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Wednesday, 12 December 2012

End of a Year 2012 Volume 1: Albums (20-11)

Burning Love
Yeah, it's been a while eh? Ooops. Anywho, here's the first half of my top 20 full length albums of the year for ya. Yeah, I know, 20! It was a good year, to say the very least. Here goes:

20. Burning Love- Rotten Thing to Say (Southern Lord)

To be honest, I kind of wrote these dudes off as "not enuff liek Cursed, bruh" until I saw them at Fest and they blew me away. Now I kinda wish I'd had a bit longer to listen to this album, because damn, is it ever good. Take Coliseum style grime-punk, throw in a shitload of wicked two-step riffs, envelop it all in Chris Colohan's signature malaise, and you have yourself the 20th best album of 2012.

Listen to "Karla"

19. Trash Talk- 119 (Odd Future)

In a world where pop-punk bands publish coffee table books and skramzbros lurk in every basement, Trash Talk are a necessary evil. The band's darkest, weirdest release to date, 119 doesn't instantly gratify you like Awake or Eyes & Nines might have, opting to take you on a trip down the rabbit hole in your own back yard instead. If there's a more painfully apt lyric to describe North America in 2012 then "ashamed to ask for what you're being denied/ but everybody's gotta eat" I've yet to hear it.

18. No Trigger- Tycoon (No Sleep)

This album has everything the punx could want in a summer soundtrack; larger than life guitars, circle-pittastic drumming, and choruses that practically beg you to dive off some sort of raised platform onto the heads of unsuspecting drunks. Hell, I can practically smell the PBR on singer Tom Rheault's voice as he belts his warrior poet lyrics in the most perfect "happy punk dude" voice imaginable. I'll be eagerly awaiting to see what No Trigger has in store for us down the road, even if it takes another six years.

17. Joyce Manor- Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired (Asian Man)

For the longest time I didn't know what to think of this album. I mean, the band's self-titled debut left them with some pretty big shoes to fill, and in comparison Of All Things felt extremely underwhelming when I first heard it. But after the initial shock settled, I discovered this album as a gem in it's own right. Is it as cohesive and hard-hitting as Joyce Manor? Nah, but it's certainly quirkier and more adventurous. Consider Of All Things the Pinkerton to JM's Blue Album.


16. Make Do and Mend- Everything You Ever Loved (Rise)

Have you ever thought to yourself "hey, what would happen if I wrote a record that sounded like Jimmy Eat World jamming Hot Water Music covers?" Well kids, a mere decade after somebody should have tried combining Caution with Futures, Make Do and Mend have finally stepped up to the plate and made the emo record 2003 forgot. A bit of inconsistency keeps Everything You Ever Loved as high on the list as it is, but god damn-- when this record is on point it's good enough to leave you breathless.

Listen to "St. Anne"

15. Converge- All We Love We Leave Behind (Epitaph)

Is Converge even physically capable of making a bad record? I mean, shit-- just listen to this album. Jacob Bannon can't even really scream anymore; Kurt Ballou sounds like he's making riffs up on the spot; songs like "Coral Blue" sound like the band experimenting just for the sake of it; and yet nobody in their right mind would argue All We Love sounds even remotely phoned-in. The most awe-inspiring thing about Converge is that they make brilliance sound easy and chaos sound obvious -- this album is no exception. If the band hadn't already cemented their place as the most revered metal/hardcore act of all time, All We Love should do it.

Listen to "Trespasses"

14. Waxahatchee- American Weekend (Don Giovanni)

If I told you that Katie Crutchfield went all Justin Vernon and disappeared to a cabin in the woods to write/record American Weekend, would you believe me? It certainly sounds feasible; what with the amateurish recording sound, stripped-bare arrangements, and songs about love, regret and self reflection. Unfortunately, this record was not the product of some self-imposed isolation in the woods; instead Crutchfield harnessed the much more palpable isolation of being a young woman in an unforgiving world for her inspiration. There's no made-for-TV melodrama, no fancy recording trickery, and most importantly, no pretense whatsoever. It's just a girl, her guitar, and a goosebump-inducing sense of honesty.

Listen to "Be Good"

The Men

13. Loma Prieta- I.V. (Deathwish)

I.V. is an absolute mindfuck. By all accounts, this record shouldn't sound good -- the tunings hardly make sense, the tempos and time signatures change without warning, the lyrics are unabashedly blunt, and the guitars sound like they're made out of sheet metal. But somehow this album doesn't just sound good; it has a pervasive ethereal quality throughout it. It's as if Loma have written themselves into a paradox where the closer they come to absolutely destroying a song, the more everything makes sense. After years of toiling in the Bay Area scene, Loma Prieta seems to have a breakout hit in I.V.; and deservedly so -- not since Jane Doe have I heard a band turn such an ugly approach into such beautiful music.

Listen to "Trilogy VI 'Forgetting'"

12. The Men- Open Your Heart (Sacred Bones)

Upon first listen, Open Your Heart doesn't seem that special, perhaps just a densely layered Our Band Could be Your Life-core nostalgia trip. But as each listen peels another layer back, you'll find out just how clever this record really is. A hint of psychedelia here, a country melody there, some surf-rock riffing thrown in for good measure -- this album is a melting pot of American music culture filtered through a punk lens and held together in a warm blanket of distortion. Perhaps what's most impressive about Open Your Heart is that while the bands it draws direct influence from have been the victims of intellectual copypasta for the last 30 years, nobody out there sounds or has sounded quite like The Men.

Listen to "Animal"

11. Worn in Red- Banshees (No Idea)

While The Men may have taken 2012 to prove just how great punk rock can be when you spice up the formula, Worn in Red deserve equal props for reminding us that if it ain't broke, you don't always need to fix it. This is musical comfort food -- Chicken Soup for the Fester's Soul, if you will. Sure, the guitars sound like Bridge and Tunnel; sure the rhythm section is a little reminiscent of Forever and Counting era Hot Water Music; sure, the two singers sound like they smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey for a vocal warm-up. But here's the thing: I love all that shit, especially when it's done this well. And when you throw a healthy dose of No Sleep-esque nu-hardcore in the mix, well shit -- I guess you'd have the 11th best album of 2012, wouldn't you?

Listen to "The Road"

So that's the first half of my list. Hopefully I'll have the second half done in a couple days and we can party naked or something. PCE!

Monday, 20 August 2012

Watershed Hour Interview

Despite our ever-increasing ability as listeners to access various forms of music across the globe, sometimes we find gems hiding right in our backyard, or perhaps more fittingly in this case, right under our noses. I've known Laura Klinduch and Natalie Paproski-Rubianes since they were probably ten years old, but what I haven't known is for the better part of those ten years they've been writing and performing music in various incarnations of the band Watershed Hour. So imagine my surprise when I realized A) the band existed and B) that they were pretty damn good. 

I recently got a chance to catch up with the two of them after a benefit show for a girls' rock camp to chat about their transition from being a three-piece, their views on gender equality in music, and their inauspicious origins as a Linkin Park cover band. Enjoy.  

Introduce yourselves.

N: My name is Natalie; I sing and play bass.

L: I'm Laura; I keep Natalie in line, and I hit things.

N: ...and books shows, and does everything except sing and play bass.

I was trying to describe your music to my dad last night and I couldn't do it...

L: Good. I'm glad that you said that instead of attempted to, because...

N: We've heard some things

What kind of things have you heard?

N: Well because we're girls we get compared to girl bands all the time, and we sound nothing like them.

L: Paramore.

Paramore? You got Paramore?

N: We got Paramore (laughs).

L: We kicked Braiden out, and this guy who'd heard us with Braiden was suddenly like "they're Paramore," and in the latest Broken Arts 'zine they had, they compared us to Black Keys, Pack A.D. and Hollerado.

That's kind of odd, I can kind of hear the Black Keys, and I've never heard of Pack A.D. but...

L: Pack A.D., two chicks.

N: But to be fair, out of the three bands, I think Pack A.D. is what we sound most like.

L: Not Hollerado.


L: I actually tried to describe our sound the other day.

N: She's prepared.

L: I'd say my drumming is like the drummer from Toe, so if Toe had a baby with Hole and Death From Above 1979 was an affair. So you don't know who the baby's daddy is; it could be Hole, or it could be DFA.

That's a... pretty interesting baby...

N: We'd like to hope so.

What's influenced you guys to make the music you do?

N: Well, I really like the louder kind of stuff, and not really holding back and just yelling. I could sing classically, but I really feel like there's more emotion when you just go for it. Also lyrically, I used to try and make sure I was rhyming and that my lyrics were deep and meaningful; but after reading the Kurt Cobain journals where he says even if his lyrics were disjointed they still meant something. It doesn't have to mean something to the audience, it just has to mean something to you, because if you sing it like you mean it the audience will get it. That's vocally, in terms of bass, I kind of just rip it.

L: You can't rip a bass, you're supposed to slap it.

N: I can't, I tried.

L: For me, it's the drummer for Toe. They're a Japanese math-rock band. I actually steal a lot of stuff from them, but you wouldn't know it, because nobody cares about them. I'm just gonna say Toe. I love Toe.

What was that white thing you were playing on your kit? Rockin' the jug?

L: I am sponsored by Home Depot, I have a contract with them

N: (laughs) okay...

L: No I don't, it's just a Home Depot bucket.

Where'd you get the idea to rock the bucket?

L: Last year my school did a post-apocalyptic version of Macbeth, and they asked me to be the creative music director for the pit-band. The pit-band was basically a drum band that used trash-cans and it worked well, so I stole the bucket.

N: We have the added bonus of being able to carry our equipment in the bucket, so it's handy.

You guys have known each other for a long time. For the people that don't know, how did you meet and when did you decide to start making music together?

L: Linkin Park!

N: We met in grade four at Jack Miner [P.S. in Whitby, ON, Canada.] because we transferred over to a gifted school, and we started talking because we had a mutual love for Linkin Park.

L: Linkin Park, Evanescence, Treble Charger, and what else...

N: Seether?

L: No, I hated Seether. Uh, who did "Animal I Have Become.."


L + N: Three Days Grace!!!!

The jams!

L: The grade four jams!

N: So we had a class talent show, and we decided to perform as a Linkin Park cover band, because Laura is a very great rapper, so she was like "I'll rap, and you sing" so it worked perfectly.

L: We did it again in grade five!

N: Then in like grade seven we decided to actually make a band. Laura could play drums, so I picked up the bass and pretended.

[To Natalie] You play guitar and bass on the EP right?

N: There is guitar. It is not done by me. We were a three piece, and we...

L: ... are now a two piece. We kicked him out.

So how do you co-ordinate all the parts live?

N: We don't really play the old songs anymore. I think there are two or three we can still play but that's it.

L: We kicked our guitarist out, then the day of, we had a show. So we played the show as is...

N: It was awful...

L: So a week later, we added a distortion pedal. Still kinda awful, so we started writing new songs and found a new amp, which helped things considerably.

I see. How'd you guys go about recording your EP?

N: Well... (laughs) did he contact you Laura?

L: Yeah, I got a random Facebook friend request, back in the day when I accepted everyone for the sake of it. So he adds me and goes "oh you're a musician? I'll record an EP for free" and I was like "Alright!"

N: ...then he adds me, and I'm talking to him about it, and I was like "I feel bad if it's for free, we can pay you for it" and he accepted. I didn't expect that to happen.


L: So we had to pay 50 bucks 'cause of Natalie.

N: So we went to this guy's house not knowing what to expect, and it was in this kind of sketchy area. He led us downstairs into this tiny room full of all his clothes and all the beer cans he ever drank.

L: Hoarder. He had like ten of the crappiest guitars I've ever seen and a drum set. He was like "this is where we're going to record!"

N: It smelt pretty bad too.


L: After a while you just get accustomed to it though. I felt bad for Natalie because when she would sing he'd ask "would you like a glass of water?" and I was like "wow, she's drinking it..."

N: It was kind of rough, but still I'm glad we did it, especially for the price we did it at. Now when we try and book shows we can at least show them something. We learned from it too, because we had a bit of a rough time. We're not very assertive, so we'd kind of mention we didn't like something and he'd just ignore it. Then we'd bitch about it in the car afterwards.

L: My biggest issue was I kept saying to him "this isn't loud enough" and he was like "drums can't go any louder" and the drums are so quiet. You can't hear the cowbell and... (sighs) I cry.

N: Also, we've changed so much that it doesn't really reflect our sound at all, like this was before I started yelling, and we still had a guitar player. I almost don't want to mention when we play shows that we have an EP, because people will come up and say they love it, but it sounds nothing like what we're doing right now.

L: I feel bad, like we're kind of ripping them off.

So how are you progressing musically then?

N: We're getting angrier, I'd say. The problem was when we had our guitarist, he wanted to play more classically instead of punkier stuff because he didn't see the appeal in playing three chords. For me that doesn't matter, my favourite band is Nirvana, so like...

Who cares how many chords are in the song?

N: Exactly! Every time we tried to make it angry, he wouldn't like it.

L: We'd write songs and he'd be like "they don't fit us." What does that mean? We wrote them...

N: As soon as we kicked him out, I wrote our angriest song. It's great, now we can play like that and that's how we're changing.

How has the transition been going from a three-piece to a two piece? I feel like there would be a significant change in songwriting dynamic.

L: We're finding it harder to be honest. I like to say that I'm married to my sister, that's how I like to describe it.

N: That's a really weird way to describe it... (laughs) It's true though. The good thing about having three people is that usually there were only two of us mad at each other, and the other one would be a third party who could kind of moderate it. Now when we get angry we don't talk and we just kind of stew in the back seat until after we perform. Usually when we're done performing, we kind of just look at each other and laugh. We start most of our shows angry at each other and finish most of them happy.

L: Today was bad. 

N: Not really, you were mad at your mom, not me.

L: Yeah, that's right. Man, I'm gonna hear it from my mom when I go back...

Uh-oh. Well since we're at an event benefitting a girls rock camp, and you're an all girl band, how important is it to you that girls get into making music at a young age?

N: As important as it is for guys to get in at a young age. I understand that girls may need the push, but...

L: Playing this show is a love/hate in that people come up to us after after and go "you guys are so good, especially for girls!" and that's kind of a slap in the face. We both don't really see gender at all, so it's kind of odd to draw a distinction. I was raised genderless, so my parents were like "you wanna play hockey? go for it! You wanna play drums? Okay."

Do you feel there's a stigma against female performers?

L: No.


L: Of course there is (laughs). Especially for me, because people are more used to female vocalists, and Natalie fits the part. She's usually dressed to the nines...

N: Not today, though, I'm hung over.

L: Then there's me wearing bright colours in the corner setting up drums. People come up and ask me "are you in the band?" and I'm like "oh no, I'm just setting this up."

N: I haven't come across it too badly... Yet.

L: There's just the odd dick.

So do you see ways we can combat sexism in music?

L: I'm gonna take the Morgan Freeman approach to Black History Month, where he sees that as segregation. Having an all girls' show is cool, but at the same time I really wanted to see a guy band up there to show men support inclusiveness as well. I hate to say it, but in some cases the less you talk about it, the less of an opportunity people have to draw lines.

N: Yeah, like I don't go into a gig thinking "oh my gosh, we're the only girl band, what are people gonna think?" I just see us as a band. Sometimes I go, "oh god, we're the only punk band or the only rock band" but that's about it.

L: My biggest worry is that sometimes there's only one tom instead of two. That's all I think about.

So what future plans do you have for your music?

L: We're going to Spain on vacation! Then returning on September 2nd, which is move in day for [Trent University, the school Laura and Natalie will be attending next year]. We've already booked our first gig in Peterborough, so we've got that. I think a lot of people are going to be confused because we'll be based out of Peterborough, but we're still planning on doing Toronto shows. We also recorded the new songs, and we're just waiting for this guy to finish mixing them, which is a pain in the butt. 

N: ...and writing new songs, I gotta get on that. That's pretty much it.

Hold on a sec, are those dudes tuning a harp?

N: Yeah, I think so.

Cool. Well, I'm done my questions, anything else you want to add?

N: Thanks for the interview!

L: Stay safe!

~ ~ ~

Do yourself a favour and check out/pick up Watershed Hour's debut EP, Bend Your Knees, on Bandcamp.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Advice to a Friend Part 1

This is a letter I wrote to a friend regarding my recent epiphany in relation to the fairer sex. It was originally meant for a few close friends, but they encouraged me to share it, so here we are. This is intended for dudes like us who've never been too great with the ladies: it's not necessarily advice on how to "pick up chicks," rather on how to be more confident in regards to love, sex and women in general. I hope those reading learn something from/enjoy this.

Part 2 can be found here.

Love is not a victory march.

However, it's easy to think differently, because our society builds love and sex up to be the two most important things on the face of the earth. TV and movies would have you believe that once you find love, all your problems will dissappear; that you'll be riding through a sheet of warm fuzzy bliss, too wrapped up in the affection of your significant other to be concerned with mere mortal problems. “Happily ever after”. They'll also have you believe there's this secret game you have to play to unlock a woman's desire. You have to log enough man hours, beat all the levels, and aquire the right items before you finally get to “save the princess” so to speak.

To put it bluntly, that's all a complete load of shit. In fact, the opposite is far closer to the truth. In terms of sex, if a woman finds you somewhat interesting, kind, and physically attractive, there's a good chance she'll sleep with you. Despite what they might have you believe, women enjoy sex just as much as men do, perhaps more. The women who are attracted to you (and there are more than you'd think) aren't waiting for you to unlock some secret code to their pants, they're waiting for you to be direct with them.

As for love, holy shit. A romantic relationship is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in your life, but here's the catch: it's a FUCKTON of work. The time, effort, emotional energy and money you'll expend in a love relationship is mind-boggling. Don't get me wrong, there are few things more breathtaking then waking up in the arms of someone you care about, but with that comes its fair share of crying yourself to sleep, punching holes in drywall, acting like a jealous fool, and straight up feeling like a bag of shit because of your actions. And if you think about it, at the age of 20, spending your time and energy on a love relationship isn't always worth it.

About a month ago our cleaning lady was talking about her 28 year-old son. This dude, despite the fact that he doesn't really seem to be going anywhere fast, has had no problem culling attractive ass his entire life. Admirable, right? Well his mom seemed to think otherwise:

“You know what his problem is?” she said to me, “he's spent so much of his time chasing pretty girls that he's never done anything for himself.”

That really stuck with me. This guy's spent his entire 20's fucking motorcross girls and dating models. From the outside looking in, that seems pretty legit, until you consider the fact that this guy's gonna hit 30 without really ever doing anything interesting. Hopefully he can get his shit together enough to have some cool experiences, but by this point, he's too old to really make anything unique and interesting of himself. When you're that age, you have real life responsibilities. You can't just drop everything to work on some pot-shot startup or join a band and hit the road or learn Spanish or whatever the hell else you can do when you're 20 just for the hell of it. This guy's essentially traded the most interesting years of his life for some sweet motorcross pussy.

Think about all the other things that are important to you in your life. You want to start a successful career. You want to express yourself creatively. You want to travel. You want to have experiences with your family and friends. You want to take care of yourself physically, mentally and spiritually. As amazing as a relationship is, it's just another thing on the to-do list – and a rather time consuming, emotionally draining thing at that.

I'm not saying you should avoid a relationship, but why spend so much time pursuing it/thinking about it? And why beat yourself up about it when it doesn't happen? Instead, treasure the time you have being single. If you get lonely, spend time with the people you love. It might not be as reaffirming as the soft touch of a woman, but spending time with friends and family will make you feel just as appreciated. If you need to be gratified, spend time doing the shit you love. At this point in my life, I'd rather write a good song then have sex. That's not me being jaded either; this is from a dude who's had sex maaaybe 15 times in the last three years. I'd love to get laid right now (like literally, right fucking now), but actually creating something you're proud of is waaaaay more fulfilling than getting your dick wet. So realistically, there's not a whole lot you experience outside of a relationship that you can't substitute or get by without when you're single.

TL;DR: Stop giving a fuck.

If you're not in a relationship, and you don't know how to get to one, stop worrying about it. You've made it this far without a girlfriend, right? You're doing cool shit with your life, you have interests and experiences, you're slowly but surely making your way to the place you want to be. You don't need somebody else in your life to validate you; you're doing great on your own.

Oh, and here's the best part: once you stop caring, the women will start flocking to you like a motherfucker. Not because you've become “a douchebag, and women only like douchebags,” but for very practical and understandible reasons.

First of all, all that time you've started putting towards your own interests instead of chasing tail will eventually start to pay off. Imagine where you'll be in 2 years with a good paying job that makes you a confident, well adjusted person because you essentially get paid decent money to do fun shit for eight hours a day. Oh yeah, and you also have great stories about the stuff you've done in your spare time because you're out doing that instead of at home getting nagged at by some b-rate girlfriend you met on the Internet. Aaaaand you're taking care of your body (even to a basic “I don't want to die at 50” extent) so you're looking pretty damn good too. Shit, by this point you're pretty much the full package.

Also, because you've more or less taken yourself off the market, demand for you will skyrocket. Girls aren't stoked on a guy who jumps at every chance he gets; they want a challenge. They want to feel like they've earned you, not like they just ended up with some dude. This might sound like “secret woman-brain magic,” but it can actually be explained by pretty basic economics. Think about it in terms of cars; if I were to give you an option between driving a Toyota Corolla and a Bentley, which would you take? Seems obvious, right? A Toyota Corolla will get your ass to and from work every day for the next 14 years just fine. But yo, FUCK THAT SHIT, you're taking the Bentley. Ever driven a Bentley? Nope. For all you know the handling could be complete shit and the seats could hurt your ass. But who cares? Every asshole and his brother have a Corolla, you wanna turn heads. Same thing goes for girls when it comes to picking men. This is what economists call the scarcity principle. A desired good (which you will be/probably already are) becomes more desireable the harder it is to obtain, therefore driving the price up. The price in this case being the awesomeness/hotness/smartness of the chicks who want you.

Finally, and most importantly, when you stop giving a fuck your ability to talk to women skyrockets. Why's that? Simple, because you don't give a fuck. Right now, every time you see a hot chick, your brain's probably all like “holy fuck what should I say? How should I say it? Was that a funny joke? Is she laughing because that was funny or is she laughing out of pity? Is there something in my teeth?” When you don't give a fuck, you're able to actually have a conversation like you would with a friend or colleague. Now, instead of coming off as awkard or unapproachable, you'll be actually impressing them with how smart you are and making them laugh like an idiot because you're hilarious. I don't think I need to explain why this is a good thing.

Part deux ici.

Advice to a Friend Part 2

Here's part two of the letter I wrote to my friend regarding women. Part one can be found here.

Now I know exactly what you're thinking. “Not give a fuck, how is that possible?” I know where you're coming from. It's hard when you're cold and lonely and watching romantic comedies to not think about being with somebody else. Well first off, you can always just preoccupy yourself with what's at hand, which works wonders for when you're trying to accomplish other shit, but there's only one way to unlock that next-level “Can I say FF on TV?” attitude: you have to ask somebody out and get rejected. It's a scary proposition, but it's absolutely necessary. I can sit here and type essays at you till my fingers fall off, but you'll never be able to fully grasp how ABSOLUTELY FUCKING LITTLE getting shot down matters until it actually happens to you.

About a month ago, I asked a (non POF) girl out for the first time since I was 17. I decided I liked this girl a lot, and I thought I was getting vibes from her, so I decided to buck up and tell her I wanted to “get to know her better.” Turns out I got her signals wrong, because she wasn't down for it. At first it was pretty embarrasing, then for about 24 hours afterwards, it really sucked. But after that subsided, I realized something: I was still alive and well. The world hadn't ended. Shit, our friendship didn't even end – if anything it's gotten stronger because we've gotten the whole thing out of the way and I don't feel the need to be anyone but myself around her. Now, when I approach women, I actually give zero fucks, because I know only good things can come of it. That alone is a really, really powerful feeling. But like I said; I can preach this shit till I'm blue in the face but it won't mean shit unless you experience it for yourself. Hell, ask the girl out on Facebook; that's what I did! if anything, there's a better chance of being rejected, which means greater potential for success on this mission. This is an abso-fucking-lute must-do, no matter how daunting it seems.

An important caveat to the “give no fucks” attitude, and to dealing with chicks in general, is that you have to treat women – and yourself – with respect. I don't think I need to tell you this, but it's noteworthy. You MUST remember that women aren't objects to be won over but actual people with a will and a sex drive that you can't control and shouldn't try to. Likewise, you don't need to go for the low hanging fruit because you have a need to be loved/wanted – it's not a good look and it's not fair to those girls. It's far more respectful to everyone involved and far more likely to work if you treat this less like a game of Risk and more like a love relationship with another human being. Oh and if a girl rejects you, it's not because she's a heartless bitch and/or you're a worthless sack of shit – it's because she sees the two of you as incompatible romantically. Instead of perseverating on it, move past it and nurture your friendship. If you thought she'd make a good lover, she'd sure as hell make a good friend, so really you have nothing to lose by moving on and not being a weirdo about it.

So yeah, that's the end of my rant. I honestly can't say my approach will work, because I only feel more desireable, not because I'm reaping the reward yet, so maybe I'm wrong. But on the flipside, I ACTUALLY DON'T GIVE A FUCK ANYMORE, so it doesn't even matter. If nothing else it's a really, really powerful feeling to be able to approach an attractive woman and not give a flying fuck about how the conversation will go.

Hope this was helpful or informative in any way.


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Single Mothers full interview.

So yeah, here's the full, very lengthy interview I did with Single Mothers. I caught up with them at a show in Hamilton, where we drank beer in a Dodge Caravan and talked about all sorts of shit. In addition to everything in the first edition, we talked about Craig Finn, "the sound" and Bon Iver's super secret Twitter handle. Check it out.

Okay, let's introduce ourselves.

Drew: My name's Drew, I do vocals in Single Mothers

Mat: My name's Mat, I play drums for Single Mothers.

Evan: I'm Evan, I play bass.

Justis: My name's Justis, I play guitar. Mike, the other guitar player's absent. He went to a wedding with his girlfriend.

Evan: A vegan wedding.

Mat: A vegan, boozeless wedding.

Justis: He's gonna be here, though, he's coming.

Good news. First question: Jeremy Bolm from Touche Amore loves you guys. Punknews loves you guys. How does it feel to be making waves in the scene so to speak?

Mat: Honestly it's flattering because most of the bands I've been in have kind of sucked, and now legitimate people are taking us seriously. It's really nice. It's nice to go on messageboards and not see a million people talking shit.

Justis: A lot of people still talk shit.

Mat: Realistically, that's gonna happen, but there's a been lot more positive feedback than negative.

Drew: It's exciting.

Cool. So Secret Voice Records, how did that happen? We all know Jeremy Bolm saw you at a show (in Hamilton, apparently) and went mental for you, but what behind the scenes kind of shit was involved?

Drew: That's pretty much it.

Mat: what pretty much ended up happening was we did that stuff in Hamilton, and then we talked about doing stuff in the future, and us being an unorganized, like, idiot band...

Evan: We didn't even know what our own band e-mail was, so he had no way to get in contact with us.


Mat: Then like months later TA were playing a show in London, so I went and saw Jeremy – he didn't quite recognize me at first until I was like “hey man, I play in Single Mothers” and his jaw just dropped. He was like “I've been trying to find you guys for like months.” So we became Facebook buddies and one day he messaged me and asked for my phone number. Then he brought up this label idea that he had, and naturally we were receptive. His whole idea was that he loved our band so much he just wanted to be the first one to get his hands on it and release it.

Drew: He's just like, the nicest dude, too. It's crazy to have somebody like Jeremy behind us with all the respect and pull he has.

Justis: Not to mention how much we love their band. That new record they have? I listen to it nonstop.

You guys are in the process of writing some new stuff. Is there any kind of direction you're taking it?

Mat: It's hard to say right now, we're in a weird spot. Like, I live in Montreal.

Evan: He lives nine hours north of here [points at Drew].

Yeah, you're mining or something are you not?

Drew: Yeah I live in the middle of nowhere off Highway 11.

How do you guys co-ordinate all this?

Drew: We're kinda doing it fly by night

Justis: In terms of the writing process, Mike writes a lot and shows it to us, then we kind of talk about it. I think we've had one practice in the last nine months...

Mat: ...and I don't even think I was there.


So how do you guys make the band work if you're all so spread out?

Mat: I think we've got a really good chemistry going right now. I mean, I honestly thought for a long time about letting it go and letting them find a new drummer, but we all just work so well together. We've had a lot of member changes, and this is by far our strongest lineup.

Evan: There have been about 12 members in this band at least.

Drew: Yeah, but Mat, Mike and I have been playing in bands since we were like 17. So we're kind of at the point where if we don't practice for a long time we just go and have fun with it, and it either works or it doesn't.

Mat: I think our plan is to do some solid touring, and hopefully on those tours we'll get a solid chunk of writing done.

You guys keep setting me up for my questions. I saw on facebook you've got some touring in the works. What are your plans for that and is there anything else you have planned for 2012?

Mat: Mike's doing a lot of the heavy lifting right now. We're all busy as fuck, and Mike just kinda hangs out, so he's muscling through, and I think he's booked like 20 shows for a summer tour.

Evan: For our Canadian booking, we just hooked up with Agency Group, so they're taking care of that for us.

Drew: They've actually been really nice so far. Stateside, we're just really doing it D.I.Y. just trying to book whatever we can. We're actually going out with a band from Michigan called Hollow Earth. They're more of a hardcore band, but they're really good and they're helping us out a lot. We're just gonna hit up the states, because unfortunately, it's really hard to tour in Canada.

Mat: Yeah, everything's really far apart, it's like 10 hours from Sault Ste. Marie to Thunder Bay, and that's not even that far, compared to some of the other drives.

Justis: It's fucked. So I think the plan is to do the States a couple times. We're gonna head out to California for Sound and Fury, and we got invited to The Fest in October.

Mat: Yeah, it's gonna be a lot of fun.

That's really cool. So this is more of a question for Drew. I've heard a lot of people compare your vocals to Craig Finn...


Mat: We hear that a lot on the internet.

Evan: We were just joking about this...

So was that intentional? Is he an influence of yours?

Drew: Yeah, I mean, I have a lot of respect for Craig Finn. When I started this band I was listening exclusively to the old Attack in Black skate demos and The Hold Steady, so he's a big influence and I take it as a compliment.

I saw in that Hardtimes interview that you guys like to get involved in a bit of social activisim.


Evan: We like to try, but we're more jokesters when it comes to anything political...

Well I'm not gonna ask you “what are your political opinions,” but I heard you guys talking about helping a woman's shelter, yet your lyrics seem to be coming from a different place.

Justis: Well I've thought about this before, and I see it like this. I think people forget what art is, and that art can represent different perspectives or different views. People seem to forget that just because you're in a band playing music, you can still be coming from that artistic perspective. I'm not speaking for Drew, because he writes the lyrics, but that's the way I see it.

Mat: I see our songs as narratives. Like if you're an author, you don't always write a book where you personally believe in everything that happens. Our lyrics are almost fictional, but obviously they come from Drew's personal experience.

I've noticed in punk and hardcore there seems to be this kind of attitude where somebody will get pissed off at a band for what they write about. Like if you're an author, you can write about rape and people think it's great work; but if you sing a song about it, all of a sudden people are like “I don't like that band anymore!”

Drew: Yeah I agree. To be honest, I just like writing lyrics and I don't put a whole lot of thought into what anyone else thinks about them. I never thought anyone outside of London would ever hear our band. I mean honestly, going into the studio I only had half of “Hell (Is My Backup Plan)” written. I wrote the rest of the songs in the studio.

Evan: We made him do it on the spot.

Mat: We would do takes and be like “hey man, can you try something different?”

Evan: He wrote “Christian Girls” in like 15 minutes and those lyrics are incredible!

Yeah those are good lyrics. I relate to that shit, yo.

Drew: So yeah, obviously I don't think of consequence when I write (laughs).

Yeah. So, Bon Iver...

(The van erupts in laughter)

Mat: I wish Mike was here. guys are trolling him hard on Twitter. What's the deal with that?

Mat: Mike's the brainchild behind any of those stupid ideas.

Justis: I don't really know what the deal is.

Evan: [to Justis] You're in on that too. This guy and Mike are the intellectual smartasses.

Has he responded to any of that?

Justis: Well we found his real account, @blobtower, but he hasn't said anything back. It's all in good fun though. Like if I try and put myself in his shoes, where if I saw some stupid shitty band talking about me, maybe I'd be like “this is pretty funny.”

Drew: It's not like we all hate him either...

Evan: Yeah, I like all his music.

Drew: … but he's gotta know, he's like the poster boy for making fun of indie shit.

Evan: It's not so much we're making fun of him, we're making fun of indie, and he's just an easy target.

Drew: Yeah, like London doesn't really have a punk scene, it's mostly just indie bands, and they're all really good bands, no beef. But we're used to being the outcasts, and that's where I think we're coming from.

Justis: It's just fun to question what people think is cool and acceptable, and if people are getting mad at that it's...

Drew: It's hilarious.

Evan: I've actually noticed over the last year and a half London's kind of gone from indie dudes with acoustic guitars to bands that actually really rip. It's a cool shift.

Mat: I think that's kind of where our band's at, because we have a lot of indie kids who are into our music. I didn't understand it at first, but I think deep down, those kids are sick of going to their indie shows and just standing around and not getting into it, and we're cool with them showing up.

Evan: We hang out with them anyways, they're all like our friends.

Drew: Even if they don't come to shows, we hang out with them at bars and stuff. They're all great.

Well I don't know about you guys, but I find it kind of hard to find people who are really into punk music.

Evan: Well to be honest, we're not exactly into “punk music.”

Drew: Yeah, we all listen to a lot of different shit. I listen to a lot of like The Constantines and The Replacements and The Hold Steady and that kind of stuff.

Justis: I've been strictly listening to Meshuggah and Slayer for the past three years. It feels like I haven't heard a punk song in fucking forever.

Drew: Though I feel like we're all still punk kids because that's what we grew up on.

Evan: I'm more into the punk attitude. The music can get kind of repetitive.

Are you stoked on the new Meshuggah album? I haven't heard anything from it yet.

Justis: Uhh... dude...


People are like shitting themselves over it, I assume you're the same?

Mat: Meshuggah can do no wrong.

Justis: No exactly. Their album cover alone is so huge...

I haven't seen anything about it. It's coming out on my birthday though I think, that's all I know.

Justis: It's unreal. It's gonna be called Colossus [editor's note: it's called Koloss, I don't know how to pronounce that, it might be read as “colossus.”]

Evan: Of course it's gonna be called Colossus.

Mat: Speaking of Meshuggah, I saw them here in Hamilton.

Justis: Shut up! Was it sick?

Mat: It was fucking awesome.

Justis: I need to see them!

Okay, so I saw on that Hardtimes interview that you guys believe in reptile people...

Mat: Where's Mike when you need him?

now I have a few friends who I really respect that believe that shit, but I think it's straight cray-cray.


I think you people are insane. Pitch it to me.

Justis: Well you can just keep living your life under a rock, dude.

(More laughter)

Evan: The worst thing is, it's racist. It's deeply rooted in anti-Semitism.

Justis [to Evan]: Okay, don't be that guy. That Jew hating stuff isn't cool. I just think it's fucking sick how they can shape-shift and all that. Plus there are like seven or eight people who I'm like 99 per cent sure are reptiles.

Fucking straight up reptiles?

Justis: Reptilian fucking warlords. So obviously I'm not gonna trust them with my stuff. Honestly, I don't know that much about it but it's fun to speculate.

Mat: I don't know anything about that stuff, but I saw a video of a shapeshifter once and it was fucked.

Drew: Yeah, there's all sorts of crazy stuff, like inter-dimensional shit, but there's too much. Let's move on.

Well that was my last question, so we can talk about this shit all we want now. What do you guys think about Yetis?

Justis: 100 per cent true.

Evan: Totally plausible.

Like a gorilla man living in the fucking Himalayas? Of course that could happen.

Drew: I just watched a special on that, absolutely.

Mat: Like in the seventies, when they lifted that carcass of like a dragon or what they believed to be something someone could have interpreted as a dragon?

Justis: Yeah, in Japan.

Someone: Dude, have you heard about the Chupacabra? They think it's like a half breed of like a fox and some other animal.

Well I mean, if you're living in the Himalayas or like the Amazon Jungle, to think there's some fucking animal you've never seen before? That's completely plausible.

Justis: You know what's fucked though? There's like millions of breeds of animals we haven't even found yet. That's trippy. Have you seen that video of “the sound?” It might be fake, but there are videos of people recording this really fucked up gutteral sound.

Evan: Yeah, in like Conklin, Alta. That shit scares me.

Justis: It might be fake, but I don't care.

Evan: I dunno, there's a lot of videos.

That's crazy.

Drew: Shit's cray man. There's a lot more to everything than people want to think about. Like realistically, Single Mothers means nothing.

Well let's wrap this all up. What's Single Mothers all about?

Drew: Fuck, I don't even know anymore.

Justis: Hangin' and slangin'.

Drew: Well, we were about having a good time and pissing off my ex-girlfriend, now I guess we're just about having a good time.

Mat: I just like the idea of playing heavy music people can party to.

Evan: I like the idea of people getting stoked, you know? Being unified by getting stoked.

Justis: I'm just tired of watching boring folk bands.

Evan: Fucking folk bands. I love folk music, but if I've gotta watch another boring folk music set, I swear to god...

Justis: Yeah, it gets really boring really quick. So I think we're trying to bring back that attitude, you know?

Drew: It's funny because there are punk bands in London, and there always have been, but the scene kind of died out. We used to have to beg for shows in London, and I'm really happy that we've gotten to a point where we can bring rock bands that we like to play with and just have a good time. Out of town bands too, because I think it's like an Ontario thing. People kind of forgot how to just let loose and play shitty, loud rock and roll music. They forgot about attitude. Everyone wants to be on their best manners, which sucks. Although we kind of have to watch ourselves...

Mat: We got a bit of a bad rap...

Drew: Yeah, we used to break our shit and be assholes, and people were kind of cautious of us. So we've toned it down a bit. Still, it's fun to bring your friends around and have a good time. There are so many good bands in Ontario, like The Dirty Nil. We played with them last night. They're so good.

Well you're playing with The Penske File tonight, they're pretty good.

Drew: Yeah, great band. We played with them a while back and they were awesome.

Evan: Honestly though, shout-outs to...

Justis: Young Wife; Northern Primitive; Juliana Riolino...

Drew: Every band that's ever come out of Welland.

Man, my grandparents are from Welland...

Mat: Justis is from Welland.

No way. I thought Welland was for carcasses, like dead people. Then all of a sudden, there's like 40 good bands from Welland.

Drew: Every good band is from Welland. It's just like way back when all the good screamo bands were from Burlington.

Well, I remember in like 2007, there were so many good bands in Ontario, like Attack in Black, Alexisonfire, The Flatliners and all that shit. I caught like the tail end of that, and the whole thing kind of just dropped off after. Now it seems like it's kind of started up again. Do you think the Ontario scene is reemerging?

Drew: I'd certainly hope so. I think it's on its way back up for sure.

Justis: Well I think when Alexisonfire and Silverstein got huge, the market got saturated. With that, you saw a lot of bands who were a lot more radio friendly and pulling for that spot on 102.1. Now it's a completely different thing. Bands are just kind of being themselves and we're just showing our true personalities, not just trying to fit a specific sound or whatever. In any band I've been in, it's never been like “hey, let's try to sound exactly like this other band,” that's just the worst to me. A lot of people fall into that trap sometimes, but we've never really had that problem because we're all so different.

Drew: Yeah, we've had a lot of different members and a lot of different songs, and we just got lucky in that we've clicked and written what we wanted. There was never a point where we had to compromise our sound, because the goal was just to play London and get girls to come hang...

Mat: Get girls to do STUFF!

Justis: Not me!

Evan: The girls were all over Justis last night.

Justis: Not even man, I have a girlfriend.

Drew: Some girl was touching Evan's arm last night, it was nice. For him.

Evan: It was nice... shout-out to that girl. Add me to Facebook!

Well, my interview's been over for like five minutes now, so I'm turning this thing off...

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

What's up?

This shit rips soooo hard.

So yeah, it's been like, over a month since I've posted here. Lots of school and shit like that. Anywho, I've recently started helping out my friends at The Metal and Hardcore Times. You can check out a review I did of the newest ETID album Ex Lives right here, and be sure to check the latest updates from those dudes in the top right corner of my screen. Hopefully school will soon stop bludgeoning me over the head with it's incessant nonsense, so I can get back to bludgeoning y'all over the head with my incessant nonsense (like anyone's actually reading this, lol). Get ready for more bands and some other cool stuff I've got coming down the pipe, most of it involving Single Mothers. The band Single Mothers. And maybe some actual single mothers. Who knows...



PS: Check out the new Xerxes record. I gave it a couple spins today, and holy shit is it ever good!

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

10 (More) Bands You Should Immediately Educate Yourself on the Existence of: Pt 1 (10-6)

In the six months since I did the original list, three of the bands I mentioned (P.S. Eliot, Hunter City Madness, and Attack in Black) no longer exist. With any luck, I've started some kind of curse. Anywho, here's another list of bands you should keep your eye on in 2012.

10. Pianos Become the Teeth

The only reason Pianos are this high on the list is because they're probably at least on your radar already. Once considered (by me, anyways) to be the red-haired stepchild of "the wave," these dudes came out of nowhere to release one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2011 in The Lack Long After. If you haven't heard the album already, do yourself a favour and pick it up. If the lyrics don't choke you up, you may have no soul. This band is right at the forefront of the whole "skramz revival" that's sprung up recently-- and for good reason. Nobody's doing it better.

9. Rain Over Battle

With the release of 2011's These Rocks in Our Bodies, the youngsters in Rain Over Battle have shown they're more than capable of nestling comfortably into a long lineage of notable Virginia punx. The album flew under the radar for the most part, but if ROB continue to perfect their blend of clever, catchy beard-core, expect to see their next album on a few top 10 lists. Their sound is one part Philly punk and one part mid-era Against Me!, blended together in the No Idea break-room and garnished with a healthy dose of Wonder Years-esque pop-punk. But instead of being a four-chord cliche, these guys are striving to write some of the most complex, textured tunes the genre's ever seen. Sometimes the band's ambitions get a bit lofty and they find themselves in over their heads, but I expect those bumps will smooth out with age and experience. I also expect these guys to blow up on Punknews any day now. I guess we'll have to wait and see.

8. Drug Church

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of a Self Defense Family fanboy. Call a cop. Anywho, it always seemed a little odd to me that Patrick Kindlon, a dude who constantly professes his love for aggressive, moshy, sometimes ignorant hardcore, wasn't in an aggressive, moshy hardcore band. Enter Drug Church. The band's bio says it all: "No heavy trips about how you should live. No white guy slam-poetry about love. Just music you can push pit and stagedive to so you can forget for a moment that you have eczema and work at Pizza-Hut." These dudes dropped a very impressive demo last year, ("Visualize Latham" might have been the mosh-riff of 2011) and just recently signed to No Sleep. Expect their debut seven inch to make waves sometime later in 2012.

7. Loma Prieta

Holy fuck. January isn't even finished, and I've already got a few early contenders for 2012's album of the year. Loma Prieta have made their way into the conversation with I.V., a fierce, moody, monster of an album. The band perfectly blends noisy hardcore and noisy screamo for a very refreshing take on the whole "skramz revival" thing we've been seeing recently. If Kurt Ballou and Will Killingsworth somehow had a baby, it's band would sound like this (to be honest, I was surprised to find out I.V. wasn't recorded at God City). The band switches from catharsis to violence at the drop of a hat, oftentimes giving the listener mere seconds to breathe before pummeling them with a quick blast of pure vitriol. The album is relentless in it's approach, but more importantly, it's well written and unique. Expect to hear a lot more about I.V. -- and Loma Prieta-- in the future.

6. Joie De Vivre 

Rockford, IL's Joie De Vivre would have been on the last list I made if it weren't for the fact that they'd broken up earlier that year. With that in mind, I'm pleased to announce that y'all should check out Rockford IL's Joie De Vivre. That's right, they recently got back together, are about to embark on a Euro tour, and will hopefully be releasing a followup to their spectacular 2010 full-length, The North End sometime in the not-so-distant future. Joie is the epitome of the Midwest's current fascination with Mineral/American Football, complete with trumpets and all. But aside from being one of the most heavily indebted bands in their circle, they're also easily one of the best. For those of us who can't remember a time when "emo" wasn't a dirty word, Joie De Vivre is just as refreshing and effective as any of their predecessors.


So that's it for now. I'm gonna do some homework. Part 2 will follow within the next few days.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

A chorus of screaming idiots

There seems to be an unspoken code in politics and political journalism that any non-inflammatory or politically correct idea, regardless of how innately stupid it is, should be given credence.

Take for example, Rick Santorum's recently resurfaced opinion on contraception laws. Although he doesn't come right out and say it (politicians never do), it appears Santorum would like to see all forms of birth control become legally unavailable.  This is a bad idea on it's own merits, but when you consider Santorum's stance on federal funding for public education and social services, his position becomes laughable. As anyone with half a brain could figure out, the numbers don't add up across the board: an increase in the number of kids, coupled with a decrease of money in the pot for schools can only mean a decline in quality of education. Lower quality of education goes hand-in-hand with things like a higher crime rate, a lower GDP, a higher teenage pregnancy rate and an overall lower quality of life, which is something that nobody in their right minds would want for their country.

This isn't my opinion, either, this is simple math: 1-1= 0. Everyone should know this. A lot of people do know this. So then why is nobody calling Santorum on his crackpot theories?

In a true democracy, that job falls to the public. Alas, the public doesn't have the tools or forum to do so -- and even if they did, it's safe to say that the majority of them either don't care or actually side with Santorum. As for his GOP opponents eyeing that same presidential bid? They're not going to bite on something like this. The primaries are shaping up to be a close race, and the candidates don't want to lose the "fringe lunatic" vote, especially when smacking Santorum around on this particular issue won't earn them any short-term success. For Romney and co., keeping quiet and silently hoping Santorum shoots himself in the foot is the only viable option right now.

With that in mind, the responsibility to expose Santorum's fraudulent ideas falls to us, the journalists. We are, after all, the faithful lighthouse keepers of democracy. It's our job to ensure the public stays informed of all pressing issues, and to encourage thoughtful, informed discussion in both the public and political arena. When frail, poorly strung ideas like this are brought up, it should be our job to strip them bare and expose the gaping holes in them.

So then why, time and time again, are journalists playing moral softball with rubes like Rick Santorum?

Right now, Santorum's ass should be roasting uncomfortably over an open fire. There should be a wall of microphones surrounding him, with people yelling stuff like "what about the spread of STI's, Rick?" or "how exactly are the states to enforce these laws, and what will the cost to the federal government be?" Instead, all Santorum had to face was some touchy-feely "it's not morally right to do this..." garbage from a few self-righteous TV personalities and BOOM, he was free to spout his deranged, dangerous rhetoric all over the rolling New Hampshire countryside. And it's not just Santorum and his ilk who get this treatment; every politician spewing some kind of ill-conceived bullshit, be it from the left or right, is given a few lame softball questions before they're allowed to continue bunging up the democratic process with their nonsense.

It seems to me that in a short time, political journalism (of the TV variety, in particular) has transformed itself from an democracy's sharpest tool into a(n often) vaguely leftist prescription drug pusher. Instead of blowing Santorum's bullshit clean out of the water, instead of attempting to hold the left accountable for their budget failures, instead of asking "why the hell are all these old people deciding the future of the internet without even understanding how to use it?" we continue to come back to these " public opinion" stories; this "who-said-what-and-how-the-public-feels-about-it" bullshit. We've failed, continually, to do the research and ask the questions that will hold politicians accountable. We've been quick to analyze and offer an opinion, but never on what actually matters; only on petty garbage.

So now, as a public, instead of having an informed discussion about how to change the course of a broken economic and political model, we're engaged in a series of ill-informed moral pissing contests. We're not solving anything. We're not getting any closer to the answers. We're just making loud noise from ivory towers while very real problems continue to affect all of us. Rick Santorum is very good at making noise. So are the people with the required lack of critical thinking skills to buy into his hackneyed plans. Noise isn't going to solve anything, only make more problems. Healthy discourse is the only way we can come closer to some sort of solution, and as anyone who's ever worked in a factory can attest, it's pretty damn hard to have a legitimate discussion when you can't hear a thing.

Watching our current state of political discourse is like listening to a really shitty choir. Everyone has a voice, but very few people actually care to use it properly. The talented, hard working, and faithful are being drowned out by the people who just show up for the sake of making noise. As journalists, we should be conducting, harmonizing the willing in an attempt to drown out those who care only to yell, yet at this point, the conductor is only concerned with being the loudest singer. Those with strong voices or just a desire to contribute are getting frustrated and are either leaving or starting to yell themselves.

So, it's come to this. At some point, the show has to end; and with a dwindling pool of willing and able contributors, and nobody to direct those who still care, it appears our swan song will be sung by a chorus of screaming idiots.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

End of a Year vol. 3: Music Revisited

2011 was an awesome year for music. Well, for my music anyways. Time for me to ramble about more arbitrary nonsense!

2011 Band of the Year: End of a Year Self Defense Family

When it boils down to it, music is about two things: art and entertainment. Nobody knows that better than this band. Artistically, SDF released a handful of splits, seven inches, and random Tumblr streams this year, most of it ranging from "interesting to hear" to "the best shit they've ever written". As for entertainment value, well, you probably won't find a more entertaining band in the entire history of bands. Whether on their Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, or other various social media platforms, this band has no shame in broadcasting their sometimes controversial, often insightful/hilarious and always entertaining opinions, without filter, for the world to hear. Whether or not you agree with them, you have to admit the way they maintain an open dialogue with their fans, journalists and other musicians just for the sake of fun is pretty admirable. Also, mad shout-out to Patrick Kindlon for being this blog's first interviewee.

2011 Record Label of the Year: Rise Records

Sorry B9, Run For Cover and Count Your Lucky Stars, but it takes more than putting out kick-ass music to top this category. In fact, if you look at what Rise actually released last year, that may not be a criteria at all. Rise earned this "coveted" award by topping the headlines with some of the craziest/most interesting/most hilarious punk-related stories of 2011. Most noticeably, they shocked the punk(news) world by signing a certain best punk band ever and a whole bunch of other bands who sound just like them, which kicked off their transformation from "joke label" to "legitimate player" in the world of orgcore. It also pissed off a lot of swoop-haired kids, which is hilarious. Speaking of pissed off swoop-haired kids and hilarity, Jonny Craig, crack cocaine, Emarosa, prison. That is all. This reminds me, I have a Twitter page for this thing. I'm also selling Macbooks on it, so check it out.

2011 Best Show: Every Time I Die/The Chariot/food band/Hunter City Madness in Ottawa

I went to a bunch of awesome concerts last year. From getting groped by a hot girl on my birthday at Protest the Hero, to my first two step to Title Fight, to a PWYC/BYOB jam in Kitchener with The Reptilian, to seeing Hot Water Music for the first time and beginning my Chuck Ragan shrine, 2011 was filled with memorable concert moments. This one, however, takes the cake. The night started off with watching my boys in Hunter City Madness tear it up in front of their heroes in ETID. Then, some shitty band came on and the lead singer rubbed the mic on his ass, so I went to get food. After that, The Chariot played. If you've ever seen them, you'll know that's all I need to say. I'm not a huge fan, but god, they rock hard. Then, after some scary, border-related delays, ETID came on and brought the whole place to the ground. As soon as they started playing, an urge to kill rose from within me, taking hold of my whole body and rendering me helpless to it's power. The next 35 minutes are tough for me to recall... I just remember flashes of violent push mosh and sweaty bodies. I have a court date next week. Damn good show.

2011's Most Overrated Album: Fucked Up- David Comes to Life (Matador)

What's worse than listening to a mediocre song? Listening to that song twice in a row. What's worse than listening to a mediocre song twice in a row? Listening to it 18 times in a row. Don't believe the hype.

2011's Most Disappointing Album: Protest The Hero- Scurrilous (Underground Operations)

This was a hard one. Protest the Hero are the only band from my hometown worth talking about, ever, so I feel kinda bad shit-talking them. Also, there was some serious competition in this category (USS put out a straight bomb of an EP, and those Glassjaw releases were all terrible). Alas, Scurrilous sticks out in my mind as the biggest disappointment, if only because how excited my friends and I all were. Sure, "C'est La Vie" was one of my top 10 songs this year, and the rest of the album isn't that bad, but still... It seems like the band traded all the interesting aspects of their songwriting for shredding, shredding, and more shredding. If I wanted to hear fast guitar playing without any discernible focus, I'd listen to Yngwie Malmsteen. Also, Arif needs to stick to being the primary lyricist. Sorry Protest, but this one just didn't stick. If it's any consolation, the artwork kicks ass.

Best Part of Music in 2011: Friends!!!!

It's some sappy bullshit, I know, but 2011 wouldn't have been half as good a year for music if I didn't have the best people in the world to share it with. For the first half of the year, I pretty much lived in a punk house, except it was clean (thanks, Chris), the people there didn't smell weird, and we were all in school/employed. I guess it was less a punk house and more a house where a bunch of dudes who liked punk/hardcore/metal constantly hung out and engaged in shenanigans. Through this place, I met so many cool people, heard so much cool music, and did so much cool shit that I don't even know where to start. Then, in September, I started school in a new city. I also started a band, which is really a glorified excuse to hang out with my best buddy and make fun of crabcore/listen to The Hip. I then joined another band, which is also filled with cool dudes and fun times. Both these bands are currently in the process of writing/tuning up our material, which I shall shamelessly promote on this blog when the time comes.

When I first made the conscious effort to immerse myself in independent music two years ago, I thought the most rewarding aspects would come from listening to the music itself. But while it's an undeniably amazing experience to hear a song that gives me goosebumps, discover an album that blows my mind, or watch a band pour their hearts out on stage, the most rewarding part of being a music fan has been the relationships I've made. It's amazing how many random people on the street you can have a meaningful conversation with just because of the shirt you're wearing. It's amazing how you can have an immediate connection with a new friend after a drunken conversation about music. It's amazing how easy it is to reach out to somebody you admire, and how humbled and willing they'll be to just chat with you for a little bit. It's amazing how many talented, interesting people there are out there combining their love of music with their other skills and passions to put out records, promote shows, take pictures, write stuff, do artwork, or the tons of other things that directly contribute to the music scene. It's amazing how much fun it is to create something with your friends. It's amazing how an inaccessible, aggressive, derivative form of music can bring so many different people together under one roof to enjoy a common experience. That is the beauty of punk rock.

Keep it real.


So, that does it for now. I plan on doing some non-music related year end stuff, as well as a look ahead to 2012, so if anyone's actually paying attention, stay tuned.