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?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fruit Stand Watermelon Wheat

One of my favourite nights of the past year occurred during a trip home at the end of the summer. Every time that I come home, Paul, Damien and I make a point to have at least one night out together during which we drink entirely too much and stay out late and end up not coming home until the very early hours of the morning. We started doing this during the last winter break and since then it has it been great every time and has come to be known as "Wardies' Night Out"*. This night in particular occurred during one of our Wardies Night Out.

We started the night out at the Ballroom, which is a bar in downtown Toronto near the SkyDome, for the birthday party of one of our friends who was back in town for the night. However, that bar isn't really our scene, so we left to go to a couple of bars in Kensington Market. We eventually ended up at a bar whose name I will not be able to remember for the life of me, because I am usually a little more than half in the bag when we end up there. ANYWAYS, this was the end of the night and it must have been about 1:30 or 2 in the morning, so the bar was beginning to empty. There was a trap DJ mixing that night and this was also the only time I have seen real, legit twerking done properly. Paul, Damien and I had already spent a ton of time at a few other bars in the area that night, so we were content to just sit down and have a few beers before we started the perilous trek back to Scarborough.

While we were working on our drinks, I noticed that there were these two girls who kept glancing over to our table from the dancefloor. Eventually, while the three of us were speaking to each other, they came and sat down at our table. These two girls were DRUNK. One sat across from me and (I think?) tried to court me. She was obviously at the end of a pretty long night and was saying things like "Yeah, you know we live on Spadina. We're pretty chill and stuff. I'm pretty much down for anything. I just want you to know that I'm not going to sleep with you tonight. But like it's cool when guys come and stay the night and stay to play Bioshock in the morning. So yeah, like, I'm down for anything."^ Her level of intoxication didn't make it the most charming thing in the world and I wasn't exactly interested, but she was probably just drunk and felt like taking someone home that night, so who am I to judge?

Her friend, on the other hand, was one of the drunkest people that I have ever seen in my life. She sat across from Damien and Paul which I assume was to occupy their attention while her friend made her moves on me. Immediately upon coming over she fell onto the bench seat across from us and had a lot of trouble sitting up and putting words together. We were (understandably, I think) taken aback by her and her friend tried to defend her saying "Yeah, she worked like 120 hours this week. She works at Steamwhistle. We have free beer all the time. Our house is pretty chill. But yeah, she works crazy hours and she stretched really thin, that's why she's passing out." Yes, she worked the equivalent of five complete, 24 hour days at a brewery where she was obviously not employed in any type of long-hour position. It was definitely that and not her extreme level of alcohol intake. Paul went and got her a glass of water from the bar to try to help her out, to which her friend snapped that we should leave her alone. I understand that women have to be wary of men that they don't know when they're out at a bar, but we were just trying to help and we all took sips from the glass to prove that we had not tampered with it, which obviously none of us would ever think about doing in a million years.

Eventually, after this enthralling conversation we parted ways for the night. After leaving the bar, the three of us decided that our number one priority was making our way over to Burger King so that we could take in a hard day's munch. What ensued was one of the funnier conversations I've had in my life while we ate what seemed like the best meal of our life at the time. Damien started taking a video of the entire fiasco on his phone and that continued while we spilt out onto College Street so that we could take the streetcar home. Unfortunately for everyone not named Tim, Damien, Paul or Pat, this video will not be seen by anyone ever.

One of the downsides of living in Scarborough is that if you go to a bar downtown, you have the problem of finding your way back to the east end waiting for you at the end of the night. The last subways eastbound leaves Kipling Station at 1:30, meaning that you have to leave earlier than that in order to catch it when it comes downtown. This and the reduced service of Scarborough bus routes (thanks Ford!), means that generally your best course of action is to catch a streetcar, take it as far east as you can and then take a fairly pricey cab ride the rest of the way. This generally takes about two hours.

We knew that this was the most likely outcome of the night and started to try to contact whoever we knew that lived downtown to see if we could somehow avoid that marathon of a commute back to Scarborough. Realistically, the big payoff of this night if the video on Damien's phone, but it's kind of impossible for me to post that here!


But actually though, this night (and all the others like it that we've started to collect) is one of my favourites ever.

*The term "wardy" comes from the American south and is used to designate somebody from your ward. It's used as a term to describe a good friend, notably by the rap groups on No Limit and Cash Money Records. I would point you towards the excellent piece of cinema Baller Blockin' made by Cash Money Records in 2000 for examples of how it is used.

^This is actually what she said to me, to the best of my recollection.

Friday, December 20, 2013

I Believe You, But My Tommy Gun Don't

This blog has been terribly neglected over the last little while because I've been so busy in every other realm of my life. While I do place a lot of importance on writing and coming up with ideas and writing about those ideas, it becomes difficult when school takes up a lot of the capacity of that part of my brain.

Over the last two months or so my life turned into a cycle of spending essentially all of my time on school, because grad school is hard, man. I would have an essay due/presentation coming up/exams to mark and my mind would be focused 100% on that. Then as soon as that was finished I would have a week or so off. That week would be taken up by girlfriend (YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY FOLKS, I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND) as well as Beat Noir rehearsals and planning out our full length album*. Then, before I knew my relaxing time would up and I would have to start working on my next school project and the whole cycle would start again. This started around late October and continued until this past Monday (December 16th, for those of you reading this in the future), so it was a pretty long time and I'm real tired from exerting myself for that long.

But now I've returned to my native basement in Scarborough and am gifted with a huge amount of free time. I'm planning to spend the entire break hanging out with friends, reading the huge stack of books I've brought home with me and hopefully channeling the creative part of my brain into this thing some more.

Cool beans.

*Hell, you've already scrolled down this far; scroll down a little further and read about that album right below this post.


Something I’ve always loved is when bands make extensive liner notes to go along with an album. I really appreciate when a band will add something to the lyrics, explaining where the band was at at the time, or the inspiration for songs, or little stories that tie into subject.

A great example I can think of it How It Goes by Big D and the Kids Table. They first had a little passage that expanded on the band’s attitude and existence and also what was happening with them up to the release of the album. Then, along with the lyrics for each song, various members would give anecdotes about writing each song and how it came to be. My personal favourite was when former saxophonist Dave Bush mentioned how he was having a lot of trouble coming up with a horn line for a particular song. Whenever he was met with that problem, he would take the first three notes from a John Coltrane, his favourite sax player, and the rest of the song would seem to write itself from there.

I don’t know what is about little bits of information like that, but they really appeal to me a ton and I eat them up. This is a big part of why I love Less Than Jake so much, as there seems to be a tour story or great anecdote that goes along with almost every song (ex: Where The Hell Is Mike Stinkovich, 9th at Pine, Handshake Meets Pokerface, Best Wishes To Your Black Lung, every other song they’ve written). I guess I just get really, really into bands and I love knowing everything I can about them and this is a way to do that.
Duff and I have had a ton of talks about this stuff, as he’s just as into it as I am and we both kind of wanted to include something in this vein with our forthcoming album. We haven’t sorted that side out yet, but I wanted to get this all down before school picks up again and I wouldn’t have a chance.

So these are a bunch of random thoughts and observations about the ten songs (and an intro track!) that will make up the album we’re about to release. Duff wrote all the lyrics for all of the songs, so take everything I say about subject matter with a grain of salt. All of these songs titles are subject to change too; this shit’s a work in progress.

Song For Passivity
This has always been one of my favourite songs to play and I’m fairly sure that that extends to the rest of the band as well. We wrote the skeletons for all of these songs and all the songs on Permanently at the same time during the summer of 2012. I lived in Guelph at the time, so sometimes I would come to practice and Duff, Mark and Colin would be like “Okay, here’s four new songs.” and they showed me this song during one of those instances*. The first thing I remember about it was how stoked I was that it was a fast song, because fast songs are the most fun to play. The second thing I remember is the first time we got to the guitar break after the second verse and Colin started doing the rim shots, everyone had a smile on their face a mile wide. That kept happening for the rest of the summer. It doesn’t happen as much anymore, but I assure you, we still love to play it just as much. I’m really proud of the bass line for this song and it might be my favourite that I’ve written for the band. While we were writing the song, I was thinking that I was really selling myself short and not writing hard or complex enough bass lines for the band and this song was what resulted from that. In reference to the lyrics for the song: “I feel you on that Duff.”

Nicky Driscoll
For whatever reason, when the guys first showed me this song I just could not wrap my head around it. It’s not really that complex or anything, but I just could not play it properly to save my life. It was seriously the bane of my existence. Then we did rough demos of all the songs at the end of summer 2012 and I was able to finally get into them. Once I actually learned this one proper and was able to write for it, I really started to love it and now it might be my favourite song on the record. My influences for bass are pretty weird because my favourite bass players are Roger from Less Than Jake, Royce from The Suicide Machines, James Jamerson, Ebin from Stay What You Are-era Saves The Day and Karl Alvarez from The Descendents and all of them have extremely different playing styles, so sometimes there’s just too many ideas in my head for me to work into a song in any type of logical way. I bring this up because the bass line I wrote for this song is sort of me trying to put a punkish spin on Motown bass, in my mind. If you slow it down and add in a little bit of syncopation, I assure you, you will hear it too. Oh and the song’s title is reference to the most-excellent TV show My So-Called Life. This song is about dead kids.

            Another song that feels like it’s been around forever and has never really left our setlist when we play. This song is one of the original demos we finished and is also one of the songs we played at the first Beat Noir show with Colin and I in the band. This one hasn’t really changed all that much from the version we initially composed, save for minor changes to parts that I, and I’m sure the rest of the band, made to our parts. I have a soft spot for this one because the bass line for the outro is the first thing I wrote for the band that wasn’t a simple eighth-note bass line. CREATIVITY.

Muscle Memory
            I remember one specific practice during that summer when we were writing all the songs where we finished both this song and “Midos”. Duff was kind of fooling around with a riff and Mark said “Hey, should we make a song out of that?” and Duff said “I don’t know, I’ve been playing that riff since I was 17.” (Said in a manner to suggest that it was just some dumb riff). About twenty minutes later, we had the song. It used to be a long, weird drawn out song that had this odd pseudo-folkish part at the end that would bleed into the then-acoustic beginning of “Nom De Guerre”, but we cut it down considerably this summer to turn it into what it is now. I wrote the bass line for this one really quickly at the practice where we wrote and I’m still really happy with what came out of me, though I did have to tweek it a bunch over time. Whereas some of the songs were really easy and more or less wrote themselves, this was definitely one that we had to sit down and work on and as a result, was one of the last ones to be finished before we started recording.

Nom De Guerre
            The only reason this song exists is because we decided “Hey, we should write a song that comes out of that.” when we finished the preliminary version of “Muscle Memory” at practice one day. Originally it was a really long acoustic song that eventually built up into a rocky ending. Then, as with many of the songs on this record, we decided we didn’t like it that much and totally re-worked it, so much so that it doesn’t sound anything at all like it used to, save for the ending. It took us way longer than it should have to release our EP, so I was a little bummed with how stuff was progressing with the band for a bit because we seemed to constantly be hitting roadblocks. With that in mind, I was not as enthusiastic as I should have been when Mark pushed us to start jamming and writing for the full-length right after we were done recording the EP, because we still had a ton of work to do on some songs and I felt pretty defeated about it. Then we jammed and sketched out the framework for the new version of this song, which totally rejuvenated me. I fucking love this song and think it shows a side of the band that we’ve always known is there, but maybe others haven’t seen yet. Also, a story I think is kind of funny and sort of led to the new version of the song is that one day Mark and I were getting ready to head to Colin’s while we were living in the worst basement apartment that has ever existed and Mark just said “Yeah, maybe I should palm mute the guitar.” in passing out of nowhere. LOOK WHERE THAT LED US.  Another sort of funny thing is that we talked about turning this into an electric song for a long time, so the thought of “Oh shit, I need to write some bass lines for it!” was always in the back of mind, along with the anxiety of maybe not writing/performing well enough on the song, which is pretty much always there. I had these weird ideas about using a lot of chords and playing way high up on the neck and then ended up playing something totally different, which works way better for the song in my opinion. This was actually a rare case of me sitting down and actively trying to write the bass line (What a novel idea!), which resulted in something different from what I normally play, at least to me.

            This song has definitely changed the most of any other from inception to its current state. It started out as a weird slow song that then became crazy 6/8 emo, then slow then big heavy ending song that didn’t really work at all and then changed into the groovy, 6/8 then heavy ending song that it is now. I really like how much this song has morphed over time and I think that it shows we can step outside our box a little bit. The ending is also still the most fun to play and is probably the heaviest that Beat Noir will ever sound. For some reason or another, this song reminds of the Constantines. The working title for this song was “Ski Iraq”, which is a reference to one of the band’s favourite jokes on Six Feet Under. During the writing of this album, the band was watching Six Feet Under together and we all loved the shit out of it. The show’s main theme is death and the way people react and deal with it and that definitely influenced the writing process quite a bit. This definitely pertains especially pertains to Duff, as death is one of the main things he thinks about (or at least, that’s the way it seems to me). INTERTEXTUALITY.

Sheltered Town/Bitter Sea
I think this might be our best song, because it has Duff’s strongest lyrics, in my opinion. This one was originally going to be droney, whole note bass song with minimal other instrumentation, but then we realized that it sounded way to much like “Searching For A Former Clarity” by Against Me! Then it turned into what is now. Cool beans.

Ancienne Gloire
I have a really specific memory of writing this song with Duff and Mark in Duff’s old room at Echo Base. During that time I was back and forth between Kitchener-Waterloo and my home in Guelph constantly and as a result, more or less lived in that room. Mark came in with the lead riff and the song pretty much wrote itself in about 20 minutes. It’s funny how music works like that sometimes. I like this song because we were working on some really weird (for us) sounding songs like “Collages” and “The Feeling”, so it felt good to just right a punk song that just stays a punk song. When we were in that room writing this song I felt like I was really selling myself short in terms of the bass lines I was playing and writing, so I tried to write something really hard and crazy. The result was some Matt Freeman-esque over playing that sounded absolutely dreadful. Fortunately, this was rectified in time for recording. It’s no secret to most people that know me that I’m a huge Francophile, so I was really excited when we changed the name for this one from “Midos” to what it is now.

The Wars
More so than any other song we’ve written, I think this one completely encompasses the ethos of Beat Noir. It’s been around for a long time and has been a part of our live set for the pretty much the entire time I’ve been in the band. This song reminds me of “Firefly” by Saves The Day for some reason or another and that’s why I added the “B-slide up to F#/high B” lick at the end of the song. I think everyone in the band would agree that if somebody wanted to know what Beat Noir is like, having never heard our music before; this is the song we’d show them. IT’S LIKE OUR THEME SONG.

            When I first joined Beat Noir, Mark sent me demos of 5 songs to learn for our first practice. Those five songs were “Weight”, “1500”, “The Wars”, “Deathwish” and “Stalwarts” and as a result of being my first experience, those songs have special place in my heart. In fact, “Weight” is the one of those that we finished first and we played it at the first show with Colin and I in the band. It feels like we’ve been playing this song forever, so it makes me happy to see it finally seeing the light of day. Whereas most songs that we’ve been working on for the full-length have changed a fairly decent amount, this one has stayed pretty much the same. My brother, who certainly would not pull punches on anything I do, told me that he thinks this song sounds like Dinosaur Jr and that made me really happy.

So yeah, these are the things I think about while I listen to our album.

*If memory serves me correctly, the other songs at that practice were “Clastic Rock”, “The Feeling”, “Collages” and “Nicky Driscoll”

Monday, October 28, 2013

Yesterday's Gone

Today has been a very weirdly nostalgic day for me. Like much more nostalgic than I usual. And powerful nostalgia at that. But in order to explain how this came about, I'll have to backtrack a few days:

Last Friday I recorded all the bass parts to Beat Noir's forthcoming full-length album. Hey! Wait a second! That's big news! Yep, we're in the process of recording our debut full-length! In fact, drums, bass and guitars are already done! Hot damn! I'm sure that I will update you on the process again soon and will also fill this blog with links once it is actually put out. Until then, sit tight.

So yeah, last Friday I recorded all the bass parts to the album at our friend Pat's home studio. After recording, Duff drove us back to Kitchener so we could resume our lives and I could head home for Thanksgiving. As we were getting ready to head out he said "Ah no, fuck it. We're listening to Jackson Browne" and put on For Everyman. Jackson Browne was an artist who was constantly being played in my house while I growing up, so any time I hear his music, I'm instantly hit with some crazy nostalgia. The reason for this is that Running On Empty is one of the ten or so albums that my mom has owned throughout her life and they never left her car. Anytime that I went with my mom to run errands, there was a pretty good chance that I would hear Jackson Browne*. A lot of critics see Running On Empty as "Jackson Browne lite", or the point when he started to lose his integrity/credibility, but up until about two weeks ago, it was the only one I had heard, as I had never put in the effort to go back and see why my parents fell in love with him in the first place. So the overwhelming nostalgia of hearing something from my youth combined with the "Holy fuck! This song-writing is SO GOOD!" moment of realization upon hearing For Everyman for the first time really hit me square in the feelings.

I mean, this is the real shit:

Any time that I think about Jackson Browne, I immediately think about Fleetwood Mac as well because it was another album that never left my mom's car. I always associate the two because they existed at the same time and also made at somewhat similar sounding music. When I was younger I was really resilient with my music taste and always thought my parents listened to crummy, old person music. Then you get older and realize that your parents had great taste and being around good music like Jackson Browne or Fleetwood Mac, or all the Motown and Stax that my Dad put on, during your childhood does a whole lot for your skill as a musician as an adult than they stuff some other kids parents listened to.

Anyways, back to Jackson Browne. The funniest part of driving somewhere with my mom while listening to Jackson Browne is when "The Load Out" and "Stay", the last two songs on the album, come on, because they bleed into each other and are more or less one song and that is my mom's favourite song. She doesn't even wait for the big "Oh, won't you stay..." break by Rosemary Butler, she just belts out the entire thing and lord, is she ever tone-deaf. But because of this, it's impossible to think of anyone other than Mom. This song IS my mom. Even though both my parents are a picture of health for their age, they are starting to get older and I've started to think about their mortality a lot more. What in the world am I going to do when they're gone? Will I be able to deal with it? Will I be able to function as a person without them? At the bare minimum, I know that my mom will always exist for me through this song. Any time I listen to it, it's pretty much inevitable that tears build up in my eyes throughout the entire thing. Love you Mom.

Now, after having listened to nothing by Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac for two or three days straight, I thought "Wow, I need to lay off the melancholic pop music for a little bit, for my own sake." Because it was actually to starting to get me pretty sad, despite the fact that I don't really have that much to be sad about. I was talking with a friend about our favourite music videos and I came to the conclusion that no matter how silly or stupid some people may view it as, "First Date" by blink-182 is hands down my favourite music video ever.

When I was in 8th grade, this was all I cared about when it came to music. Poppy (though I didn't realize that's what I liked about it at the time), silly and the main statement behind the band seemed to just be having fun with your friends, and I could really get behind that. Hell, I can really get behind that now. While I do really enjoy the direction that Beat Noir is taking and I like adding new things and seeing what we can do with our "art" (pretentious enough?), I'd be lying if I said that hanging out and joking around with Duff, Mark and Colin wasn't one of the things I enjoy most about the band.

And you know, people like to rip on blink and they like to rip on me for how much I like blink, but goddamn are they one of my favourite bands ever. I definitely wouldn't be into punk if it wasn't for them. This was also the first time I watched this video in a long time and I had an odd moment of realizing that the way I dress today is 100% and amalgamation of the three characters in this video. I didn't do that consciously, it just sort of happened. Anyways, "First Date" kicked off a giant blink binge that lasted several days and brought on a whole new type of nostalgia, much different from Jackson Browne and Fleetwood Mac.

Bet you thought you'd never see those three bands tied together, didn't you?

*For the record my mom's music collection: Running on Empty by Jackson Browne, Rumours by Fleetwood Mac, Bat Out of Hell I by Meatloaf, the soundtrack to Mamma Mia, the soundtrack to  Grease, Jive Bunny: The Album by Jive Bunny and the Mastermixers (my mom may make up the entirety of their fanbase in 2013) and Greatest Hits by the Beach Boys.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Gordon Street

Whenever I fall completely in love in an album, and that happens pretty frequently, I find that there is almost always one particular instance of listening to it that always does the trick. It's a weird coincidence where life events and the content of the album link up in some weird awesome way to hit me square in the feelings.

I bring this up because this morning I was thinking of when this happened with the album Awkward Breeds by The Sidekicks. During Reading Week of 2012 I went on a trip to New York with a bunch of other Fine Art students at Guelph. I did have a few good friends coming along on the trip as well, but for the most part I didn't really know most of the people coming with and was a little nervous about it.

Our bus left from the university at 5 AM, which required me to get up at 3 in order to walk to the stop in time. The night before I had hastily packed up what I needed and didn't have time to dry all my laundry, so I left the house looking like a royal mess, in daze from lack of sleep and in damp jeans. I smoked a hastily rolled joint and tried to power walk to the university to both warm up my jeans and fight off the cold. I didn't have a proper winter jacket, so I tried to compensate by wearing my denim jacket over a hoodie over a flannel, accompanied by a scarf and toque.

I got to the stop in time, took my seat beside Candice and we were off. Around this time in 2012 On The Impossible Past by The Menzingers, the aforementioned Awkward Breeds and Giant Orange all came out around the same time (officially all on the same day, but y'know, internet) and I was really eager to listen to all three. I didn't sleep much on the way to the border, since it was only about an hour and I didn't want to fall asleep, be woken up right away and then have trouble getting back to sleep after.

So once we were over the border I settled into my seat, still slightly feeling the effects of that mornings joint, and put on Awkward Breeds while I slowly drifted off into sleep. It was the best music I could have chosen for the time and the lyrical themes of the album were absolutely perfect for the mental state I was in at the time. During the remainder of that drive and the drive back 4 days later, I listened to the album another 5 or 6 times and that was all it took for me to love it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Under The Radar Vol. I: The Stereo

I find that while I do share a ton of favourite bands with most of my best friends, there are a multitude more where it seems like I'm the only person in the world (re: southern Ontario) that listens to them. As is the case with most things that you become obsessed with, you always want to share them with everybody you know, because there are few things that feel better than getting somebody as into something as you are. This is really hard with music though, because most people already have fairly specific tastes when it comes to tunes and they generally roll their eyes whenever you say "Wow! You have to listen to this!", myself included. Unfortunately for me, music is one of the things I know most about, so it winds up being one of the things I like to talk about a recommend, but it seems like nobody every cares to listen.

But I swear I'm good at recommending music!* So my thought was that I would start on series here on Imu^ where I write little synopses of some of my favourite, more obscure bands and explain why I like them and why you should like them too. Now, you may ask yourself "But Timmy, don't like more than half of your posts consist of that already?" and I would reply "Yes. But now it has a name!" I also want to focus more on broken up, forgotten bands than current ones. It will probably end up being a whole lot of never-made-it third wave ska bands, so bear with me.


I chose The Stereo as the first entry in this because I seriously am the only person I know, aside from Boston/Baltimore's own John Flynn, that listens to them and I can't for the life of me understand why. They have everything my friends like in music! Big pop hooks! Distorted guitars! Solos! Cleverly crafted pop song structure! Lots and lots of love-like feelings in their lyrics! They were what inspired me to start this series because I keep coming back to them and they keep being a perfect rock/pop band.

The story of the beginning of The Stereo is an interest on if you are as into ska as I am. In the early days of Fueled By Ramen*, there were two especially great ska/punk bands on the label: The Impossibles and Animal Chin. While both of these bands were obviously primarily ska bands, both definitely had a bit of power-pop (in the sense of Weezer) to them, which really set them apart from their peers, in my opinion. They both also had very talented song-writer/singer/guitarists at their helms in Rory Philips and Jamie Woolford respectively. Both of these bands also broke up at roughly the same time, while on the same label. After the demise of the two bands, both singers started to work on more straight poppy rock music on their own until somebody at Fueled By Ramen had the stroke of genius to recommend that two start working together on songs. What resulted was the wonderful band known as The Stereo.

The two did essentially everything on The Stereo's debut album Three Hundred themselves and released it in 1999. Right away you can see all the influences that were subtly hinted at in their ska bands (Weezer, Billy Joel, The Raspberries), but now they were free to be as poppy and hooky and rocky as they could imagine. The end result is fucking amazing and so catchy that it's impossible to do anything but smile and air-guitar for the entirety of the record.

For example, the lead track:

The constant chugging guitars! The amazing vocal hooks! The lyrics that make me want to put this song on for somebody that I care about! The "Woo!" right before the guitar solo! THE FUCKING GUITAR SOLO!

It's also easy to see how more or less every band (especially Fall Out Boy) heard this and thought "Okay, let's play guitar and sing just like that." after hearing this album.

The Stereo went on to fill out their lineup and record two more albums, despite the departure of Rory after Three Hundred, before breaking up in 2004. Though I haven't been able to track down a copy of Rewind+Record (impossible to find anwhere), I can vouch that New Tokyo Is Calling is every bit as good as Three Hundred and just as deserving of a spin and the best example I can think of for that is this cut from the album:

Every time I listen to that song I think that if I were to write a pop song, that is exactly what I would want it to sound like. The vocal hooks in the chorus and verse are amazing, I can't enough of the main riff and the stop/start rhythm of the song is amazing.

I don't really know how else I can sell you on this if it doesn't sound like something you would into already. If you like old Weezer, this is a poppier version of Blue Album. They're a louder, faster version of Billy Joel. A punker version of Cheap Trick. It's very clear when listening to it that Jamie, and on Three Hundred Rory, have really honed their craft and are expert song-writers. Every song transitions perfectly from verse to chorus to bridge to whatever else. If you start listening to a song and aren't that into it, chances are you'll be belting out the chorus in a minute or two.


These release are a little hard to find, as the band has really fallen off the map^, so your best bet to track them down would be to just buy them. But man oh man, will it ever be worth it.

*See: How much Bomb the Music Industry!, Less Than Jake, Smoking Popes, etc. that Brian listens to. Can I take credit for Selly's interest in The Wonder Years? Party Pat's interest in Municipal Waste?

^Oh, you know that shit is gonna become a thing.

*When they were started by Vinnie of Less Than Jake, Fueled put out more or less an even mix of ska and pop-punk. Eventually they moved towards the latter and started bathing in money, but I absolutely love their early output.

^They reunited to play the Fueled By Ramen 15th Anniversary show in 2011, which is how I found out about them. Despite the band still sounding amazing, nobody in the audience seemed to care as they were all there to see Paramore.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Must Be Some Kind Of Curse

I'm currently really into this release. Lawnmower channel all of my favourite parts about 90's indie/alternative and the most apt* comparisons would probably be Harvey Danger(!) and Pinkerton-era Weezer (but not as sad). Really great rockin' tunes!

Makes marking exams a whole lot more fun!

*It's funny, I hardly ever use the word "apt" in conversation, but feel like I use it constantly when writing on this blog. I think it's interesting the way that your voice differs between the way you audibly project and the way you write it down.

Friday, September 27, 2013

I'm Holding On

A few years ago, I wrote a post in which I mentioned how terrified I was/am of losing my hair. The main thing I wanted to bring up about this article was that the thing that made me realize "You know what Tim? Other people have it worse than you. Stop complaining." was that I saw a former classmate of mine had started chemotherapy and had thus lost all of his hair.

The important thing about this is that it was wasn't somebody who I was friends with, or even spoke to, it was just someone who I recognized from a class I took. He used to have a giant mop of curly hair and now he was bald and wearing a toque to cover it up. I actually recently remembered that we were supposed to work on a presentation together, but he dropped the course and in hindsight (and when considered the time-frame of these events) he probably dropped the course, and most likely out of school, because he had been diagnosed with cancer.

Fast forward to today. It is a beautiful day, I finally got the cheque owed to me by my school and an event on which I worked very, very hard is finally taking place tomorrow*. Needless to say, I've been in a great mood all day. I mean, we just added three bean bag chairs to our office at school! Anyways, I was on my way over to The Bullring and appreciating the fine architecture of our campus buildings with a nice spring in my step. The first thing I noticed when I walked through the door was that guy from my French class, on-stage ripping tenor sax with a jazz ensemble and looking healthy as could be. I hadn't given him any thought over the last few years, but knowing that that dude beat the big C and is doing well again is the type of coincidence that you really have to sit back and smile about.

Good for you man.

*I just realized that I did not make a post to promote Culture Days here on this blog. I worked on this event while I was employed at KW|AG this summer. Culture Days focuses on hosting free events over a weekend in order to foster an appreciation for the arts all across Canada. Our event at KW|AG is a 12 hour Draw-A-Thon starting at noon and (obviously) going until midnight. There will be tons of drawing activities and challenges to do, as well as artists from the community coming out to draw as well! Starting at 8pm we will have a few bands play in the gallery and open a cash bar. There's also three brand new shows open! Please come check it out!

Thick As Molasses

Something I've always found a little daunting is getting into a very established artist well after the fact. You constantly hear how great somebody is at something and obviously think "Well, if these people, whose opinion I respect, think that this is deserving of my time, then it probably is." Did I just use that many commas? I guess I did. Anyways, the whole scenario I just mentioned is always most relevant to me when people talk about a band/artist endlessly, but I've never listened to them. I guess that Greatest Hits albums are meant to sort of solve this problem, but listening to a greatest hits record never gives you the same sense of excitement and infatuation that comes with falling head over heels in love with a band's full-length.

So the problem I'm presented with is that I want to get into a band, but don't know where the best place to start is. I'm fairly sure I'll like them and usually am at least familiar with at least what they generally sound like, but I just have no idea which album to listen to first and (lightly) stress fear that if I pick the wrong one, then I will never properly have that first "Oh my god, this is the best listening experience I've had in forever! I can't believe how perfect this band is at what they do!" experience*.

Another thing that is relevant when considering what I just said is that semi-often, not all of the time, I have an unpopular opinion about what I think is a band's best album and get really into the records that nobody else likes (See: Against Me! White Crosses, The Stereo No Traffic, The Weakerthans Reconstruction Site^). Please do not take that as me acting self-important, it's just an honest expression of my taste. I'm a bit of a weirdo and nobody I know likes all the same bands as me. BUT, because of this I worry that if I look up reviews and pick the album that is the best reviewed, it might not coincide with the era of the band that wold best suit my taste and therefore not get me as into the band as I could be.

What all this leads to is a sort of haphazard strategy of sometimes looking at reviews and sometimes just going off hearsay and sometimes just leaving it alone when it comes to music.

However, one thing that I think I can claim from all of this is that a little bit of that anticipatory feeling I refer to in the first endnote is preserved and that feeling of me being alone with a collection of songs and just being consumed by them still exists. I know that this is silly of me to say and probably seems a little dumb, but the idea of downloading a giant endless catalogue of songs and systematically and exhaustively going through everything and THEN making a call about is best seems a whole lot more dumb to me.

So, I recently decided that I should probably give The Mountain Goats a chance, given all that I've heard about them*. Whereas many reviews said I should start with Tallahassee or Nine Black Poppies the first proper full-length Zopilote Machine no specific reason. I sure am lucky that I still grasp at adolescent experiences that no longer apply to the music world, because that complete listening experience is something I got as soon as I turned on Zopilote. As soon as the song below started, I knew I was going to be in love with the album and it hit me square in the feelings in the best possible way. It was also one of those weird cases where you hear a release and instantly know that you will be listening to it for a long time.

I feel like a lot of people really like and romanticize the idea of an artist having a lot to say, but not being able to find a band, so they just hastily record themselves with an acoustic guitar to get their message out there and the songs are so powerful that it doesn't matter about the almost complete lack of instrumentation or terrible recording quality. This was the case with Against Me! This has been the case a lot recently, as almost every band dude has set out on a solo career that involves just him and an acoustic guitar. The problem with this is that it almost sucks. Unless you are the absolute best at writing songs, it's going to sound boring. Fortunately for The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle seems to be pretty close to the absolute best at writing songs.

*Wow, remember when I thought that including endnotes would be better then endless sidebars? What a good idea that was Tim! Basically the problem I mentioned above doesn't exist anymore, with downloading. While I am kind of disappointed that the experience of anticipating an album, going out of your way to pick it up and then it surpassing your expectations and just rocking your world doesn't exist anymore, the fact that more or less all of the world's music is readily available to you if you own a computer is astonishing and amazing. Go out and look for some new things to fall in love with. You owe it to yourself.

^I'm not silly, I know that everyone loves The Weakerthans and that everybody loves all of their output, but Recon is my favourite of all their releases and I've found this to be an unpopular opinion among everyone that I've spoken to.

*Greg's line where he mentions The Mountain Goats and how influential they were in The Menzingers putting out the supremely excellent On The Possible Past acoustic demos was especially important in me forming an opinion on the band. I instantly started to think that if The Mountain Goats are anywhere near the emotional rawness of that Menzingers release (they are) then I would love them.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Contemporary Art And A Variety Of Other Thoughts

It's been awhile since I've thrown up a post that is more or less just a compilation of random thoughts and since that was the calling card of this blog for the longest time, I figured it might be nice to throw another one up.

Like I said in my last post, I can prone to grazing through my Facebook timeline and reveling in nostalgia. An obvious result of doing this is noticing how much I've changed over the years. Yeah, I know that I'm more or less the same ska fanatic, Peter Pan Syndrome havin' mawfucka I've always been, but everyone changes. While doing this recently, which inspired my previous post, I noticed that I've grown as a person in the last year or so and have done so positively, in my opinion. It may seem narcissistic to say this, but it's comforting in my mind to know that I'm always improving myself, no matter how minute and inconsequential-in-the-long-run those changes may be. Feels good man.

Currently, I am starting to get right into the heavy part of my first semester of grad school (re: the second two thirds of it). It's getting real busy, but the good kind of busy. My brain is functioning critically really well again. I seem to have a lot to say about all the things that we're studying and I really like that. The other huge part of being in a Master's program in TAing for classes, which is new and really exciting for me. While working at KW|AG this summer, I had a lot of fun teaching kids and getting to joke around with them but also instructing them in the basics of looking at, appreciating and making art, but teaching young adults in university is whole other can of worms. I think I'm doing pretty well so far and have managed to get through to a fair amount of the kids. If anything, I take immense pride in noticing that now the kids crack a smile when the see a Duchamp piece because the understand it now. I also love seeing the horrified expressions when my classes see a Chris Burden piece for the first time. Trust me kids, it only gets weirder from here on out.

On that note, what would the kids think if they knew that I spend most of my time in my office bobbing my head and doing the cooking dance to RiFF RaFF?

People love to make fun of RaFF because of how obviously silly he is, but seriously look how different he is from everyone in the game right now. Rap game Julio Franco.

Baseball's regular season is almost over. This makes me sad. This Jays season was a giant fucking disaster. Everyone had high hopes for us after "The Trade", and the Jays just completely dropped the ball this year. Being a fan who has suffered through 20 straight playoff-less seasons, I was extremely to see how the team would do after this obvious and dramatic upgrade, but all it did was make the letdown worse. Get out and get gone Josh Johnson. It's even worse now as we're finishing the season without any of best players in the lineup and are more or less fielding our AAA team. However, silver linings can be found in the excellent campaigns that Colby Rasmus (my favourite Jay), Edwin Encarnacion, the Joses and Mark Buehrle had. Also, Munenori Kawasaki established himself as the most endearing and fun player in MLB, so there's that too.

Cool, later.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

You're The Cutest Boat-Builder I Think I've Ever Seen

Something that is always a giant issue of contention among people roughly my age is when Facebook updates its layout and operating style. It's been this way since I started using the site and each time they update it, everybody gets in a giant fuss about it and complains endlessly about "the new Facebook". Eventually though, everybody gets used to it because they're forced to use it and perhaps because they realize that it is a free social network site, so who the fuck cares?

Hands down the biggest divide over a new Facebook layout was when they introduced the "timeline" feature about a year and a half ago. What "timeline" entailed was the addition of a clickable timeline on the side of your profile which could easily direct you to a certain time of your or somebody else's life, as opposed to a long clicking and scrolling session through somebody's profile. Some of my friends had concerns like "Now anyone can creep (look at) any area of my life right away and I hate the idea of that!" I guess that kind of makes sense, but I feel like nobody is interested in me enough to go and look in the deep nether regions of my Facebook profile. The other side of that coin is that due to former Facebook layouts, if anyone did take the time to do a deep creep on my profile they would just find things like "is seeing the Planet Smashers tonight!" about 10 times in a row and probably give up right away because it is useless and uninteresting information.

I however, am a huge fan of timeline because it has taken my profile and turned it into a digital scrapbook of my life which is very easy for me to navigate. Being the nostalgic son of a gun that I am, I'm fairly prone to looking back at a certain year of my life via my timeline (or this blog!) and reliving a whole bunch of events that I had half-forgotten about. While some people really like to write off their past because they are embarrassed by it, I kind of revel in how awkward and weird my existence is and was. I really like to compare how different I was then and how I'm also still kind of the same. What's that Tim? You want to look through those giant photo albums documenting your first week at university? Click 2007, then click September. Boom. Done.

Like I said, I'm swirling tornado of nostalgia and it can get a little overwhelming when I'm looking back through timeline and all these pictures and lyrics and things are really bringing up some old feelings that I haven't felt in a long time. A lot of the time, this can be good nostalgia. I'll see a picture from a night out or a status update from forever ago that had a good string of comments on it and I immediately think things like "Wow, what a fun night that was." "You know, even though it was a shithole, I really miss Cole Road." "Jesus, I haven't so much as spoken to Stryder in at least 3 years." I like it because, like I said, I'm not embarrassed by what I've done. I like to look back and I like to laugh at the minor mistakes that I made growing up. My life is conveniently documented for me on this website and I love the opportunity to look back upon it.

But there's also obviously bad stuff. I'll come across a cute photo or me teasing an old flame and immediately think about how bad then ended up or how I fucked things up or how I should have acted instead. And that's just life. Sometimes it rules. Sometimes it sucks. Obviously most people would like to just remember the good stuff, but that ain't the way it works Jack, you get it all. I can get pretty fucking sad sometimes and seeing this type of stuff never really helps. I'm pretty fortunate to be surrounded by the people that I am, but I do feel pretty lonely out here most of the time. Before I know it, Deja is on and I have become the sulkmaster supreme. Fortunately I usually know better than to keep digging and looking at these things that really cut me up, despite it being a good kind of hurt.

But the thing that made me sad the most is that when I went back and looked at those few months, there wasn't a trace of her at all, so maybe I should have known all along.

Monday, September 9, 2013

With A Golden Heart Comes A Rebel Fist

Earlier this year Streetlight Manifesto put out a record that I am pretty into. I worked a really shitty overnight job at a grocery store for a little bit and as a result I listened to a load of music while I worked there and the newest Streetlight record was always in high rotation. A weird thing happens with Streetlight Manifesto where I barely listen to them anymore and then when they put out new material I'm all like "HOLY! WHY DID I STOP LISTENING TO THIS BAND?!" and to be honest, I have no answer for that. I guess the simple one is that I'm just not as into the band as I originally was. While that statement might be true, the fact of the matter remains that Tomas is still a wonderfully talented lyricist and the band are one of the most musically gifted and interesting outfits around that manages to incorporate many different genres and influences into a loosely punk song structure.

So, while I was working that job and listening to The Hands That Thieve I noticed that Tomas was continuing on one of his most-used lyrical topics and came to the following conclusion: Streetlight Manifesto is one of the most atheist bands in the world.

I first started to keep track of this after I saw Streetlight live and while performing "Down, Down, Down To Mephisto's Cafe", Tomas bluntly said "This song is about the Roman Catholic Church."

While at first I thought that the lyrics of the song were merely a story fabricated by Tomas, as he is wont to do, it made quite a bit more sense after realizing that Mephisto's Cafe was in reality hell. Also, I just made the connection after posting the above video that the album's artwork shows the sky, ground and then fire underneath, making reference to Heaven/God, Earth/Us, Hell/Satan. Once you make that connection about the song it really does become blatantly obvious what the song is about and most would make that connection having just looked at the lyrics plainly. For example:

"Way back when the prophecies began
Do you think they really had a masterplan
Or were they merely writing fabled stories?
I don't know, but it did occur to me
The punishment that they threaten constantly
It's only real if they could just convince me"

Or this one:

"Now everybody's telling taller tales
And I don't know who to believe
Ok, if your father really loves you more
What about the other families?"

This is a really common theme on this album (obviously, given the album artwork) and is referenced in tons of other tracks, such as "The Blond Lead The Blind" with the line "Did you lose faith? Yes, I lost faith in the powers that be, but in doing so I came across the will to disagree".

"Forty Days" is another song off of Somewhere In the Between which deals with Christianity and skepticism regarding it (if you couldn't already tell from the title).

"What a way to begin: we all inherit sin
and nobody's going to quench your thirst when the well runs dry
and nobody's going to hold your hand on the day you die"

Furthermore, a longstanding cover that the band performed live was "Hell" by the jazz/swing revival/everything band Squirrel Nut Zippers, which is song-long wondering about life after death, making specific reference to the Christian idea of hell (Gee, who would've thought with that title!). The song was also included on the band's 2010 cover album 99 Songs of the Revolution: Volume 1 and is a great example that shows both where Tomas draws inspiration for his lyrics and also the type of influences that set Streetlight Manifesto apart from most bands.

So, once you sit down and actually examine all of Tomas' writing it becomes very clear that life, mortality and the morality of Christianity, especially the Roman-Catholic Church, is something that he thinks about a whole lot. I guess that I get pretty defensive sometimes about how people look down on me for listening to ska and how easily people just write off the entire genre as being joke bands who don't take songwriting seriously, and that this is me trying to show that there's a lot more to it than that (I would also point to the Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution/Streetlight song "Here's To Life", in which Tomas eulogizes his favourite writers and artists who have committed suicide and also ponders about how similar he is to them). Perhaps it's a little problematic for me to use Streetlight as an example to counter those arguments, as they really aren't much of a ska band at all and I personally don't think of them as one, but everyone seems to, with the only apparent reason being that they have a horn section and they are an easy touchstone for those who aren't well-versed in the genre. Believe me, I'd love to go on ad nauseam about how The Skatalites' drumming and horn arrangements put essentially every other band that has ever existed's musical skill to shame, but I figure this would be easier for everyone to put in perspective.

To be honest, a lot of the time I get an idea for a blog post and I'm all like "Yeah! That is a great idea for a post!", but find that when I'm writing it it doesn't come together as cohesively as I thought it would and have trouble finishing it. Then I continue to write the post, despite not having ideas about how to tie it together, because I've already started and written most of it and I know that I will at least get a mild sense of relief and accomplishment once the post is finally done and up on the blog. This entry is an example of one of those posts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Random Anecdotes Vol. 1

Last night while I was trying to fall asleep I randomly remembered something funny that happened when I went to the movies with Paul and Pat in high school. Funny enough that I rolled over to write it down, so I would remember to write a blog about it today!

An important thing to explain before I jump into this story is what it is like to go to the movies with Paul. In short, ridiculous. I remember one occasion when Paul, Damien and I went to go see a horror movie (the name escapes me now and all that I can off is that we went and saw Boogeyman around this time as well  and that came out in 2005, so it came out sometime around there) and the movie was exceptionally awful, to the point that pretty much the entire theatre noticed how bad it was. Since we were in 10th grade and thought we were hilarious (we kind of are), we started making weird noises and singing "Crazy Train" in falsetto. Obnoxious and rude to everyone around us? Yes. The funniest thing of all-time to us at the time? Certainly.

Anyways, one day in high school, Paul, Pat and I decided that we should go and see Spiderman 3 at the movie theatre. While everyone looks back on this film franchise now extremely negatively, at the time everyone got incredibly hyphy about Spiderman movies and their release was pretty much the biggest deal, especially in this case where everyone knew that the symbiot/Venom would be the crux of the story. Pat mentioned that he still had his VHS copy of the Venom saga from the excellent Spiderman the Animated Series cartoon and we figured that we should watch it before the movie.

One thing we noticed while watching the cartoon was that every time Venom was on-screen, he made this ridiculous "AAHBLGHAGHLAGHLABAGH" sound. For reference, refer to 0:53 of this video. We thought it was totally hilarious and kept making the sound the entire we hanging out.

If you haven't seen Spiderman 3, it's pretty terrible. Sam Raimi directed it, so I guess it's supposed to be campy, but it is a super terrible movie. Once again being with Paul and watching a bad movie in theatres, we started to make jokes to each other and one of the first ones we started was whispering "aaghablagghalaghaghablagh" to each other any time Venom came on-screen. The three of us kept it up for the rest of the movie and it got funnier and funnier each time.

This is one of those inside jokes that we can still make to each other years later and all pick up on it right away and also the type of thing that I randomly think about like once year (like last night) and still makes me chuckle to myself.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

I've Still Got My Key And It Works

Something that I really like to do is look at things that have been or happened in my life for a long time, relative to my time being alive of course, and see how they change. An example of something that I do this with is the experience of me coming home.

I haven't lived at home, save a stretch of 4 months at the end of last year, since I left for my first year of university in 2007 and to me, that is a long time. At first when I would come it was a bit of an awkward experience, mostly because I was a really awkward person then. I mean, I'm still really awkward now, but back then I was whole other levels of awkward. It was my first time living on my own away from my family and since I was so completely socially inept, I didn't really know how to act when I came back. For some completely incomprehensible reason, I felt weird about being close and sharing news and feelings with my family. Fortunately for me, my parents were the completely opposite of me and showered me with all the feelings and excitement anyways. At this point I still had my bedroom at home, so it still felt very normal coming back because everything was set up the same.

This started to change gradually in two ways: At school I moved out of residence and started renting a house with a few friends, which necessitated me moving all of my bedroom from Scarborough to Guelph and lead to a situation somewhat notorious among my friends in which Brian, Pat and I were coming home for a Less Than Jake show and I found my bedroom to be replaced with an empty room save for a single chair, without my knowledge. Of course it makes sense that my parents would try to turn my room into something else, as all of my stuff was out of it, but it was just a little shocking. So now when I came home I was riding the couch, as opposed to the comfort of my own bed. Though I returned back to Toronto for each of my first four summers at school for work, I gradually started to become more and more settled out on my own. The other way I changed was that since I was thrust out onto my own and met a ton of strangers at school, I began to get at least a little better at being social and could begin to reciprocate emotions with my family.

The funny thing is that the longer it gets since I initially moved out, the more I enjoy it when I come back home. A terrible cliché that I like to appropriate for myself is "You can take the boy out of Scarborough, but you can't take Scarborough out of the boy." I know it's corny, but I feel like it's an easy way to describe how I feel about my home town. All of my friends from K-W and Milton love to rip on me for it, but fuck it; Toronto is one of the best places in the world and I love it to death. I mean, yeah Scarborough sucks, but it's my shithole to make fun of, y'know?

This is also coupled with the fact that as I've gotten older I've gradually realized what fucking amazing people my parents are. The more people you meet, the more you realize that most parents fucking suck at instilling basic human decency in their offspring and as a result of that I start to appreciate the way my parents raised me more and more every day. I mean, I can write a passable essay, manage a root-3rd-5th on bass, crack a funny joke every 3rd week or so and sometimes channel my excessive discharge of feelings into a terribly written blog post and they love that person unconditionally! When you're a kid you get bummed out that your parents buy you books instead of Nintendo 64, but now I am so happy that my parents worked hard to instill a love of reading in me at an early age. Even just the basic things like encouraging me to follow my pursuits, whatever they may be, are something you think might be really simple but are somehow beyond most parents. So when I'm away from the 'hood, I start to get really homesick and miss my folks. Because they're the best.


A weird thing that's happened recently is how much my house changes each time I come home. My parents have been renovating recently, so it seems like there a new addition each time I come home. My mom has lost a significant amount of weight from eating well and exercising and while I'm obviously very proud and happy for her, she looks way different! My dogs also seem to get way older and fatter and slower each time I come home. More and more, the house is starting to be a completely different entity than the one I left in September 2007.

Alas, I started this blog with visions of it making far more sense structurally and leading up to the point I'm about to make, but veering off-track and things not going your way is just what happens sometimes. I'm writing about this subject because I came home for the first time in a little while today and it feels great to be back home. What I noticed this time when I came back was how much my dad and oldest dog Jack are alike. They're both getting up there in age, have bum joints in their legs and hobble around a bit, shower me with more love than I can handle. What makes it great is that they are best friends and spend more or less every waking moment around each other. People love to remark that dogs resemble their owners and it is certainly true in this case. They are my two favourite people in the entire world.

And I missed them a lot.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I'm on my way, I'm on my way, hoooooomme sweeeet hooooommmmmee

One of my best friends is named Matt Sellner. He is also my most (re: only) dedicated reader. He started reading not long after I started it and has stuck through like 5 years. I have a wonderful time every time I hang out with him. I love to watch action movies with him. I love to talk shop about wrestling with him even more. Recently we were hanging out and I said "I work at an art gallery." and he responded "You think I don't read your blog?"

The last time we hung out we got delicious burgers and watched a delightful piece of cinema starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Kudos to you Selly for being Imu's (the new, most ballin'-ass abbreviation for this blog, for those in the know) biggest fan but more so for being one of the most non-heinous people I know.

Beat Noir is playing a show on Monday with The Sidekicks that I'm very excited about. They are one of the best bands in the world and both Weight of Air  and Awkward Breeds are personal favourites. And man how good are they live? PRETTY MUCH THE BEST, MAN. Hop Along and Wayfarer are also playing and man, do they ever rule. You should really come.

Blue Jays 1, Yankees 0

This is a song I wrote today while sitting on my roof. The song also happens to be about sitting on my roof, because it was something I did a lot this summer and was kind of my place to go and escape and just hang out with myself once in awhile, because you know what? Everyone needs that every now and then.

It might be silly to post lyrics I finished writing literally 10 minutes ago and without accompanying music, but this was a case of me just kind of randomly spitting out a bunch of things I was thinking about and then thinking "Yeah, I like that." once I had finished, which is generally the feeling I get whenever I finish something that I'm proud of.


It's funny how things work out sometimes, like how this roof's been the bookends to my summer. There were lots of times in between, but there's two that especially stick out to me. There's an image of me gazing out at Shanley Street and thinking about how good things have been. They were two of the hottest days this summer and the green shorts I wore made me look like Jeff Spicoli, or at least that's what I would lead myself to believe. I get so pensive out here, it's like the shingles are a crank that turns the gears inside my head, or maybe it's just that I have time to reflect and I'm not playing baseball in my attic. I wish I could think this well with a roof over my head.

You could say this is my rooftop of solitude where I can think about Montreal and I'm gonna do during my MA in the fall. I'm a little scared, but excited just the same and with this towel as my seat, over these shingles in the August heat, I'm sure that I'll able to cope and succeed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Best Thing I Got For My Birthday

Today I listened to Make Your Mark by Living With Lions on the way to and from work and I was really struck by how amazing that album is, as I hadn't given it a full listen in quite a while.

I was headbanging and jumping up and down pretty hard on my skateboard while singing along the whole ride and thought to myself "You know what? Fuck it, this is one of the best Canadian punk releases of all-time." I feel like this band really flies under the radar in the punk scene for no reason that I can think of. To put it as simply as I can: They write fast, catchy, poppy punk songs with great guitar lines and are real, real good at it.

I heard both "She's A Hack" and "A Bottle Of Charades" and just couldn't wait to see them live. I eventually saw that they would be playing in Guelph and that was up there as the most excited I've been to see a show. They killed it, I picked up Make Your Mark at the show and didn't stop listening to it for a while and the night is one of those ones that has a habit of sticking out in your mind. Still one of my favourites.

They're putting out a new album this year. While I haven't been as keen on what they've put out since Make Your Mark, I'll still eagerly check it out.

Also, the new Superchunk album is streaming and one of the songs makes reference to the Skatalites' piano player. This guy is stoked.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


I was about to finish up a post I've been writing for a few days about Streetlight Manifesto because I feel guilty about my last few posts having not much too them, but then THIS HAPPENED TODAY:

Beat Noir has finally gotten around to releasing our new EP, Permanently. This is the first thing the band has released in a shade over two years and it's also the first release that Colin and I have played on. This is especially important to me as it's the first real-deal-for-serious release that I've ever put out with a band (will write about this later). I'm real proud of these songs and really can't wait for everyone to hear them. Also, it is free. Y'ain't got nothing to lose.

Secret Society

You know what band is amazing at making tour videos? Title Fight. The one below recaps the world tour they went on this past year around the States, Canada, Japan, Austrailia, New Zealand and various parts of Europe. It's sweet.

This video is in addition to a great mini documentary the band released earlier this year about a stadium tour they did with Rise Against and recording the excellent Floral Green. Check that out here:

Great band.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

This is one of my all-time favourite songs. Every time I hear it reminds of someone, specifically one night with them from a few summers ago, and makes me sad and nostalgic in a good-kind-of-sad way.

And man, when the song gets to the second chorus and Chris hits the higher notes, this is basically what happens:


Monday, July 15, 2013

True Trans

This is the newest Against Me! release. It is two of the songs from the forthcoming Transgender Dysphoria Blues done acoustically. I really think that this is going to be a really amazing and sincere album and I can't wait for it.

Plus one is called FUCKMYLIFE666, so like COME ON!

Monday, July 8, 2013

It's More Than Wincing Every Time I Sip My Tea

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been pondering about a variety of things lately and have been thinking a little more critically than I normally do, which is something that I'm really happy about. Now that I think about it (nice job brain), I'm pretty sure this has to do with my new job. Whereas before I was mindlessly stacking things in a grocery store (fuck, that was actually the worst job I've ever had), now I get to use the creative part of my brain in designing activities and thinking of ways to apply themes and ideas, as well as think critically about subjects when cataloging artworks. It feels great to get the wheels turning up there again, which in turn makes me pretty fuckin' happy.

So yes, I have been thinking more critically lately and this doesn't just mean I write up a long post about how everyone rips on everyone for their music taste because Duff started listening to New Order; it means that I start to process things that happen to me and things that I do and try to relate them to my life experiences as a whole. So Tim, how about you stop typing things up out of your ass and get to the goddamn point of this goddamn blog post.

Cool bruh, just relax.

Earlier this week at work I was speaking with some others in my department, we noted that we needed to better promote our summer camps and decided that taking posters and flyers around the downtown area would be the best way to do that. I was the one charged with this task and as soon as I set out with a backpack full of materials I was struck by how funny it was that something I had done in the past to promote shows that my old ska band played or one that I was putting on at my house was now something that I was now doing at my job. Not just that, but also that something that is considered so basic and crucial in the punk world (one of my main interests in life) was now intersecting with my experience in the art world (one of my main interests in life). It's really funny the way things work out like that.

This got thinking about other times two areas of my life have intersected like that and once I really got going on that tangent it became apparent that it happens more than I realize. More often than not it was art that was finding ways to meld with other interests of mine because as they say "Art imitates the juvenile teen dramas that you watch ironically in your life."

The first time this happened was when I was completing a project for my 12th grade history class. We had to give big term presentations that would take up an entire class and I figured that my best course of action would be to take the "Romantic Movement in Europe" topic because at the time the only thing that I cared at all about was music and I saw that topic as an opportunity to incorporate talking about music into this class. What happened was pretty interesting (to me) and to be honest (seriously not hyperbolising here) was pretty life changing. I found that the more I read into the prevailing ideologies of the Romantic movement, I started to relate to it a bunch and thought it was pretty neat. At the time I was a little heartbroken and felt pretty lonely at my high school, so the frank openness of the Romantics in regards to their emotions and the feeling of being overwhelmed by the sublime was easily relatable. While I thought that I could focus on my forte of music and breeze through literature and art while still getting a good grade, just the opposite happened. The more I looked at and read into Romantic Art, the more I thought "Wow. This is amazing. I had no idea that a visual image could say this much." I started to take a really keen interest in Romantic painting and the main reason was that I thought that the attitude of the artists and what they were trying to say and the way they said it was not all that far off from all the punk bands I love. I looked at paintings like The Raft of the Medusa or The 3rd of May and immediately in them saw the same spirit of rebellion and anti-authoritarianism and that I saw in punk bands. The same went for the movement in literature at the time. The writers were so open and serious about their emotions that it was impossible for me not to relate it to emo music. In fact, during the presentation I said "This basically the book version of an emo band."

From there I ended up taking an Art History survey class in first year, which lead to me majoring to me in Art History in university, so you can see what I meant by "life-changing".

These intersections of my interests happen all the time and it's sort of hard for me to think of more major examples because they generally happen on a smaller scale. Usually it will be an ideology I learned about in school coming up in the themes of an album or a favourite book of mine being subtly referenced on a TV show. Enough for me to crack an appreciative smile, but not enough for me to make a big fuss about it. And it's those little instances that I find to be some of my favourite parts of being alive.

And shit (had to throw in an extra swear word, so I don't sound too full of it).

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Runaway Child Running Wild

The way that your musical taste evolves can be pretty weird and it is something that I like to think about a lot because it is constantly changing. Almost nobody listens to the exact same set of artists their entire lives because seriously, how boring would that be? There's very few things in my life that give me more of a thrill than falling in love with something I haven't heard before and I'm sure that it is the same for many people. It seems completely magical when you are listening to something for the first time (or re-visiting something for the first time in a long time) and it is just exactly what you want to hear. Generally for me I don't really want to listen to anything else when this happens, so that album (or discography or group of artists or whatever) becomes a defacto soundtrack to my life.

This whole process of finding and getting into new music, but specifically an artist or genre that you never thought you would like before, is something that has happened to me more and more as I get older and each time it does happen I always have to chuckle to myself and think about how (relatively) close-minded I was about these types of things in my youth. 14 year-old Timmy who was always balls-deep in skate punk and just starting to realize how great ska is surely would sighed and rolled his eyes at 24 year-old Timmy listening to emo, let alone pop-rock like Cheap Trick (And guess what chief, I do the dishes and dance around to the Katy Perry discography on a pretty fuckin' regular basis. Keep that kid away from sharp objects.), but the constant flux that you experience in life is one of the things that makes it so exciting, so you really need to have a sense of humour about it and try to keep an open mind.

All this stuff is always on my mind because punk was the first type of music I got into, I guess. When I was in 7th and 8th grade, "punk" bands (please keep in mind that I am using this term very loosely here) were just what appealed to me most and it was the first time that I would hear music and think "Yes! This is what I like! This is what I want to hear!" so it was essentially all I listened to. The shitty thing about this is that when you get into punk you are also introduced some stupid ideas that go along with it; them mainly being that other types of music are really bad (with minimal explanation as to why, of course) ("Pop music is bad! They don't even write their own songs!)*. It's really easy to succumb to this and as a result you become really reluctant to enjoy popular forms of music. I'm not even talking just about pop songs, for the longest time it was built into my head that rap and hip-hop were "bad" only because they were on the opposite end of my musical taste. The same could be true of me not wanting to touch emo with gloves and a gas mask on while I was in the deepest part of my ska phase (as if that phase ever ended, hahaha).

Fortunately for me, as I got older I realized how silly this was and started to (slowly) get more into different kinds of music and stop caring what other people would think if I listened to things (sure seems dumb typing out that sentence now, but seriously, it was true). An early example I can think of is Set Your Goals. I saw them open for Less Than Jake and kind of liked what I heard, but was hesitant to listen only because "hardcore" (this was them touring on Reset I believe, which was more of a poppy Youth Crew release than a hardcore-tinged pop-punk sound like their later material) was so taboo in the ska scene. Never mind that I actively listened to and enjoyed Suicide Machines records that were full of hardcore songs. Ugh. I can be a moron sometimes.

I started listening to a much wider variety of music through university and a large part of that was becoming BFFFFFLZ with Brian. We shared a few artists in common, but had had fairly different musical tastes and as a result got each other into a ton of bands. On one hand, I wouldn't listen to Brand New, Alkaline Trio, The Get-Up Kids and wouldn't have gone through my gigantic Bayside phase without him and he wouldn't have gotten into Less Than Jake, Bomb the Music Industry! or We Are The Union without me. It didn't take long before I realized that listening to as much different music as I could was a huge joy that I would never go without again. It was also around this time that I started to get really into thrash metal, soul and power-pop.

The reason I wrote all this out was because it's been on my mind a lot lately. Duff recently got really into New Order and has been talking about how he is also getting really into house music as well. This has gotten him more than his fair share of eye-rolls from our punk friends, as house music is generally something associated with shitty bar kids, but whatever good on him for finding something new that he likes.

I think that the main reason people in the punk community can sometimes look down on people for listening to these type of things is that they're paranoid about their punk friends getting out of punk and leaving them. This is something that happens and it does kind of suck (during high-school Chris, Party Pat and I were the only ones who kept going to shows the whole time), but you can't blame people for having different interests and getting out of things. Life is constantly changing because that's just how it is, so people's tastes change as well. And there's nothing wrong with being friends with people who aren't punk, so why don't you stay friends with them? There is no doubt that Party Pat, Paul, Damien and I all getting into alternative and punk music at the same time was a huge bonding experience for us, but two of them losing their interest in it didn't deter me from staying friends with them and we are still the best of friends. Pretty much everything in life is a two-way street, so it's important to be self-critical and always consider multiple angles when you think about things.


I don't know, I guess what I'm trying to say boils down to: Like whatever you want to like because you want to. Don't give a shit what other people say about your interests and pursue life for yourself, because somebody has to.

*Welcome to the first ever endnote (Footnote? I've always been on team footnote in my writing but this is just one big long page, so I guess it's a little of both! Whoa! Let's not get too crazy here!) of It has been 5 years in the making and this is truly a momentous occasion. Rather than continuing my usual technique of going off on ridiculous tangents and having random paragraphs breaking up the flow of my "prose", I think that including endnotes in the future might be a good idea. ANYWHO, back to the matter at hand; artists having songs written for them and how fans of rock music mistakenly label this as a sign of that artist's lack of talent. Song-writers are not a new thing. Not even close to a new thing. People think that they can say "Hahaha, The Backstreet Boys? They don't even write their own songs!" and that that qualifies as a rock-solid argument against both their talent and credibility, but that is so far from the truth. Because Marvin Gaye and The Temptations had all of their hits written for them by Holland-Dozier-Holland, so does that make Gaye and The Temps objectively untalented and bad? Because both are certainly objectively very talented and great. Making this argument against artists also completely ignores the tremendous talent of the song-writers; I mean, look at the discography of the aforementioned H-D-H or Max Martin. It's fucking stupid. Some people are good singers or performers, but not good song-writers and that's just the way it goes. Rather than have their talents go to waste performing shitty songs that they write themselves, they get people to write better songs for them. Fucking deal with it. (Also, Katy Perry co-wrote all the hits with Max Martin, so put that in your pipe and smoke it idjits.)