Thursday, January 28, 2010

Two with Turner and One Massive Blurt

In addition to my fantastic recommendations and dashing good looks, I also attend a lot of shows. It just dawned on me that I'm a real dumbass for not reviewing these shows and thus, informing you of the awesomeness that you are missing out on. Add to that the fact that I'm running out of bands to recommend and I'm really having to reach these days (I'm kidding... I could do this for centuries).

Tuesday and Wednesday night I experienced a Frank Turner double header. If you don't know Mr. Turner, here's his elevator pitch; he's a former singer of the UK hardcore band Millions Dead who, after their split in 2005, picked up an acoustic guitar and continued to make angry punk music, but in a more reserved, folk sense. When he took to the stage at the shoe on Tuesday night with nothing but an acoustic and a grin, one could tell we were in for something special. Sure enough, Turner's charm and charisma shone through and managed to capture everyone in that audience. His heart-on-a-sleeve approach to music made him lovable and accessible to everyone in that bar. What blew me away the most, however, was the quality and consistency of his voice. Even after screaming out haggard high note after high note, he looked no worse for wear and continued to put forth his acoustic anthems.

Wednesday night at Dakota Tavern was more of the same... but a little more intimate. While the size of the crowd of the Horseshoe was obviously a bit flattering, one could see Turner truly in his element with a small, tight crowd so close to him that he could hear them screaming his own lyrics back at him. Two beautiful nights capped off with two beautiful sentences:

And we're definitely going to hell. We'll have all the best stories to tell.

After Frank left the stage on Wed night, I was already 4 or 5 beers deep, so obviously I was going to stick around. Next on the stage was a band who, truth be told, I knew very little about. Huron was Ian Blurton's selected backing band for his solo project, therefore they already came with some credence. Still, once their big beat sound took the stage, I didn't need anyone else to tell me this band was good. They came with a sway, and a little bit of twang which pulled you in close enough to send you flying away again once they opened the floodgates of rock and let loose a mammoth sound. In a day and age where tight jeaned indie kids seem to be taking the world, I was proud to see a band who'd sooner own a Neil Young vinyl than an Arcade Fire mp3.

By the time Sir Ian Blurton hit the stage, I was in my special Guinness place. One could argue bad journalistic integrity, since my opinion was likely skewed by the alcohol content of my blood. To that I would say bollocks; I have no journalistic integrity and even if I did, rock and roll is meant to be listened to drunk.

And rock and roll it was. Blurton's Projects (Blurtonia, Bionic, C'Mon) have long held a special place in my heart, however, I've always felt that he had more to give as a songwriter. Don't get me wrong, I love the fact that C'Mon releases an album every 8 months, but I just feel that sometimes, they lack substance. I believe Blurton might have felt the same and thus, needed an outlet. I'd be lying if I said I remember a lot of specific details from the set (that's why I bought the album) however I do remember on multiple occasions turning to my comrade, Iain, to give a 'fuck yeah' face for the riff which just blew my mind. There is a reason why we call a man who looks like a dirty homeless dude, 'Sir'.

Lastly I need to review the pizza from the 1 plus 1 beside my apartment. All I need to say is this; you're lucky I was loaded.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

An ominous turn

Well, I'm pretty much out of new year gimmicks, so we're back to the regularly scheduled stab-in-the-dark-and-hope-I-draw-blood method. As is the case with every year, 2010 is suffering winter depression with only a handful of good releases being introduced right now. Fortunately, I've got a bit of a backlog I can dip into for just such an event.

Looking back over a year in that backlog is a band from Vancouver (ok... by way of Kelowna) called Bend Sinister. While this band was formed in 2001, it wasn't until 2006 that they started gaining any attention (proving once again how difficult this business can be). However, in 2006, it wasn't just anyone who payed attention... it was CBC R3... and you'd be amazed what a nationally funded, internationally broadcast medium can do for your popularity.

Unfortunately, over so many difficult years. the band has cycled through quite the lineup. Still, a few core members have kept the sound strong, and as you'll see in the video below... lots of fun (with a touch of strange).

-When the lights shine from suns you've never seen

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Ill Communication

What kind of a friend would I be if the day before their album release, I didn't say something about the mountain chinook that is Talk Sick? Yes... it's going to be one of those shameless friend-promotion posts again, so strap yourself in and get used to it.

Way back when, I was in a little drinking group that played music called Paper Street. The band was effectively a constant battle between 3 friends trying to drag the musical direction into their happy place. We had a shit ton of fun for 3 years, but after going our separate ways, I think things made a lot more sense, musically. Smashing away on the drums was my brother-in-ales Jesse who, since joining Talk Sick, has been in his fucking element.

I hate admitting to jealousy because it sullies my favorite colour. However, when my good friend has a fucking white vinyl record being released tomorrow, and is opening for SNFU (I hope I didn't just out this) in a couple months... it's hard not to feel a bit green.

What you need to know is this; tomorrow night at L'absynthe in Montreal is going to be a damned liability waiting to happen. Talk Sick has created a sound which has been getting them well deserved attention and tomorrow night will be a celebration of that sound. Hard driving, fast action, fist pumping, hilarious, and tighter than your corn hole on the first day in prison... these boys mean business.

-I am a monster truck
that walks like a man

Monday, January 18, 2010

Gone from this world

I'm writing the GMATs tomorrow, so you're getting your new music fix a day early. Be warned, now you gotta wait an extra day for your next hit. One simple day before I write one of the most important exams of my life, I find myself in need of comfort, familiarity, and calm. As such, it only makes sense that I would look to some psychedelic stoner rock to smooth life out and make me realize that everything will be just fine.

Enter Earthless, a psych-stoner-mostly-instrumental-santana-if-he-did-more-acid-and-wasn't-latin-influenced-rollercoaster-of-fun. You have to understand, I've been studying verbal structure and grammar for the past few weeks, so I need to get all the bad stuff out in this blog. Formed in 2001 in San Diego, Earthless has released two full length albums and a handful of demos and EPs. I'm not even entirely sure how I found them, nor do I really care to explain my draw to them at this point in my mental state.

What you need to know is that music exists below. It comes with my stamp of approval, and my hypothetical synapses keep stopping on the 14th floor, which we destroyed fortnights ago, out of fear of a backlash from the clouds which float within my fingertips.

-Baby when things go south, it can only get warmer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hunting My Darling

Apparently, this week will be a homage to the road trip back from Boston. In addition to being introduced to Joey Eppard and his masterpiece 3, Steve also showed me an ambitious and incredibly original project called The Dear Hunter. Started as a side project by Casey Crescenzo, of the hardcore band The Receiving End of Sirens, The Dear Hunter is one of the most instrumentally diverse and strangely written projects I've ever experienced.

His first (and intended to be only) release, Dear Ms. Leading, was a huge outlet for Crescenzo, who simply didn't find himself gelling with the heavier sound of Sirens. The project was such a draw that Crescenzo began focusing all of his time on Hunter and was subsequently kicked out of Sirens. This was perhaps the best thing that could have ever happened to him.

No longer burdened by the creative pitfalls of another project, Crescenzo began to develop massive arrangements and complex song which stitched together to form concept albums (3 which have been completed of an intended 6) about the birth, life and abrupt death of a boy known only as (fittingly) The Dear Hunter.

The songwriting is very progressive, incorporates huge amounts of vocal layering and brilliant harmonies and has some exceptionally witty lyrics and titles. I wish I could write music this innovative.

-I'll tear out my own heart and mail it to you so you know it won't miss a beat

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

If four were three

While down in Boston over the new years I lost some things (read: dignity) but I also picked up a few things. As always, one of those things ended up being music, and this trip was a regular uranium deposit (which I'm pretty sure would be worth more than a gold mine these days). An 8+ hour car ride back through a huge storm and horrid road conditions did almost lead me to the brink of insanity with my two good friends, Dave & Steve, however, fortunately, both the guys have great taste in music (ignoring those fucking Glee songs you made me listen to). Near the end of the trip, everything got a bit... progressive.

It was around that time that the two of them became very excited when hunting down the band obscurely named 3 (who, strangely, is composed of 4 members). I very quickly saw past the number discrepancy when I heard the strange and wonderful sounds bouncing out of the speakers. Take a classically trained finger picking guitarist, hold a gun to his head (cause that's the only way this makes sense to me) and make him play prog. rock... and you've got 3.

I quickly akin-ed the group to Coheed and Cambria, which made a lot of sense, since they'd shared a drummer. Still, 3 had their own unique sound, and not just from other bands but within their own discography, and even individual albums. To call Joey Eppard a genius would likely be appropriate, however I feel the term 'easily distracted' may be more fitting.

-Wandering soul of the sky don't you dare look down on me

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Shananigans has been noughtie

Well, while 2009's Shanies are now long past (read: 4 days), I decided that it would still be fun to jump on the bandwagon and do a "best of" for the entire decade (read: I don't have anything better to write about today). In addition to my usual category of' 'Do I like it?' I've also considered albums which were influential or groundbreaking in time (IE: artists who paved new way, now that we have the benefit of hindsight) Thus, without excessive rambling (read: any more than you'd expect) I present to you Evil Shananigans Top 10 Albums of the 00's.

10. Radiohead - Kid A (2000)
Just making the list, and just making the decade, this was the band's first effort since the game changing OK Computer. The most impressive thing about this album was that even after such a drastic redefinition of the word 'rock' on OK, the band made an equally large jump for Kid A.

9. The Mars Volta - De-Loused in the Comatorium (2003)
How do you follow one of the most energetic, dynamic and original bands of the 90's (At the Drive-In)? You blow peoples minds. While their later work started to become to jam-band and noise tech, TMV's debut was pure, ethereal gold.

8. Mastodon - Blood Mountain (2006)
Metal was a dying genre, left to long haired stoners and guys named Chuck. Mastodon saved this genre by redefining what metal could be, and also how much acid one human body can handle.

7. Them Crooked Vultures - Self Titled (2009)
Did they win this year's album of the year? No, because I felt there was a better album THIS YEAR. HOWEVER, let it be told right now that this album will stand the test of time. In the same way that we still listen to Stairway, our children will hear Scumbag Blues on classic rock stations years from now.

6. Every Time I Die - Hot Damn! (2003)
Screaming was just becoming popular, but was still, for the most part, unpalatable. ETID's first couple of albums had been great, however damn allowed them to incorporate elements of southern rock and blues which gave a dirty, chunky, big fucking edge to the noise emanating from the Buckley brothers.

5. The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers (2006)
After the Stripe's '05 release, Get Behind Me Satan, one could almost see this album coming; Jack White needed something more. What we didn't expect was that he would form a band with a songwriter as talented as himself and create an album with dueling guitars, dueling vocals, and dueling songwriting... somehow all of which just clicked.

4. Gorillaz - Self Titled (2001)
Leave it to Damon Albarn, front man of Blur, to come up with an idea so crazy that it needed cartoon characters for a band. We all recall how groundbreaking this album was, blending elements of rock, pop, hip hop, electronica and blues. Considering the number of copycats since... this one was an obvious game changer.

3. The Postal Service - Give Up (2002)
At a time when indie pop/electro was just starting to break through, this album was years ahead of its time, and yet still remained infectiously accessible. While I can't say I was a huge fan of what this spawned, there is no denying that PS was onto something.

2. Mutemath - Self Titled (2006)
Rock had been largely unchanged for years. It was always a guitar driven beast with some full-of-himself guy screaming his lungs out at the front of the stage. Mutemath was the first band in a long time to create a truly percussive driven album. Almost as though these 4 guys have heartbeats which sync up, the rhythm and beat of this album drives forward overtop of a gorgeously arranged masterpiece.

1. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (2002)
Rock was losing touch with its roots. Generic, shitty rock bands were being turned out by the dozen and people were forgetting what music was supposed to sound like. It helped that this was the album Josh Homme had been wanting to write for years. It helped that this was the peak of Nick Oliveri's drug addiction (right before he was kicked out of the band). It helped that the drumming help of Dave Grohl was enlisted. It helped that the stars aligned.

If you're not quite getting it yet... go give this one another listen.

-Talk to you next week when a whole new decade of Evil Shananigans begins!