Monday, December 30, 2013

Shanies: Album of the Year

Looking back upon releases, 2013 at first glance felt a bit unassuming, however, was actually an incredible year of quality albums. To prove my point, note that the list below does not include epic 2013 releases from the likes of Clutch, Red Fang, NIN, BMRC, Gov't Mule, or either one of JT's 20/20 experience. That said, hard decisions must be made but as we all know and understand, the list below is undeniably perfect.

10. The Bronx – The Bronx (IV)

I’ll level with you – this was far from my favourite Bronx album and was even a stretch to make my top 10 when you consider just the album alone. However, given that the band has been so focused on mariachi music as of late and this is their first rock album since 2008, it was just good to have them back. The album didn’t really push any boundaries, but it was a solid, loud, hard-driving, Bronx album. With over half the songs clocking in at under 3m, you could tell that the band didn’t want to fuck around, but instead make their point and then drop the mic. This was enough to crack the edges of my top 10.

9. The Motorleague - Acknowledge, Acknowledge 

The Cape Breton quartet’s sophomore effort was yet another collection of anthemic rock sing-alongs. I positively loved this album and between you and I, it likely would have been a lot higher on my list were it not for the fact that I couldn’t help but compare it to their 2009 debut LP, Black Noise. If you want an infectiously catchy, rock n roll album to sing along with on long drives across the Trans-Canada look no further. Start with more accessible tracks like North America or Every Man Needs a Cape Breton, however, be sure to check out my personal favourite, We Are All Going Directly to Hell.

8. Jim Guthrie - Takes Time

Guthrie is one of those Canadian indie icons who’s been creating innovative music since before most kids you see at his shows were born. However, he had a long lull in his career in the later noughties, where he apparently really started getting into video games. Doing soundtracks for a couple games and a documentary about video games seems to have affected his writing style and it shines through on Takes Time. The whole album is a masterfully arranged work that blends together all sorts of interesting little boops and bleeps into something that coalesces into a really beautiful, comforting and happy album. Takes Time is a testament to what one man can do if he locks himself in a room for a very long time with great passion.

7. Baptists – Bushcraft

From the opening track, Betterment, you just know that this wrecking ball from Vancouver isn’t going to fuck around. Start to finish, this album is pure, loud, insanity. Bushcraft drops a stake into the ground and proudly proclaims Baptists as Canada’s long awaited response to Converge. I often listen to Betterment to get myself hyped up and end up having to listen to the whole album since it just draws me in and takes a hold. This is what metal/hardcore should sound like.

6. HBS - In Deep Owl

When Soundgarden reunited in 2010, I was excited to hear that one of my favourite 90s bands would be making music again. However, when King Animal was released, reality kicked in and reminded me that things could never be the same again. Yet when Bassist Ben Shepard decided to release a solo album under the moniker HBS, I was completely floored. It was incredible to hear one very important writing influence from Soundgarden’s early albums ripped out of context and given the space to fill the room with dark, baritone, engaged music. This album has become my gloomy, rainy day listen for when I don’t want to be happy or sad… I just want to be. The perfect soundtrack to nothingness.

5. Mutoid Man - Helium Head

You’re probably seeing a recurring theme here: MUTOID MAN IS FUCKING AWESOME. I’ve gushed enough about this band by giving them awards for both song and rookie of the year, but I’ll just say this – keep supporting these guys so that they want to make more music and don’t deprive the world of their audio insanity. I love Cave In. I love Converge. But I think I love the combination even more.

4. Sound City Players - Sound City Real to Reel

While being the obvious choice for my video of the year, Dave Grohl’s Sound City also produced one of my favourite albums this year. The premise was simple: Grohl would write the foundations for 11 tracks and use his connections to fill the recording studio with a rotating crew of all-star musicians. There is obvious quality and novelty in hearing tracks with Paul McCartney,  Stevie Nix and Rick Springfield, but what ultimately sold me on this album were surprisingly incredible songs done with people like Alain Johannes, Lee Ving, Rami Jaffee and Corey Taylor – which ended up being one of my favourite tracks on the album.

3. BCASA - Fuck You Shredder

They wrote a punk rock concept album about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and in addition to being hilarious, it fucking rocks. Bow down and worship this band – the adult in you should be blown away by their riffs and songwriting, andthe kid in you should be giddy at thoughts of sitting too close to the TV on Saturday morning. Long live the Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America.

2. Monster Truck - Furiosity

Even though their entire approach to being an AC/DC inspired cock-rock band has been a bit tongue-in-cheek, I love this band and really wanted to love their first full-length release. That said, I don’t think I wanted to love it this much. The first time I listened to this album, I think I put the whole thing or repeat 4 or 5 times. I was confronted with the awkward reality of my upbringing – I was a hick-town raised rock n roll farm boy and no matter how I try to escape it, I will always love riff-heavy, vocally harmonic, four on the floor rock and roll. Furiosity delivers on this and then some, with each track being able to stand on it’s own as a single and then songs like My Love is True that bring me to my feet to scream along with the repetitive, glorious ending.

1. Queens of the Stone Age - …Like Clockwork

I feel like after Josh Homme was forced to eject Nick Olivieri from the band after doing way too many drugs and being somewhat psychotic, QOTSA had to walk through the dessert in search of itself for a while. Fitting. After essentially saving rock n roll with 2002’s Songs for the Deaf, a lot of pressure was riding on their shoulders. Don’t get me wrong; Lullabies and Era Vulgaris were both incredible albums, yet I felt as though they never resolved. It was as though Homme prepared a brilliant speech to make, but never thought about what his closing, inspirational words would be, possibly because he didn’t know where to go with a band that had exceeded the expectations of nearly everyone, including himself.

Clockwork was this band becoming who they needed to be instead of clinging to the past. The first time I listened to the album, I barely recognized the sounds I heard, yet I couldn’t stop listening. Dirty, sexy and uncomfortable, this album feels like what would happen if you let a lounge singer drop acid, strip naked and sing through a fuzz pedal in front of a convention of shocked, elderly evangelicals. It feels so wrong and yet feels so right. It rocks without rocking, it makes love without loving, it hates without anger and it touches you in all the right places. This is not the QOTSA you know and love, it’s something completely different and it is glorious.

-High five now let's all go get some pancakes

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Shanies: Song of the Year

Normally, I'd take more time to do this proper, however, some amazing friends just stumbled onto my doorstep in Toronto, completely by surprise, so screw it... we're going to do away with the pomp and ceremony of this one.

The mighty Mutoid Man is going to be walking home with 2 Shanies this year. While the entire album and hype around the group was enough to earn them the nod for Rookie of the Year, ultimately, what sealed all the deals for me was the song, Gnarcissist. Hearing Brodsky evolve over years of Cave In as a songwriter has made this particular song hold a close place in my heart in terms of it's form, structure and flow, however, if I'm being totally honest, it's Koller's drum part that fucking slays me. I mean... seriously. Listen to this song. Then listen to it again. Then listen to it one more time, but focus just on the drums.


To spread the love, when I listen to this entire song, I hear a cacophonic convergence (pun kinda intended) of so much noise that comes together in such a wonderful, tight and aggressive way. The entire song feels like it's ripping you off the edge of your seat and screaming in your face, but at the same time... it's fucking catchy. The screaming, powerful vocals, the insane guitars, the drums... my god the drums... this whole song is a two and a half minute bullet train through the centre of your mind.

Just shut up and play the track.

-One time for the ladies in the back of my head

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Shanies: Artist of the Year

The awards thus far have highlighted a good number of independent bands, all of whom greatly deserve the recognition, however, as we begin to look at the individual or artist who contributed the most to the music scene this year, it's hard to deny one of the heavy weights the title. I try my best to root on the little guy, but every now and then, we just need to be realistic and talk about someone who's done more in 2013 than most musicians ever do in their lives.

My annual awards would not be complete without giving praise to god, a.k.a. Dave Grohl. Two years ago, Dave's mainstay, Foo Fighters, won this award after having an exceptional year of releasing their 7th studio album and a companion documentary about the band. This year, Dave's done it all solo and went on a one-man-wrecking-ball-crusade to save rock n roll. His first crack at film direction with Sound City ended up being my 'video' of the year and the documentary I now watch whenever I need to feel better about life. However, Dave didn't stop there. Let's reflect:

So what did you accomplish this year? That's what I thought.

-Read passage from these sacrilegious verses, the words you just love to hear

Friday, December 27, 2013

Shanies: EP of the Year

We do live in the ADHD generation, and therefore, I feel it is important to not just recognize the full-length album of the year, but also the EP of the year. Whether the artist didn't have the money, time, energy or focus... or they found themselves face down in a mountain full of coke too often, we should still take the time to recognize their efforts, no matter how brief. Often though, the subtext of this award is something to the effect of, "HURRY UP AND FINISH A FULL FUCKING ALBUM BECAUSE I AM OBSESSED WITH EVERY BIT OF NOISE YOU PRODUCE AND MUCH LIKE A HEROIN ADDICT, PAPA NEEDS ANOTHER HIT!"

I was introduced to Vancouver's We Hunt Buffalo this summer at Toronto's Cherry Cola. Their live show blew me away and I immediately picked up and listened to their first album. However, soon after the show, I caught wind of an EP to be released in the early fall. Blood from a Stone came out and simply highlighted the progression of this fuzzy, riff-heavy, epic trio. The title track from the EP is unquestionably my favourite track, however all 4 songs show the evolution of a band who, already starting with an incredible songwriting base, is only going to keep improving with every release. Take a listen below and join me the screaming chorus demanding their next album and another visit to Toronto.

An honourable mention must be made to Hawkeyes for their doomtacular EP, Poison Slows You Down.

-Bow down to my thick cerebral cortex, a little bit of logic's all you need

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shanies: In Memory

Usually, boxing day is the day I take to hold my leftover awards - a series of jokes aimed at the epic fails in the music industry from the past year. This year, the terrible likes of Jay-Z are getting off easy, as there is something far more important today to highlight.

I'll never forget my first Trigger Effect show. It was watching them open for Bionic on an old Signed By Force records gig put on at Petit Campus. I'd never heard of the band before, but from the opening note, they affixed my jaw firmly to the floor. After being to a lot of shows in my life, I can safely say that they were one of the most insane, intense and energetic live acts I've ever seen. They seemed to suffer NA syndrome, of gaining a good sized following in Europe, however, having only moderate success back home in Canada.

However, just a month ago, shocking news hit when frontman Nick Babeu met an accidental death that caught the Canadian scene completely off guard. At such a young age, it was a tragedy to hear, both to the band and their families, however, also to the music industry. Few bands have the DIY integrity and punk-ethic that made me love Trigger Effect so much and they will sorely be missed.

To the entire band, and all of their families, my sincerest condolences. When Nick died, the world got a little less fun and a whole lot quieter.

-Tell my brothers, keep on singing

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Shanies: Concert of the Year

Always a tricky award as so many factors can go into making the perfect night, the concert of the year is typically awarded to the show from the past 12 months that absolutely blew my mind. Some years, I have highlighted the epic glory of an entire night and others I have locked in on one specific set that left me grinning ear to ear.

While the entire night was a blast when I stepped into Adelaide Hall for the first time back in November, this year, it's one band alone who's making off with the prize. Few things are better in my world that stumbling upon an amazing new band and to do so in a live setting is the cherry on top. Thus, when I was introduced to the opening line from Alert the Medic, I knew I had stumbled across something special.
In the unfamiliar (but fucking awesome) surroundings of Adelaide Hall, I watched as the quartet of Nova Scotians ripped through high-energy song after song. Polished, harmonic, playful and emotive, one could see the markings of a band who had spent some time in front of the monitors. A reluctant crowd who, like me, probably didn't know much of this band began as arm-crossed skeptics, however was won over by AtM's infectiously catchy, upbeat and fun tracks. By the end of their set, the whole place couldn't help but bounce and sway at least a bit to some of the more well-written live tunes I've ever heard.

Add these boys to my list of must-sees.

-Calm your head to the wind of tomorrow

Monday, December 23, 2013

Shanies: Video of the Year

Since I'm always a fan of cheating, this year's award for video of the year is going to be a bit of an odd one. Usually, this award is given to the artist or group that had the best, coolest, funniest, weirdest, whateverist video of the year and this year, there was a "music video" of sorts that unquestionably stood out above the rest... even if it was over 100 minutes long.

I am, of course, referring to Dave Grohl's analogue epic, Sound City. I watched this amazing documentary on opening night at TIFF with some of my closest friends. While the film starts as a documentary about one of the most prolific studios in recording history, it begins to evolve into a piece that tells a much greater story; one of the true nature and value of music. The film reminds us of the importance of keeping our musical selves pure, not just in an analogue vs digital sense, but in keeping music real - full of soul, love, mistakes and pain. That at the end of the day, music should be the sound that's made when you throw a handful of people in a room together and hit record. Whenever I need to feel better about myself, music or hell, life in general, I toss this movie on and just let it remind me of what is important.

And if you're one of those people who's going to bitch at me for not picking a real music video, bite your tongue... this clip from the film of Homme, Grohl and Reznor jamming would have won anyway.

-I could see the look on your face, when the words were uttered

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Shanies: Rookie of the Year

It's that time again... time for me to spread my unwanted and unnecessary opinion about the state of music in 2013. The traditional caveats apply to this, the 6th instalment of the Shanies:

  • It's my party and I'll cry if I want to
  • These awards are based completely on my own, unquestionably awesome taste in music
  • Guitars always win
  • I'm totally cool with contradicting myself
  • I play favourites
  • All hail the mighty riff
  • No takesies-backsies

This was no competition for the rookie category with a clear front running building hype through the summer and blowing minds with a few single releases before unleashing one of the most monstrous albums not just of the year but of the decade. I am of course talking about the unholy Converge/Cave In love-child, Mutoid Man. Beyond the fact that their name references one of the ending bosses from Smash TV, this project, long overdue, brought together Stephen Brodsky and Ben Koller to finally make the record they'd been flirting around for years.
What started as potentially a one-off with no plans to gig or follow the group, has since grown in massive demand and with the release of Helium Head, and the hype that surrounds it, one can only hope that they choose to tour and make more music, lest the fate of the free world collapse into chaos. Rookies shouldn't sound this good because as individuals, these two are seasoned-veterans and good friends with an exceptional musical connection. That said, for my pick of 2013's new band of the year... all hail the mighty Mutoid Man.

-The medium is the message, so kill the messenger

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Young Upstart

I saw Danko Jones - who was his usual larger-than-life self - on Saturday night at Adelaide Hall. He put on an incredible, high energy, hilarious set, however, the opener may have stole the show in my eyes.

This was my introduction to Halifax's Alert the Medic and I've since been quite obsessively listening to their 2009 album, We, the Weapon. Big recommends for this band... one of my favourite finds of 2013.

-Yes I'm a sheep in wolves clothes, flocking with the pack

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Rolling over Minds

Just lovely, beautiful, euphoric, sludgy release. Thank you, Hawkeyes.

-My God's in my head and I'm thinkin I've been thinking too much

Friday, September 20, 2013

Secrets of the Ooze

A few weeks back, while galavanting around Montreal in a drunken stupor with my brother-from-another-mother, Jesse, I was introduced to an album that, even after weeks of listening to, still blows my mind every time. Really, the album has got it all: passion, aggression, epic riffs, monstrous drumming, witty lyrics...

And 4 heroes in a half shell.

The BCASA (previously known as the Bill Cosby Anarchist Society of America prior to legal involvement) are a band that Jesse had been speaking about for years and even played a number of times. Every time I heard them, I recall being impressed, however, it wasn't until the release of their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-based concept album, Fuck You, Shredder, that I was truly sold on the band. In addition to writing 15 songs based around TMNT, these 3 green crusaders also showcase their exceptional musicianship and the markings of a band who has played together for a number of years and are now into their 3rd full-length. Part surf punk, part Wu-Tang, all ridiculous, this album - though juvenile and hilarious in nature - has more replayability than 90% of the shit I listen to these days (and makes me giggle more than 100% of it).

Cowabunga, dude.

-Before my eyes you materialize

Friday, September 13, 2013

Dark Side of Sound

We were all fans of Soundgarden growing up... or at least, anyone that I would care to associate with better have been. While I knew they were an exceptionally talented band full of savant-esque musicians that did a pretty terrific job of working through a collaborative writing process, I never exactly knew which influences came from where.

Thus, when Ben Shepherd released his solo album, In Deep Owl, under the moniker HBS, it was interesting to see the source of one of my favourite grunge bands' dark side. Almost immediately, I could far better understand some of my favourite Soundgarden tracks such as Half, Head Down or Jesus Christ Pose. Shepherd was a dark, macabre man.

Thus, listening to his first and only solo effort, it's pretty glorious to hear the raw sounds of Shepherd's work without the influence of his equally talented bandmates. His tracks are engaging, mellow, dark but still driving and cool. They're the kind of tracks that you feel like a bit of a badass just listening to.

Don't take my word for it, badass:

-I raise 3 fingers to the skies, between the lines is your reply

Friday, August 30, 2013

Retro Rock Redux

Since one good turn ALWAYS deserves another, let's chat a bit more about hard rock from the 70s.

In specific, let's chat Tin House. A band that, seemingly, never made much of an impact in their hay day... but still, no reason to discount them from rocking awesomeness. The band was a proving ground for future Johnny/Edgar Winter guitarist Floyd Radford, and you can definitely hear a bit of the stylistic comparison. Perhaps strangest of all, I read somewhere on the internet that they played a reunion show in 2006 and even played semi-consistently for a while after.  Could be lies... you know how the internet is.

Most importantly, it's Friday, and you'd rather rock out than think.  So go nuts:

-You raise 3 fingers to the sky, between the lines is our reply

Monday, August 26, 2013

Should've been born in the 50s

You know those periods in your life when you regress and let your musical tastes drift backwards to explore what history has to offer in the way of some serious rock n roll? I'm in one of those phases and the fruits I am reaping are fan-freaking-tastic.

Over the weekend, I stumbled across a lesser-known gem called Hard Stuff. They were a short-lived British hard rock / metal band with that early 70s heavy, bluesy groove. They released 2 proper LPs, Bulletproof  and Bolex Dementia under Deep Purple's label and toured Europe quite extensively with DP. However, a car crash that would leave 2 members of the 3 piece badly injured would ultimately push the band to fold.

But what they left behind from their 2 year run and rock stardom is something to be appreciated:

-Wash me clean, show what's good for me

Friday, August 23, 2013

Retro Nerd Rock

Those eastcoasters after my own heart in The Motorleague have done it again. After blowing minds with their sophomore release, Acknowledge, Acknowledge, and making my gut hurt that I laughed so hard at the cock-rock-esque video for North America, they have just this week dropped to the world an incredible new video for the song Failsafes.

The video, a trip down digital memory lane for those of us who grew up with the greatest PC video games ever made, required either a great deal of expertise on their hands or a lot of time on their hands or both. It shows some classic scenes from some of the classic abandonware of our youth, all appropriately timed and displaying the lyrics in the style of the original game. Well played, lads.

-When you show me what your sight sounds like, I'll show you how my mind tastes

Monday, August 12, 2013

Crushed Underfoot

The Great Sabatini... Montreal's masters of sludge... just released a new EP, Sunday School.

I love it. Oh how I love it. But most importantly, they released a new version of one of my favourite tracks, "Tiny Kingdoms."

Bathe in noise.
-What purpose do you serve anymore if not to hold me back?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Throwback Emotions

Today we're looking backwards to enjoy what's forward. I'm stuck somewhere in between the two, listening to tunes like this.

Love was a band that peaked in the 60s and 70s, brilliantly combining rock with funk, soul, folk and a healthy dose of the drugged-out psychedelic feel that the era was so well known for. While technically active right up until the mid nineties (and a brief stint in the 2000s), frontman and visionary Arthur Lee was one of the only mainstays of the group up until his death in 2006. An inspiration for countless bands to follow them, Love are cited by many as massive contributors to the psychedelic, punk and prog movements.

And today, most importantly to me right now, this song plays like a chorus on high.

-So my heart pump pump pump once more, just to feel itself

Friday, July 5, 2013

Electric Confusion

If I were to sum up my listening tastes as of late into one word, that word would be 'weird.' Ever since QOTSA released the brilliantly uncanny Like Clockwork, I've been on a listening tirade to continually befuddle and defy my brain.

As such, when I found out that an old favourite, Rose Hill Drive, had released a new record over a year ago that I was completely absent for, I was excitedly confused. There's still a healthy dose of southern, riff-heavy insanity on the album, but it gets blended with a healthy amount of spastic, cross-dressing, in-your-face, jolty, unpredictable noise. The album took a couple of listens to grow on me, but now I find myself twitching along to every screech and blurp. It has become a glorious, psychedelic trip down an auditory glory-hole.

The song below, Psychoanalyst, is one of the more tame tracks on the album, perhaps representing a moment to step-back and become soberly introspective...that or I'm overanalyzing things. That said, if you're willing to dig further down the rabbit hole, check out the full release; it's worth every penny.

-And this phantom twitch keeps on beating in my vestigial heart

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hot Rock

Preface: it's going to be hot as balls today and I'm listening to a lot of rock n roll. I went on a bit of a tirade over the weekend and have tons of new riff-happy tunes to share.

The first is from a Brooklyn band called Earl Greyhound. EG is one of those bands that has been around now for a decade, and yet, while generating a strong indie following, has always seemed to sit just outside of the mainstream. Through 3 LPs and another 3 EPs, they've managed to establish themselves as a strong but weirdly unique blues-infused hard rock band. The dueling male-female vocals of guitarist Matt Whyte and bassist Kamara Thomas set a unique and somewhat uneasy stage for a chaotic force of rock, held down by drummer Ricc Sheridan.

Their songs range from anthemic, power-chord sing alongs to slow burn, awkward and eerie grunge-revival ballads to, my personal favourite, riff-heavy head boppers, such as the tasty little jam below.

-Giving up the saved face to smile through the day

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Wordless Gunk

It seems that every NXNE unveils a new band or two for me to drool all over. While this was a rather light year of concert-going (relatively speaking), that didn't stop me from stumbling across a few new gems. There's the obvious answer of The Public Animal who I will impatiently await to release anything - mp3s, CDs, vinyls, 8-tracks, a tin cup with a string and someone screaming into the other end - and subsequently give them all of my money.

However, sometimes there's too much ground to cover, too much rock to be rolled and to much love to give. For situations like this, I've got people like my coworker Jayar who introduced me to one of his picks of the festival, Saskatchewan's own Shooting Guns. This instrumental 5-piece generates a massive wall of slow-moving, grimy, distorted stoner metal that feels heavy enough to stop a bull moose in it's tracks. This stuff is kind of like the rock n roll version of molasses, if molasses were as hard as fucking nails and cooler than all of your friends put together.

And yes, to answer your next question, said molasses would make the most badass gingerbread cookies ever.

Their debut 12", Born to Deal in Magic: 1952-1976, made the Polaris prize long list and is VERY much worth the $5 to pick it up here.

  -Surround yourself in a layer of hope to keep you warm at night

Monday, June 17, 2013

NXNE: Reigning Terror

It was after a healthy round of beer infused softball that I made my way home, showered, changed, swung by Ben's for a drink and finally slunk my way into Lee's on a Friday night.

I arrived just as We are Scientists were taking to the stage. While not really my style, I did actually enjoy their catchy indie pop a fair bit (maybe it was the air, maybe it was the beer). And, though they may have taken it a bit overboard, their stage banter was some of the most hilarious band interactions I'd heard in ages - often the good sign of a band that understands their role less as 'artists' and more as 'entertainers' - which these guys did very well.

Then... we waited.

And waited.

And waited.

Jordan, I love you... but lordy how we waited.

After a ridiculously long setup, Jordan Cook took the stage joined by Joseph Braley and the mysterious Stitch: a man who spent the bulk of the set playing bass on a 4 string guitar through an octaver. This was my umpteenth bazillion time seeing Cook, but the first time under his Reignwolf project. You could tell the guys had been on the road a fair bit - seasoned veterans of the stage they seamlessly rocked their way around a tangled mess of chords, pedals and drums. Cook's playing had never been more ferocious and in-your-face.

However, this wasn't my favourite performance yet. What Jordan brought to the stage in intensity and swagger, he lost a bit in technicality. Perhaps what hurt the most was knowing what this young Sasquatch was capable of after seeing him tear paint off the walls so many times, and yet only being allowed a glimpse into that world. Don't get me wrong, Reignwolf was mind blowing and one hell of an experience... it just left me wanting more.

Though I guess that's not a bad thing, is it?

-I tear through the fields of the souls that you never did touch

Friday, June 14, 2013

NXNE: Here for a Good Time

I'm old now. I'm busy with work. I love music, but I've become picky and jaded with time. But fine... I still do a bit of NXNE this year. However, not for the conference's sake, but for the bands... for the music.

Even if it means I'm paying $15 a venue to see the bands that I could see for $5 on any other night since I'm refusing to brand myself with a bracelet.

I digress... while a tame night from my perspective (and by comparison to my previous NXNE outings), the sound emanating from the bands I saw was anything but tame.

After basically drooling all over The Blue Stone's album last fall and coming just short of proposing to them, it became a damnable shame that I would miss every TO show they had for the longest time due to work, travel or some other asinine thing. However, finally, I was able to descend upon the Windsor duo at the Hard Luck bar.  I'll get the negatives out of the way first - the evening's sound guy was apparently a deaf man mid-seizure and I was sad to see the guys only play 1 or 2 songs from the album which I coveted so. HOWEVER, for a 2 piece, these guys still churned out a solid set of groovy, sexy-infused, heavy blues tracks that had an early night, sober Toronto crowd still nodding their heads in elated satisfaction.

Immediately following, Little Foot Long Foot took the stage. While once again pushing through sound tech issues, it was good to hear how LFLF's sound had evolved since the edition of Jeff Heisholt on the keys. I had some initial concerns about the new lineup, however, it's just taking time for the new 3 piece to find their sound together, write together and evolve together.

However, my evening was made when I sprinted up to Lee's to see the inaugeral show of Sir Blurton's new project, Public Animal. An unholy combination of C'Mon, Tricky Woo, Bella Clava and the Lying Cheats - Public Animal may have become my favourite new band within about 3 minutes of having my eardrums pounded by a wall of sound.  I won't say anymore - just go see them tonight at the Bovine at 1am.

-May my ears ring forever

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Orchestral Ice

After thwarting the month of May's nefarious plans to kill me, I find myself trying to return my life to some sense of normalcy. The first step in this process is always, and will always be, music. It started with a healthy dose of listening and now I'm back to trying to write again.

It is therefore appropriate that today, I write about an artist who carried me a lot through the past couple of months. I began listening to Icelander, Olafur Arnalds, back at the start of April, however, it's only now that I'm able to return the favour and share the love with you.

Arnalrds is part of a new movement of mixing together traditional orchestral instruments - strings, pianos, etc. - with electronic loops and ambient sounds. It sounds like it could be massively disastrous, however, he pulls it off with a grace and elegance that make his songs euphoric listening experiences. He rise to indie fame through online collaborations and distribution has made him a name in both the pop and classical circles and earned him a few opportunities to have his songs played with full orchestral accompaniment.

-Beat my vestigial heart to hurt my vestigial brain

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Today, I really needed this

Perhaps one of my favourite things about music, if not the best thing about music, it it's ability to transform human emotion in a heartbeat. No matter what the situation, no matter what the context, no matter how I'm feeling, I'm always amazed by how quickly a song can change everything and make my day 1000 times better, or at least more understandable, tolerable and manageable.

Today was one of those days... and this was one of those songs.

-You keep talking 'bout all your sticks and stones and broken bones and words that you keep sayin

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Winning the Internet

Every now and then, one finds a video so strangely wonderful, that one simply must sit back a moment, appreciate it's creator and applaud proudly at said creator for winning the internet.

*slow clap for The Avalanches*

-Ain't gonna stop until the day grows long, got my hands tied tight and this feeling all wrong

Monday, April 29, 2013

April Shananigans: Today Will Try to Kill Me

But it is tomorrow that will likely succeed.

-And whoever will try the hardest will suffer the worst

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April Shananigans: Dear Sloan

You rock my world. And that 2nd song sounds a little bit like old school Offspring.

-Sewn up tight and a smile painted on

Friday, April 26, 2013

April Shananigans: Tease the devil

Give it back so that you can take it away all over again.

-I'm not raising hell, I'm gonna tame it and give hell to someone else

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

April Shananigans: 2 Birds

I needed a laugh today. I also needed stoner metal.  Thank you, Red Fang.

-How did your words taste on the way down?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

April Shananigans: Inspiration

I don't want to call it too early... but today could have been huge - time will tell.

-So let's fucking CELEBRATE!

Monday, April 22, 2013

April Shananigans: Peel it

Today was a tear-the-paint-off-the-walls, kill to live kinda day.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

April Shananigans: Another Day

Another dollar.

-Fall just short of that imaginary line

Saturday, April 20, 2013

April Shananigans: The Real Day

The Birthday is tomorrow, but you and I both know what today is.

-Slide down the psychedelic holes of my love

Friday, April 19, 2013

April Shananigans: Take me Back

Oh how I feel so safe and warm in the throws of yesteryear.

-And he laughed as he said to me, "this too shall never end."

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Shananigans: Thursday is the new Friday

Every now and then, your life just needs a little bit more fuck yeah.

-Bathing in sunshine and drowning in the rays

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

April Shananigans: Present Ideas

What's that you say? I'm going to be in Memphis in May and could spend a weekend down the road in Nashville? Hmmm... whatever will I do whilst there?

-Take back your love-hating, belly-aching, bone-shaking, fuck yeah

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

April Shananigans: Hunting Trouble

Heavy, heavy trouble... but sometimes too hard to avoid.

-Hunting for a home that we've no longer got

Monday, April 15, 2013

April Shananigans: Set the Tone

You determine your life through the actions you choose.
This is how I choose to start my week.

-Pour back another glass of shame

Friday, April 12, 2013

April Shananigans: Happiness

It's Friday and life is incredible. Not because of this song...but it's a nice soundtrack.

-Say it with a twinkle and a smile to say it for the day and the night

Thursday, April 11, 2013

April Shananigans: Tiny Dancer

April showers... apparently freeze and kill May flowers.

-Die a thousand drops to live a thousand days

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

April Shananigans: Those are a few of my favourite things

Yesterday, I was having a bad day... and then this happened.

-I'm missing out down every path I chase this dream

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Shananigans: Blow Tuesday Away

Something's gotta give... today could be as good a day as any.

-Stop these taunting voices screaming nothing in your head

Monday, April 8, 2013

April Shananigans: Building Chords

Today, I want to hear the 3rds, the 5ths and everything that fills out the edges of life.

-Let me keep singing until I find the notes you like

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Shananigans: Lazy Sunday

With appropriate grooves to help chill out

-I need a martyr to kill

Friday, April 5, 2013

April Shananigans: Make it Better

No one ever knows what Friday night could hold...

-Spun like threads, your words wove straitjackets around us

Thursday, April 4, 2013

April Shananigans: Oh, Thursday...

The things you do, the things you say.

-Take away the heavily medicated layer of happy thoughts

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Pimping Live

I've been to an embarrassing number of shows this year... I'll chalk it up to being exceptionally busy with work and on the road more than 50% of the time. That said, I always have to thank my close friends for smacking me around a bit and dragging me out to shows, since I know I'll always love them (even if the morning after mild ear-ringing and hangover combination makes work a bit of a bitch).

So thank you Steve, for taking me to see an old haunt, The Deer Hunter, at Mod Club last night. Possibly one of the hardest working prog brains in the biz, Casey Crescenzo (yes, that is his real name) has produced an ungodly amount of music since forming DH in 2005. Granted, it all averages out to about a full length per year (which is already impressive) but add to that the complexity and intricacy with which their songs are crafted and scored and you can imagine that this band does little else than eat, sleep and write.

That said, their live set didn't suffer, so they must spend any leftover moments touring. The band played for roughly two and a half hours and wove a set through a massive variety of rockers, ballads, trippy ambience and everything in between. What I respected the most is that even amidst a drunk, dumbass TO crowd calling out song names, the band stuck to their guns and stated that this was the set "they crafted for and wanted to play for us."

And I liked the set they played for me, not only because they played my favourite DH song.

-I ain't gonna stop till the feeling is wrong, got me sewn up tight and afraid no more

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weighing Ghosts

It's been a while and I feel I've been negligent.  Not a lot of time today before I bugger off to New York, but enough time to share this:

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Vocal Navigation

While this will publish in the morning, for now, it is evening. I am tired, I am a few whiskies in and I don't know exactly why I'm writing right now.

So, this post should be about as good as any other.

For some weird reason, I've been listening to Guided By Voices lately. I was never a fan when I was younger and even now, I probably enjoy less than 30% of their back catalogue, including pretty much everything they've put out since their 2010 reunion. Generally speaking, I think I actually hate Robert Pollard's voice and I just tried to listen to I am a Scientist without falling asleep... couldn't do it.

With that glowing review out of the way, I will say that there are still a handful of songs that have seen rotation in my playlist as of late that have been fantastic little reminders of a simpler, wonderful time. So, instead of just sitting here and being an asshole, why don't we just listen to a solid track from 2004.

-Passion for its own sake within a veil of fickle heartbreak

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mixing the Madness

It's been a weird week which means I'm in a weird mood and of course, means I'm listening to some weird music. I'd been digging into a lot of really experimental stuff, almost as though I were searching for the perfect song to define my mind and in doing so, wrap everything into a neat little package. While the intended result fell short, the song existed and gradually found its way to me.

I was playing around with some new sounds with coworker and good friend Paul when we began to have an impromptu listening party for inspiration. Here, he introduced me to Son Lux, aka Ryan Lott - a colleague from Paul's past at Indiana University. While I was blown away by the world that Lott's music spanned, one song in particular stuck out and has been occupying my mind to the point of near obsession.

While the original is already brilliant, it was a remix of the song Weapons done by Nico Muhly that would ultimately grab me by the cortex and drag my mind around. Rapid panning strings chaotically build over jazz-infused break beats, all breaking way to a beautiful, ambient surface on which the song continues to play for nearly 4 glorious minutes.

-The only things I hate about myself are the things I can't see

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Backward Sound Forward

I've been tripping on a lot of old tunes these days - stuff that sounds really grimey but lets the absolute soul shine through. Been listening to a lot of old blues recordings, gritty acoustic stuff and early rock and roll.

Today was a day of obsessively listening to The Sonics. One of the original 60s garage rock bands, they blew up out of Washington and arguably laid the groundwork for future generations of grunge rockers. They played a lot of covers and blues/rock standards, however, they played them with such fury and intensity that I don't think anyone would have really called them on it.

As an aside, some of you may recognize the song below from another one of my obsessions, The Black Keys. While the keys did a monster cover of this song in 2003, I prefer the Sonic's version. However, the original song was actually an old R&B number by Richard Berry.

And now you know...

-Go right ahead, deliver me in chains

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Feather Beatings

You'd think that after spending years and 3 full albums as a cartoon, Dan the Automater would be sick of it?  Alas, apparently not.

Dan's latest project, Pillowfight, with Emily Wells is a unique departure from the Gorillaz with some similar undertones.  The trademark beats and eerie melodies are still present, however, Pillowfight has a distinctly more comical, lighthearted and groovy feel.  I'm curious to see where the project will go, but damned excited for the album to creep it's way out.

-Your self control just let go, so was it my fault?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Sludgeheads Rejoice

It's a new year and I'm going to take the opportunity afforded by my first post to do a shitty job. There you go... I'm setting expectations low for 2013.

Truth be told, I already kinda screwed this one up. I managed to give an honourable mention for EP of the year to a band that I hadn't even been kind enough to share yet. I am of course referring to The Great Sabatini. In addition to having one of the most amusing band names ever, this band creates a wall of sound that is both unique, intense, catchy and deadly. They've been around since 2007, which makes me a little pissed off at the Shaking Judy & Big Fat Pie boys for not sharing sooner (or they did and I was too drunk and forgot). I honestly do want to describe this band more, however, their sound is best described as genre-defying. Their songs are often sporadic, unsettling and completely unpredictable, yet through all the madness, they still stumble across tune that completely captivate.

Best of all, while Matterhorn, their latest EP, can be purchased through bandcamp for a measly $8, my personal favourite, The Royal We, can be downloaded for free.

So, what are you waiting for?

-A) I love you, B) I hate you... C) ?