To reply…?

I have gone a couple of months without saying too much about the review that was published. Official opinion? I like it! I was very honoured that they compared me to Chuck Palahniuk, as he is one of my favourite writers. Even being called “undercooked” by comparison is like saying that a painting is no Mona Lisa. That comparison alone brought tears to my eyes as I read it.

I refuse to refute any points I do not agree with. I am a firm believer in the idea that a work is a living entity that exists on its own. The review, though I do think it is a bit too tough on the vignettes, is very good. Even the “undercooked” is surrounded by words of encouragement and praise, so I need to stop focusing on it.

It’s hard to detach personal attachment from something that I created. I still get mildly defensive when people attack bands I was in a lifetime ago. Hell, I have notice lyrical discrepancies in regards to The Twin and I will never elaborate on that. If you can hear where we were offensive, let’s talk about it. I’ll tell you 234982340 other times you should be offended, and I will fully agree that we should have payed more attention to what we were saying.

On the topic of creation, I am about 1/5th into writing my next book. I know that does not sound far, but you have no idea how little hair I have left trying to wrap my mind around timeline and greater scope. I have the ending done, I have a major event. Now, it’s just a matter of connecting those two points, while also making those points make sense in the greater narrative. Also, I need to give some importance and gravity to the initial event.

I showed a very early draft to my friend Pat, and he pointed out how there was no reason to care that an event happened to the main character. At that time, I had the inciting event happen right at the beginning. I still hold that it could have worked, but starting with an emotional moment only to have it undercut by how we don’t know the character is not ideal…

MY GREATER POINT

If you donate to my Patreon (as low as a dollar a month) you will be listed in the “Thank You”s at the end of the text. I will have the book done by 2021, because 2020 is a garbage fire and I want nothing I do to be immortalized by this horrible year.

Classic Album Review :: Bran Van 3000 — Glee

This is an example of one of those albums that I honestly can’t help myself but to recommend. I never feel like I sell it very well, and I feel incredibly upset that it has seems to have been forgotten.

Then again, it is a Canadian hip-hop/alternative album. Yes, there are examples of things thriving in that catagory, but for every success there are hundreds of flash-in-the-pan albums. Unfortunatly, this is a latter. It’s unfortunate, simply for the fact that there are so few albums that explore the corners of musical expression that this album ventures into.

As previously mentioned, this album could be placed comfortably into the hip-hop genre. That does not define it, however. Yes, they use samples and turntables for a large percent of the music, but where they explore other instruments is where they differ themselves. The single (placed below because it’s amazing) toys with an expression of someone who is strung out. The entire album feels like it was made by that group of stoners that you saw in high school. Harmless, brazen, and always saying or doing something interesting.

This is one example of why I have a hard time vocalizing why you need to listen to this album. On paper, it sounds like like drivel. Or, at least, mildly annoying. The fact is that this album has so many ideas. Everything from electonica to folk, dance to metal, and it works as a gateway into a world of unliited possibilities. This album is a gateway into everything this band has in the long term, and things only get better and weirder.

That’s right, I’m recommending an album to recommend another album!

Discossis is the next album they put out. It’s somehow more chaotic yet more intentional. I digress: listen to Glee. If you like it, pick up Discosis. Thank me later.

It’s probably bad form to include a song from a different album, but I need to share this. Second part, in particular.

Classic Album Review :: The Flaming Lips — Embryonic

Little text explaining why I am doing so many reviews right now. The world, or at least North America, is fucked. Everything is breaking (because it needed to) and there is little happy that I can find to be exposed to. So, I focus on coffee and music. Since it would be boring to just keep reading about how great my black coffee is, I hope that you aren’t too sick of the music!

Interesting bit of information: I have almost exactly 38 days worth of music on my computer. I deleted about 3 days worth of stuff I either will never or have never listened to: so, biased as the claim may be, I only have the best the world has to offer!

I had my full collection on random yesterday, and was reminded of this album. It could be argued that this album isn’t old enough to be placed in the ‘classic’ category yet, but 2009 is a while ago. In my broken mind, I can justify it being two decades old. I can do simple math, I know it’s not. Shut up.

ANYWAY: This album borrows greatly from the ’60s psychedelic sound that the Flaming Lips have always used. I actually watched a video compilation using a song from this album over footage from the original Woodstock, and it fit rather nicely. I cannot decide if the Flaming Lips are in the wrong decade, or if they are just really good at appropriating sounds of the past. They fuse old sounds and ways of composing with new technologies and methods. It creates this almost timeless kakophonie. The sounds leave the listener in the middle of a miasma of ideas.

Of course, I am a huge fan of the drums on the album. They are really kinetic and almost lure the listener into a kind of trance. Most songs sport a simple 4/4 pattern, but there are deviations. The song ‘Your Bats‘ comes to mind, where it adopts a 6/8 in a way that isn’t noticeable at the start. Or, at the very least, I didn’t notice it. Maybe my mind is simple, I’ll let you be the judge.

The vocalist takes some getting used to. If you can accept his very high voice, it becomes impossible to consider any other style over the band. If someone cannot get over how shrill his voice is, however: it can render the album almost unlistenable. I could never fault anyone for being unable to get over it. I would pity them, however. It is far from a slight to point out how every instrument being played is being done so by a deft hand.

I mean, if I wanted to do a full career retrospective, I would be writing forever. This band has been producing albums in some capacity since 1983. The band has been through 16 members, with only the bass player staying absolutely consistent in his role. Even the individual who is now the lead singer didn’t start off that way. I really recommend reading the Wikipedia page about them, it’s fascinating!

Classic Album Review :: Broken Social Scene — You Forgot It In People

I have no idea what inspired me to tackle this album. This is one of my favourite albums of all time, and it will be very hard for me not to say “just listen to it because”, but I will write something more substantial because you should listen to it.

You Forgot It In People came out of nowhere on the Canadian music scene. The early 2000’s were an amazing time in Canadian Indi and pop rock, and this album helped cement that statement as true in multiple ways.

First off, and most importantly, is the pedigree of musicians on this album is amazing. Though this band does not hold the record for the most performers, it still holds 18 credited actors. I say credited only because I would not be surprised if someone did clapping on the song “Stars & Sons” and they just forgot to give them a shout-out.

The part of this album I love the most is the flow. The album starts with an ethereal string portion, track two begins with roughly ten seconds of simple guitar mixed with violin then launches with a kinetic energy from the percussion that I have never found prior or since. Track three is very subdued compared to track two, and this album continues this tug-and-pull between being calm and chaotic.

The lyrics are this strange combination of being incredibly important and highschool poetry by that guy who thinks he’s deep. It works beautifully. The reflective nature brings to mind someone who has finally identified the last parts of their sexuallity.

Standout track has to be “Looks Just Like the Sun” simply because it’s the sore-thumb track: it doesn’t quite belong in the mix, but dares you to not pay attention. It relies on almost jazz chord progressions and a very laid-back drum track. Again, not a great example for the album as a whole, but easily my favourite track in the mix.

I usually drop hints on my person FaceBook as to what album I am going to write about next, so I posted KC Accidental on my wall. My friend pointed out how “Cause = Time” is his favourite, so as I write this, I am listening to that song over and over again. The song is kind of great at accentuating the overall message of Kevin Drew’s collection of lyrics which are sexual exploration and a dower look at law enforcement. Far from police bashing (unfortunate choice of words, but I’m going to leave it there), but does belittle the institution while expressing the potential for an abuse of power.

In summary: just listen to it because.
It’s amazing,

They uploaded the whole album, so you don’t have to spend the money. Do so anyway.

Music Review :: FbcFabric & Reindeer — It’s not who you know, it’s WHOM you know

Yes, I am doing a music review anyway. Why? Because I’m listening to this album for the first time in a while and I cannot fathom NOT knowing this album. Plus, I am remembering just how important some of the lyrics are in regards to capitalism and consumerism.

This is my perfect hip-hop album. The tracks are all minimalist beat tracks. It adds to the lasefare tone of the vocalist in ways that I cannot articulate. His lyrics are cutting, sharp, and almost vindictive. There is no swearing, which adds weight behind his message.

I saw Reindeer by accident in Guelph with my friend Joel. We went to a hip hop show, to which I have only been to one. Independent hip hop is actually more intimate than any independent metal or punk show that I have been to. There was an admittedly small crowd of only 25 or so people, and the stage was just an idea mic’d up at one end of a bar (cafe?).

The performers were all over the map. There was one gentleman who was clearly just apart of the scene because of the poetry of the lyrics, there was a duo who loved the idea of mainstream hip hop, then there was Reindeer. He stumbled his way on stage, in a way that I cannot discern if it was showmanship or if he was strung out on something or REALLY drunk.

Regardless of what he was, the show he put on was magical. He didn’t miss a beat. I couldn’t imagine being the only one on stage. Even if the crowd was small, to recall lyrics with meaning, even if the meaning is explicitly personal, is unfathomable to me.

It was more than a show, and more than a concert. It was a performance.

I remember not having money for any merchandise, so I borrowed Joel’s CD for probably way too long. Think Massive Attack mixed with Gorillaz, and that an okay comparison. I have not found something so original or pure my entire life.

Classic Album Review :: Nothingface — Skeletons

I posed a question to my Facebook asking whether I should do a comparison between this and Mudvayne’s End of All Things to Come. The response was just to do the review of LD50 that I did the other day, but there were a few people that said I should just focus on this album.

This album sits in a strange place in regards to all the other metal from the early 2000’s. It starts with a pretty series of chords then quickly devolves into chaos. Ironically, in a bubble, the first song is probably the weakest on the album. That really is saying something when it slaps so fucking hard.

The best part of this album, in my opinion, is how it feels like a pop’d up David Botrel production. For those who don’t know, David Botrel is famous for the work he did with Tool as well as various other emotionally heavy albums.

What I find interesting, also strange for an album that I hold in high regards, is how the vocals are the centre of the mix. It is actually mixed like a pop album that way: where the instrumentation takes an almost backseat to the vocals. Most metal I listen to is very much the opposite, and this makes the lyrical dynamics much more important.

This is a double-edge sword, however. Some of the lyrics are (for lack of a better term) stupid. On that note, I do get the over arching message this band is trying to portray. They tend to lean in heavy on the idea that society is messed up. Unfortunately, the phrases they choose to highlight sometimes fall flat (see the repetition of “Kill That Motherfucker It’s All That I Think About”). It tends to quash any respect this band might have garnished from the general public.

On that note, some songs are amazing lyrically. Ether stands out as one of those, where the content is talking about the systematic disillusionment of the masses starting at a young age. Songs like this save the album from coming off like it is written by a 15-year-old who can’t get a girlfriend.

I cannot talk about this album without bringing up the drums. On first listen, they are not impressive. All the songs (minus the occasional hit) are in simple meter, so one can be forgiven for thinking that the accompanying rhythm would be simple, as well. Once you sit down and try to figure things out, it is quickly apparent that this drummer is a beast.

I say simple, but the song “I Wish I Was A Community” opens with oppressive crushing hits that do not, in any way, sound simple. Actually, before writing this retrospective, I had forgotten about this song completely. Not my favourite on the album, but damned close.

I comfortably put this album in my top list of all time, though I never bring it up as an example for my taste. Not because I’m embarrassed to admit it, but simply because it is a outlier. Very few things (that I have come across) have this sound. You can find things that have elements, but nothing that has the complete package.

Talking to a couple of friends, they pointed out that Violence is the better album, and I fully admit that I don’t know that album. I have probably missed something amazing, and if this album is any indication, I should probably go back and check that out. IN THE MEAN TIME, enjoy.

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.

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.

Music Review :: The Contortionist — Language

No, this is not a classic review, as I often do. Today, I want to bring light to one of the most interesting albums to come out in the last 10 years.

Language is a beautiful album. It contains playful guitar lines, crushing bass, deft drums, etherial keyboards, and one of the most magical juxtapositions of vocals you will ever find.

Actually; let’s start the review with the vocals, for once. The singer has one of the most angelic voices you will find in music, let alone metal. When he sings, it is with one of the most pure tones you will ever find. He hits the notes with clarity only found in top-40’s pop, and he maintains notes for a substantial amount of time. Not since Tool have I found a more talented singer.

Where he gets very interesting is now he switches (at times, in a bar) from the voice of an angel to a daemon. His growl is brutal, Earth-shattering, and chill-inducing. What is beautiful about this album is that he never sticks to one style for too long. In fact, you do not even hear the growl until almost two minutes into track two.

Language part two (track three) opens with one of the most interest flows. The time signatures make little sense if you do not count them actively. The kind of chaos continues for the first minute, then moves into a sort of lull, where the focus seems to be places more the strings than anything else. Near the two minute point until the vocals kick back in, and singing does not return for another 30 or so seconds.

Okay, let’s go back to what I consider to be the most important part of most bands: the drums.

Not only is this possibly my favourite drummer in modern music, the choices he makes in relation to the music is perfect. It truly feels like the drums are another instrument, unlike other pieces where the drums feel like they are there because that’s what has to happen. Think Danny Carey meets Chris Pennie*, and you get a kind of feel for what he’s doing here. Ghost hits and polyrhythms litter the entirety of this album. I have listened to this collection for about a year at this point, and I am STILL discovering parts that I previously missed.

Why do I bring this now? I bring this album to the attention of those who care because this is what the new Tool album should have been more like. 12 years working towards releasing a spiritual rehash? I love Tool. In fact, until recently, they were my favourite band. The long waits, couple with the underwhelming releases that come at the end of the long waits, really ground my admiration with the band to the quick. Do I hate them? Far from. This sort of revelation just implies that I am going to be very critical of everything that they do moving forward.

*Danny Cary and Chris Pennie are Tool and The Dillinger Escape Plan respectively. This comparison will anger some, but I feel that it is just. Have a better comparison? Let me know.