Tuesday, April 8, 2014

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

God, Please Save These Troubled States

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sell Both Our Tickets And Sit On The Lawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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