~Eudaimonia

I was given permission to upload the entire album on YouTube. This was one of my favourite projects to record, plus it remains one of my favourite albums of all time.

Please, listen to the other recordings by Livestalk and consider buying something from them.

You can find the link here.

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Art V. Depression

I got the privilege to see Amanda Palmer last night in Toronto. I was a huge fan of the Dresden Dolls years ago, and I have been intrigued by her solo work. It doesn’t help my fan-boying that her husband is Neil Gaiman, who has created some of my favourite worlds in modern fiction.

It was three hours of her telling anecdotes, smashing the keys on a piano, and strumming a ukulele. She explored her past, which included death, feminism, and abortions. It was so carnal, so brutal, so honest, I was enamoured by every word she spoke.

There was (several, but) one thing she said that has, and will always, stick with me. “You can be too depressed to create art.” Initially, I was offended by this notion. My initial reaction was one that I looked into my own artistic endevours and evaluate whether I was actually depressed, or just angry.

What I found at the end of my introspection was that I agreed with her statement, to a point. Depression is very deep. Not always, but it can result in exhaustion, and disasociation with reality. That explains why I have been having a difficult time writing over the last few years. I am nowhere near as angry as I was when I was a teen. Instead, I have been trying to harness my depression and translate that into anger.

My end point is that there will not be an update to asnP on May first. I have actually pulled out “this book doesn’t matter” and am trying to re-write most, if not all, of it. It was super short, and a few of my points were rushed. I hope to have everything done and better before the end of the year.

Classic Album Review :: A Perfect Circle — eMOTIVe

I am breaking two promises I made to myself today! The first is that I would only do these once every calendar year. The second is that I would only review albums around 20 years old. After listening to this album the morning of writing these piece, I felt that it is underrated and ignored.

eMOTIVe by A Perfect Circle is one of, if not THE, most important albums to come out in my life. Between its cover of Imagine bringing the beautiful piece by John Lennon back to the modern times, or its reimagining of other contemporary anthems by bands like Black Flag and Marvin Gaye, it should not be as ignored as it has been since its release.

eMOTIVe is beautiful and haunting. A good potion of the tracks maintain an etherial guitar tone, allowing the vocals to pierce the music and driving their importance to the forefront. Some of the covers are simply reimagining of the original track in a different key, some completely break the mould and do something new. Prime example is “What’s Going On?” and its exploration of different sounds to subvert expectations of what the song could be. Even the most expressed fan of the song would be forced to hear it as a new listener, taking in the lyrics as someone who has never listened to the song before. This gives it new weight in the greater social scene.

There are two songs that really change the cemented pattern on the album. “Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie” is a track by Black Flag that sounds absolutely nothing like the original. I actually had a customer come into my record store and complain about the track. In the same breath, he asked about the original recording of very song that was playing, then argued with me for a few moments swearing that it was not the same. He then abdicated and claimed that Back Flag would be appalled with what they did to the song. I had to laugh, simply because APC changed it to something that continued Black Flag’s mission to make the upper class uncomfortable.

The second track that doesn’t quite fit is “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums” which is an APC original. The original was taken from the song “Pet” from their last album called 13th Step. In that song, it is just a line. The reimagining is five and a half minuets of tortured wales and distorted drums. The chanting of the title lyrics almost tantric in their repetition. Overall, I will say this song is irritating and abrasive.

I love it.

It conjures the feel of an Orwellian dystopia, and the video supports that image. The drums are a strange combination of distorted stomps and slaps. The bass is overdriven and blown out. The vocals are mildly distorted and harsh. You are meant to feel uncomfortable. You are meant to question a greater part of society while you listen to it. From the two-minute point to very near the end there is a sound similar to a fly buzzing that does not let up. It is grating. It sounds violent. It is the very definition of what music can accomplish when used as an artistic vision. I am having a hard time describing what I feel, so I will post the video here.

Before watching, it is important to remember the political landscape of the early 2000’s. It does still echo what’s going on now, but it is very geared towards the Bush administration and the reactions towards media at that time. The parallels are evident for the current administration, but uses imagery of that time.

My point? This album is amazing and it deserves more attention from the mainstream public. I completely understand if you feel this album doesn’t deserve the praise I am giving it. It’s abrasive, shocking, grainy and strange. If you have it in the background, it can sound mildly bi-polar and as if it doesn’t know what it is, or what it is doing. The reason it is amazing is because it knows EXACTLY what it’s doing.

I neglected to mention how it goes from “Counting Bodies Like Sheep To The Rhythm Of The War Drums” to an ambient version of “When the Levy Breaks” by Jimi Hendrix. This whiplash-inducing transition perfectly encapsulates the point and purpose of this album. It demonstrates, in a track, how broken everything can be. Yet, it also shows that there is respite at the end if you choose to find it. There is a calm. There is a point.

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.

That time they messed up…

A few years ago, a bunch of friends and I went to see Animals as Leaders and Between the Buried and Me in Toronto. I came with full expectations to have my face melted and my pride to be destroyed, but I left with nothing shy of unbridled hope.

CAFO, and this should shock no one, is one of my favourite songs of all time. It starts with a bang and never really lets up, not to mention that is has one of the strange syncopation bits dead centre of the song. My goal, before I ended up in hospital, was to learn every bit of that song. I knew full well that I would never perform it for anyone but me, but by jove! It would be such an accomplishment.

AaL jumped into their set and I was far from disappointed. Every accent was a perfect match, every solo was nailed, every motion was beautiful.

By the time they got to CAFO, I was expecting them to have already called it a night. I could not believe the stamina, not to mention the level of dexterity, that I was baring witness to. Sure enough, CAFO was going beautifully. I could not believe how fast every member had to be to keep up with the incredible pace already set by the recording, and they had amped up the speed for stage.

For those who know what tempo is, they moved the slider up 40-50 BPM faster than the recording was. To match that speed with the single=stroke rolls present in the beginning of the song is, for lack of a better term, stupid.

Then, they got to the part I could never quite match. They could not do it either, and just made a bunch of noise to mask the drummers flub. Some would say that it was a disappointment to witness a hero fail at a performance.

I was elated. I could not have been my pleased to see a mistake in my life. It was at that moment I realized that the person I put on the highest pedestal was just that, a person. It sounds stupid: foolish even. I argue that we are all guilty of idolizing someone, and we all need to remember that they are just people, even if they are the best at something. They had to become great, and were potentially worse than you when they started.

That is not to say that you should give up and never try, just be easy on yourself. know your limits and do not get too discouraged.

With all of that said: it is not a bad thing to think that you are not good enough! In fact: I would argue that no one ever is good at anything, but can always get better at it! The biggest catch is to not give into feeling inadequate and giving up. That is always difficult, but just realize that there is always better.

Take drums, for instance. You could be the best at what you play, held on high as the epitome of what is possible in the genre. Then, you come across Maps and Atlases, or Chon, and realize you strive to be the best over in that world, as well. So, you start at the bottom of another ladder that is totally unrelated to where you came from.

Now, that may sound daunting and debilitating, but the point is that you should enjoy the journey. There is no end, and you should not try to find one. That would be boring.

Learning to Listen.

For being a fan of music all of my life, I am terrible at listening to it. I usually deconstruct every part, learn lyrics to sing poorly, or use it as a backtrack for writing. Over the last week, I have started to just sit down and let it all happen.

No, it did not revolutionize music for me. Also, if I pointed all the ways that I could listen to it differently would be ironic: I would just be using music as I did in the past. I also will not say that I meditated to it, because that would just be using it as a backtrack again. What did happen is amazing. I just zoned out and let the sounds flow over me. I was able to enjoy music without the distraction of me trying to learn it without learning it.

I guess that comes with knowing six instruments mildly well. I cannot speak for everyone, but I tended to learn the parts without learning the parts. In the past, I would be able to perform songs that I never played along with. Great for pick-up gigs where you are playing covers with a band you have never practiced with, horrible for enjoying something. I tended to get wrapped up in changes. I would avoid things that sounded too much like something else. What I thought was a distaste for a lack of originality was actually a fear of performing an accent or key out of place. I was giving myself performance anxiety without performing.

Self discovery and self exploration are things I find myself doing a lot now. Most people probably look at my discoveries and laugh. They might be embarrassed for me for just figuring that out. Friends might be reading this and saying “no fucking shit you moron” but I feel like my putting this realization out into the world may garnish several other people noticing they do it to.

This thing (rant?) is thanks to me listening to the same channel that I have been listening to for far too long now. It is available 24/7 so I just put it on whenever I want to listen to something but not get distracted by it. It was through that thought process that I gradually deconstructed the way I listen to music and came to that startling discovery

Today I feel like highlighting an album that I have owned for a long time, but only recently gave the proper listening to. Beautiful. Haunting. Amazing. This duo is brilliant at what they do. I will admit, this album is only recommended for the minority. Listen to it first before committing to buying.

The Profits of Boredom

Ironic sounding title, but I owe a huge bit of gratitude for “boredom”

I starting writing because I felt, probably unwarranted, that I had found everything that could express my views on life. When I found myself restricted to a wheelchair and, with the kind of damage to my brain that lead to epilepsy, I started to write. It started with my views and opinions based around what happened so I could become okay with it myself, because it was very unexpected. Then, I started writing to fill my time. I really do not care if other people like what I put on the screen if I am entertained by it.

Thankfully for me, there is an interested community for what I have written, and it seems to grow with every release I make. It is a kind of masturbation: a way to relieve myself of my artistic drive, now that drums and touring are no longer an option.

I recently found writings I did when I was in high school. There is one, in particular, that I plan on cleaning up and creating a narrative around. As it stands right now, it is nothing more than a snapshot of where my mind was over ten years ago. In a way, the piece was my introduction into the world of fiction writing. I remember that I just finished reading Dente’s Inferno, and I absolutely played the “I’m 18 and I am deep” card, but I still enjoy the basic premiss, and still use it as a type of template for what I write.

Now, am I still writing exactly like I was back then? Hell no. I would write simple journal entries as entities that never actually existed. Most of them are just depression fodder and fed my need to express my distaste for the world as a whole. Now, I strive to explore a side of the human psyche that may not ever get expressed. I want people to look at situations they are in and think about how, if they were a little more detached, they might react differently. I want to expose human flaws and call into question the societal norms that we all feel pressured to display.

***
So, I wrote this piece all because I was listening to the band with the greatest name of all time, “…and you will know us by the trail of dead”. I got into this band when I started working in a record shop and was looking for something new and not scream-y to put in the store payer. I did some research, and found out I could play that band with the amazing name. I was initially caught off guard with how ’90’s alternative they were. They were kind of that band I did not know I was looking for. I started with the album “Source Tags & Codes” but any album they released is joy to the ears.

Please allow my digression: I was going through all of my music when this song came up. I immediately loaded the full album and wrote this all out. My point being, music very much influences my writing style and mood.

Side note: this link is for the vinyl, and I wish I had that. If you purchase it (or already own it), let me know how amazing it is.

~PATREON SUPPORTER TALE :: Bree Harrison

Bree and I go back a number of years. Early me playing drums for the Twin, anyway. She was that girl with the expensive camera, pushing her way to the front of concerts, trying to get fantastic photographs of bands. She was very good at taking pictures. To my knowledge, she never monetized the practice, but she could have.

I digress.

So, as I was saying, I saw her around long before I talked to her. She started hanging out with members of my band. Me, with the license, got to know her over driving her from the concerts back to my vocalist house. She grew on me, much as a fungus would grow on a rock.

No, that analogy paints a bad picture. Let me try the metaphor again.

Her and I became quick friends. We both rarely slept, and would spend many nights exchanging solum looks while we helped people through many different stages of inebriation. We both had a similar outlook on life, friends, music, and family. I am not saying that her and I had the same woes, but we would find the same things funny.

Like Katie, I considered Bree a sister. Unlike Katie, Bree lived in the same town, and I would see her almost everyday some months.

She moved across country to BC a number of years ago. Between that event, and me getting sick, I have only seen her a couple of times in the last few years. I miss her dearly.

I also have to mention that SHE DONATED $100! I asked her swiftly if that was on purpose, she assured me that it was, though temporary as her work was seasonal.

So, I conclude with: FUCK YOU, BREE! I love you and I hope we can spend time together soon.

Thanks to her donation, the next ansP releases will be back to back months. So, to clarify, September, October, November, and December will all see releases. We’ll see what the donations are like, and I’ll see if releases continue in this pattern for the new year.

~PATREON SUPPORTER TALE :: Joey Hartman

Joey: you have been a fantastic support in the last month. I feel bad because we had a very uneventful friendship. Especially how we got talking.

To explain to everyone, Joey was that guy who went to the occasional local show. I liked his hair, but we never really talked. Not for any sort of negative reasons, we just traveled in different circles.

Then: he became that guy dating my ex girlfriend. Then, soon moved to that guy dating my ex-girlfriend AND living with my other ex. There was never any bad blood, he was always super friendly when we ran into each other.

No, I was the douche ho.ding onto resentment secretly, for a little bit anyway. I got over it quickly. I don’t even have a good excuse why I was ever so uncomfortable. I think it was just me being a teenager/young man.

Due to me being silly, Joey and I didn’t share in many ‘coming-of-age’ tales. There was about two years where we were both in metal bands and shared the stage a few times. He was a vocalist, and quite a good one at that.

Anyway, that ex-girlfriend of mine he was dating? Yeah, they got married a couple of years ago. Now they have a beautiful baby daughter. I have nothing but respect for the two of them, and I wish them the best of luck.

Thank you, Joey. You are one of the good ones.

PATREON UPDATE: I added a few new tiers. I am always looking for new ideas, and would love to hear everyone out. Also, my update for Sunday gives more details and, frankly, better details. I just wrote it, so I am not going to put it all down again. Keep posted for that update Sunday at Eight AM.

One thing I forgot to mention: there have been some that have not actually selected a tier. As you can tell by my rampant explanation of my past over and over again, it does not affect me directly. It does, unfortunately, effect the algorithms around the visibility of the site PLEASE make sure to select a tier. There are options if you do not want anything other than praise (because who does not want praise?).

Music :: Die Hexe

Between the quiet demise of Mind the Music TO and me just not talking about anything music related for a very long time, I feel like I have something missing. Like a part of me is incomplete.

I recently read over my review of Die Hexe’s first album and realized that I rated it highly, but really did not explain why I loved it. Why I found it one of the greatest albums I have had the pleasure of listening to.

I think a part of my reason for writing the review as I did was that I was just putting it bluntly. I constantly had the task of writing those reviews for an audience who did not know me from a hole in the wall, so I made my statements general and exact without going into long winded explanations and stories detailing why I felt the way I did.

I will now rectify that.

DIE HEXE :: ST EP

If my fist three paragraphs and long winded explanation for revisiting this piece of art was not enough reason, this is (without hyperbole) one of the greatest albums I have ever heard.

The EP starts with a perfectly orchestrated guitar feedback, then launches into chaos. I really reminds me of a strange cross between Counterparts’ Prophets and Buried Inside’s Chronoclast: Selected Essays On Times Reckoning And Auto-Cannibalism.

Now, with that said: it is absolutely nothing like either of those albums. It just reminds me of the same heavy emotional feel that they evoke. The best way of putting the feeling into words is being late for something important and everything is going wrong: that feeling of your heart beating hard with every passing moment. The need, not just feeling, to scream along with the words even if you don’t know what they are.

Now, take that high stress feeling, and puncuate it with absolute bliss and a calm that can only be experianced in music.Yeah, that feeling.

Yes, this is a metal/hardcore album. That should not disuade fans of lighter music to at least expeience it. That is exactly what this album is: an experience. The emotional rolling coaster one feels as the tracks seemlessly bleed into one another is pure extacy.

I think my favourite part about this album is that it is never showy. There are no traditional solo’s. There is a lead guitar part in Long Live the New Flesh, but it is more of a lead than a solo.

Yeah, if you havn’t noticed, I fucking love this album. I want this band to get the recognition they deserve. Please, do yourself a favour and listen to it. I never push listening to the whole thing. Usually the first couple of songs give you enough to go on. I will not go that way with this album: PLEASE LISTEN TO THE WHOLE THING. Every song is beautiful. Every emotion is felt in full.

This is where I justify how this recording reminds me of death. I mean, I could do the whole pretentious breakdown how it starts running, mildly slows down,  and ends with my third favourite crescendo ending, only to be topped by Cursive’s Domestia and Sparta’s Wiretaps & Scars, but I will leave that description to you.

Seriously, float them a few dolllars for the album, check them out on FaceBook, and remember that I love them to no end.

Just a friendly reminder that I will be releasing the first of anewsin Publications on the first.. The story is called “Elaine” and I am very excited to hear what everyone thinks. There is a .sample available if you want to read what is coming up. If reception is okay, there will be another story in September. I am working on November’s release already, and my good friend Hannah has something set up for September (more information on that soon). Please, support me on Patreon to help me get through life.

<3