Monday, March 23, 2015

I'LL BE YOUR DAD

I feel like this blog is going to come off as jaded and negative, but rest assured that I don't intend that at all.

Sometimes being in a band can be hard. When you are recording new songs or playing good shows and things are going reasonably well, being in a band is great. But to get to a point where those things happen requires a lot of work. A lot of work which doesn't immediately pay off and can seem like a waste. Sometimes being in a band seems like a completely Sisyphean task. Shows start to dry up. Shows are played to the same people. Money is paid to keep the and going and never comes back. Though the feeling you get from playing a good show never really fades and the benefits of putting your creative energy into something are innumerable, it can sometimes be hard to focus on those things instead of the negatives.

I say this because last night I saw my friends Shopping Cart and while they were playing, they reminded of how much fun being in a band really is. All I could think of while watching them was the feelings fun and youth that initially inspired me to want to start a band. Most people would agree that the most fun part of being in a band is hanging with your friends and creating something you're proud of and having fun in the process. Sometimes it's easy to forget that, but Shopping Cart was good at reminding me of it.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

A Title in which I would write out all of Mike McGill's "I wonked this, I twerked that" dialogue from Animal Chin if I could remember it




Sean Bonnette- Skateboarding's Greatest Hits


I came across this album while finding the link for Jeff Rosenstock's new album for my last post. Sean Bonnette is the singer/songwriter of Andrew Jackson Jihad. My only experience with that band is seeing them at Bomb the Music Industry!'s last show and then listening to various songs of theirs on the drive back from said show. This is nothing against them at all, it's not like I dislike them or anything, but I find that I listen to and have so much music that there are just some bands I never get around to. Maybe I will someday! But for now, I am more or less completely ignorant to Andrew Jackson Jihad.

But this album intrigued me a lot, mainly because of its title. On this release, Sean covers songs from his favourite skate videos, which I think is amazing. As much as the skating obviously makes a part, sometimes a skater is paired with a song and the two inform each others styles and it creates this perfect synergy. I know some people don't "get" skate videos because it's just guys skating, but when one is done well it just becomes hypnotizing and draws you in. It inspires you, sure to go out and skate, but in reality that feeling is "I can do this if I work hard enough. I can push myself to learn this." It can be this amazing ethereal feeling that puts you on a high for the rest of the day. And the songs are instrumental to that.

That's why I think this EP (I guess?) is so awesome. I'm seeing somebody else's ties to skate parts through the songs and I love that. To me, skateboarding has always been a social activity that ties me to others. No matter who they are or what they like or what we have in common, we both skateboard and that is all that matters while we are both on skateboards.

The album was made to raise money for Skate After School, which is an organization to help teach kids skateboarding and get them involved with what can be a great social and physical activity. Skateboarding was absolutely crucial to my development as a person. It exposed me to new music, new art and always gave me something positive to do with my friends. The fact that I could return to Toronto at any time (barring this damn snow) and ask Paul, Damien or Pat "Hey, do you want to go skate?" and that they would most likely respond "Yes." gives me a ton of comfort.

I really like his choice of songs and think they turn out exceptionally well. Personal favourites are the Guided by Voices and Modern English covers, though the Slayer cover is particularly weird and awesome. I also like the songs because I love the videos they come from. Welcome to Hell and Sorry? Yes. Instantly, I can pull up Maldonado and Saari's parts and each video's aesthetic. His choice of skaters is also fucking primo.

If I had to pick 6 Skateboarding Greatest Hits?

1. Sweet Apple- "Do You Remember" (C1RCA, Thrasher King of the Road 2010)
2. Iron Maiden- "Hallowed Be Thy Name" (Jamie Thomas, Toy Machine Welcome to Hell)
3. AFI- "The Boy Who Destroyed the World" (Rodney Mullen, 411 I Love Skateboarding)
4. Lemmy- "Stand by Me" (Geoff Rowley, Flip Extremely Sorry)
5. The Jackson 5- "I Want You Back" (Guy Mariano, Blind Video Days)
6. Husker Du- "The Real World" (Jason Lee, Blind Video Days)

Monday, March 2, 2015

You are Wonderful

You are reading the preface to this blog post

Jeff Rosenstock put out a new album last week. In keeping with IMU tradition, I will write about that album here. As per usual, the album is available as a donation-download on his "record label"'s website here. I would recommend that you download it because I think it is good music.

You are now reading the main body of this blog post

I have a long and interesting relationship with Jeff Rosenstock. His music that is. I've only met him one time, but he was very nice to me that one time. As a result of that relationship, his music is by far, in my mind, the most written-about thing on this blog.

I started listening to him fairly early in my own musical life, but also his, discovering the Arrogant Sons of Bitches a little after they released All the Little Ones are Rotting when I was in 10th grade. Originally, I liked them because I liked ska and would listen to more or less anything that remotely resembled ska. I also liked them because they were very, very fast and had cool basslines and I thought the chorus to "So Let's Go Nowhere!" was just about the coolest thing ever. A little after that, my tender high school heart was broken for the first time and then I noticed that most of their songs dealt with that and I was "OOHHHH!"Three Cheers for Disappointment then came out and it took me forever to find it and I listened to it almost exclusively because I was a very, very emotional 16 year-old who was bad at expressing and speaking, but very good at attaching myself to music.

When I first discovered the music of ASOB and Bomb the Music Industry!, it seemed like I was the only person in Ontario who listened to those bands. I wore my ordered-online ASOB shirt at shows and it seemed like nobody knew who they were and I wore that with pride. I had friends on MySpace from the North-East United States because they listened to ASOB and BTMI! and that seemed cool to me.

Gradually BTMI! became more and more popular with punk fans, starting, in my mind at least, with 2007's Get Warmer. I got more people into the band and more people in general got into the band, to the point that they became downright popular.

I noticed with the last BTMI! shows, and also with the pre-release of tracks from We Cool?, that the crowd at shows seemed a little different from the feelings and experience that I shared with Jeff's music. I started to get a little (look how) jaded (I can be, when I turn 16)* and I started to think that I had maybe grown up and grown past Jeff's music.

But then I listened to We Cool? when it was streaming last week and I read along with the lyrics during my first listen, which is my own little personal tradition, and I was instantly reminded of why I love him and his music and it hit me in the chest and I can already tell there are many songs which resonate with me.

Never act like you are above things you like, just because other people like them too. Don't get too cool for your own life. Figure out what you need and stay near those things. Find things that move you and use those things.

*C'mon son.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Don't Give Yourself Away

I, like many people I have met, feel a little bit like I was born in the wrong era. I feel as though I was mean to be a teenager in the 1980's. Maybe because it's I because I watched a lot of John Hughes movie. Maybe it's because that is my favourite era of skateboarding. Maybe it's because Fast Times at Ridgemont High has both the character of Jeff Spicoli, a bit of an idol of mine, and Phoebe Cates' pool-exiting scene. Romanticizing the past is a very common thing among people and I know people think it's awful, but I just really love the aesthetic of the decade and a lot of my favourite things happen to come from it.

So yes, I feel like I was meant to be Spicoli or Stiles type. Maybe I just like wearing short shorts and Hawaiian shorts? Who knows. A result of this mindset is that I really late 70's and 80's pop rock because I associate that music with these types of characters. It seems like the perfect music to accompany those characters, with just enough rebellion to give it an edge while still being poppy as hell. The Outfield, The Raspberries, The Knack, I eat them all up . Well, maybe not The Outfield. They're pretty corny, but I love them just the same. The biggest one by far though, is Cheap Trick.

This article is what got me thinking about all of this: The AV Club on Cheap Trick's "Surrender".

It's a great read and sums up a lot of my thoughts on Cheap Trick. And man, "Surrender" is a fucking jam, lordy. Of all the bands in today's revered pantheon of "classic rock" my favourite is Cheap Trick by a fucking mile. It all comes from one place: The use of "Gonna Raise Hell" in episode 3 of Freaks and Geeks, "Tricks and Treats" in the "Freaks" play it in their car and then the song plays while the "Geeks" get their costumes ready:




The band was something that just "existed" before this, but for some reason this song really struck a chord with me when I heard it in this context and suddenly the band became this symbol for teenage delinquency in the 70's and 80's and drinking beer underage and going to bush parties and smoking poorly-rolled, dirt weed joints and staying out late for the first time and trying to impress girls for the first time and it all made perfect sense to me. I love all things "coming-of-age" to death and to me Cheap Trick is a "coming-of-age" band.

Also, there's also all the guitar solos. That helps too.

Like I said, I tend to romanticize the past a lil' bit, so whenever I hear "Dream Police" I picture cruising around in something that resembles this with the radio turned up and it seems like a perfect situation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I Appreciate Your Question

Today in the Toronto Star there was an article about public apologies by athletes and how they have changed over the years to become mostly an empty gesture. The article then extends this into current athlete-media relations, noting how most athletes these days just don't care.

But why the fuck should they?

The whole thing stunk of "old white guy remembers how it used to be!" "I tell you what son, back in my day a ballplayer would be gracious and talk to the reporters!" The article starts off by criticizing Alex Rodriguez for his written apology to New York Yankees fans for being suspended for the use of Performance Enhancing Drugs. While I really don't give a shit at all if a player uses steroids or not, I realize that it is a touchy subject for many fans of baseball. But why does A-Rod even have to apologize? He's going to get crucified by the media regardless. Hell, he already has. He realizes that saying something to fans is required of him and he did it. What more do you want?

I mean, he's basically apologizing for making the team better. The note should have read "I am sorry that I won two MVPs while playing for your team. I am sorry that I led the league in most offensive categories from 2004-2010. I am sorry that I won your city a championship in 2009."

The underlying problem here is that media has drastically changed while newspaper reporters and athletes have not. My parents still get the newspaper every day, but I don't read it for any type of interest anymore. (I would like to note that for baseball, specifically Blue Jays news, I go to Andrew Stoeten, who is just wonderful at what he does.) Nobody reads the newspaper for news anymore, it's disseminated far too quickly via the internet.Nobody cares about reading game re-caps because they see it on the internet or they see it on TV. So that leaves the newspaper with just opinion and interpretation pieces, which I find are often extremely out of touch, like here.

Another thing he brought up was Kevin Durant replying to questions about his coach with "You guys really don't know shit." You know, they, and I guess me, because I've been prone to my fair share of armchair coaching, don't. Because if we did, we would be doing it. We don't know what they have to do and what they go through, so it's better to just let that alone.

Athletes are not required to do anything you want them to do. If they don't want to talk to you, they don't have to. As much as people would like to romanticize Mickey Mantle being charming to the media after games, $1 says he was naked with a beer in his hand, which sure as hell wouldn't go over today.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

My Guide To Dealing With The World

Dealing with the world can sometimes seem very difficult. Sometimes overwhelming. When it gets overwhelming, these are the things I try to remind myself of:

1. There are lots of people around you and some of them have it a lot worse than you.

I don't mean this in the "there are children starving in Africa" or "there are people sleeping in the streets" sense. I also don't want to demean those problems at all. They are humongous, seemingly unsolvable problems with today's world model that are absolutely terrible. I also don't mean to demean your own issues by saying this. Everyone's problems are completely real and completely valid.

What I mean by this is that it is important to be aware of those around you. While it is always easy to pass judgement on people and get pissed at people in public at the drop of the hat, it is a wise idea to do so 0% of the time. For every problem or issue you have, a stranger who you don't know is dealing with something similar. Maybe not exactly the same, but at least similar. Maybe a little worse. Maybe a little easier. Maybe a lot worse. Always consider that this is a possibility.

I realize that it might seem very easy for me to say this because I'm a straight white male whose current issues are school/career-related stress, but I promise that when I get really low and I don't feel too great and start to get overwhelmed, and boy do I, this is the main thing I think.

Like I said, this isn't supposed to be some type of Catholic guilt thing, where I lessen the importance of my own problems strictly because they aren't the same as somebody being murdered, but it becomes easier to think of how to deal when you realize that everyone else is also trying to deal. Human existence is findin' a fuckin' way to deal.

So know that everyone else is trying to do that too. Try to see it them. And try to think that I'm not a hippy after reading that last sentence.

2. Lose yourself in art.

Like I said, everyone is trying to deal. Some people feel that the best way they can deal is by creating. Interacting with the things that those people create is a great way to deal.

Turn a song up really loud and scream the words.

Look at a piece of art. Learn about it. See the themes.

Read about a character and relate to them.

Sometimes it can be hard to talk to people about problems, because you never know how they'll take it. Some people give good advice and help. Some people give bad advice and it seems like you're right back where you started. When you can't seem to find any advice, find it in art instead. It doesn't matter what type.

Talk about it too. Let people know about it.

3. Take a moment for one of your own specific pleasures.

I know that not everybody has the time and/or money to treat themselves to something nice when they don't feel so great and I don't think that spending money as a knee-jerk reaction to sadness is a good idea at all. But just give yourself a few moments of the day for just you. Make a pot of tea and read a comic book. Take an extra 5 minutes in the shower. Do a crossword. Read a book. Wear your favourite T-shirt. Scratch your pet's belly. Think about something you would do a lot of if time was not a factor and do it for just a little bit. It usually makes me smile and that goes a long way. Don't do it to procrastinate. Think about it in advance and look forward to it. You'll appreciate it more.

4. Everybody is going to shit on everybody.

It is important to accept this. This seems to be the main way that many people can make themselves feel better, though it is unfortunate because it puts somebody down in the process. I can't act as though I've never done it, because I have, but it is best to avoid it as much as you can. When you do, things will come out well in the aggregate. Sure some people seem like absolute shitstains, but I would also refer you to #1. This is always so tempting, but once you get out of the habit, you really do realize how awful it can be.

If any of my friends read this, I imagine 80% of them will think it is dumb and make fun of me for writing something like this. Because Kitchener-Waterloo is a very judgmental place. It's important to let these roll off of you. Other people's judgments don't demean what you think and what you do. When you do things that are important to you, you are doing them for you. Don't let the turkeys get you down.




Friday, January 30, 2015

The Summer Game

It's late January. There are many reasons why this is my least favourite time of year. It's cold. Snow is everywhere and that snow is wet. Being cold and wet at the same time is not so fun, in my opinion. You know what you can'd do while it's cold and wet and snowy outside? Skateboard. I go crazy when I can't skateboard. I would like to hang out outside in the sun with my girlfriend, but that is impossible. Why are you ruining my dates winter?! It also happens to be dead in the middle of a busy semester. While I don't want to complain about going to university, because I'm extremely privileged to be able to do so, it is stressful.

But there's one thing that sucks the most. One thing I hate about winter that towers above all other hates, and that is that winter is the baseball off-season. I fucking love baseball. I love the way that the game moves. I love the way it sounds. It makes me feel comfortable and excited. I love going to games. If ownership would hurry the fuck up, I would say that I love the grass smells.

I am denied all of this during the winter months and it drives me wild.

But Spring Training is just around the corner, so there's hope in the form of anxiously waiting for pitchers to be warming up in shorts on a sunny, small baseball diamond. That's not for another 24 days, so I thought I would create a list of my favourite moments from the 2014 Toronto Blue Jays, which was the most exciting in years.

Blue Jays Come Back from a 8-0 deficit to win in Cincinnati

This was easily one of my favourite Blue Jays games and is already one of my favourite memories as a fan. Buffalo Bisons call up Liam Hendricks gave up 8 runs in the 2nd inning and things looked especially dire early. I try to never write games off and stop cheering for the team, because you never know what will happen, but let's face it, giving up 8 runs in an inning, let alone the second is embarrassing. However, Edwin hit a three run shot to answer in the top of the third, giving me hope. The teams both traded runs, before shit got real in the 7th. I was sitting on the edge of my couch in anticipation for most of the game and when Juan Fransisco went deep, to the opposite field no less (!), I knew it was ours. Dioner tied the game with a double and shouted a loud "Fuck yeah!" back the dugout from second base, at which point I was running around the upper floor of my house jumping up and down. With the game now being 9-9, the largest remaining obstacle was Aroldis Chapman looming in the bullpen. Of all people, Steve Tolleson got to him for the go-ahead double, swinging the game in the Jays' favour for good. To rub salt into the deflated Reds sizable wounds, Edwin Encarnacion hit ANOTHER home run (that will be a trend here) in the top of the ninth and then watched it and gave a wonderful batflip to cap off the game. The Jays were red-hot at this time, which tends to attract a lot of bandwagoners during the summer in Toronto. Many of those bandwagoners counted the Jays out early in this game, citing it as a sign that club would soon collapse (hey, that collapse took another two months!), so this game came to stand as a reason for always standing by your team, whether the standings or score tell you to or not.



Edwin Encarnacion's Walk-Off Dinger on Canada Day

In baseball, there is no play that is more exciting than the walk-off home run. From a fan perspective, you go directly from "We are not currently winning this game." to "We just won the game!" and that's pretty much the best thing that can happen, right? The Milwaukee Brewers represented an interested point in the 2014 Blue Jays season. Through the beginning of July, the Jays were one of the best teams in the American League and had been leading the East since May 22nd. For the Blue Jays, that is a huge, huge deal. Milwaukee was one of the better teams in the National League at the time and were leading the National League Central by 6.5 games, which meant they represented a test in terms of the Jays' "legitness" as a contender. Though the Jays started strong with a home run from a returning Jose Bautista, they found themselves down 4-1 after some fielding gaffs. Juan Fransisco, before all of his stats fell off a cliff part way through the season, hit a bomb to it a 4-4 near the end of the game. John Gibbons got ejected arguing a call, which led to this ending (keep an eye on the Blue Jays' mascot Ace):



Colby Game-Tying Home Run in Baltimore

I would like to state now that Colby Rasmus was my favourite Jay during his tenure here, so this list will be biased towards him. Don't like it? 2 bad. Games against Baltimore were important this season, because at the start of the season they were the second-biggest threat in the division behind Boston (hahahahahahahahahaha). The Jays looked like shit this whole game and were down to their last strike on this play. The Baltimore fans were riding Colby hard this game and he answered by putting one into the seats to tie the game with the team's last shot. Not visible is Colby's excellent point to the Baltimore stands as he rounds first base. This is why I like baseball. There is no running down the clock. There is no ragging the puck. There isn't hack-a-Shaq defense. You have to throw the guys a pitch until there are no more outs left and sometimes that leads to moments like this. Also, I called this shot the second before it happened.



Jose Bautista Takes Batflips to an even more badass level

The thing about that last clip is that the Jays eventually lost that game in extras. For every unbelievable high, like the comeback or Edwin's walkoff, there was a low, like losing three of four to the Astros in the midst of an epic collapse in August. By September the Jays were still mathematically in the playoff hunt and things seemed hopeful after a dismantling of the Cubs at home, but deep down most kind of knew it was over. You could see that a lot of the team was feeling deflated. Lind was hurt. Edwin was hurt. Colby was benched. You know who wasn't deflated? Jose Fuckin' Bautista. Right before this home run, Bautista got a pitch that he liked, but fouled it back. He stepped out of the batter's box and cursed himself out for missing because he is a beast and is tenacious and is a serious fuckin' ballplayer. They decided to give him the same pitch and he clobbered it to tie the game. SO DEEP. Right the fuck out to left-center. He watched the hell out of it and then slammed his bat to the ground right before getting to first base. At a time when most fans were down and out and were accepting another third place finish, Jose, taking a page from Timothy Findley, said "Not yet."



Marcus Stroman Complete Game Shutout

I'll admit that coming into the 2014 season, my expectations for the Blue Jays were set pretty low. They were coming off a completely disastrous season in which more or less everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong. Because of "the season of which we will not speak" (2013), there were really few things I was actively looking forward to: Edwin, because he is the best, hopefully a full season of Bautista, a new catcher and a kid the Jays had drafted in 2012, Marcus Stroman. He was rated highly right out of the draft and noted scout Keith Law called him the most MLB-ready player drafted. After a rough start out of the bullpen, he took off and became one of the brightest spots in an already pretty bright season. I mean, yeah. He pitched like a veteran, had a totally magnetic personality and is only 5'9"! The last decade of Blue Jays baseball had conditioned me to expect a drop-off in performance (Brett Lawrie, J.P. Arencibia, Travis Snider, Ricky Romero, Gustavo Chacin, etc., etc.), but his just never came! This amazing rookie season culminated in a complete game shutout of the Chicago Cubs on September 8th. 9 innings pitched! 8 Ks! 3 hits! Only 93 pitches! Plus Ryan Goins made one of the plays of the year to end the game!



Colby Rasmus Game-Winning Home Run at Tampa

Like I said, there's gonna be some Colby on this list. After an amazing 2013 season in which he put together one of the best ever seasons from a Blue Jays outfielder, Colby really struggled this year. Before the season started fans wondered about even being able to afford a contract for him once he hit free agency this off-season, but now they were wondering if it was worth it to bring him back at all. He was hurt during the team's amazing May and performed pretty awfully afterwards. It was tough seeing my favourite player struggle that much and what made it worse was that the fans seemed to like him and genuinely wanted him to succeed. It was such an odd combination of psychological issues and performance issues that seem to return and hurt him as soon as he begins to succeed. Once September arrived, he lost his starting job and was benched, which was a pretty huge slap in the face for someone with as much league experience as Colby. The first game he was benched, he was brought in as a pinch-hitter with the game tied 0-0 in Tampa Bay. You know what Colby thinks of your benching Gibby? This. Note how the manager does not get up to congratulate him while the rest of the team does:



Colby forever.

Edwin Encarnacion's May For The Ages

After two astonishing seasons for the Jays, Edwin Encarnacion got off to a pretty slow start this year. A lot of people wondered what was wrong, but it important to remember that the baseball season is long and good stats are a result of ups and downs. Following a slumping April, did Edwin ever have some ups. He powered the Jays to one of their best months ever. Oh, and dingers are fun to watch. Note how many of these are in the same game.



Walk-Off 19 Inning Win

As I previously mentioned, the Jays struggled mightily in August. First they lost hold of their lead in the AL East and then the gradually fell down the Wild Card standings. A pivotal point in the month was a three game set against the Detroit Tigers at the Dome. The Tigers have traditionally been one of the best teams in the AL, so just like the Brewers coming to town, this would be a big one. The Jays lost the first one in a heart-breaker (a game I was at) and the Jays took the next game. Beating teams like the Tigers is what good teams do and they had to prove they belonged. Neither felt like losing, so the fans that stayed got two for the price of one! Fittingly, Bautista won it all with a walk-off single, because that's what "leaders" do. Best way to celebrate a 19 inning win? A big ol' smooch on the cheek.



Buehrle Gets to 200 with a Gem




Mark Buehrle is a wonder. He's old, he doesn't throw hard and he puts a lot of balls in play. But every year he puts together a great season that helps whatever team he is on. In an age of high strikeout numbers and big fastballs, Buehrle, to me, is a call-back to a time in baseball when hitting your spots and pitching smart got you through a career. The biggest story Buehrle-wise for the season was his quest to become just the 7th pitcher since 1901 to throw 200 innings 14 seasons in a row. Dude is a workhorse. He started the season amazingly well, but ran into a bit of trouble in the middle. Buehrle went into his last start of the season with 194 innings pitched, so there was a very real chance he wouldn't get there, but instead went out and pitched 8 and gave up no runs. The guy has done nothing but impress me since he came to Toronto and has had a very real and noticeable impact on the team's morale and pitching staff. A great accomplishment for one of the game's true good guys.



Perfect Rasmus

This year MLB ran a show called Home Field Advantage in which players would speak about playing in whatever city they play in. Out of all the Jays, they chose Colby! The results were obviously hilarious, with Colby small town Alabamaness coming out strongly. Khakis! Shirt tucked in! Two-strapped backpack! Chicken dogs! Oh, the glorious chicken dog line. He's obviously completely out of his element living in a city the size of Toronto, but it comes off in the most adorable way. Just out little country mouse Colby trying to make his way in the hustle and bustle of the big city. The video was immediately a huge hit among Jays fans, so much so that it inspired a totally hilarious fan-made video in which they combined the opening credits from the 80's sitcom Perfect Strangers with the video to create Perfect Rasmus, which is already one of my favourite Jays things EVER.


And hey, there was also that time my friends got a dick and balls sign on national TV! During a Brett Lawrie home run no less! It was by far the most "viral" (as much as I hate that term) thing that I've ever been a part of and really does make me laugh every time I think about it.

Please hurry up spring.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I, Musical Genius

Recently I was browsing the selection at one of my favourite comic book stores, The Dragon in Guelph. They've always a pretty decent selection of stuff made by local artists and authors and this time was no exception. Though I was there to pick up some Card Wars boosters, I ended up grabbing a zine while I was there as well.

This zine ended up being awful. It was clearly thrown together with only a vague idea of what a punk zine is and it didn't feature any writing or any real central idea at all. But the quality of the zine made me think about making one myself. If somebody could throw together one that bad and circulate it and have it at a local comic shop, then I definitely can. Can't I? What's stopping me?

I've wanted to do something like this for a while, but didn't realize that this would be the medium to do until recently.

The idea I've settled upon is making a physical version of ol' IMU here. I'm going to pick some of the stuff I'm proud of, plan it out, chop it up and then assemble a (hopefully) neat, little version of this.

I've put a lot of myself into this blog over the years and while I like that this webpage stands as a testament to it, I think a tactile version will be much cooler.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wasted Breath, Wasted Time

The Decay played their last show last night, despite being "broken up" for over a year or so. A whole bunch of people combined eulogizing blurbs and statements to commemorate the occasion and though I meant to contribute one myself, I missed the occasion and didn't have to opportunity to contribute anything the "RIP Decay" zine that was given out at the show. Given the huge role that the band played in my life, I would feel awful if I didn't do something along the same lines.

Since I'm not from Kitchener-Waterloo and only moved here recently, I can't pretend that The Decay were a huge institution and one of the first bands I saw live. My first experience with them was downloading This Month's Rent when it was put up by Juicebox. I took to it instantly and couldn't believe that a band this good came from my area. I saw them a little while after that and while I thought they were great, it was nowhere near the appreciation that I eventually held for them after seeing them dozens of times and understanding what these people put into these songs. I'm truly privileged to call the band my friends. This isn't about waxing nostalgic about a band I used to see or thinking about my own development in life. This is about one of my favourite fucking bands in the world stopping.

RIP.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The IMU 2014 Musical Revue

I have a long (not really) and complicated (not at all) history with year-end music lists*. I used to look forward to writing a lot and considered them the marquee moment of the year here on IMU. Then I got a little jaded and tried to play off their importance and last year I didn't even do one^. You know what? Looking back on the year that was is fun, so here we fucking go. 2014 year-end music list. Hold on to your butts.

First off, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that my band Beat Noir put out our first full-length this year. It is free here. If you would like a physical copy or a t-shirt, they are here.

All right, here's all the stuff I liked from this year:

Riff Raff- Neon Icon
All hail RiFF RaFF. If you aren't down, you're just TOO BASiC TOO UNDERSTAND AND i CAN'T FIX THAT.

Hard Girls- A Thousand Surfaces
The song-writing on this album is fucking next level. The album's sound is coherent enough that you can immediately tell they are a part of the same collection of songs, but different enough to separate themselves. The riffs, oh lord the riffs. It's a guitar manifesto for the ages.

You Blew It!- Keep Doing What You're Doing
I've always just kind of dabbled in twinkle, but got real into this year. This release has all the riffs and all the angst you need, stuffed together in a poppy package that I've been revisiting constantly this year.

Antartico Vespucci- Soulmate Stuff
I've always been a Fake Problems fan and obviously am devoted to the church of Rosenstock as well. This one has songs that make me feel things about the person I'm currently with ("100 Years", both parts) as well as people I used to be with ("I'm Giving Up On U2"). This was probably my most played release during the summer.

(It is free at that link.)

Hostage Calm- Die On Stage

I was a huge fan of Please Remain Calm, so I was pretty hyped on what Hostage Calm would do next. The band keeps going with the power-pop they started with on the last album and really go all-in here. This isn't big of an idea as PRC, but I won't complain about a great power-pop record in 2014.


YG- My Krazy Life

I love west coast rap. I love G-Funk. This record is pretty much all of my favourite parts of rap music in one place. A perfect balance of great beats, humour and to quote YG "mothafuckin' gangsta shit". This probably one of my favourite rap releases ever and it is hard for me to find a way to describe it without sounding like the whitest dude ever.

Wayfarer- Sleep Through To The Light

Don't tell Kyle I like his songs. He'll probably make fun of me.

The Hotel Year*- Home, Like No Place Is There

A damn good release. It didn't really hit me like their last one did, but a really well thought-out album and great collection of songs front to back.

The Both- The Both

I was confused why more of my friends weren't into this release, considering how many of them like Ted Leo. Here he collabs with Aimee Mann and the results are fucking stellar. A bunch of guitar-driven (obvi, it's fuckin' Ted Leo) pop songs. I like it as a substitute for a Pharmacists record because it's different enough to be something new, but also has enough guitar godding to tide you over until the next Ted Leo release. Also, Aimee Mann is really fucking good at writing songs.

Lights- Little Machines

I didn't expect to like a Lights record this much, but here we are. It's catchy and it's a great pop record.

Puig Destroyer- Puig Destroyer

Baseball-themed powerviolence/grindcore written by some stat-minded SABR nerds. Gimmick bands aren't supposed to work this well.

Moldmaker- Dark Chambers Demo

I'm really sad that more people will never get the chance to see this band because it's basically The Decay with two lead guitars and a wall of noise that somehow even bigger than The Decay's.

(Free at that link)

Junior Battles- Rally

A great followup to the wonderful Idle Ages. Different enough to set it apart from the album that came before it, but still sounds like Junior Battles. This definitely has some of their best songs.

Joyce Manor-Never Hungover Again

One of my favourite parts of Joyce Manor was they were able to take the harshest parts of 80's hardcore and combine them with pop-punk in a way that doesn't diminish either. Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired was an extremely ballsy second album and is something that I didn't really get until this year. Never Hungover Again is by far their poppiest album, but the change in sound pays off, as I love all the songs on this release.

The Bruce Lee Band- Everything Will Be Alright, My Friend

Being a huge ska, it really sucks that the amount of relevant releases per year is pretty minimal. B ut when a band who puts something out roughly once every ten years returns out of nowhere to put out a rock-solid ska-punk release I get so giddy that I can't even deal. Why can't this happen more? Also, JESSE MICHAELS SINGS ON ONE OF THE TRACKS!

The Canyon Rays- West Coast Babes

This one came out of nowhere. They were described on bandcamp as equal parts Beach Boys and Katy Perry and while that isn't the perfect description, it's pretty close. Full band pop music that's as heavy on dreamy synths as it is hooks. Great bass playing too.

Alvvays- Alvvays

I was listening to this while skateboarding to work one day this summer. A woman drove through an intersection when she wasn't supposed and almost destroyed me, as I was going full-tilt. I gave her the finger and yelled "What the fuck?!" When I got to work I told the kids what happened and they asked if I swore and I said no, but winked to some of the older kids so they would know that I did and think I'm cool. This has been a story from my life that involves the Alvvays album in some way.

It was a great year for music.


*I use cliches (damn my lack of shortcut knowledge) a lot. I like to think that they are a signature aspect of writing, even in school. But I also like to think that I use them in more of a Dan Harmon way, than a US remake of Lol way. Do you hate my cliches? Too bee-ad, because I love 'em.

^IMU: On Music. The Essential Year-End Lists of I, Musical Genius. 2008. 2009. 2010. 2011. 2012 I thought I had previous ones up on here as well. Know that 2006 and 2007's respective #1's were The Arrogant Sons of Bitches' Three Cheers for Disappointment and We Are The Union's Who We Are. Two big time jammers.

*Yeah, I'm gonna be that dick who reinforces that he liked the band when they had their original name.