I found a form that I misread at the time. Though it does not excuse everything, there were some ideas that I just did not take to heart at the time.

So, yes: there will be more news on that front as it cumulates.

I have also started piecing together my next release. I am planning a series of short stories bound together in one collection. My publicist thinks it a good plan, but I am curious what the general populace thinks?

Also, I know I just said something about it, but I have changed my Patreon already to make it a five dollar donation gets you whatever I am working on. I decided to lower the bar for entry simply because the releases will not be edited.

Interesting news about the week: my brother turns 28 today (the 25th)! Is that not exciting as fuck!? I know this will post a couple of days late (and I will see him before it goes live) so happy belated!

I have also found a better way of doing the “Have You Not HEARD” posts. Every blog I am going to put a song you need in your life. I will also state if the whole album is worth your time, or just that song.

This week, it was a toss-up, but I am going with my favourite music video. Listing by Minus the Bear gets the title simply because it is just so damned cute. Does not help that the song is amazing, and the whole album is a Godsend.
I digress. Jazzy, calm, amazing. Great to drum to, a lot of fun to sing with. Far from my favourite MtB song, but easily in my top ten. Please, listen and enjoy.

Have You Not HEARD? Part II

I realized on Thursday that this was being posted on October first. Happy spook-month, everyone!

This is a series of blog updates where I either remind you of bands you forgot, or show you things you may have never heard before. Every album listed here is one of my favourites, and I will try not to bring up duplicates from other lists I have done.

Bloc Party :: Four
This band confuses me. I am very aware that they are far from the scope of the mainstream (or, were huge at one time, anyway), but no one seems to talk about them. I have been made well aware that they are terrible on stage, but that does not change the fact that Four is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. Hard-hitting, spiteful, dark, yet beautiful.
Recommended listening — We Are Not Good People

Boards of Canada :: Music Has the Right to Children
Yes, I admit, this is a strange album that not many people would be interested in. It is electronica, but very much background ambience. Brought to you by the same record label that brought Aphex Twin and Squarepusher to the world, this exists in a kind of strange vacuum that could be considered Adult Contemporary, but it is far too strange and fantastic to be degraded in such a way. (I’m sorry if you like Adult Contemporary, just not my thing)
Recommended listening — Wildlife Analysis

Broken Social Scene :: You Forgot It In People
To set the record straight early: I really hope that no one has actually forgot this band. Seriously, when was the last time you listened to this album? Not recently enough is the answer. Interesting Canadian Pop-Rock, with an impressive collection of vocal artists and very talented musicians.
Recommended listening — K.C. Accidental

Broken Social Scene Present: Kevin Drew :: Spirit If…
Strange, honest, jangly… this album contains everything that could be considered great in the early-2000’s Canadian Indi scene. It contains one of my favourite songs ever recorded and, for the last decade since its release, I rarely go a week without treating myself to this forgotten gem.
Recommended listening — TBTF

Dear in the Headlights :: Small Steps, Heavy Hooves
I feel so badly for this band. They were released on Equal Vision in 2005 and were quickly overshadowed by the emo and hardcore movement that was taking place at that time. Ignored by the masses, the world dejected one of the most talented bands to ever grace our planet. Good from beginning to end, please do yourself a favour and give it a fair listen. Do it for you.
Recommended listening — Sweet Talk

Deathmole :: Present Peregrine
This is a fake-not-fake band. Jeph Jaques created Deathmole as a joke in a comic he writes, and then used the opportunity to flex his creative muscles musically. The result is a very interesting take on the Djent genre. As far as I am aware, the drums were all programmed. I must say, he did a fantastic job on them despite that fact.
Recommended listening — Personal Charm

Death From Above 1979 :: You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine
My friend Kevo and I did a rendition of “Turn It Out” for a school pep-rally over a decade ago. The album dropped back in ’04, and I think we performed it ’05? Does anyone remember, or have a link? Was there ever a video taken of this? I would love to see it. That occasion stands as one of the first times I tried to sing and play drums: and I forgot the words half way through. It was awesome.

OH YEAH, THE ALBUM. It is Punk with just bass and drums. Hard, strangely funky, a lot of fun. I don’t put it on often, but I am always happy when I do.
Recommended listening — Turn It Out

Hot Hot Heat :: Future Breeds
Fun. Fucked. Amazing. I love this album. (I just noticed just how much of this list is Canadian, and I am far from sorry about that.) This album is a great example of what you can put in music that will annoy people, yet still do incredibly well at the end of the day. Phenomenal lyrics that hide time and key changes masterfully. Something else I feel like I should mention: the vocals are much less obnoxious than they were on earlier releases. I am not saying that they were bad, back-in-the-day, but they were grating if you could not get behind them.
(secret: if you want to see a drummer cry, get them to drum along to this album. It sounds simple, but it’s noooooot)
Recommended listening — JFK’s Acid

The (International) Noise Conspiracy :: A New Morning, Changing Weather
I will be candid here, I hate this band. In my eyes, this album was fantastic, Survival Sickness had some good tunes: THAT’S IT. You may recognize the singer as being the front man from Refused, but he does NOTHING to that caliber. Not that he should, however. This album is a strange combination of Surf-Rock and Punk: it worked once, at least.
Recommended listening — Up For Sale

Lullabye Arkestra :: Ampgrave
This band is strange. Like, proper strange. Just bass and drums (on stage, anyway), and they were very artsy. The drummer was from Do Make Say Think, and his wife was on bass. They put on one of my favourite live acts I have ever seen. It was awkward, fun, loud, and inviting: you felt like they wanted you there, and everyone else was your good friend. Really recommend listening to a few songs off this album before you jump to a conclusion.
Recommended listening — Unite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Maximo Park :: A Certain Trigger
This album means more to me than it probably should. I picked it up randomly when I was still working at the music store on a whim. I was immediately caught off guard by how much I enjoyed it. It reminded me of The Smiths, without sounding anything like them. They are one of the tightest bands I have ever heard, and the lyrics are very ridiculous, but still important.

Random personal story: when I was fresh out of the coma, and finally starting to realize the world around me, I identified with the song “Apply Some Pressure” in a morbid way. Something about the way the singer keeps repeating the phrase “What happens when you loose everything? You just start again. Start all over again.” It just resonated with everything that I was and still am going through.
Recommended listening — Apply Some Pressure

(Of course, I would point out the song that keeps the album close to my heart.)

AMENDMENT TO MAXIMO PARK: After listening to “The Queen is Dead” I no longer agree with my Smiths comparison. I do hold true to the fact they sound like that era. The Smiths are their own beast, and few bands will ever be able to recreate that sound reliably.

I am not here to tell you what you need to listen to. I just simply need to remind the world of these artists and/or bands. If you do not love them, as I do, that is okay. I still want to make these exposés every once in a while. As I have stated in the past, I do aim to do a music update at least once a month. I have not done one since June 25th, and I am not proud of that. Please, share this list with your friends. Tell me if you found something awesome, or recommend something that you think I might like!

Classic Album Review :: Sloan — Navy Blues

I feel like I need to remind society, as a whole, about this fantastic Canadian gem. Navy Blues was Sloans fourth album and, in my mind anyway, their most amazing release to date.

The year was 1998. The landscape in the music world was dark and brooding. Refused was asking to get the airwaves back, and Matthew Good Band was slaying society by reminding ourselves how bleak and pointless everything was. It actually remains one of, if not my personal favourite periods in music. Korn was still worthy of respect, Meshuggah was being ridiculous, and The Dillinger Escape Plan followed up to a very technical introduction with one of the most complicated (sonically) albums ever released.

Through all the brooding, doom, and technical insanity, Sloan released a throwback.. Navy Blues is The Beatles in the nineties, but with more coherent lyrics. I will not sugar-coat it: this is a pop album. It stays on my radar by having some of the most interesting and simple drumming I have ever heard.

Between tight harmonies, catchy hooks, and a driving beat, this album continues to bring nothing shy of a smile to my face.

Maybe it is because it is cute and simple that I love it so much. When you have such a fantastic year of really complicated albums coming out, the pop throwback not only stands alone but is more appreciated for not pretending it’s something it’s not.

I won’t bullshit music fans: listen to the album, but realize that it’s not for everyone. Stated again: it is a pop album. It is great to listen to when cruising in a car on a summer day with windows down.

My recommendation is watch the horribly arrogant and hilarious music video I have provided.

Incase you haven’t noticed: I really don’t know what to write about. I felt like bringing this album to light because I feel like it is forgotten in the shuffle. I used to write a fuck-tonne of reviews and highlights like this (only more arrogant) a few years ago. Leave a like if you think I should do more. It’s fun!
Also, I do Canadian Independent Punk reviews over on Mind The Music T.O. most Mondays.

I will have something next week that isn’t just a review. I wanted to do this (it’s been in my head a while).

ALBUMS OF NOTE THAT YEAR:

& You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead — ST
(Not their best, but it does mark the beginning of something great)
Board of Canada — Music Has the Right To Children
(Ambience arguably at its best)
Bran Van 3000 — Glee
(Canadian dance weirdness)

I cannot continue this list. I have 33 different albums that I would have to talk about.
You get the idea.