Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"When we look out the cottage window at say, a sunset smouldering over the sparkling waves, exactly what are we seeing? Is it nature redolent with raw primordial power? Or are we seeing a scene so subtly colonized by our experience of landscape painting, that we can't tell the difference any more? Is it really a glorious sunset? Or did we learn the meaning of 'glorious' from a painting by some member of the Group of Seven."

God, Please Save These Troubled States

As I get older, I find that it is a lot harder to keep up with music than it used to be. Whereas I used to be on top of everything that came out and listen intently and instantly be able to form an opinion on it, I just don't have the energy or time to do that anymore. It could be that as a person, when you get older you just start to settle into the things you like or it could be that I don't have those commutes on the bus to school anymore, where I used to listen to music constantly and accordingly needed an always refreshing supply. Then again, I'm only 24, so making those types of statements seems pretty silly.

Another thing is that I constantly forget about releases and always find myself listening to something and thinking "Holy fuck! How did I forget how good this album is!" This is certainly a result of that period of finding and listening to everything I could find, as only so many things can stick you, y'know. It's weird, I almost feel guilty because I've been ignoring it.

There's a select few artists who this happens to more often than not: Jawbreaker, The Makeshift Heroes, Bayside, The Impossibles, among others.

Recently somebody this happened with is Crime In Stereo. I was fucking all about this band for a few years, but they gradually fell out of rotation for no reason that I can think of. Their last show in Toronto before they broke up (before reforming last year) was one of my favourite shows I've ever been to. They had a great career and each album was sufficiently different from the preceding one that it was distinct, but also still sounded like it was natural for the band.

This song is probably their best one. Everything about it is fucking perfect. Huge sing-a-long chorus, bridge/guitar solo, giant ending breakdown. Fuckin' great.

Go Out With A Bang, Or Until They All Know Your Name

Something that will surprise absolutely no one at all is that I am super into the new Antartigo Vespucci EP. It's the brainchild of Jeff Rosenstock (My fav since I heard "Nowhere"*, also Bomb The Music Industry!) and Chris Farren (Fake Problems, who I haven't listened to nearly enough lately and put out a shitload of great music), so it's pretty much right up my alley. In terms of the actual music, it's in the same vein as the poppier numbers from the end of BtMI!, like "Vocal Coach" or "Can't Complain". Chris Farren does essentially all of the singing, save for one brief appearance by Jeff on lead. Both of them wrote the stuff, though it does seem to lean more towards Jeff's style. Hey, Benny Horowitz from the Gaslight Anthem played drums too!

The whole thing is pretty ace, is perfect for summer and will certainly be one of my favourite things released this year. Poppy bangers like "I'm Giving Up On U2" are what will draw you in (dat chorus doe), but the ending line of "All I wanna do is fade out with you" on "Bang!" is what sealed the deal for me.

This is my favourite song off of it, I think:


*Hey Matt, since I know you're one of two people actually read this, look for John Ryan in that video. I assure you that he is there. My Long Island ska knowledge runs deep.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sell Both Our Tickets And Sit On The Lawn

Initially, I planned to include this entry as part of that "Under The Radar" series I started writing and then promptly forgot about*, but then it dawned on me that it would be a little silly to have an entry on one of the most successful rock bands in Canadian history be titled "Under The Radar".

But then again, Sloan have a weird type of reception and are sort simultaneously liked and ignored for similar reasons. At least by my perception, that is. On one hand, they are indie rock darlings that encompassed everything about Canadian alternative rock in the 90's, while on the other they are Can-Rock giants, whose singles have dominated radio for about 20 years.

 On that first note, they came from our then-indie Mecca Halifax (it could be argued they created it), they had the angst and they had the sound. Their first two records, Smeared and Twice Removed, are absolute classics and should really be considered the stuff put out by their concurrent American coutnerparts like Sonic Youth and Archers of Loaf. This is all referenced in the video below (Sidenote: Huge Eric's Trip sweater and a Jaguar! Remember the 90's?! This is who all the emo kids want to be right now, but they don't even realize it and that makes me laugh.)

Did I watch that entire video before posting it? Yes, I did.

The weird thing about Sloan is what happens to them after their first two albums. Though there is a definite progression in sound between Smeared  and Twice Removed, they are both firmly within the realm of indie-rock. Those two albums were also very successful and released on the band's own label, Murderrecords. After some courting by a major, Sloan put out One Chord To Another, again on their own label, but there was a far greater progression in sound this time around. The hooks were still there, but there was a strong move towards more mature pop-rock that had it's foot much more in the mainstream than the band's previous output.

This is where the other side of the band's identity comes in. Though One Chord To Another is considered by many to be a classic, it does mark the beginning of the band's radio success and identity as a "singles band". Whereas before people praised Sloan's ability to put out classic after classic^, the band now started to be defined by songs like "Money City Maniacs", "If It Feels Good, Do It" and "The Rest Of My Life". That's not to say that those songs are bad, I love them, it's just that they became that band whose song you heard on The Edge or MuchMusic, not the band whose album you listened to in your room because you just got broken up with.

And hell, I guess that's just a result of those damn Can-Con laws, ain't it?

The problem with this entry is that I thought of it last week when I was in the middle of a giant, week-long Sloan binge, and have kind of forgotten what I wanted to get at. Duality or identity or some shit, I guess?* What I want to say is that you should probably go back and visit all the Sloan albums you forgot about, like Navy Blues, Never Hear the End of It or The Double-Cross, because they are filled with interesting forays into pop music on the deep cuts and gigantic pop hooks on the bangers.

For example, "HFXNSHC" is off of Never Hear the End of It and is the band trying to make a silly punk, but it doesn't work because THEY ARE WAY TOO GOOD AT HARMONIZING.

"Who Taught You To Live Like That" is off of the same album and is a picture-perfect example of Canadian roots-rock. SERIOUSLY, HOW IS THIS BAND SO GOOD AT HARMONIZING. CHRIST.

And hell, even after all these years, Sloan can still whip out an absolute gem of an indie-rock song, like this one (the song I'm referring to starts at 2:56, but all three are pretty fucking amazing together):

Really, I just wanted to write out a post as an excuse to include that last song. Hey Rebecca, I think about you when I listen to it. I AM THE KING OF THE SAPS.

*Sometimes when I have an idea for a blog, but not the time to write it, I start an entry by just writing out the title and maybe a short point-form description of my ideas and then leaving it. These typically turn into nothing, though on occasion I have actually gone back and written it out. I swear that when I came up with the idea of that "Under The Radar" thing, I immediately wrote down like six or seven bands I would want to do one on. Nope.

Also, I often come up with ideas that I think would work really well as a series, but also necessitate me writing and making entries in this blog often enough to have a series. That don't happen no mo'.

^Seriously though, their first three albums were Smeared, Twice Removed and One Chord To Another. That is a FUCKED amount of amazing output to start your career.

*Look at me go, I write like I don't care and am blasé, but I'm the one putting the effort into writing it! This is what you call "voice" or, more accurately, "being a poseur".

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Write Me A Cheque

Something that's been really popular on my facebook feed recently has been friends of mine posting lists of "12 (or 13 or 14) Albums That Changed You (or Stayed With You)". Basically, the idea is that you post a list of a few of your favourite albums with not very much thought being put into it, as the focus is more on the first thing that pops into your head, rather than a meticulous, thought-out process. Of course, as most people aren't huge music nerds like the people who originally started doing this, it eventually just turned into "Post Your Favourite Music".

I do want to state that I'm a fan of the original intention though. I think about music as much as the next guy, but there's something very refreshing about someone just posting something because it's the first thing they thought of, rather than mapping out why one album is better than another or constructing some type of elaborate argument to prove your point. Music is art and our response is generally emotional, so it's cool to base your thought process off of that in this case. And hell, it says something if you think of one release right away and then have to dig deep to  remember another, doesn't it?

It has already been documented on this blog that I am TOO PUNK and TOO COOL to participate in trends on facebook, but as was the case last time, I'm actually kind of interested in this one and it seems neat. So here you go, these are 13 albums that have stuck with me over the years (or this is my list of favourite albums without racking my brain over shit that I'm forgetting). I have them in order, but it's pretty arbitrary; again, I'm not spending a ton of time on this.

The Arrogant Sons of Bitches- Three Cheers For Disappointment
I have realized that having a "favourite album ever" is difficult because it's always changing, based on how your taste changes. This one is "mine" though and as is about as close as anything will get.

Bomb The Music Industry!- To Leave Or Die In Long Island
I used to time my walk home from high school so that I could scream all of the words to "Syke, Life Is Awesome!" to myself and that helped me deal with things more than you could possibly imagine.

The Suicide Machines- Destruction By Definition
This one made an instant impact and it hasn't gotten old since. In fact, I'm wearing a Suicide Machines shirt right now.

Less Than Jake- Hello Rockview
I have to pick just one LTJ album?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

We Are The Union- Who We Are
This is one that if I sat down and thought about the list might not have made it, but really has stayed with me over the years.

blink-182- Dude Ranch
Blink was one of the first bands I got into and this album still fucking rules.

Lifetime- Jersey's Best Dancers
I probably don't listen to Lifetime enough. They're the best. FEELINGS.

The Ergs!- Dorkrockcorkrod
There was a time in my life when I listened to The Ergs! and not much else. Riffs for days and cute lyrics for days.

The Mighty Mighty Bosstones- Let's Face It
Again, probably wouldn't have included it on a best albums ever list, but I started listening to this band early in high school and haven't stopped since. Also, at one time I wanted to get "Let's Face It" tattooed on my chest like Travis Barker's Dag Nasty tattoo. I have since reconsidered that idea.

Saves The Day- Stay What You Are
Everything about this album is perfect. It has everything about a "favourite record"; a sound that captures a point in your music taste, relatability, being tied to a specific/important/nostalgic time in your life. Christ, I love it so much.

Set Your Goals- Mutiny!
Yeah, I'm  a poseur. Whatever. I love SYG and have been listening to this since it came out.

Descendents- Everything Sucks
One of my favourites ever. "Thank You" is probably my favourite song of all-time.

Operation Ivy- Energy
Fucking timeless and if anything, I've started to love it more since I heard it in ninth grade.

BUT, I think that doesn't really capture me lately, so I have made this additional list of "Albums That Have Stuck With Me From The Last Few Years":

The Sidekicks- Weight of Air

The Swellers- Good For Me

John K Samson- Provincial

House Boat- The Thorns of Life

The Copyrights- North Sentinal Island

The Hotel Year- It Never Goes Out

Bomb The Music Industry!- Vacation

The Wonder Years- The Upsides

I Am The Avalanche- Avalanche United

Classics Of Love- Self-Titled

Sometimes I feel like I'm going through some huge musical transformation and my taste isn't even close to what it used to be. Looking at the lists above, I'm still the same dude, there's just not as many ska bands as there used to be.

Thursday, February 27, 2014


Today I gave a lecture about Painters Eleven at the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery. This was a really huge event in my life for a variety of reasons. Obviously me being able to give a talk about a subject I went to school for, in an institution that is directly involved in that field is a pretty big deal, but it also held a lot of personal significance for me.

At this point last year, I was unemployed and living in a shitty basement apartment with Mark. I had just moved to Waterloo and had been out of school for almost a year. Since graduating, I didn't really do much of anything and had a lot of trouble finding ways to apply myself to anything and even more trouble finding a job. I was in the worst mental state I've ever been in and was averaging an anxious breakdown per week. What's interesting to me is that today it is almost a year to the day that I emailed the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery about volunteering with them, so this seems like a good jumping off point.

Volunteering at the gallery seemed like a good idea to me because it was a good way for me to get my foot in the door at an institution and get some valuable experience. Once I started, I tried to be there as much as I could, whether it be helping with day camps, the Family Sunday program or even just cleaning up stuff in the classrooms. One program of particular importance was a week I spent helping out with the gallery's March Break Camp. The kids took to me, I got amazing experience, but most importantly, I actually felt like something I was doing mattered for once. The kids looked up to me and listened to what I had to say about art and I got to teach them, but the real crutch was how much having things that actually matter in my life turned me around.

The gallery posted summer jobs and obviously I knew that I should get one of the positions. However, one stipulation of the position was the applicant had to be returning to school. Up to this point, I had been asked by my parents if I would ever consider a graduate degree, but never taking it seriously. Upon seeing that if I wanted a job at a gallery, I would have to return to school, I knew it was something I would have to do. I written about my experience applying to school on here already, so I'll spare you the details. Long story short is that applying to the MAAHVC program at the University of Guelph is probably the best decision I've ever made.

One great part about my program is that for one of my courses I've been able to work as an intern at KW|AG in return for a credit. The end result of that internship is the talk that I gave today, at the gallery as part of their "Contemporary Art 101" lecture series.

On top of this, Beat Noir has since released an EP (that not many people liked) and a full-length (that it seems like most people liked!) and played a ton of shows that really beat the shit out of what we were doing before. And hell, now I'm also in the most serious relationship I've ever been in and that girl makes me happy every day.

What I'm writing all of this up for is that I really hate talking about myself and can be really self-critical and depreciating, so I often look down on what I'm doing. I just wanted to say "Congratulations Tim. You really kicked the shit out of this last year of your life man."

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

That Glove Was So Worn Out

Something that has always really irked me is when music journalists and reviewers say things like "Oh man the new ______, just wait until you hear it!" because it always comes off like they're bragging about the fact the fact that they have a release before you do. This irking is doubled when it's done by someone who writes for an online music news site or a blog. In that case the person comes off as a tremendous douche, because bands (especially small ones) really have to throw themselves out there and rely on those types of publications in order to make any kind of impact as a band. Oh, you like a release? Cool man, write a review about it.

I remember that there was a particularly bad offender on absolutepunk.net when I used to paruse the forums there a few years ago. Whenever there was a release that people were excited for and were speculating about, he would come in and say something like "Oh, it's amazing." as if to rub his connections in our faces. It really bugged me and came off as very smug.

I say all of this because I want the following to come off as sincere and not just me bragging that I have something before it's release date:

I was having a real moment with the new Wayfarer yesterday and "Worn Out" is now the song for every other band to beat this year. This thing is really something special.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Shows, shows, shows

Beat Noir is playing a show that I'm really excited about. It has a ton of great bands from Southern Ontario and promises to be a rager.

The facebook event can be found here.


Ecotone Mark II

While I certainly would like to write up a big post about the release of Beat Noir's new album Ecotone (I guess I sort of already did that), I'm really busy with my extremely hard grad class Proseminar II, my internship at Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and organizing my trip to see Bomb the Music Industry!'s final two shows in Brooklyn. Rest assured that there is a 45% chance that it will come eventually.

Instead, I offer the following copy-and-pasted post from my tumblr:

(It pains me to type that, but you know you will always be #1 in my heart blogspot.)

Yesterday my band Beat Noir (http://beatnoir.tumblr.com/) put out our first full-length album, titled Ecotone. We’ve worked very long and very hard on this release, as some of the songs are more than two years old and are the first songs I learned when I joined the band!
So you say “Well frig Tim, how the fudge are we supposed to hear this incredibly hype and saucy album?” and to that I respond “Why, on our bandcamp page of course!”
So yes, if you go to http://beatnoirpunkrock.bandcamp.com/ you can hear the whole album and download it for whatever price you like! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO THAT, IN MY COMPLETELY UNBIASED IN ANY WAY OPINION.
Some would say that we are for fans of The Weakerthans, or Attack In Black, or The Clash or Thrush Hermit. I would say that we are for fans of RiFF RaFF and Birdman, as they are my greatest musical influences.
That was the speech device known as “sarcasm”.
Now you say “Well, that’s great, but I’m the type of person that prefers a hard, tangible copy of a release to all this digital, mp3 nonsense. N’AM SAYIN’?” To that I respond “You are in luck! We have preorders (because pressing vinyl records is expensive) of our album on our bigcartel page!”
So mosey on over to http://beatnoir.bigcartel.com/ and there you can pick up a vinyl copy of the new album. There is also a shirt with a black sheep on it that was thought of by my dad when I was talking to him about band stuff like two years ago on our back patio. I guess that’s cooler for me than other people, BUT WHATEVER. FUCK IT. IT’S REALLY FUCKING COOL.
So now you say to me “Okay, this is all wonderful Timothy, but in my opinion there is nothing greater than going to a live musical event where I may see songs performed live by a musical group.” My response to this is “Ha-ha! I win again! We are playing a bunch of shows in Southern Ontario over the next month or two (some still in the process of being booked), so you can come see us at those!
The best way to keep up to date on our shows would be to check out our facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BeatNoir) or, since you are obviously reading this on tumblr, our tumblr page (http://beatnoir.tumblr.com/)
And hell, I post about our shows all the time on here too, so if you give me a follow, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll be in the loop on our performances.
Thanks for bearing with me and my terrible sense of humour. I sincerely hope that you enjoy this release. I really mean that. Since I started getting into punk and playing bass in grade 7, I’ve always dreamed of being able to say “This is my full-length record.” Today, I can say that and it is a really big deal to me personally.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


I think that I have come to the conclusion that I hate technology. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate how technology makes essentially every aspect of my life easier, but the effect that it has on human behaviour is starting to kind of disgust me. There's also the fact that every person is constantly pressured into buying or updating everything they own for fear of becoming obsolete, so technology also gets the wonderful association of capitalism.

This kind of stems from the fact that I've been reading this book over Christmas break:

The book, written in 2010, is set in a near future in which people have "apparats", which are a sort of personal tablet-like device that constantly uploads both conscious and subconscious information from them and broadcasts it globally over the internet. As a result, there are no personal boundaries whatsoever and there's more or less no stop to the release of information. People start to communicate almost exclusively through social media and instant messaging, to the point that speaking is known as "verballing". Online shopping also progresses to the point that people are constantly shopping and bidding on auctions online through their apparats and the pressure to consume skyrockets. 

The book is a satire and purposefully over the top, but the more I think about it, the more it starts to feel like this world is about 5 years away. I mean every time I hang out with people, their phones are never very far from their hands and it's not uncommon at all to have stretches where everyone in the group has their face down staring at Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Tumblr on their phone. While they're making a point to take time out of their day to hang out with people! To me this is pretty ridiculous and it's an obvious sign that the human race, or at least the part of it that lives in developed countries and has access to this technology, is moving towards an existence where we communicate through a third party, like social media or instant messaging or whatever, as opposed to actually conversing with someone.

Case in point is how nobody actually uses their phone to make phone calls anymore. Everybody has gotten so used to the idea of texting somebody and having the recipient read whenever is most convenient for them, that people actually dread making phone calls now! I think it's pretty weird and ridiculous that such a wonderful and game-changing invention, the telephone call, is now abhorred because it involves direct interaction with a human being.

Over this break, my girlfriend has been visiting family in Germany. Man, long relationships are HARD! While it's completely astounding that What'sApp? allows me to converse with her in real time while she's on the other side of the planet, to me it totally fucking sucks that our only avenue of conversation is instant messaging, because I find it difficult to have that be the only way to talk to someone. I personally prefer in-person conversation or a phone call, but this has got to do for now, right? There's an ebb and flow to conversation, not to mention body language, that greatly relates to how you converse with someone that is just completely absent in instant messaging (yeah, I refuse to type IMing), and that stresses me out. I also really hate the idea that if you are close to someone, you have to be nearly constantly texting them or else they become paranoid or angry. It has more or less progressed to the point that you have to spend every moment of your time talking to people, with the only feasible reason being that you can multi-task and do things on your phone while you do other things as well. That is FUCKED.

This idea is what contributes most strongly to the satire in Super Sad True Love Story, I think. Instead actually speaking to one another, people either send messages over "GlobalTeens", which is basically skype, or spew out "verbals" that are just a mish-mash of pop-culture references of social media glub that may seem pretty funny when read on your computer, but sound absolutely pathetic coming out of a human's mouth. And seriously, is this even that far away? People my age are already way more comfortable throwing a tweeting at somebody or mentioning them on Facebook and also spend an absolutely asinine amount of time doing things of absolutely no importance or merit on their computer.

I realize that it's a little problematic that I'm using my personal blog on my computer to get my thoughts out, as this would certainly fall into the last category I described in the preceding paragraph. All that I can offer in my defense is that I do put a lot of effort into the things I write on this blog and while my writing is certainly victim to the vernacular, I like to think that this stuff is a little more composed and thought out than what you see on Facebook or Tumblr. I do recognize that IMU is perpetually riddled with grammatical errors though. I fix them when I see them, I swear!

I think the constant need to buy new technology or update what you have is what disgusts me most though. I didn't a cell phone until I was in 2nd year university, which was very late compared to almost everyone I know. Upon getting one, I had one of these for three years, which was the phone equivalent of bringing a Neanderthal's club to a gunfight. After that, I upgraded to a Blackberry which kept me current for about 3 months before the entire world started to get iPhones. Now people chuckle when I pull out my Curve to check a text and then ask me how I can live without SnapChat or Instagram or 2 gigabytes of monthly data on my plan or a phone camera with a higher resolution. 

I was checking the Bell Mobility website the other day to see which types of upgrades I could look into, as my contract with the company is almost up. While at first I was amazed at how cheap I could get a brand new iPhone 5C for (and in my favourite colour blue to boot!), I shortly thereafter realized that in order to get this phone and acquire the clearly essential option of being able to put filters on pictures of my dogs, I had to sign up for a contract that would take me town for services that are much cheaper elsewhere. I realized quickly that my Curve would work just fine for now and could make do for the little while, but it's worth noting that the iPhone is by far the most popular, sexy and "must-have" phone in the eyes of the public and it is only offered by the bigger companies, who charge you up the ass contract-wise. They got what you need and you're fucking buying.

On the other hand, I now have virtually every piece of music ever composed at my fingertips, I'm free to look up any piece of information I'm wondering about and scholarly research is so much easier for me than it was for my parents that the two environments aren't even comparable. I guess I dread a time when saying "I totally heart you." is literally going to replace "I love you.", because it's seriously not very far off in my opinion.

In the mean time can we just please use the internet more for educating ourselves than for looking at pictures of cats and stupid jokes that only make sense on a computer screen?