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"F*** Kevin Durant" - Lil' B.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

SOTD: Life on Repeat- "Struggle + Sleep"

Guilty pleasure band.

As cheesy as they are, I kinda like Life on Repeat. Underneath the sugar-coated hooks and lyrics destined to be scribbled in high school notebooks, these guys actually have their moments. This song is one of those moments. The first song and title track off the band's new album, "Struggle + Sleep" is Life on Repeat in all their poppy glory. What sets these guys apart from their bore-core peers is their seamless transitions, allowing them to go from light-as-air to pop "heavy" in the blink of an eye, without conjuring up nightmares of Victory Records artists. The rhythm section brings a strong, chugging underbelly to the Saosin-lite melodies, so that when the band needs to do "heavy", they can do it without sounding stupid. If you need proof, wait for the breakdown in this song.

Unfortunately, Life on Repeat's debut album isn't nearly as good as I was hoping it would be. My feelings on it are the same ones I had on their EP, As I Grew; great opening track, then a bit of a letdown. Struggle + Sleep has its moments of promise, however you have to wade through a lot of formula and some almost patronizing lyrical drivel to get to them. The title track, however, shows just how good Life on Repeat can be when they stop worrying about their hair and start writing music. 

Friday, 24 June 2011

The Worst Genre Ever, Pt 1

This is a new segment, in which i will be comparing genres of awful music in a March Madness style tournament to see which one is the worst of all. The genres are as follows:

Black Metal
Twee Pop
Flyover Rock
Digital Hardcore
Bro Tunes

Here goes nothing. 

Round 1: Black Metal vs. Twee pop

Black Metal

What's the first thing that comes to mind when I say black metal? If you said a bunch of Norwegian dudes in makeup burning churches, worshiping Satan, and taking Polaroids of their lead singers gory suicides, you're on the right track. Aesthetically speaking, black metal is without a doubt the stupidest genre of music (and possibly facet of humanity) to ever exist. Essentially, the whole thing is a game of D&D gone waaaaaaay too fucking far. Much like your average North American D&D geek, these Scandinavian metal gods get together to dress up all scary, pretend to summon the occult, and speculate about how ridiculously cool it would be to rape and pillage the shores of middle-earth. However, the main difference between the D&D enthusiast and the black metal enthusiast is that D&D players have some kind of “off” switch, which gives them the ability to separate their role-played character from their actual lives. Black metal musicians on the other hand, have been known to burn down churches, kill each other, and do a whole bunch of other shit too weird to get into detail about. And while the vast majority of black metal kids don't have the balls (or sociopath tendencies) to perpetrate this shit, they seem to think it's all pretty cool. That, and a lot of them seem to openly embrace racism and misogyny.

Black metal gets way more attention for it's aesthetic than it's music. In fact, a lot of people don't even know what black metal really sounds like. However, this is most likely because musically, black metal is really nothing to talk about. So what are it's musical traits? Well, picture five of the dudes I just described writing music together. You're pretty much spot on. Think 3 Inches of Blood meets Anal Cunt – shrieked, incoherent vocals praising Satan and worshiping rune magic, over top of sloppy, tremolo picked viking riffs and unrelenting blast beats. Essentially, nothing anyone without severe brain damage would enjoy listening to.


Do you know who Calvin Johnson is? No, not the dope-ass receiver for the Detroit Lions – Calvin Johnson the musician. In Olympia, WA's late 80's- early 90's music scene, Calvin Johnson was essentially the coolest dude around. He and his band Beat Happening made all the rules in that town, and to be “in”, you needed to be a fan of lo-fi, DIY indie pop with no redeemable commercial value whatsoever. Beat Happening was far too cool for record labels, band managers, recording their shit properly, or writing anything remotely resembling a song. Yet, oddly enough, there were a whole lot of bands envious of Beat Happening at the time. One of these jealous poseur bands featured a scraggly young weirdo by the name of Kurt Cobain. It's safe to say that in Olympia in '88, Cobain was a barely visible shitstain on the underpants of cool that was Beat Happening. But when you compare the music that this scrawny dork poseur Cobain wrote to the work of the artistically championed Calvin Johnson, you can only come to one conclusion – there must have been some really good heroin floating around Olympia from 87-92.

However, it would be foolish to judge a genre on one band. As big as Beat Happening was in the world of Twee pop, they are arguably one of the shittiest bands in the genre (or ever). Their ilk, however, aren't a whole lot better. Most of these bands sound like a musical manifestation of whatever the hell was going on in Bryan Wilson's head for the better part of the 70's. Essentially, most twee-pop sounds like the Mama's and the Papa's being recorded in a roller rink bathroom, live from the floor, with two input tracks and poorly tuned instruments. For the record, most of these bands knew they sounded like complete shit, which in their heads meant that their bands were avant-garde and chocked full of artistic integrity. However to most normal people, this is the most pretentious notion of all time, and only makes these bands seem even more like self-conscious, talent-less attention-whores than they already were.

So, which genre is worse? Unfortunately (because Beat Happening really, really sucks), I'm going to have to go with black metal. It goes without saying that you can score a point for twee on the aesthetics. Also, when twee was combined with shoegaze, 80's hardcore, and other slightly more competent genres of music, some pretty good bands emerged (Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., The Meat Puppets), while the only bands influenced by black metal are arguably worse than black metal bands themselves. Finally, you have to understand that twee musicians purposely wrote structure-less, poorly recorded songs. So while twee musicians were extremely pretentious (and perhaps covering up a lack of talent), one can assume that they had to have a basic idea of what makes a good song in order to consciously ignore it. Black metal musicians, on the other hand, are either incapable of processing that idea, or too busy doing their makeup and drinking goat's blood to care.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

SOTD: La Dispute- "Last Blues for Bloody Knuckles"

My inagural song of the day fits rather well with my sentiments on marriage, which I will hopefully share with you later today. This song comes from La Dispute's 2008 full length Somewhere at the Bottom of the River Between Vega and Altair. I've also included a reformatted, unplugged version from LD's recent split with Koji for those of you who are less hardcore inclined.

"Last Blues" is an excellent example of why La Dispute is easily in my top five right now. Their ability to seamlessly stitch mood, dynamics, technical proficiency and a variety of different influences into balls-out hardcore songs is unparalleled by their contemporaries. Most of the complaints against this band start with Jordan Dreyer's vocals. That's also where most of the complaints end; La Dispute is one of the most versatile, meticulous and well read bands in modern hardcore, and their effort shines through in their work. Somewhere at the Bottom of the River... is arguably the most forward thinking hardcore album since The Shape of Punk to Come. I really can't say enough good things about these guys, so I'll just shut up and let the music do the talking.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Review: Form and File- This is Form and File (EP) [2011]

Note; if you want to hear this, check out their Bandcamp. If it's not up there anymore, get at me. I don't want to put it on Mediafire because judging by their website, they don't want this given away for free en mass.

Form and File is a pretty cool band I've randomly stumbled across. According to somebody from End of a Year, it features Ryan Briggs from Have Heart. 

If you're looking for your Have Heart fix, Form & File may not be your cup of tea. However, if you're in the mood for some well written, forward thinking melodic hardcore, you're barking up the right tree, my friend.

End of a Year sums up my thoughts on their sound perfectly: “You get it right away but then it gets weird sometimes and you say, 'yo, what the fuck is this?' but then you sort of appreciate that they did that.” These guys sound like End of a Year playing Jawbreaker covers while Chris and Chuck from HWM have a loud, drunken heart to heart beside a microphone. If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, download this immediately. If you need more convincing, bear with me.

Form and File seem like a band that has a really strong sense of who they are and what they want to be. They firmly plant one foot in early post-hardcore, leaving the other free to splash around in indie, post-punk, alt rock, and all other kinds of weird stuff. This is a band that tackles a litany of different sounds in 3 songs, yet never once makes it seem like they're forcing it. It's impressive.

The first song, “Bender”, is where the parallels to EOAY are most evident. The first half of the song feels like it could've been lifted right from You Are Beneath Me – the melodic-yet-rough-around-the-edges guitar sound in particular is strikingly similar. After a build-up with some Chris/Chuck-esque harmonies and some intensely good drumming, the song gets all “Jeni Leigh”; leaving us with a nice melodic bridge and some aptly-placed female vocals as contrast.

Ferdinand the Bull” takes you on a much different ride. The intro conjures up a bar-blues sound that would fit right in to an early Tragically Hip release, while the rest of the song sounds like something from a bluesier 24 Hour Revenge Therapy – shifting and dymanic, yet never compromising the flow of the song. Musically this song blows my mind – it manages to sound like a country tune, bar-blues, and a Jawbreaker song all in one.

The last song, “New Love” is where Form and File really shine. Lyrically, the song is amazing, taking on the topic of gender roles in a way I've never heard in punk (or anywhere else, for that matter). Let's sample, shall we:

Hold me but don't touch my body/ just take my brain into/ your hands... Is her body the only thing I care for?/ Is this a man's cross to bear? I want to hear it from you/ I want to know more than the curve of your body/ because I know what those clothes do cover/ I'm so intruiged by what's hidden behind those eyes...”

I really shouldn't have to say more about this song. But I will. Musically, it sounds a bit like quality Texas is the Reason or Hot Water Music at their quiet best. The band displays just enough restraint to keep the passion from overflowing, with beauty created in the struggle to do so. The tune is intense enough without the beautiful lyricism. With it, it's almost too much. Ever play a sport competitively and win a really close, important game? You get nervous, things fall apart, and emotions run wild. But in the end all the struggle just makes the win feel that much better. That's the kind of feeling athletes play for, and if it's not the kind of feeling musicians write for, it should be. This song is the musical equivalent of overtime in game 7.

Simply put, This is Form and File is fucking mind-boggling. It's amazing how a band could write three completely different songs that somehow fit together seamlessly. It's also amazing how a band could draw comparisons from so many other bands, yet sound unlike anything I've ever heard before. Form and File mix, mash and push boudaries to deliver a product that seems comfortably familiar, yet not even close to stale, and they do it really, really well. If these guys aren't “hardcore big” very soon, expect them to be a band kids name drop to sound cool 10 years from now.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Let them eat Twitter...

So I was pissing my life away on sports websites this morning when I re-came across the whole Damian Goddard fiasco. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, here's a link 

The first time I heard about this, I didn't really give it much notice. This happens all the time; some dumb meathead says something xenophobic and the cokeheads in PR push head office to axe him before some internet troll gets too butthurt. As much as it runs against my Voltaire sensibilities, it's gotten to the point where I've stopped giving a shit about defending their right to free speech. The mentality seems to be, if you're a public figure, don't do anything to piss the public off, or you risk losing your job.

However, when I revisited Goddard's case, the overt assertion of political correctness made me think about a bigger issue.

Look, even if we all know Goddard's opinion is backwards and feeble-minded, the fact of the matter is, the guy didn't really say anything worth being fired over. There was no hate-speech or calls for violence against gays. He didn't even use any pejorative terminology, or mention the gay community at all for that matter. All Goddard did was espouse an irrelevant political ideology on his unaffiliated Twitter account at a (seemingly) bad time. Ask yourself this. If Goddard had said “I believe life begins at conception,” “Osama got the justice he deserved, fair trial be damned” or some other completely meaningless right-wing talking point, would he have been fired?

Probably not. So why was Goddard fired for going after gay marriage? Rogers said it was just the last straw, and that Goddard was a shitty anchor who had it coming. However, if you watch Sportsnet, you'd know that if Rogers held some kind of broadcast quality standards, most of their staff would be unemployed. IMO, Goddard was fired because of political correctness.

Over the last few years, PC has become the left wing's answer to the us vs. them mentality of the right. Essentially, it's a fascism of inclusion, where tolerance is enforced with an iron fist. I agree with political correctness in essence, as I believe everyone's differences should be tolerated and included. However, I think it's a dangerous idea to get behind. The issues I have with it are as follows: 1) It patronizes minorities by refusing to let them stand up for themselves, 2) It stifles free thought and discourages dissent, and 3) it inspires a legion of asshats to feel alienated and oppressed for being white.

Any social norm is bound to have people who disagree with it, and any enforcement of that norm makes those people feel oppressed, whether or not they actually are. In North America (and perhaps elsewhere), there's a fairly large contingent of white men who believe tolerance and equality are direct threats to their lifestyle. These are the kinds of people who believe there is such a thing as a “gay agenda”, and post Facebook statuses whining because somebody said “Happy Holidays” to them. They're the kinds of people who forward you e-mails about the lack of God in schools. These people exist, and the more PC-freaks try to eliminate the Damian Goddards of the world, the larger and more vocal this contingent grows.

So, let Goddard have his tweets. Who cares? Gay people have all heard worse-- they've been to high school, after all. Damian Goddard is wrong, but he has every right to be wrong, and if we try and stop him, the army of trolls will only grow larger and angrier. It's like that scene in Lord of the Rings where they create Super-orcs with the body parts of dead orcs. All we're doing by cutting up Damian Goddard is providing fuel to the fire.



Just a Thought

These days, "educated" is a dirty word. People have built a culture around ignorance, and it seems as if they're proud of it. Party lines are drawn at birth, and rational discussions have been replaced by "talking points". The media is a circus on the verge of believing their own hype. The Internet has allowed people to insulate themselves in their own little worlds, and nothing outside the home is safe anymore.

We need to take a step back. Or maybe forward, I'm not sure. I haven't been alive that long. All I know is that I don't want to live in the Twitterverse. I want to see and do everything I can. I want to hear opinions that differ from my own. I want to challenge everyone and everything, especially myself. I know there are amazing people everywhere, and I want to meet them and hear their stories.

Call this "Reinventing Keith Olberman."

Journalists have become lazy, collecting 140 Character PR statements and then putting a spin on them. This is not acceptable. Our job is not to regurgitate half-truths. Our job is to find the stories, the opinions and the art that will push us forward as individuals and as a society, then bring them to the public. That's what I'm trying to do with this blog. I know there are journalists out there who want to bring real stories to people who are dying to read them. Go ahead, call us educated elites, we'll wear that title proudly.