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.

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!