This Blog is

Stories, reviews, interviews, and random thoughts from a 21-year-old PBR drinking white kid. Music is the main focus, but I also touch on politics, culture, and whatever else I feel like talking about.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

In Flight Meals

Man, you ever have one of those moments that really makes you question the fabric of society? A moment where you go "wow, I thought we were past that..." and then disappear to the depths of yr basement to mire in disappointment for the human race? Well I had that experience recently with this whole "sexist WestJet note" thing.
100% Recycled Content.

As a purveyor of internet culture, I've taken great pleasure watching people over-react on everything from actual issues to obvious trolling, but this has gone too far. 

Pro tip, every time you see scripture quoted on a napkin you can pretty much assume whoever wrote the note has a very real mental health issue and needs immediate medical/psychiatric help  wears a tinfoil hat under his trilby and is probably just a massive loser whose opinion has no bearing in reality.

You know that Jay Z lyric: "don't argue with fools/cuz people from a distance can't tell who's who"? Well society, you're arguing with the dude wearing a piss-covered posterboard in the middle of Yonge-Dundas Square. Your parents must be proud.

Friday, 10 January 2014

End of a Year 2013

Yeah, so here's another year end list. Except this one's actually sweet. Blow it out your ass, Stereogum!

Danny Brown

10: Balance and Composure- The Things We Think We're Missing (No Sleep)

Balance and Composure surprises everybody (aka me) by proving they're capable of writing good songs not titled "Quake". Holy shit! Who'da thunk?

Listen to "Tiny Raindrop"

9: Defeater- Letters Home (Bridge 9)

Yeah so Defeater put out a new album this year I guess. The first and last song are wicked bangers and everything else on the album was pretty tight from what I gathered. So yeah, moving along.

Listen to "Bastards"

8: A$AP Rocky- Long.Live.A$AP (ASAP Worldwide)

I thought this was the most ignorant shit I'd ever heard in my life until I heard that A$AP Ferg album. So I guess this is the second most ignorant shit I've ever heard in my life. Cool.

Listen to "Wild for the Night"

7: Nails- Abandon All Life (Southern Lord)

This shit sounds like a heavily intoxicated Lemmy from Motorhead driving a cement truck through a fucking TNT factory. If that isn't a ringing enough endorsement for you, then you're probably soft as shit and you can kiss my ass.

Listen to "God's Cold Hands"

6: Danny Brown- Old (Fool's Gold)


Listen to "Dope Fiend Rental"


5: Kanye West- Yeezus (Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam)

I was gonna be a troll and put this album at number one, but then like six other turdburgling publications beat me to it. I wonder what kind of people thought this shit was "too experimental"? Probably the same people who don't listen to Nails. Fucking posers.

Listen to "I'm In It"

4: Coliseum- Sister Faith (Temporary Residence)

Full disclosure: I don't even like this album half as much as I liked House With a Curse. Yeah, I don't really know what else to put here, other than "this album is still pretty good I guess..." or maybe; "2013 was a mediocre year for music."

Listen to "Doing Time"

3: The Men- New Moon (Sacred Bones)

I don't know why nobody's jocking the shit out of this album, considering how mental people went for Open Your Heart. Oh well. For full enjoyment, I recommend blasting this album while driving 140 km/h through the wasteland between Mississauga and Kitchener in the late winter/early spring.

Listen to "I Saw Her Face"

2: J. Cole- Born Sinner (Dreamville)

Half of this album is kind of dumb, but there are like six songs on it that make me weirdly emotional every time I listen to them. Plus the guy's an insane lyricist, a pretty good producer, and makes hit singles that kick ass. Oh yeah, and if you don't like "Power Trip" you're probably a soul-less reptilian scumbag.

Listen to "Trouble"

1: Drake- Nothing Was the Same (OVO Sound/Young Money/Cash Money)

What? Wanna fight about it?

Listen to "Wu-Tang Forever"

~ ~ ~

Hon. mention:  A$AP Ferg- Trap Lord, Drug Church- Paul Walker, Mr. Muthafuckin' eXquire- Kismet, Rescuer- With Time Comes the Comfort, Daylight- Jar, Mac Miller- Watching Movies With the Sound Off, Deniro Farrar- The Patriarch vol. 1.

Dope EPs:

Touche Amore/Pianos Become the Teeth- Split
Xerxes- Would You Understand?
Safeplace- Little Terror
Tigers Jaw/Code Orange Kids/Self Defense Family/The World is...- 4-Way Split
Self Defense Family- The Corrections Officer in Me

~ ~ ~

"Boner Jamz 2013" the playlist

Songs Grooveshark didn't have:

Defeater- "Bled Out"
Drug Church- "Attending a Cousin's Birthday Party"
NAH- "Slime People"
Rescuer- "Untitled"
Safeplace- "Little Terror"
Self Defense Family- "Pop Song Written on the Automall"
Weekend Nachos- "You're Not Punk"
Xerxes- "Tramadol"

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Ten Steps to Being a Totally Cool Emo Kid in 2013

Remember back in high school when you used to make fun of emo kids because they were the only people softer than you? Well guess what? Thanks to a bunch of bands from the Midwest with stupid names like "Dads" and "Pity Sex", emo couldn't be cooler in the year 2013! That's right, emo revival has had dudes just like you turning their lingering chronic depression/inability to gain muscle mass into COLD HARD POONTANG since 2010, and now that SPIN and NPR have hopped on the bandwagon, the floodgates have officially opened. 

Wanna get a piece of the action but don't know where to start? Well fear not, loyal reader; just follow these ten important steps and you'll be hopping on a plane to Champaign, Illinois to fuck a girl you met online in no time. Here goes...

Crucial #emorevival jamz.

Ten Steps to Being an Emo Kid

1: Dress like a poor hipster. Wear Chucks.

2: Talk about the Get Up Kids a lot.

3: Overly romanticize the Midwest.

4: Date a girl named Sadie or Rachel. Write a song about her.

5: Guyliner is your call, but proceed with EXTREME caution.

6: Wear a cardigan or some shit.

7: Own cassette tapes.

8: Talk about makeoutclub like you weren't 11 years old in it's heyday.

9: Pretend you've actually listened to Pinkerton.

10: Build a time machine and transport yourself back to 2001 when anybody actually gave a fuck.

So there ya have it! Just follow those ten simple steps and you'll be the coolest guy at your local VFW/campus library/loft party/wherever the fuck emos hang out these days. Good luck!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A Review of Safeplace's "Little Terror" EP (2013)

This song sounds like Arcade Fire if Arcade Fire were cool

If you've been following the sporadic posts I've been making on this little blog for the past couple years, you may be familiar with a band called Rain Over Battle. They were an orgcore 5-piece from somewhere in Virginia that had put out an impressive catalog of music considering the fact that they were like 19 years old, and I was stoked to hear music from them for years to come. Unbeknownst to me, however, was the fact that they were pretty much inactive by the time I wrote about them, and would officially break up a couple months later. Fortunately enough though, ROB's frontman and principal songwriter, Bennett Wales, isn't done making music. He's started a new band called Safeplace, who recently released their debut EP Little Terror on Soul Jolt Records.

The first thing you notice about Safeplace is their almost vehement desire to sound like no other punk band on the face of the planet. From the noisy thrashing that opens the EP on “To the Native and the Ghost” to the reverb-soaked folk licks on the title track, Safeplace are exploring new musical horizons with an energy intense enough to burn a stack of No Idea  releases. But oddly enough, the aggressiveness with which the band is trying to ditch the confines of punk only makes Little Terror sound more like a punk album. Being pissed off about playing bar chords isn’t all that different in spirit from being pissed off at your dad, and it’s clear that these dudes are still angry about something.

But what separates Safeplace from other post-“punk kid” musical projects is their refusal to shy away from their roots. When most people finish their infatuation with punk music, they start a shoegaze band or some shit. Naturally, those bands fall flat, because ripping off MBV is no more creative than ripping off Against Me!. Safeplace, on the other hand, are far less concerned with what’s trendy and far more concerned with developing their craft. Sure, the bassline to “Tribes” could’ve been lifted straight from A Flight and a Crash; sure, some of the noodling on “Curtains” sounds a little “wave-like”; but you can’t fault a band for doing what they know, especially if that’s what makes their music cohesive and digestible. Shit, to call Little Terror cohesive and digestible would be a grave disservice – these songs are actually pretty damn interesting.

For those of you who were familiar with Rain Over Battle, Safeplace proves to be an impressive step forward. Wales seems a lot more comfortable in his own skin as a songwriter, and even where the band’s influences are overt, they never stray into derivative territory. On top of that, the fat that bogged down ROB’s These Rocks in Our Bodies has been all but trimmed away. Sure, Safeplace stumble through a couple transitions and could have fleshed some of the parts out a bit more, but there’s not a whole lot of filler on Little Terror. Besides, bands who are genuinely trying to do something innovative can expect to stumble a fair bit in the beginning. That’s where Safeplace is at right now, but if this EP is any indication, they won’t be there for long.

Monday, 1 July 2013

The Daily Snob's Beginner Guide To Metal

Today, I'm gonna talk to you about the mysterious world of heavy metal music. Though I'm not a metalhead by trade, I have spent a fair amount of time observing metal bands and their followers in the field. So, today, I present to you a comprehensive guide to the world of metal from an outsider's perspective. Here we go.

Chapter 1- Metal sucks ass.

The first thing you need to know about metal is that it's one of the most diverse genres of music out there. Metal runs the spectrum from being the most abrasive, relentless unlistenable garbage on the face of the earth to the most orchestral, complex unlistenable garbage on the face of the earth (sometimes in one song!). Yet for all it's diversity, the one thing that binds metal together is the fact that it's all unlistenable garbage. To prove my point, here's a video made by a metalhead comparing what he thinks is "good music" to what he thinks is "bad music."
Aspie alert: Don't watch past 1:15 of this video.

At the beginning of this video, our esteemed culture critic PMRants does a great job showing us the real depths of metal's ass sucking ability. Every one of those six songs he chooses at the beginning of the video comes from a different sub-genre of metal, and to the highly trained ear, may even sound different! Yet all those songs have one thing in common: nobody in their right mind would want to listen to any of them. Shitty-ness is the bond that holds all metal -- be it complex and inaccessible or formulaic and polished -- together.

Chapter 2- Even the metal you like sucks ass.

To most of the human population, metal is virtually unlistenable. However, if you expose yourself to metal long enough, you may begin to find it palatable, and even begin to identify with it. It is important to remember that if you begin to enjoy metal, it's only because it speaks to flaws in your character. Under no circumstance can metal be considered "good music."

For further proof, please compare the psychoanalytic test results of a typical "casual metal fan" to the metal music he listens to:

Strong indication of sadomasochistic behavior, derelict
sexual tendencies possible.

Attention Deficit Disorder present. Possible Canadian.

could indicate repressed homosexuality, or worse, Dallas
Cowboys fandom.

While indulging your dark side can be healthy from time to time, it's important to never suffer from the delusion that metal is actually good music. Championing the "quality musicianship" or "total complexity" of metal is a sign that you have given in to your vices and are now probably a sociopath. If you find yourself arguing about Dream Theater on Metalsucks, contact your local physician and seek help immediately. If you find yourself posting on Lambgoat in any capacity, contact your local gun store and kill yourself immediately.

Chapter 3: Metalcore; metal's retarded cousin.

Now that you know the basics of metal, let's explore a real life example of what happens when you let metal get out of control. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you Metalcore; a Cautionary Tale.

metalcore started innocuously enough, but it wasn't long
before shit started to get weird.

Beginning in the late eighties, a certain subset of metalheads began to stray beyond the confines of their basements and intermingle with different subcultures. When these brave adventurers found the equally dogmatic and socially awkward subculture of "hardcore punk", something clicked. Before long, the two subcultures combined, ushering in a new musical style called "metalcore", and with it, a period some historians begrudgingly refer to as "the 90's."

At first, things seemed to be going pretty well. But unbeknownst to many, the seemingly innocuous combination of two terrible musical styles had already set off a chain reaction that would culminate in the perfect storm of musical shitty-ness. First of all, metalheads' propensity to wallow in sorrow mixed with punkers' uncanny ability to project insecurities on other people combined to create some pretty dogmatic social activism.

Then, metal's complete disregard for song structure or dynamics, mixed with hardcore's complete disregard for actually learning how to play an instrument led to some pretty interesting musical arrangements.

Pretty soon, the mind-numbing power of metalcore's music, combined with it's neo-liberal approach to social issues erupted into full-on fascism. This is when shit really started to get weird.

And you can only hide guilt-ridden, sexually repressed groupthink from the Christians for so long before they want a piece of the action.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the zenith of metalcore.

Thus, metalcore has continued to devolve into what it was ultimately destined to be; dweebs screaming misogynist gibberish over structure-less guitar noise. Which, now that I think about it, pretty much sums metal up in one sentence anyways. 

Yeah, TL;DR Metal is just a bunch of dweebs screaming misogynist gibberish over structure-less guitar noise. Class dismissed.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Cerce Interview

Well shit. Just as I was about to format this interview, I heard it through the grapevine (my Facebook feed) that Boston hardcore act Cerce was no more.  It appears they've parted ways with frontwoman Becca Cadalzo and the remaining members have gone on to form a band called lovechild. A bit of a bummer, but hopefully lovechild will fulfill the promise Cerce showed through their short time together. 

Anywho, I caught up with the now defunct band in a lakeside mansion on tour with The World is an excessively long band name and Dads to talk about their new album (still happening!!!!), poutine, and their beginnings as a pop-rock group. Enjoy.

Introduce yourselves and what you do in the band:
Zach Suskevich: I’m Zack, I play guitar. 
Becca Cadalzo: I’m Becca, I yell. 
Patrick Talesfore: I’m Patrick, I play the drums. 
Zach Weeks: I’m Zach, I play bass guitar. 
Tim Altieri: I’m Tim, I play gerter. 
ZW: [laughs] WHAT? 
TA: Guitar.
Is this the first time you guys have ever been to Canada?
All: Yeah.
ZS: This is our first tour through Canada. We’ve been here three days.
How are you enjoying Canada so far?
PT: Love it.
ZW: Love it.
ZS: I’ve had poutine twice.
So you’re a fan of poutine?
ZS: Yeah. It makes me poop a lot, but I still do it.
So how’s the tour been going so far?
PT: It’s been going really well, I’d say. We started in Boston then came straight to Canada and we’ve done four Canada dates. It’s been good so far…
Is this the beginning of the tour?
PT: Well, we’re about halfway done. We’re only on the road for nine days, and tonight’s our last night in Canada before we go back to the United States. It’s a short tour.
You guys are on tour with bands who are a bit more “mellow” so to speak. How’s the response been to your more abrasive style of music?
ZS: It’s been working out pretty well. I mean, every band puts out a lot of energy and that’s almost all that matters.
ZW: People are definitely responding more so to the energy than to the genres involved.
TA: 10/10, would tour again.
How long have you guys been a band for?
PT: Two years. Pretty much two years exactly.
ZW: Well, we’ve been serious for about a year and a half.
I saw on some website that you guys started as a pop band?
PT: Yes.
ZW: Yeah. Well, that was sort of the original intent. But we were all just friends who started playing music together, and this is what came of it I guess.
That’s wild. How did you start as a pop band and end up on the complete opposite end of the spectrum?
ZW: Well… [to Becca] you wanna answer this?
BC: Pat and I decided we wanted to start a band, and because I’m more of a pop rock singer, we thought it was going to be more of a pop band. But then once we got the lineup together we realized it wasn’t going to be a pop-rock band. [laughs]
PT: Yeah, then we started playing music more in the vein of what we do now. Who knows what’ll come next, I guess.
Speaking of what will come next, you guys are working on a full length?
ZW: Well, since we haven’t been very secretive about it, we might as well tell you that we’re tracking it right now.
ZS: Right now, like, as we speak [laughter].
PT: Well yeah, kind of. Right before we left, we tracked drums and bass, and we’re gonna finish the rest of it when we get back to Boston. It should be out in the fall.
How similar is it to your other stuff?
PT: Well, there’s…
ZW: [frantically] Yes and no. Yes and no. Yes and no.
I see. According to a flier I saw, you guys are currently located in Boston and Philly. How do you make that work?
TA: We’re actually located in even more locations than that.
ZW: Well we’re all from different parts of the country, but we were going to school in Massachusetts when we started the band. Then Tim moved to Philly, which is why we’re sort of located in Philly, I guess.
PT: We play in Philly a lot, it’s kind of like a second home, and we use the power of technology to make it work.
Your S/T EP was released in Canada on A Mountain Far. How did you end up working with those guys?
PT: Matt who runs AMF pretty much just hit us up about a year ago when we released the EP and asked if he could release it in Canada. He’s awesome. He’s here, his band [Foxmoulder] played tonight.
TA: We stayed with him last night in Toronto, and he’s a great guy.
How’s the split with Stresscase coming along?
ZW: That’s actually been in progress since the fall. We were supposed to have it for this tour, but the pressing plants are really backed up so it’s taking a bit longer than we would’ve hoped, but regardless. We’re really excited for when we get it, hopefully it’ll be worth the wait.
ZS: Stresscase are a great band and great people.
BC: Even though we’ve never met them [laughter].
They’ve been cool on the internet?
PT: Yeah. The bass player’s coming to town right?
ZW: Yeah, he’s coming to Boston, so we’re gonna hang out with him. Should be fun.
This question is more for Becca. One thing I enjoy about this band and your vocals in particular is that you don’t try and mask the feminine aspects of your voice. A lot of “female fronted” hardcore or metal vocalists try and sound like dudes, but you make it pretty obvious that you’re a girl. Is that something you were going for, or did you just kind of do your thing?
BC: Yes and no. I mean, I consciously made and effort to be myself and to not change myself, so in that aspect, yeah. That’s how my voice sounds, and that’s my personality, so I wasn’t going to change it just because of the genre we’re playing.
But I mean, you’re like a pop rock singer too, so obviously you’ve had some time to develop your “voice” so to speak.
BC: Yeah, sort of. I mean, I was brought up with opera and classical, but I was trying to be a rock/pop singer for a bit, so I was trying to do that thing, and now I’m here [laughs].
Cool. Last question, is this the nicest house you’ve ever played a show in? (The band was playing a house show at a mansion in north Ajax, right beside a lake that people were swimming in.)
ZW: Yeah, easily. They have a really beautiful house
TA: I took so many sodas…
ZS: This house is a beautiful house and I am no longer afraid to swim.

Alright, thanks a lot guys.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Punk Rock is Dumb, and So Are You (A Response To John Roderick)

If there's a better song to sum up my feelings 
on the punk scene, I've yet to hear it.

John Roderick is right.

In case you aren't aware, bearded indie dude/ex Harvey Danger singer John Roderick recently wrote a piece in Seattle Weekly entitled “Punk Rock is Bullshit,” the premise of which is entirely self-explanatory, and admittedly not incorrect. Sure, four pages on why a counter-culture started by glue sniffers and perpetuated by suburban teenagers lacks self-awareness and base with reality seems a bit much, and I think he gives punk way too much credit when he blames it for destroying the world, but at the core of his argument, Roderick is correct. Punk rock is indeed bullshit.

Alas, it wasn't always that way. Punk rock used to mean something; at least to me. During my time as an insecure college kid looking for an identity, punk rock was the most important thing in the world. I remember the first time I heard Hot Water Music like it was yesterday: Christmas Eve, 2009 – I was supposed to be watching The Muppet's Christmas Carol with my family. Instead, I was hunched over my laptop, headphones in, listening to “Kill the Night” and wondering how in the fuck anyone could make such great music. Sure, it wasn't pretty sounding, it wasn't complex, and these guys sure as hell couldn't sing, but god damn, did this music ever speak to me. Something clicked in my head, and even with the narrowest frame of reference imaginable, I knew I had found what I was looking for. Whether I knew it or not, I was destined to become a punk rocker.

If you're a kid who hates structure and values immediacy, getting into punk and hardcore is like winning the lottery. Since you have no frame of reference, every band sounds like they're from a different planet. Since you've never seen a mosh pit before, a live show seems like the closest thing to anarchy you'll experience in the first world. Best of all, since the musicians look like you, act like you, and play directly in front of you, you start to realize all you need to make something fulfilling is three friends, some gear, and a place to play. Then, you start to realize how ridiculously easy it is to become part of the scene. You want to put on a show? Find a space, find some bands, and boom, there's your show. You want to interview a band? E-mail the label, grab a voice recorder, and Bob's your uncle. Pretty soon you'll find yourself fully immersed and up to speed on both punk music and the culture that goes with it. You've done it! You're officially a member of “teh punx.” Grab your card on the way in, there's juice and cookies at the back.

Unfortunately, once you understand enough about punk to identify as one, you realize the definition is nebulous and doesn't always fit you perfectly -- identity crisis not solved. Furthermore, since familiarity breeds contempt, you start to realize maybe your little slice of collective anarchy isn't as utopian as you once thought.

Let's face it; mosh pits are a liberating experience until you realize how quickly they can devolve into structure-enforcing machismo. Mic tosses lose their luster as an exercise in humility when you hear kids brag about getting the mic after the show. Hardcore is all about unity until somebody fucks somebody else and some other asshole feels the need to have an opinion about it. Dressing the way you do is all about inclusivity and self-expression until you find yourself rooting through your closet for your “coolest” band shirt in an effort to stand out from the crowd in some imaginary pissing contest. Oh, and the music once so fresh and foreign? You start to realize a high percentage of it is actually more derivative and devoid of original thought than the shit you were listening to before (thanks in no small part to a community more interested in identifying with a distorted idea of what music should be than with music itself). In a sense, Roderick is absolutely right; punk rock is, unequivocally, complete and utter bullshit.

But here's the thing; punk rock is allowed to be bullshit, because everything else is bullshit too.

Does punk have a social hierarchy? Absolutely. Is punk easily commodified? Beyond a shadow of a doubt. Is punk catered to white males aged 16-25? Almost exclusively. But let's not pretend this type of hypocrisy is exclusive to punk. The first foundation of rave culture's PLUR mission statement, peace, is in direct contrast with how its' beloved club drugs are distributed. Hip-Hop's misappropriation of consumerism as cultural empowerment does more to perpetuate racism than any hate group could ever hope to. Any youth culture – or culture in general – is bullshit when you look at it as a monolith, but that's only because cultures are not monolithic. Just because a culture doesn't always (or often) adhere to the ideas it supposedly stands for, doesn't mean those ideas are invalid, or even lost on the people who identify as part of the culture. Punk rock is no exception.

Perhaps the biggest downfall of punk is that it believes it can save the world – and though Roderick now sneers at the idea, it's pretty obvious he once held this pipe dream close to his heart. Yet if punk rock couldn't defeat Reaganism, it was certainly never capable of freeing youth culture from the trappings of youth – and getting angry at it for failing to do so is just as irrational as believing it will. All punk does is teach hyperactive kids to make structure from chaos and community from individualism, and that's all it needs to do. DIY is obviously not a “punk” idea, but when you're a 17 year-old with no start-up capital for your muffin store, a punk band is a great place to cut your teeth. Message board bickering about feminism is obviously derivative and ego-driven, but if you've never been exposed to the idea, it's a good place to start learning. The scene is obviously dictated by stupidity, self-consciousness, and sexual politics, but if you're too tied up in that shit to get something out of it, that's on you, not the scene.

Of course punk rock is bullshit; everyone with half a brain knows that. But for a lot of us, it's the bullshit that makes the most sense.

Let the kids have their fun.