Classic Album Review :: Gang of Four — Entertainment!

You know those albums that you want to share with the world, but are unsure how people will take your description? This is one of those albums for me.

I consider this the perfect example of what punk can be. I am well aware that this album is not strictly considered punk, more new-wave, but I cannot overstate just how punk this album is!

First of all, there is something beautiful about how repetitive and simple everything is. I’m pretty sure that the entire thing is just in 4/4, and there are no solos from any instruments. Instead, just fantastic groove and a steady beat. On a few of the songs, a traditional chorus change is sequestered for the disappearance of an instrument. It keeps the infectus groove while giving a little more body.

Secondly, the lyrics are both rambly and important. They can be self-serving, but they can also be extrapolated to give way to a grander exploration of society as a whole. That last sentence just explains how you can sing along, or you can sit back and enjoy. I cannot see any greater meaning, or anything offensive and stupid.

Third, and most intriguing, they use a fucking accordion occasionally.

I love this album. I really think that more punks should have it in their playlist, and I think that it needs more recognition. Personal favourite song is “Nature’s Not In It“, but it is also the most mainstream. The song “Damaged Goods” is by far the one I would push if you’re looking for the punk influence that I keep trying to spearhead into this blurb.

Music Review :: Karloff

I am writing this with to illuminate one of my favourite releases this year. This album defines chaos to me, and I say that from the best place.

Ten tracks of just madness and noise. I fucking love it so much, and I am actually having a hard time finding the words why without devolving into comparisons that do NOT express this band. They are unique, brutal, lovely, and strange. Did I mention that I love it?

Okay, let’s just get the bad comparisons out of the way. I hear Buried Inside, Tugnut and At the Drive In. That last one is harder to explain, but the vocalist just gives me vibes in that direction. The music is far too heavy to make a comparison that way. Also, some of the juxtaposition of notes used, especially in the song Oceans or Other.

Does not help that I do have personal connection to this band, them being from my hometown and sharing connection with a few of my friends. That does not paint my opinion, however. It just ensured that this beast got on my radar.

Anyway, this post has been a ramble. I mostly just needed to put this on the general scope of everyone. Below is a video for the first single from the album. Personal favourite is Oceans or Other, and it might have become one of my favo

My succinct note is go buy the album from their bandcamp. They are doing vinyl and tapes later, but they don’t have those yet. This is a great holdover until those come out!

Farewell to Freeway

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Something Old

This is a video from 14 years ago! LOOK AT HOW SKINNY I AM!!!!

I miss playing in this band. It was incredibly fun and formative. Not just as a musician, but as a person.

Being in a band teaches you how to interact with people. You have to get along with bandmates, you have to get along with promoters, and you have to get along with fans.

This show, in particular, predated our last album.

Song Review :: Yeah Yeah Yeahs — Maps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sorry for the inevitable ads.

Classic Album Review :: & You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead — Source Tags & Codes

I fought with myself for a time about which one of the 10+ albums to write about. Minus one album, I fucking love everything this band has released, and the one album is not bad. It just doesn’t hold a candle to everything else this band has done. So, I thought I’d write about the first album that I picked up from this band. Unrelated, but this also stands as my favourite from this band.

On top of having the longest name of any band I revisit on a regular basis, & You Will Know Us By the Trail Of Dead (from here on referred to as Trail of Dead) is one of the most reliable bands that I have ever come across. They brilliantly fuse punk and folk, without sounding too pirate based. Somehow, their recording tone is always huge — larger than life, really.

For just being three main musicians on the recording, it’s a bit amazing. Yes, this album boasts having over 13 musicians in the studio, but the band was only a 3-piece at the time. And, regardless of how many people were in the studio: the drums are what make everything so bombastic. The kick drum in particular permeates every noise layered over it- almost like it is defying anything to try to drown it out.

Guitars are a beautiful drone. Yes, there are probably many layers of distortion and lead riffs, but they are used to create a beautiful miasma that guide the orchestrations from part to part. “How Near How Far” is a brilliant demonstration of this. Though the bass slides up and down the scales, and the guitars jingle through several notes, it creates this level of noise. Yes, there is definition. You need to find it, however. Rarely does an album challenge the listener this much to realize just how beautiful it is.

Now, when I saw challenge the listener, I am not saying that it is off-putting or not pleasant. I am simply pointing out how from afar it seems like a simple pop-rock album with strained vocals. It’s when you sit down and listen deeper that you notice the nuance and complexity that comes with this recording.

Second favourite opening for an album ever, by the way. The only album that takes it over is the album So Divided that Trail of Dead released 4 years later. The intro track is only 1:29, but it complexly disarms the listener before the chaos starts. If you wanted to discredit that track as the intro, the first song (It Was There That I Saw You) kicks the listener in the face right away. It is nothing short of an assault on the senses. As hard as it kicks in, the song moves into a lull by the 1:00 mark. It is an amazing piece, the the song as a whole has an almost classical orchestration.

I could gush over every song individually, but I should really think about wrapping this piece up. My end thoughts on this recommendation are as follows: if you know the band, this album is nowhere near surprising. If you don’t already have it, I question your taste in music. If you DO NOT know this band, do yourself the greatest favour ever and listen through this masterpiece.

Also, you’re welcome.

HEY! Did you know that I have released a book?

It’s a reedit of You’re Not Dead with a bunch of other short stories all wrapped up. The length has ballooned out to a nice 205 pages. It’s really inexpensive, and available most places that you would order a book from! Links here, but let me know if you find more and I will update accordingly!