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Thursday, 1 December 2011

End of a Year vol. 2: Top 40 punk/hardcore songs of 2011.

In continuing with the year end theme, here are my 40 favourite songs to come out this year.


40. Retox- Ready To Spit (S/T EP, Ugly Animals
39. Pianos Become the Teeth- Such Confidence (The Lack Long After)
38. Social Distortion- Bakersfield (Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes)
37. Dead End Path- Cathedral Bones (Blind Faith)
36. Earth Crisis- Neutralize the Threat (Neutralize the Threat)
35. The Reptilian- Eddie's Lane (Four Way Split)
34. Hot Water Music- Up to Nothing (The Fire, The Steel, The Tread b/w Up to Nothing)
33. Stray From the Path- iMember (Rising Sun)
32. Harms Way- Scrambled (Isolation)
31. City and Colour- Fragile Bird (Little Hell)
30. Pianos Become the Teeth- I'll Get By (The Lack Long After)
29. Touche Amore- Pathfinder (Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me)
28. Cake- Long Time (Showroom of Compassion)
27. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)- The Horror of Riovanes (Four Way Split)
26. Lemuria- Wise People (Pebble)
25. Trash Talk- Awake (Awake EP)
24. The Warriors- The War Unseen (See How You Are)
23. Self Defense Family- I Heard Crime Gets You Off (I Heard Crime Gets You Off b/w To Your Scattered Bodies Go)
22. Black Lungs- Stay Outta Parkdale (Valley of The Dolls 7")
21. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)- Water (Home After Three Months Away)
20. P.S. Eliot- Untitled (Sadie)
19. Trap Them- Every Walk A Quarantine (Darker Handcraft)
18. Defeater- I Don't Mind (Empty Days/Sleepless Nights)
17. Title Fight- 27 (Shed)
16. Daytrader- Texts and Tomes (Mixed Signals)
15. KoJi- Peacemaker (Never Come Undone)
14. Polar Bear Club- Screams In Caves (Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride)
13. Touche Amore- ~ (Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me)
12. Defeater- Empty Glass (Empty Days/Sleepless Nights)
11. Joyce Manor- Leather Jacket (Joyce Manor)

10. Polar Bear Club- Killin' It (Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride, Mixed Signals)

This song is so awesome it made it on two of my top 10 albums of the year. "Killin' It" is the crown jewel of Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride, and arguably the best song Polar Bear Club has ever written.

9. Protest the Hero- C'est La Vie (Scurrilous)

A standout track on an otherwise disappointing album, this song manages to perfectly mix the fierce shredding of Scurrilous with the hook-laden songwriting PtH is known for. Unfortunately, this is the first track on the album, and it's pretty much all downhill from here.

8. La Dispute- The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit (Wildlife)

Picture one of the more upbeat tracks off Altair all grown up; complete with more mature lyrics, tighter songwriting, and a more confident swagger. If this song doesn't want to make you swing your hips, you may need to check your pulse.

7. Self Defense Family- I'm Going Through Some Shit (I'm Going Through Some Shit b/w All Fruit is Ripe)

If this is "doing whatever the hell we want" sounds like, I encourage more bands to attempt that. This song/band is living proof that constantly pushing your sound in new directions almost always yields positive results.

6. Trap Them- The Facts (Darker Handcraft)

This song has a punk as fuck attitude, a heavy as fuck underbelly, and a catchy as fuck chorus. It pretty much punches you in the gut, spits in your face and fucks your girlfriend harder than you ever could. I AM THAT GOD DAMN SON OF A BITCH!!!!!

5. Make Do and Mend- Coats (Mixed Signals)

This song is essentially one big ball of energy, punctuated by tight-as-hell songwriting and some wicked effective guitar playing. As far as I'm concerned, this band can ride Hot Water Music's coattails as long as they want if they're going to do it this effectively.

4. Tigers Jaw- Distress Signal (Mixed Signals)

This song manages to perfectly balance the darker, more experimental songwriting of Two Worlds with the upbeat, catchy vibe of their earlier stuff. If Tigers Jaw keep this up, they'll be millionaires in no time. Also, since when can Brianna sing? I think I'm in love...

3. Form and File- New Love (This is Form and File)

Intense restraint; raw, ugly beauty; this song is a paradox in it's very existence. "New Love" manages to keep up a cautious energy for five minutes; you keep thinking it's about to fall apart at the seams, but somehow it never does. It's that wild ride that makes this song so damn good. These dudes captured magic on tape.

2. Title Fight- Society (Shed)

The beauty of this song is that it's deceivingly well written. At first, it sounds like a gritty romp through a straightforward punk song, but if you actually listen, "Society" reveals itself to be quite a little gem. The most well-written song on this years most well written album.

1. La Dispute- King Park (Wildlife)

Trying to describe this song with words would be a waste of time. Just fucking listen to it. Maybe the best song I've ever heard.

So, those are the best songs of the year. Stay tuned for moar rambling, as I've found this to be a really enjoyable means of procrastination!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

End of a Year vol. 1: The obligatory album list.

It's (pretty much) the end of year! With that in mind, it's time for me to impose my meaningless opinions on you! (what else is new?) let's start this off with the obligatory list of my top 10 recording of the year:

10. Polar Bear Club- Clash Battle Guilt Pride (Bridge 9)

A lot of people really like this record, proclaiming it Polar Bear Club's best effort to date. While I prefer the more riff oriented guitar work on Chasing Hamburg to the open chord singalongs of Clash, it would be hard to deny that Polar Bear Club really hit what they were going for on this one. Clash, Battle, Guilt, Pride is a far more anthemic and mature record than anything they've released previously, and it seems to suit them rather well. They've laid the groundwork for the rest of their career, and I'm excited to see where they take it next. Also, for what it's worth, it's interesting to see how much Jimmy Stadt's lyricism has improved since The Redder the Better.

9. Harms Way- Isolation (Closed Casket Activities)

About half way through the first listen of Isolation, I thought to myself, “what's the big deal about this band? Sure they're tight crunchy and all, but I've heard this a million times before”. Then, the outro riff to “Breeding Ground” grabbed me right by the dick and slowly dragged me through the rest of the album. From that breakdown on, Isolation takes a decided turn for the sludgy, as well as the experimental. It's here where Harms Way really step into their own thing and start showing off how good their songwriting can be. The band employ drum effects and samples in an extremely tasteful way, using them to punctuate their brutal sludge-yness and tasty mosh parts, instead of trying to detract from their deficiencies (a la Rise Records, etc.). The result is a very unique, forward thinking, grimy as fuck hardcore record. It turns out, you need the fun, moshy first half of the record to carry the momentum into the darker and ultimately stronger second half, which ends up working very well for Harm's Way.

8. Trash Talk- Awake EP (Trash Talk Collective)

Trash Talk, in my humble opinion, is the only Pitchfork-hyped band that actually deserves the attention they've received. Far less pretentious then fellow P4K darlings Fucked Up's latest, and far better than recent releases from similar sounding hardcore artists, Trash Talk's Awake EP is at it's core, good, clean, punk rock fun. Skipping out on all the weird, nearly inaccessible thrashing the band's been known to delve into, Awake sounds like four dudes just having a good time. Don't be fooled however, these guys have the chops to back it up, keep it fresh and free of sounding like self indulgent masturbation. My only complaint? Way too damn short.

7. Form and File- This is Form and File EP (Self Released)

I've pretty much said everything I can about this EP and this band on this blog already. So to sum it up, stop being a hick and just buy this shit already. A fresh take on an old style of music played by great musicians who are really just in it to create art and have fun. Can't ask for much more than that.

6. Various Artists – Run For Cover Records Presents: Mixed Signals (Run For Cover)

Anyone concerned with the state of music in the year 2011 obviously hasn't heard this compilation. If Run For Cover Records can find 12 similar sounding bands, each with killer tracks to spare for a comp, music's gonna be fine. One great thing about this compilation? At the time of it's release, only one of the tracks on it (Polar Bear Club's “Killin' It”) had seen the light of day. Another great part? Every single artist on this comp brought their A-game. Bands like Hostage Calm and Self Defense Family went straight up experimental with spectacular results, while bands like Make Do and Mend, Tigers Jaw, and Balance and Composure straight up wrote the best songs of their careers. Mixed Signals is through and through a testament to the strength of today's indie-punk/pop-punk/orgcore. Somewhere there's a kid in a Led Zeppelin t-shirt dismissing current music as “gay”, and one day that kid's gonna cut his hair, smarten up, and wish he'd always listened to comps like this.

5. Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) - Home After Three Months Away EP (Count Your Lucky Stars)

On this EP, Michigan DIY indie darlings Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) really hit their sweet spot. The band has a tendency, at some points, to get too far ahead themselves and kind of come apart at the seams halfway through songs. There's none of that on Three Months Away, however, as the band shows incredible restraint on a softer, albeit more impacting release. These four tracks are all gems in their own right, but together combine for 11 or so minutes of the most emotional music written all year. It's Mineral worship at it's finest, but in a quirky, completely unique fashion. The replay value on this EP is incredible; you almost can't help but listen to it twice in a row while pretending it's actually a full length.

4. La Dispute- Wildlife (No Sleep)

To be honest, I was worried about Wildlife before it came out. This band's first full length was amazing, and I was afraid La Dispute would go all Protest the Hero and take three years trying too hard to top it. However by the minute mark of “St. Paul's Missionary Baptist Church Blues”, all fear I had was stayed. Where to start with this one? First of all, Jordan Dreyer is a genius. Using an album as a collection of short stories? Are you fucking serious? If you have any doubts about his ability to pull this concept off, listen to “King Park” and kindly shut the hell up. The guy's a novelist trapped in a hardcore kid's body. As for the music, think Altair but with more restraint, more jazz, and more punk. In other words, some of the most interesting shit in modern music. The only downside to Wildlife is, like Altair, it's longer than it needs to be. However, that doesn't take away from how hard songs like “The Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit” and “Edward Benz” hit. Great stuff.

3. Defeater- Empty Days/Sleepless Nights (Bridge 9)

I can guarantee anyone who picks this album for their year end list is going to talk about the four acoustic songs at the end. To me, those tracks were just the cherry on top; Empty Days is a tour de force in it's own right. On this release, Defeater etched out their own little place in the annuls of hardcore history, moving out from the shadow of Mod Life/Have Heart with a sound uniquely their own. What's perhaps most impressive about the album is that it manages to keep up a heavy intensity without a single “mosh part” or chugga-chugga riff on it. It's atmosphere, subject matter, and Derek Archambault's piercing voice that make this album as great as it is. The Empty Days part of this album deserves a top 10 spot alone; Sleepless Nights catapults it into the top 5.

2. Trap Them- Darker Handcraft (Deathwish)

For years, Trap Them seemed to be lacking something vital. They've always been a talented band with a decent following, but could never separate themselves from the massive pack of “extreme music” bands nestled forever in the under-underground. With 2011's Darker Handcraft, the band seems to have broken that invisible ceiling in a highly unlikely way – with actual hooks! Sure, the guitar tones are amazing, the drumming is impeccable, and Ryan McKinney's vocals are crisp as all hell, but what makes Darker Handcraft a truly great album is the fact that it's actually a lot of fun to listen to. A lot of the songs on Handcraft follow a verse/chorus/verse structure, allowing the tasty guitar licks to get stuck in your head over and over again. Also, McKinney provides arguably the chorus of the year on “The Facts”. Seriously, listen to that song three times and try not to sing along by the last listen. It's impossible.


1. Title Fight- Shed (Side One Dummy)

I don't know exactly what possessed me to love this album so much, but holy shit did I ever. My iTunes says I listened to Shed at least 86 times, and that's without mentioning the fact that the CD hardly left the player in my car all summer. Title Fight came out of left field on this one, shedding their pop-punk punch for a more mature songwriting approach and a sound heavily influenced by 90's post-hardcore a la Small Brown Bike. The results are nothing short of spectacular; old school emo mixed with older-school hardcore to produce a sound that's as relevant and refreshing as anything else out there. Add plenty of variance in tempo and dynamic, near-perfect production by Walter Schreifels, and a whole fuck-ton of energy, and you have your record of the year, ladies and gentlemen.  

Listen to: Society, or just go buy the damn record...

Honourable Mention:

Annabel/Empire!/JDV/Reptilian- 4 Way Split EP
Dead End Path- Blind Faith
Ghostlimb- Infrastructure
Joyce Manor- Joyce Manor
Pianos Become The Teeth- The Lack Long After
Daytrader- Last Days of Rome EP
Teenage Bottlerocket- Mutilate Me EP
La Dispute/Koji- Never Come Undone EP
Touche Amore- Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me
Retox- Retox EP
PS Eliot- Sadie
I Hate Our Freedom- Seriously
Cake- Showroom of Compassion
Foo Fighters- Wasting Light

Shit I didn't get to listen to enough to make an opinion on/haven't heard yet.

Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'
Wugazi- 13 Chambers
Bon Iver- Bon Iver
The Fucking Hotlights- High Society Torture Party
Foundation- When the Smoke Clears
Cancer Bats/Black Lungs split (SERIOUSLY! GET ME THIS!)
Self Defense Family/Fires split
New Coalesce
New Make Do and Mend

So there you have it, my opinions on some albums you'll never listen to/didn't like. Keep it real, nerds!

Monday, 21 November 2011

While I should be sleeping...

So I recently read an article written by Burning House Records owner Casey Schafer on how downloading is preventing the music industry from having truly "successful" artists like Nirvana emerge, and how we should all support the Stop Online Piracy Act in order to have the Nirvana's of the world emerge from the underground and change the face of music forever. While I can respect where buddy's coming from (he owns and indie label, there's no way he's not getting fucked from downloading), I wholeheartedly disagree with everything he says in his article, which you can read here. I was gonna leave a short comment on the site, but a short comment turned into a rambling diatribe, and here we are.

Dear Internet;

I respectfully disagree with the argument that Mr. Schafer has presented to you all. His argument that downloading is stifling "successful" bands only works if you define musical success as selling lots of records, leaving career fulfillment and the actual product (the music) out of the mix. Right now there are PLENTY of bands who are making great music with what little they have, and don't need stadium tours and blowjobs from groupies to feel good about doing it.

In fact, there have always been artists like this, especially in independent music, where I'd assume Casey Schafer and the majority of this site's [Alternative Press'] readers draw their allegiances. Watch interviews with dudes like Henry Rollins or Ian MacKaye; those guys slept on floors for years and it never seemed to negatively affect their musical output or outlook on life. And hey, they don't look like they're starving these days, either. 

The fact of the matter is, there are many ways to make a living in music. While Radiohead and the Pumpkins were playing arenas and sleeping in 5-star hotels, bands like Hot Water Music and Converge were sleeping on peoples floors and eating off the dollar menu. Fast forward to today, and all four of those bands are still around, living more or less off music. Granted, while the latter two bands are probably not as well off, they've also had to work much harder to get to a point where music pays the bills for them, which should be endearing to anyone who genuinely loves music/has a soul, and probably feels pretty damn good if you're those bands.

If anything, downloading has opened more doors for underground artists to achieve a "Converge status" so to speak. I can tell you for a fact that the only reason I started listening to this kind of music is because I was able to download it illegally. Why would I take a chance on a style of music I'd never heard if I had to pay a grossly inflated price to buy a punk record at HMV? I can't be the only person in this scenario, either. The bands that I genuinely enjoy would be sleeping on a floor with or without the hit downloading takes to their records sales, so they really have nothing to lose and everything to gain with the easy avenue of exposure that downloading provides. And hey, when I finish school and have a decent full-time job, I'll have a bit more money to drop on music, so there's a good chance I'll be in a better position to reimburse the artists that have impacted my life.

It all boils down to this: Models change, and people either change with them or get out of the game.  Trying to stop downloading is a) impossible and b) ridiculously short-sighted. What we're seeing with downloading isn't the death of rock and roll; if anything it's the opposite. We're seeing the beginning of an age where musicians are judged on talent, work ethic and creativity as opposed to a sexy image. Isn't that something fans of punk/music in general should be embracing? I mean, no matter how important music is to us, at the end of the day, musicians are just playing fucking songs. If anyone believes they're entitled to make millions of dollars for doing it, I'd advise seeking therapy. And as for the whole "being the biggest band in the world" thing, go ask Cobain/Hendrix/Morrison/Elvis how fulfilling  it was to them.

PS: It's all speculation on my part, but I don't think we'll have to wait too long for the next Nirvana. The underground now looks a lot like it did when Nirvana came out of the woodwork; there are a ton of really creative, diverse bands popping up everywhere building a lot of momentum within the underground. I wouldn't be surprised if something huge came up in the next 2-3 years *coughtigersjawcough*.

PSS: This article doesn't even delve into the business start-up/political ethics issues presented by the Stop Online Piracy Act. This act is seriously some draconian horseshit, and I encourage you to do something about it. I dunno, maybe occupy something or whatnot...

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The 20 Best < 2 min. songs of the last 20 years (Part 2)

I just wanna preface this by asking the good reader something; do you know how many terrible grindcore songs and 40 second clips of people rambling in Ebonics you have to weed through in iTunes to find 20 good songs under two minutes in length? Literally thousands. I hope you enjoy the fruit of my labour, dicks.

10. Black Lungs- Stay Outta Parkdale

Okay, this is a good song and all, but what's with the "Parkdale is HxC" posturing? Parkdale's not even like the fourth sketchiest neighbourhood in Southern Ontario. Ever been to Windsor? Hell, that's not even getting into all that sketchy shit north of Hwy 7. I'd much rather a meth-head steal my bike then have some deliverance shit happen... just sayin'.

9. Every Time I Die- Gloom and How it Gets That Way

Jesus, it takes longer to write the title of this song then it does to listen to it. Anyways, this is a really good song, and I had no idea it was under two minutes, so I was stoked to include it on this list. Yeah, I don't really have anything clever to say here... move along.

8. Comeback Kid- Our Distance

Man, say what you will about Comeback Kid, you can't deny their guitarists write some gut-busting riffs. The outro riff to this song can only be described as "fuckin' tasty bro". PS, how do you spell tastey? Google Chrome doesn't like tastey, but tasty looks kinda stupid. Although now that I think about it, so does tastey. Okay, fuck it, it's a "delicious" riff.

7. Hot Water Music- Instrumental

Keeping with the theme of mindfucking, why the hell would a band name a song with vocals "Instrumental"? I mean, from what I understand, the song was originally written as an instrumental piece, but why wouldn't they change the title after adding words. I guess they were too jacked up on whiskey and "friendship" to care... Also, just so you know I'm not mindfucking you, the song above is called "A Flight and A Crash". It's just over two minutes, and on the same album, so I figured it would work for our purposes.*

6. The Reptilian- Peyote Ugly

This is a really trippy song... I wonder if The Reptilian wrote it on peyote. The lyrics certainly sound hallucinogen-influenced. "Footsteps made heavy trace our way/I don't know where I'd rather be than sitting on this porch with you till the summer goes away." Shit's pretty trippy man. After all they were talking about space nugs. I haven't done drugs in a while, so maybe that's code for something these days. God, pretty soon I'll be writing commercials for the government calling ecstasy "love drug" and stuff like that. I'm getting old...

5. Title Fight- Dreamcatchers

Yeah, I'm out of shit on this one... This is just a really good song by a really good band. Easily the highlight of that America's Hardcore compilation. Dig it.

4. Tigers Jaw- Heat

Is this song about the army? I tried to look up the lyrics, but I'm pretty sure they're wrong everywhere. If I'm looking into this correctly, Heat may be the first anti-Army recruitment song I've ever heard. I mean, there have been plenty of anti-war songs, but an actual anti-recruitment song, I think that's a first. That's pretty clever, especially considering I thought Tigers Jaw only wrote songs about chicks. However, I could totally be misinterpreting the lyrics here, so let me know.

3. Pig Destroyer- Thumbsucker

Every time I listen to the intro of this song, I get the mental image of a big black dude on a chopper wearing a German war helmet and a cutoff leather jacket, swinging a mace around his head while riding through the gates of Hell. That's probably the coolest mental image a song ever has given me. Well, aside from "Moist Vagina", but that's private.

2. Have Heart- Pave Paradise

You know when you listen to a short song that's really good, so you listen to it again and again until you end up listening to it for like 20 minutes straight? That's really all I have to say about this song.

1. The Flatliners- This Respirator

Apparently, I have a soft spot for songs about sitting in vans. Coincidentally enough, this is my little sister's favourite Flatliners song.


*If you have any taste in music, you'll already know the song I'm talking about. HWM 4 LYFEEE!

The 20 Best < 2 min. songs of the last 20 years (Part 1)

This is pretty self explanatory. Why the last 20 years? Because 80's hardcore (for the most part) bores me senseless, and I don't want to deal with some weird troll whining about me not including some shitty Mission of Burma song written before he was born. I almost made an exception for "Out Of Step" and a Swingin' Utters song. Almost.

20. Anal Cunt- Hitler Was a Sensitive Man

A chilling, beautiful portrayal of post-Cold War society. Also, my little sister's favourite Anal Cunt Song.

19. Savage Brewtality- Ballad of the Yuke

The most (only??) structurally interesting song Savage Brew has ever written, "Ballad of the Yuke" is yet another chilling portrayal of... something... I can't really understand what they're saying, but after listening to it like five times, I'm pretty sure it's about drinking dregs. Again, compelling social commentary for sure.

18. The Melvins- Sweet Willy Rollbar

When people write two minute songs, do they even bother writing lyrics, or do they just mumble shit? Fortunately for The Melvins, it doesn't really matter, because this is arguably the finest minute and a half of grunge-punk ever recorded. Sweet guest vox by Chewbacca at the beginning, too!

17. Nirvana- Moist Vagina

Not to be outdone by their hometown heroes, Nirvana clock in at 17 with a demo version of their song "Moist Vagina". Why the demo? Well a) the actual song is over two minutes and b) two minutes is about as long as I can listen to someone sing about moist vaginas without getting bored/horny. The only discernible lyrics in this version are "She has a moist vagina" and "marijuana", and if that's not the basis for a great song, I don't know what is.

16. Bane- What Holds Us Down

Just when you thought this list was gonna be filled with fun songs about drinking dregs and Hitler's moist vagina, here comes Bane and their crunchy breakdowns, on some serious trip about society, as always. God damn straight edge kids always ruining the party...

15. Teenage Bottlerocket- Skate or Die

Ah, there we go... nothing like a pop-punk song about skateboarding to lighten the mood. To be honest, I can't tell if these guys are being sarcastic with this song. I mean, I'd pretty much expect TBR to be skateboarders judging by the music they play, but the singer certainly sounds sarcastic. To be honest, every Teenage Bottlerocket song sounds sarcastic... Maybe they're going for that "high-irony" hipster vibe. Fucking hipsters, with their PBR, shitty blogs, vaguely leftist political beliefs and snobby music tastes...

14. AFI- I Wanna Get a Mohawk

HAHAHA YEAH! AFI sure showed those 12 year-olds how uncool it is to co-opt punk rock trends that have been mass marketed to them. Watching little kids dress all outlandish just to fit in without truly understanding subculture sure pisses me off! Now if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go to listen to Reinventing Axl Rose.

13. La Dispute- Then Again, Maybe You Were Right

An Open Letter to Jordan Dreyer of La Dispute:

Jesus Christ Jordan. I know you've got this whole warrior poet vibe going on, but can you write just one song that doesn't shatter our hearts and stomp on the pieces? I mean, it's a great song musically, but metaphorical ghosts of past lovers seems a little heavy, don't you think? Why not write a song about Mohawks or Chewbacca or something... there's plenty to work with here, bro.

12. End of a Year- McEnroe

Not only is this a great song, it showcases an interesting period in EOAY's musical development, as it's more melodic than much of their earlier stuff, but still very raw and punky. What, did you expect me to make a joke here? There ain't no time for joking. Self Defense Family is not no joke. What, you callin' me a house-nigga?

11. Converge- Buried but Breathing

In an interesting turn of events from the top of the list, this is the only Converge song with lyrics I can actually understand. Maybe there's some weird paradox where vocals in short songs get more discernible as the song gets better. That must explain why I picked this song over "Concubine", I can't understand a fucking word on that album. Sorry trolls, Petitioning the Empty Sky > Jane Doe.

This is getting really long, so I'm gonna break it up into two parts. See ya on the other side, nerds.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

The Long Lost Reptilian Interview

(In lieu of Youtube not working on my computer, please check out the Reptilian's newest/oldest stuff here)

So, about two months ago, I traveled to beautiful Kitchener, Ont. to catch Kalamazoo, MI's The Reptilian with Jowls and a local band called Life in Vacuum. It was a night full of marvelous adventures, not the least of which involved watching The Reptilian tear shit up in an abandoned warehouse that had been converted to a jam space. I interviewed the entire band that night, but due to some "technical difficulties" the majority of the interview was lost. However, being the good dude he is, drummer/vocalist Dan Riehl saved the day by filling in the blanks. Here goes...

Vince: How's Canada been treating you?

Dan: It's our first day on the tour, but pretty good so far. We got stopped at the border because they thought we had drugs, but we didn't, so it's been good.

You've recorded a split with Jowls, stoked on that material?

We are very stoked on that material! Our two bands aren't very much a like but I think the split has a great contrast and the Jowls songs are really epic.

Anything else coming down the pipe we should know about?

Yes. We also just released a 4 way 7" split w/ Empire! Empire!, Annabel and Joie De Vivre and that is out now on Count Your Lucky Stars Records. Also, we are going to be doing a split with Innards from Ft. Worth,TX. It will be out in time for our west coast tour in January with them. And we just recorded a minute long song that is going to be on a 7" compilation of one minute long songs from 13 other bands. That will be out in late winter.

How hard is it to play drums and sing at the same time? That seems like it would be pretty challenging, especially since your drum parts aren't exactly a cakewalk. How long did it take you to get that down?

I started doing some of the vocals when we went from a four piece to a three piece. We all decided it might be nice to try back and forth vocals between Jon and I because we were losing a guitarist. Usually we write the song first and I try to write the vocals to my rhythm. Pulling it off live is very frustrating sometimes but I really enjoy the challenge. 

You guys are gonna be featured in the movie DIY or not. How did you get involved in that?

On our way to SXSW in Austin,TX last year, we did a lot of dates with our good friends, Joie De Vivre. Their friend, Matt Youngblood, is the one who shot all the footage and is putting together the documentary. We pretty much got involved by hanging out with them and Matt.

Would you consider yourselves a DIY band?

Yes. I would like to think so. We started this band by just trying things for ourselves. We booked shows and tours ourselves, ran local house venues and put out our musical by  ourselves and with the help of our friends. It was a lot of trial and error. And in the process we have made a ton of friends and helped us play a ton of places I never thought we would. 

Were there any themes that movie touched on that you consider important as a band or on a personal level?

Well I haven't seen the movie yet, I believe there is only a preview for it. But doing things together and with people who are your friends and genuinely being excited for each other's music is a thing that is very important to us.   

Western Michigan seems to be a breeding ground for a lot of good technical post hardcore bands (La Dispute, V!FTS, you guys). Is there a history of that kind of music in your area or is it just kind of emerging now?

There is a definitely a huge history of bands in Michigan that have influenced us a lot. For me personally, Bear Vs. Shark and Small Brown Bike are two bands that have had a big impact, and they've been doing this for a while. I think Michigan is a great place to start a band and see great local acts. 

Along with the bands I just mentioned, there are a bunch of other good bands from that area, many of whom have gone on to have success on a non-local level. Is it cool to be involved in a music scene that's actually good?

The Midwest music scene is definitely an awesome thing to be a part of. It's crazy to have played with bands in basements, churches and art spaces and see them doing things on a bigger level now. 

How do you feel that kind of community has affected your career/musical output? (opportunities for shows, good musicians to jam with, pressure to be your best, etc?)

It has affected us a lot. I don't think we would still be doing this if we didn't have the support of our friends in this area. I feel very grateful for having such a great community to call my home. A lot of states/cities don't have a solid DIY community. It is a rewarding feeling to go on tour, come home and be able to return the favour for bands that have helped us out and give them a great show in our town. 

If aliens landed on earth and you had to explain your music to them, how would you describe your music to them?

Dingus punk

If the aliens liked your music and invited you onto the spaceship, would you go with them?

Only if they were smokin' some space nugs.   


News: Finally, the fabled four way split between The Reptilian, Annabel, Empire! Empire! and Joie De Vivre has been pressed and is ready to be/has already been (???) released. Purchase that shit, as well as your favourite Reptilian/CYLS releases here!

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised

I'm glad the OWS protests are still going on. Reading about politics drives me insane, so any knowledge I have of current events either trickles down through Punknews or comes to me in highly flawed format via Facebook/word of mouth. As a result, it usually takes me a while to hear about something, gather all the information on it, and formulate a relevant opinion, so I sometimes end up getting bored or missing the boat on stuff (read: London riots). I wrote something about the Occupy Movement a couple of weeks ago, but decided to scrap it because it wasn't up to par. I'm glad it's still around, because it's worth commenting on properly.

At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss the Occupy Protests as a left-wing temper tantrum akin to the right's Tea Party Movement-- a textbook case of entitled reactionaries demanding somebody fix their problems for them. It seemed amusing to me that people would use the slogan "We are the 99% (sic)" when they live in a country that pretty much ensures they're part of the 62 per cent that have access to a bathroom that ensures hygienic separation of human feces from them and their water supply; let alone the 20 per cent that live on more than 10 dollars a day.

But then something dawned on me. I'm a very fortunate individual, even for the first world. While still firmly planted in the 99 per cent, my family did have enough money to pay for my education, so I won't have any student loans to pay off when I finish school. I'm also fortunate enough to have grown up without anything happening to me or my family physically that would impede my ability to function as a member of society, and even if something did, I live in a country where recovery from accidents and disease doesn't include dealing with the price tag. I understand not everyone has these luxuries, and saying "well, at least you have clean water," would be like saying "let them eat cake." And hell, when you're struggling to pay off student loans/medical bills/a mortgage, it's got to be a little insulting to see your government take your money and give it to billion dollar companies, just to watch bosses of said companies fly around in private jets while your country's economy shits it's pants. I get it; where there's smoke, there's usually fire, and for some people, this fire's burning pretty hot.

But the problem with OWS and the subsequent Occupy Movement is that even the biggest plume of smoke won't do anything to put the fire out. Especially this plume of smoke, which is rather opaque in that it has no clear directive, motive, or message aside from "fix our problems for us." And let's face it, the government isn't going to do that, especially for a bunch of people sitting in a park without billion dollar corporations and hired lobbyists to stand on. The way to get our voices heard has to be through a paradigm shift.

One of the earliest pictures I saw from the OWS protests was one of a man holding a sign that read 'The Revolution Will Not Be Televised', (presumably) a reference to a Gil Scott Heron poem of the same name. If you asked that man what the slogan on his sign meant, he'd probably tell you something along the lines of "the only way to fix something is to take action, sitting at home watching TV does nothing" which is undoubtedly true; but there's a deeper meaning in Heron's words. The revolution isn't something you could put on television if you wanted to. Revolution starts as a small change in attitude, and by the time you realize it's hit, the change has already been made.

When OWS ends (as it inevitably will), it won't be because Obama demands the bailout money back, or because Wall St. CEO's altruistically make it rain with their million dollar Christmas bonuses. No when this is over, Time Magazine will have some pretty pictures to print for their 2011 year in review, someone will have some explaining to do for weeks of missed work, and that's it. Any time spent between now and then in some park somewhere is time wasted. Don't get me wrong, I'm as down to smash the state and create a better world as the next guy, but if we want to do actual damage, we have to hit them where it hurts, their pockets.

Doing this (without resorting to some weird, doomed to fail bank default scheme) means changing our lifestyle and attitude to be much less dependent on the billion dollar corporations we decry. It will be a hard fight, but there's no other option. If we don't stop supporting notorious outsourcers like Wal-Mart and Nike because it's cheap and convenient to do so, our manufacturing sector will continue to dwindle. If we don't stop blindly medicating ourselves with FDA approved products instead of taking care of ourselves physically and mentally, the pharmaceutical industry will continue to have a disruptive hand in everything from healthcare reform to sensible drug policy. If we don't teach our kids that knowledge, work ethic, passion and life experience are far more important than a piece of paper from a "prestigious" school, we'll continue to have outrageous post-secondary tuition and banks eager to collect interest from duped, jobless students. Most importantly, if we don't stop valuing superficial traits like wealth, image and popularity over knowledge, life experience, and love, we will never truly be free.

The Occupy Movement is not enough. It's not even a start. It's a warning shot, a sign that we're ready for a change. The thing the protesters and supporters of the movement have to remember is media hoopla and political attention do not equate to change, action does. In other words, the revolution will not be televised, my friend.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Review: Adelleda- Herkimer Street [2011]

So I found this new band while cruisin' the internet the other day; They're from my newly adopted hometown of Hamilton, ON. and (presumably) named after a song by a band I really enjoy, so I decided that I'd do these dudes a favour (a very small one, considering nobody looks at this, but a favour nonetheless) and review their album for them. I'll be using the compliment sandwich model that we learned about in good ol' grade 5 French class.

In the unending realm of self-released, basement-jammin' punx and scenesters, Hamilton, ON, based Adelleda are top notch. These guys avoid all of the major pitfalls of local bands, including but not limited to: dick-riding shitty trends, sucking at their instruments, recording their material with shitty equipment and programs they can't use, not understanding dynamics, transitions, melody, etc., having a singer that can't sing, having a drummer that doesn't understand click-tracks, or generally just sucking. Good job dudes!

Seriously though. These guys can play, they know how to write a well rounded tune, and they obviously take this gig seriously enough to record it properly – add the energy they bring to the record (that probably translates nicely to a live show) and they're well on their way to becoming a band good enough to catch the attention of a solid label.

The problem is, they're not quite there yet. Judging by their sound and band bio, these dudes set out to carry the torch of their “punx” heroes on Fat/Epitaph/Vagrant, and they've done a damn good job of that so far. But the next step these guys take has to be out of the shadow of their influences, or else they'll risk walking around in circles. On Herkimer Street, the pandering (naming the album after a jam space, writing songs about riots, name dropping cities) and far-too-overt musical references to stuff like early Rise Against/NUFAN keep Adelleda from really standing as their own entity. Also, the album could have benefitted from being a little shorter: For me, the first four songs were a fun little throwback with a whole lot of potential, but after that the album started to get repetitive and trailed off. I think these boys would've been better off presenting their four strongest tracks as an EP and refining the other stuff for a later release.

However, the silver lining to those clouds is that these kinds of things are easy to chalk up to “new local band releases material quickly so they can play good shows” syndrome. Usually when that happens, the results border on unlistenable. For Adelleda, the results are simply not as good as they could've been. These dudes have a lot of raw, workable potential as, like I said before, they're actually good musicians and decent songwriters. If you can get past how much this sounds like Strung Out, you can hear glimpses of post-hardcore leanings on songs like “Triptune” and “You're Dead To Me, Farley” as well as a spunky little burst of creativity on the bridge of “G.B.N.”. If the band continues to work on developing those factors of their songwriting into a distinct and unique sound, it won't be long before they're a household name, chilling on a boat with Ben Weasel or whatever the fuck they do over at Fat Wreck Chords. I mean shit, these guys are playing their record release show with Chixdiggit! That's gotta count for something, right?

Download this stuff off Bandcamp now so you can say you liked them before they were cool and get 100 punk points!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

In other news...

Check it out kiddies! My review of End of a Year's I'm Going Through Some Shit 7" is now up on the greatest website evar! Check that shit oooot!

Spoiled Ballot: The best choice for Ontario

If any of you haven't voted in the Ontario Provincial election yet, I thought I'd turn you on to my favourite Candidate, The Rt. Hon. Mr. Spoiled Ballot. A tour de force in our political landscape for years, Spoiled Ballot has been a strong voice for Canadians of all shapes and sizes, fed up with the inefficiency and politicization of mainstream government. For a look at how great Spoiled Ballot is, all we have to do is examine the other candidates and their platforms.

PC: Calling somebody the "Tax Man" might persuade a few four-year-olds into voting for you, but to everyone else, you look foolish. And when you have no plans to get rid of the taxes you decry, you look extra foolish. Like, pussing out on a triple-dog-dare foolish.

Liberal: Remember when Dalton McGuinty let some concerned mothers run the government for him, threatening archaic driving laws for people under 21? Well, guess what? Everyone you tried to fuck over with those laws can vote now, bro! YOU'RE SCREWED! Also, Tim Hudak tells me McGuinty's the the boogeyman, or American, or something...

NDP: May have had my vote if it weren't for their ad being on every second YouTube video I've watched in the past three months. Seriously not cool, Andrea...

Green: Judging by the results of Chad's "sand-based" economy, I don't think implementing a "snow-based" economy is the right fit for Ontario.

Marxist-Leninist: I liked his work with McCartney better, to be honest. And wasn't "Tax Man" a George Harrison song anyways?

Libertarian: Might as well vote for Spoiled Ballot. Your vote will look just as angry, and a lot less weird...

Family Coalition: Apparently, these guys missed the boat on provinces having little to no jurisdiction on abortion legislation. They also missed the boat on this, which is pretty fucking scary. These people shouldn't be allowed to vote, let alone form parties.

I'm Not Voting-  A strong opponent of Mr. Ballot for years, Not Voting has refused to take a hard enough stance on the issues time and time again. Spoiled Ballot is the ONLY choice when it comes to representing fed up Ontarians. Also, you get to draw cool pictures in the circles!!!!

So there you have it. Spoiled Ballot is obviously the best choice when it comes to putting Ontarioioians first. Still need convincing? Ask yourself this... would you leave your children's future in the hands of any of those people? No, seriously, would you?

Sunday, 25 September 2011

The 10 Best Covers EVAR!

So, with everyone releasing Nirvana covers and Rolling Stone Magazine releasing a list of the best covers as voted by their readers, I decided to get in on the fun by releasing my own list of covers. The ground rules were: covers must be studio-recorded (not live), no remixes, and no solo artists doing songs from their original bands. So while Gaslight Anthem's "State of Love and Trust", Bassnectar's "Lights" remix and Chuck Ragan playing "God Deciding" are all awesome, you won't see them on this list. Here goes:

Honourable Mention: Caninus- Victim in Pain (Agnostic Front Cover)

Far and away the weirdest cover I've ever encountered has to be goregrind band Caninus covering Agnostic Front's "Victim in Pain" for their 2005 split with Cattle Decapitation. Does using pit bulls as lead singers make your cover unconventional and original? Absolutely. Does it make it good? That's a different story.

10: Alexisonfire- Passing Out in America (Moneen Cover)

For their Switcheroo Series contribution, Alexisonfire added an extra dimension to their splitmate's signature song, "Passing of America". By increasing the tempo and adding screams, Alexisonfire brought a level of intensity to the song that seems sorely missing from the Moneen version. Dallas Green's superior vocal abilities don't hurt Alexis's case either. Neither does the fact that they're instrumentally more talented than Moneen. Bonus points for the A Capella section in the middle of the song.

9: A Day to Remember- Since U Been Gone (Kelly Clarkson Cover)

I'll admit that the whole "cheesy pop-punk band covering a cheesy pop song" concept is passe, fundamentally lame, and sometimes, downright repulsive, but there's something about A Day to Remember's Kelly Clarkson cover that separates it from the large pool of complete garbage surrounding it. When other bands try to pull this off, they either get condescending or just don't get the joke. ATDR rip through this cheesy pop song with tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek, but at the same time aren't "too cool" to have a little fun doing it. It becomes painfully apparent during the bridge that Jeremy McKinnon doesn't have Kelly's pipes, but by that time you're having too much fun to care. Flame me as much as you want, I love both versions of this song, and I refuse to apologize.

8: Quicksand- How Soon is Now (The Smiths Cover)

To be honest, I had no idea this song was a cover of the Smiths song until I looked up the lyrics. Can you blame me? Aside from the intro, the songs couldn't be less different- Morrissey's deep, drawn out wails follow a completely different rhythm than Schreifels' high pitched bark, and Quicksand turns the Smiths glum brand of post-punk into a punchy, slithering "pre-Limp-Bizkit-nu-metal" stomper. When the palm mutes come in at the start of the first verse it's almost impossible to not start bobbing along in approval. I'm not sure which version I like more, but I am sure that Quicksand put a fresh post-hardcore take on one of post-hardcore's most influential precursors.

7: Pearl Jam- Last Kiss (J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers Cover) 

If there's a prettier song about watching the love of your life die in your arms, I've yet to hear it. For this little ditty, Pearl Jam took a staple of that weird car-crash melodrama music that was somehow popular in the sixties and put enough raw emotion behind it to kill a small animal. The band sounds like they're trying to play a grunge version of the tune from your grandmother's treasured music box, while Eddie Vedder sounds more and more ready to burst into tears with every note. Listening intently to the lyrics will put a lump in your throat on a good day, and might just leave you in tears on a bad one... wait what? What did you just say? Pussy...

Seriously though, great song.

6: Johnny Cash- Rusty Cage (Soundgarden Cover)

Anyone in a hardcore band, metal band, or any other kind of band that wants to sound "heavy as fuck" needs to wait until 1:24 of the above video and take a very important lesson from the Man in Black. It doesn't matter how many strings you have on your Ibanez, or what kind of pedals you have, or the number of piercings on your face, or how long your vocalist can hold a gutteral squeal. Heavy isn't a tone, brother. Nor is it a look. It's a fucking attitude. Who would've thought one of the heaviest breakdowns of all time would be provided by a 90-year-old man singing over a blues riff. Granted, we're talking about one of the most badass and pissed off 90-year-old men ever singing over a pretty grimy blues riff, but I digress. Lightning fast blast-beats and brutal caveman riffs are cool and all, but until you have the passion and aggression to back that up, it's child's play. Johnny Cash is the original hardcore musician-- and this song is all the proof you need.

5: Uncle Tupelo/Rumbleseat- Moonshiner (Traditional)

There's no way I could pick between the two versions of this song. Uncle Tupelo's version has slightly better instrumentation and seems to be more atmospherically representative of the song's content, but I can't get over the way Samantha Jones' and Chris Wollard's vocals harmonize. Not to mention the fact that CHRIS FUCKING WOLLARD! (no grammar necessary). Either way, this song rips. It appeals to the broken-hearted, disaffected, down on his luck, borderline alcoholic in all of us. Or maybe just in me... Either way, both artists do a great job of letting us know we're not alone in being alone-- conveying comfort in hopelessness using acoustic guitars, harmonicas, and marvelous, whiskey soaked voices. Great stuff.

4: Dynamite Hack- Boyz 'N Tha Hood (Eazy E Cover) 

Sorry Ben Folds, but Dynamite Hack win for "most gentrified version of a West Coast rap song". It would be easy to take this song at face value and enjoy it for the novelty or the irony, but that would be giving Dynamite Hack way less credit than they deserve. To say 'Hey, let's turn a really hardcore gangsta rap song into the whitest indie song ever' is a novel enough concept-- pulling it off this effectively takes something different altogether. If nothing else it's nice to be reminded that regardless of race, socioeconomic background and subculture affiliation, us young people all want the same thing-- to make something of ourselves and have fun doing it. Truly social commentary, whether Dynamite Hack meant it or not.

3: Metallica- Turn the Page (Bob Seger Cover)

When I listen to the intro to Bob Seger's version of "Turn the Page", I picture an 18-wheeler driving towards me in the sunset. When I listen to Metallica's I picture an F-18 fighter jet taxiing the runway for takeoff. That's really the only analogy you need to describe the difference between the two. I'm not certain which version I prefer, I guess it depends on the day. However, you can't deny that Metallica did an excellent job of taking a trucker anthem and blasting it into the consciousnesses of a new generation of nomads. Say what you will about post-Black Album Metallica (I think they've always been kinda mediocre), you can't deny that they poured themselves into this cover. At a time when they had been distanced by fans, friends and each other, they took Bob Seger's introvert anthem, turned it up to 11 and made their own.

2: Hot Water Music- Radio (Alkaline Trio Cover)

Kids in bands, take note-- this is how you cover a song. As there's no way to replicate the awesomeness of the next song on the list, "Radio" will have to be the standard-bearer for good covers. Here, Hot Water Music took a very straightforward pop-punk tune and added harmonies, dynamics, structural variation, and all the other things that turn a catchy little ditty into a great song. And the best part is, it's not even like Quicksand covering the Smiths where you have to strain your ear to hear the similarities-- It's obviously "Radio" by Alkaline Trio, but infinitely more interesting. Granted, being a 3-piece, ALK3 had some structural (and substance) limitations, but the fact that Hot Water Music can run circles around a band on their own (pretty good) song is a testament to the quality of their songwriting. This cover is a prime example of why Hot Water Music are the best punk band of all time.

1: Johnny Cash- Hurt (Nine Inch Nails Cover)

It's undisputable. Trent Reznor's biting, moving poetry about hopelessness, sung by a man who knows death is approaching; even without the context, without seeing "Walk the Line", speaks for itself. The man singing has made mistakes. We all have. The man singing  has hurt the ones closest to him. We all do. The man singing is dying. We all are. Reznor's lyrics are relateable on the most basic level; the fact that an old man who made his name well before they were written chose "Hurt" as his swan song speaks to that. The instrumentation is biting, deep, and on point, there's no disputing that. However, it's Cash's voice that makes "Hurt" unforgettable; because for Johnny Cash, the song is reality. He is at "the end". There's no chance to "start again". No matter how diluted, strung out and broken Reznor was, there was still hope for him. Cash knows he'll take his regrets to the grave. And there's an honesty and longing in his voice that reminds us we all will. It's beauty in it's most hideous form-- the power of hopelessness, that makes this song truly legendary.

Friday, 16 September 2011

A militant apathetic

-250 punk points

It's been too long since I've posted on this, so I thought I'd aim big. Pissing off atheist trolls and Bad Religion fans in one post is risky business, but if I pull it off, I should have roughly 4325326753 hits on this thing  by tomorrow. Next week maybe I'll talk about how Fat Mike should've been aborted. Although probably not, because a) that's mean and b) I don't want to get sued. Here goes...

So, word came to me through the great gods of the internet that highly polarizing (and lame) punk band Bad Religion are scheduled to play an event in March called "The Reason Rally". Essentially, this rally was spearheaded by high profile atheist Richard Dawkins and his chums in order to legitimize atheism in the eyes of Americans. Sounds a little unnecessary to me, but I've heard worse excuses to drink in my life. The qualm I have with this whole event lies in it's mission statement, which reads:

"Across  America,  in  every  city,  every town,  and  every  school,  secularism  is  on the  rise. Whether people call themselves atheists, agnostics, secular Humanists, or any of the other terms used to describe their god-free lifestyle, secularism is coming out of the closet. According to a recent Harris Poll, we are the fastest growing theological segment – in all fifty states.But as we emerge from hiding, we meet hostility.  Nationwide, secular people are among the most despised in the country.  Our politicians ignore us, our society berates us, and we are blamed for everything from 9/11 to earthquakes."

Now, those last two sentences raise a lot of questions about the motives of the organizers and attendees of the event, and about the merits of "militant" atheism in general. First, holy victim complex batman. Second, what makes these idiots any different from the religious nuts they so despise? I'm pretty sure Glenn Beck did something just like this. Are you really changing the world with your crazy anti-god ways, or are you just another group of stubborn dickheads shouting opinions nobody cares about?

Okay, before we begin, let me get two things out of the way. First, I'm going to use the term atheists to refer to Richard Dawkins lovin' militant weirdos, because that's too long to type out more than once. I have nothing against atheists, agnostics, or any other secular/non-secular religious persons. I'm sure the vast majority of atheists are completely rational, non-annoying people who just operate in logic and can't bring themselves to believe something unless it's been scientifically proven to be fact or pretty damn close to it. That's cool. So is believing in God. Fuck, worship Kermit the Frog if you want, it doesn't really matter (unless you're blowing shit up, but that's for a different article). You can even wave your beliefs in my face if you feel so inclined, just try not to get too butthurt when I attack your delusional worldview, k?

Second of all, here are my personal religious beliefs, so you get an idea of where I'm coming from with this post. I used to postulate on God like a mother, until I realized it's actually impossible to prove anyone's theory one way or another, and now I couldn't care less. Does God exist? Potentially. Am I gonna let it affect my decisions in life? Hell no. Judging by how the world has treated some of it's people, it wouldn't surprise me if heaven was made up entirely of suicide bombers and beautiful virgins put there solely for the purpose of carnal pleasure-- I'm not taking any chances on ruining the 50ish years I (hopefully) have left where I know I have it pretty damn good. The world is too full of fun places, good music and beautiful women for me to care about God, let alone if someone else does.

Now, back to the matter at hand. Do these atheists actually see a difference between themselves and the religious fundamentalists they blame for all the world's ills? Okay, they haven't killed nearly as many people in the name of God, fair enough. But do they actually see a difference in attitude? Because to me, it's the same stink in a different bowl. Let's examine the similarities between your average religious radical and your average atheist weirdo:

1. They both spend too much time dwelling on the existence of an imaginary man in the sky.
2. They both refuse to budge on their positions despite a complete lack of empirical evidence to support them.
3. When confronted with an actual sound argument, they both resort to talking points and gibberish.
4. They both have a tendency to project their own shortcomings/misfortunes on another sect of the population.
5. They both have an unhealthy fixation on being "right", be it in the eyes of God or logic.
6. They both attend rallies, read books, and surround themselves with information that does nothing except reinforce their demented worldview, getting them no closer to solving the mysteries of the universe like they so desperately long to do.  

But above all, the victim complex these two groups have is unbelievable. Like seriously, if you are living in Canada or the US in 2011 and you actually believe you're being oppressed because of your religious beliefs (or lack thereof), I advise you to seek therapy immediately. 

In fact, this brings me to what I actually wanted to talk about. Unless you are a member of the LGBT community (the only people in industrialized North America that are still legally persecuted and treated with widespread intolerance), and you believe you are being victimized by society/the government for whatever reason, you need to stop thinking like that and take control of your own life.

So the government treats you unfairly? Guess what man, the government treats us all unfairly. They don't really give a fuck about us; that's reality. Turn 14 already, it's time to make your own way. So society doesn't accept you for who you are? Fuck society. Society caters to C averages and is really just a construct of your imagination anyways. Do people actually aspire to be what society wants for them? That scares the piss out of me. So Fred Phelps thinks you caused 9/11? Does what some dumb hick thinks about you actually affect the way you feel about yourself? If so, you're probably a dumb hick too, ya dumb hick! Sure, some idiots may hate you for some belief/genetic trait you have, but the vast majority of people are too busy paying rent/trying to get laid to care one way or another. And if you care, you've immediately let them win, which means in theory that you are sub-dumb hick. Not a good position to be in, my man.

Listen, it's 2011. If a man who 150 years ago would've been considered a trade-able commodity can run your country, your middle-class, white, male ass can do anything (except get penetrated in like 22 states, then, sorry). The reason you're not getting shit accomplished is because you're putting limitations on yourself and aren't working hard enough. Are fundamentalist Christians in political positions preventing you from opening that vegan bakery you've always wanted to? Is the silent majority behind why your band only practices once a month and therefore sucks? Is Fred Phelps holding a gun to your head and forcing you to write a blog entry at 9:30 pm on a Friday when you should be upstairs flirting with the cute girl who lives above you? NO, YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKER! Your life is in your own hands! Stop being a fucking victim and start living bro, because --according to you-- heaven and reincarnation are bullshit, so you only get one chance at all this. Make it count.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have some cute roommates to hit on.

P.S. Bad Religion are mediocre at their very best. Sublime killed them on their own track. PROVE ME WRONG!