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.

Advertisements

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.

Music Review :: Adam Evers — Moments

Adam is a talented musician who lives in Toronto, Canada. He is stupid talented, and his voice is amazing. I am getting ahead of myself.

Adam recorded an EP called Moments a few months ago. It blew me away. I’m not normally interested in acoustic jams, but this is exactly what I wanted. Somber, warm, and new yet familiar. I really dig it.

I hate to make comparisons when it is independent music, but it really reminds me of A Perfect Circle‘s acoustic stuff mixed with mild Arab Strap. Beautiful and haunting. I cannot help but feel that this EP is important when I listen to it. The whole adventure last just under fifteen minutes, but the impact it had on me was significant. I have listened to this simple set of recordings dozens of times.

It wouldn’t be a review from me if I didn’t talk, at length, about the instrumentation. The first track is a perfect example of how to do acoustic music right: tasteful violins, huge percussion, wispy vocals, beautiful bass, and minimal (yet poignant) guitar riffs.

I don’t really have a favourite on the album, but I am partial to the song Bodies. I don’t have reason to say any song above another, but maybe because it’s just a beautiful song and a perfect example of what I enjoy about music. Maybe because I am just listening through the EP for the fifth time since I started writing this review and the song just came up again.

Know what? I can sit here all day and talk about how music this EP touches me, or you can listen to it yourself and understand where I am coming from. It’s available on every possible outlet for sale, but YouTube has the whole thing up for stream.

Enjoy!

~Courage My Love — Teenagers {REVIEW}

I admit, I am riding a small hype train here.
The words in this review are genuine, however.

My old guitarist joined Courage My Love roughly five years ago, and I was intrigued at how it would go. Brandon had, to my knowledge, played in only hardcore and metal bands his entire music career. My worry was not whether he could cut it, I was more concerned that he would get bored.

Before I go further, I would like to state that I like Courage My Love. The Twin played with them a few times years ago. Of course, this was before Brandon joined, and their sound was very different from this song. They used to be more punk. Their sound has evolved and, dare I say, matured. I cannot find example of what they used to play, but think mainstream femme punk circa 2007-ish. Very Paramour, without being Paramour. Since I am friends with all the members, past and present, I am probably going to get shit from them for making that comparison.

I MAKE THAT COMPARISON OUT OF LOVE! I MEAN THAT WITH ALL IMPLIED COMPLIMENT!

The new sound is very ’80s pop mixed with a more contemperary sound. Mercedes’ voice is strong. The melodies soar over the cacophony of sound. Phoenix’ drums are simple, but absolutely perfect for what the song needs. I am thoroughly impressed with what they are doing.

A part of me is incredibly jealous. They seem to be flying close to the sun without worry of burning, and it is a placement I have strived for. To think that this was a band that I used to see as that band that would open for me, now I would beg to open for them.

I digress. This article is very hard to write because I know all three of the members personally, and I have to stride a line between honest gushing and the glib, pretentious music-nerd that they know me as.

Regardless, congratulations and praise, Phoenix, Mercedes, and Brandon. Fuckin’ keep killin’ it.

New single, Teenagers.

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.

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!

The Single Hardest Project Ever

I had a discussion with a good friend of mine whether or not we could come up with a Top 10 list of albums. We both agreed that it would be very difficult, so I tried to make one up after he left. My result was a top 20, so I gave myself further restrictions and now it’s a Top 10, finally. As I am writing this, I am stuck thinking about what I kept off the list.

RULES: One album per artist. No “Honourable Mentions”*. No regrets* with what I have listed.
(Only one exception because it should be on this list, but I made a promise to do 10)

NINE INCH NAILS :: The Fragile
I could not resist putting this album in the list. I love it so. Between “La Mer” and “Just Like You Imagined” I would be set for a very long time in the event I loose everything but this. I have heard rumours of an instrumental version existing: if you know where to get it, please pass me along a link.
Recommended listening: Just Like You Imagined

That song is a strange example of the rest of the album. Beautiful, which is a fantastic snapshot, but extremely tame compared to songs like Starfuckers, Inc. Please enjoy. If you know the album, what is your favourite?

CURSIVE :: Domestica
The album I have listened to the most, hands down, in the last few years. It is actually my favourite album of all time: it flows perfectly from end to end. I do not have it on vinyl because I have never seen it around for a reasonable price ($30 is too rich for my blood, though it is tempting). It honestly has the (second) best ending of an album ever. (the best ending belongs to Sparta on their debut album Wiretap Scars. Only Honourable Mention I will do because it was axed only due to space)
Recommended listening: Radiator Hums

Jazzy and fantastic: this song contains some of my favourite lyrics ever portrayed in a song. It is just so biting: so harsh. Yet, like the rest of the album, self deprecating and pretty. BONUS POINTS: The chorus is so much fun to shout along to.

DEFTONES :: White Pony
Do I really have to justify this being on my list? It’s heavy: both emotionally and musically. A brilliant collection of sounds, it has been a major influence on the music I have collected in the years.
Recommended listening: Knife Party

Beautiful. That statement is even before the chaos that is the ending. Her vocal range is astounding. The drums contain some of the coolest licks I have heard.

DEERHOOF :: Vs. Evil
Everyone has to have a strange album they listen to. This band is in my top list simply because I always am blown away when I listen to them. Like everything great, I do not know how I found this album because it exposed me to what music can be.
Recommended listening: The Merry Barracks

I put the music video as the sample for this song because.

DIE HEXE :: ST EP
Anyone who has talked to me in the last year has known about my obsession with this EP. The beauty in its distopic view of reality is astounding to me. Do yourself a favour and listen to it, please. This collection is easily my favourite independent album to exist in years and one of my favourite albums of all time.
Recommended listening: The Entire Album

Not only is the whole album fantastic, they are independent. It does not seem fair pointing out one song to ignore the feat they have managed.

BIBIO :: Ambivilance Avenue
Think folk mixed with trip-hop and jazz, and you only get a mild idea of what this album contains. Perfect background sounds for writing or meditating. Also, the last thing I listened to before I ended up in hospital.
Recommended listening: Fire Ant

I guess this is not a fantastic example of the rest of the album, but it is, by far, one of my favourites. It is an example of what a hip-hop beat could be if a DJ was given free-range.

WEAKERTHANS :: Reconstruction Site
Punk, but with a twist. Some of the most brilliant and soul-destroying lyrics you will ever hear.
Also, I cannot listen to it without thinking of my good friend, Elianna.
Recommended listening: Our Retired Explorer (Dines with Michel Foucault in Paris, 1961)

This was the first song I heard by this band ever. Not going to lie, the line “yes a penguin taught me french back in Antarctica” sold me almost instantly.

WINTERSLEEP :: Untitled
This was a favourite album of mine for a very long time. The emotional weight it portrays is amazing. The song “Lipstick” perfectly encapsulates being alone while surrounded by people.
Recommended listening: Danse Macabre

I figured it out after years of listening to it, but that drum line is STUPID!

BLONDE REDHEAD :: 23
Hauntingly beautiful and beautifully haunting. Really, there is little to write home with this album: there is nothing to it except that it is incredibly pretty. So pretty, in fact, that I love it this much.
Recommended listening: The Publisher

This song has my favourite vocal progression, by far.

DO MAKE SAY THINK :: Goodbye Enemy Airship, the Landlord Is Dead
This is my favourite album. It doesn’t have any words, and that almost makes it better. The juxtaposition of the instruments is spine tingling, the rhythms and flourishes that it finds is jaw-dropping, and the crescendos bring tears to my eyes every time. Every album they have released is astounding, but this one is perfect. I cannot even show this album to everyone because I KNOW that not everyone will appreciate it.
Recommended listening: Goodbye Enemy Airship

That is my favourite song. Full Stop. I fucking love this song and every emotion that it evokes. I have been listening to a playlist of all these albums since I came up with this idea, and I stop everything I am doing to listen to all 12 minuets of this song every time it plays.

WHAT DID I LEARN!?

I toss around top-ten labels way too easily. It is not malicious or a lie, just a spur-of-the-moment label. Most of the CDs I give that label are, in fact, held in a very high regard.

In fact: I am of the assumption that if everyone did that in regards to something that they love, they will notice where priorities lie.

I still feel like I forgot about something very VERY important. I am also upset at the fact that Blood Brothers, Poison the Well, and Said the Whale are not on the list anywhere, but I promised no honourable mentions.

Also, ‘Frequently Played’ numbers are not to be trusted. Sometimes, you get into a habit of playing something because it reminds you of something. That may be a time, a place, or right now. It has nothing to do with the love for the actual album, however. Tom Vek is in my top plays but he was not even a contender for the list.


These are the albums that I listen to almost daily.

One may argue that this is not an appropriate post for this blog. There is nothing about health or life in a wheelchair.

YOU ARE FUCKING WRONG.

A large part of health, in and out of a chair, is finding peace in whatever is around you. I have always kept music a massive part of my life: so much so that when I had to go almost 10 months with either nothing or crappy radio I was horribly depressed because of it. Yes, I am aware that I focus too much on music. I need to, or I will get swallowed up in my situation and dwell on how things can be better. It motivates me to get back to drumming the way I used to. It reminds me of how things used to be and shows me how they will change by being in everything I do. ‘You’re Not Dead’ has a soundtrack, and the book I am working on now does, as well.