Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mile High Club

Ladies and Gentlemen, boys and girls, good afternoon from 38,338 ft (According to Westjet LiveTV). I am en route back from Calgary (don’t ask) and I figured, I still have 2 hours of battery life, and 3 hours of flight time left; let’s blog. You’ll have to forgive me in advance if this post seems a little groggy; my schedule of the last 16 hours is less than ideal. I landed in Calgary at 11:45 last night, cabbed to my hotel, was in bed by 12:30am, up at 6am, at an interview by 7am, out the door by 10am, and back on a flight home at 11am. Don’t worry though, I’m still bloody well insane, so I’ll be at rugby by 6pm.

Maybe it’s just the thin air, or the fact that I wish I could find a cute stewardess to join the Mile High Club with, but today, I feel like talking about some funky white boys. We white men have been given a bad wrap, and today, I’m out to disprove preconceived misconceptions. Granted, we still can’t dance, jump, or rap (my theory is that Eminem is actually an albino black dude) however we still know how to throw down a beat, and give the people a little something to groove to.

One of my oldest proofs of this fact, is the raw, boundless soul of Superunloader. This is a band which I guarantee will never make it big, and in fact, even with our modern distribution methods, you’d be hard pressed to track down an album. Superunloader is a band of the 90s, which if we concede to stereotypes (yeah yeah, I know I’m supposed to be disproving those), is likely formed up of a bunch of suburban white kids who smoked too much weed and would sooner play guitar than go to class. Combining elements of funk, blues, and African influences, Superunloader creates a sound which to this day, I have been unable to find a just comparison to. Like any good band which refuses to be pigeon holed into a genre, the guys float from rock, to blues, to soul, to punk… but they do it in a way which keeps a core cohesion to their unmistakable sound.

Our next artist requires a scene to be set. It’s McGill engineering frosh, 2002. I am leading a group of maniacs, and our Saturday night party is to be held at the ever-missed Le Swimming. During the night, we had arranged a reduced cover deal for the engineers, since there was going to be some sort of funk band playing that night. When I arrived, and heard that it was a one man act, I remember feeling a little cheated. However, when Montreal’s Robertson took the stage, the cheating was in the fact that we’d paid so little for cover. After working with Kid Koala on the project Bullfrog, Robertson chose to go it alone and create his own groovy, driving, head bopping brand of funk. Laying a backdrop of beats provided by his friend Kid Koala, Robertson wowed audiences over by not only singing, and playing phenomenal guitar, but also keeping a running bass line going on organ foot pedals. I find it hard enough to walk and talk some days, let alone play 3 instruments at once. As though the novelty of this man wasn’t enough, his music is also infectiously catchy, gloriously danceable, and even a nice choice for bedroom activities. Don’t believe me?

Most of you know that I have become very disenfranchised with the modern indie movement. Incorporating unique chord structures, strange time signatures, and electronic sounds into your music is all well and good, but only if you’re still making good music. My issue is simply that too many of these bands use modern technology as a crutch, as opposed to an amplifier of their talent, which leaves them the equivalent of a musical cripple in my books. This is not the case with LA’s Honeycut. Call it creepy, call it weird, call it unsettling, but don’t ever call it crap. This band serves as a mile marker for technologically inclined bands to show what talented musicians can do with complex tools. The key seems to be, even while using complex instruments and gadgets, keep the music simple… at least to the ear. While Honeycut listens like the catchiest of pop you’ve ever heard, dig a little deeper and you can grow to appreciate the composition and layering of their bountiful music. Alternatively, Honeycut is a band which one can just kick back and get lost in; catchy hook after hook.

Lastly today, if I’m moving to the UK, then I’d better start championing a few Brits now and then. Enter Fink. Fink is what happens when you allow a poet to write music, and provide him with the talented support to tell a story worthy of his lyrics. Beautiful to every last drop, Fink’s songs run the gambit of love, racism, friendship, death, and blueberry pancakes; all the while providing a perfect musical backdrop to convey the appropriate emotion. The songs are of the type that every single person will take home a different message, feeling and experience from, however rest assured, there will be a message.

-Wear your heart on your sleeve, and wear a tank top.