Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Greyscale Memories

While writing last week, I was possessed to listen to Beat Noir's only album, Ecotone for the first time in forever.

Hey, since I mentioned it, I guess here you go:


Like I said, it had been a minute since I had actually listened to the album in full, which I guess means I hadn't experienced the songs from a listener's perspective in a little while. The main way I interact with the songs is through playing them at shows, or more recently since we haven't played a show in two months, at practice. And we barely play them at practice because we're getting ready to record!

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not as familiar with the songs as I once was. But I also think that an album is a work of art itself. Bands put a lot of effort into the track order, artwork, overarching themes, etc., so it's been forever since I had experienced Ecotone as a whole. I still know the songs we play live, "Nicky Driscoll", "Ancienne Gloire", "The Wars", inside out, but that's not the same for other songs. There was even songs I forgot were on the album! Somehow I forgot that "Sheltered Town / Bitter Sea" which, frankly, I think is our best song, is on the album. The Six Feet Under clip in between "Nicky Driscoll" and "Deathwish" completely slipped my mind, which is funny, considering that Ecotone is basically Six Feet Under: The Album! and we watched the entire show while writing it.

It's also much different listening to the 10 songs now, about two years later (I think?!) then it was hearing them all the time while making the album. There's a lot of things going through your mind while creating an album that seem like a good idea at the time. Making an album is a really hard and long process, so you end up having a million fucking ideas about what you want to do with your art to make it stand out, to make it good, to make each part of it distinctive and different. "Hey, we all like Sloan and Thrush a lot, so let's make this song an alt-punk song." "Hey, we like C.C.R., so let's put 70's rock riffs in this song." Some of those work out and some of them don't, but it's kind of impossible to tell what will at the time.

I think it's been long enough now that I can see the warts on the album, which I assume were evident to listeners when it came out. "Collages" is a bad song. I should never, EVER, write a bassline as dumb as the one I wrote for the verse of "Nom de Guerre". "Song for Movement" might be a better song if we just took out the intro.

But for all the miscues I saw while re-visiting the record, I was also very refreshed by the fact that I'm still very proud of all of the songs. I also re-listened to Permanently and was really ashamed of how bad it is. That did not happen with Ecotone. As soon as the first track (not the intro) was about half-way through I said to myself, "You know what? This is a good song." and found myself repeating that a lot through the listen. Even the songs I don't necessarily like so much have good parts. I think the lyrics and ending of "Collages" are still good. Really, all of the lyrics are good, in my opinion and Duff doesn't get his due. The ending of "Nom de Guerre" is really fun. Maybe we're just good at writing the outros of songs? Who knows.

I've always wanted to be in a band and I guess I should count myself lucky that I've been in one that's enjoyable to be in with friends that I really like for the past 3 1/2 years. For a long time while I was in high school and university, my dream/goal/whatever was to be in a band and have a full-length record so that I could point to it or show it to people and say "This is my album." And I can do that and be proud of it.

Something funny to me is thinking about how each member of Beat Noir would react to this situation. I know that Duff would hate every song, maybe admitting that one or two had miniscule redeeming qualities. Mark would probably love every one. Colin is the wild card, though if I had to guess, his opinion would probably be close to mine.

This is also interesting to me because Beat Noir is going to Niagara on the Lake to record our second album soon. Is that breaking news?! IS THIS AN IMU EXCLUSIVE? Anyways we are and we are a much different band now. We don't practice very much. We haven't played a show in forever. We aren't nearly as active as we were when making Ecotone. In Mark's words, we sort or morphed into a "studio-only" band by accident. That sounds silly, so please know that I was joking. Though that was also due to us playing a bunch of dumb, bad shows this summer.

I don't even know it there's a central point that I'm trying to get to in this post besides "Beat Noir is different now." Maybe also that I still like our record? These seem like dumb and trite points, but I do know that I felt something while listening to the record again. It's a lot like going back and looking at an old part of your facebook timeline. These songs represent a very specific time in my life. I have great memories of writing the album in Colin's basement, Echo Base, and the Breithaup jam hall. I still remember when the album went got "released" (I was at a dinner with several art history profs and smile at my phone. Such a 21st century digital boy I am.).

I think in general though, this is a weird side of the excitement I'm feeling about recording our new songs in two weeks.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Illegitimate Blues

I haven't written a for-real blog post since November 2nd and that is because I have been extremely busy writing my thesis, which has sucked up all my writing power Shang Tsung style.

I guess that previous sentence implies that I'm only able to write about one thing at a time, which sucks but is sort of true. I find the more I write about a topic or write in one style, the easier it comes to me. If I've been active on IMU, then long form posts come easier than if I have force my way through my first post in month. If I've putting in shifts at the library all week, it's way easier to sit down and hammer out some good chunks of a chapter. I, like most people, wish I could just sit down and be prolific, but that just ain't true.

I like using word ain't. I guess that's weird for a kid from Scarborough? Who's not from Alabama?

I was thinking about a post on the way to my parents' house in Scarborough the other day and one of the main ideas kicking around in my head was that this blog is a distraction. This is 100% true. I use the internet to distract myself ALL THE TIME and this is definitely part of that. I'm a real big procrastinator, so if I have an assignment to do and the need isn't absolutely pressing, then I fire up the blogger tab and start tapping away here.

What I was thinking about though, is that you can definitely classify this blog as a "good distraction". Using the above example, I think there's something to be said for one of my impulses being to write on here because writing is an expression of your creativity and it involves you using your brain and thinking about new ideas and then trying to express those ideas. It sure beats the hell out of browsing pro wrestling news, which I am also guilty of, in terms of your mind actually doing something. So even if some of the posts look a lot like this, it's better than mindlessly scrolling through facebook or instagram or whatever (fangraphs, in my case). In this way, I use that as ammo for my procrastination. It's like "Well, I'm not writing that, but I am writing this". In the moment, it makes perfect sense to me.

I suppose this ties into a lot of thoughts I've had on technology over the last few years. This all started when I read the book Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, which I recommend to people my age and younger more than pretty much any book. I kind of hate that smart phones are just a major part of everyone's life now. I completely understand why they are and I understand that many people are kind of forced to use them because everyone else does, but fuck if it sucks man. Every time I'm going somewhere and look around, every person is face down looking at their phone. I don't want to come off as too high up on my already high horse, but you know what I do on commutes since I only have a flip phone? I read. I listen to music. I write.

That is all consuming or making art in somewhere. It's doing something that is adding to my life in a positive way.

I just think that scrolling through various social media as the way you pass your time is fucking awful. It's just useless information that is interesting enough to interest you for the time you are reading it and then you forget it the second you aren't.

Now, I know this isn't a new phenomenon. Before smartphones kids my age would spend an entire night on MSN (though that was at least talking to someone) and I'm sure that there were tons of pre-2000 kids who spend an entire day in front of a TV watching shows just because they were on and not because they liked them at all. Maybe people are going to fill their mind with useless information no matter what and it's just a matter of where it comes from? That's dark.

Also, it's unfair that I act and write like I'm not a slave to technology as well. I spend a lot of time on my computer and am on it right now, publishing this post to what is consider a "social media" site, I guess. Blogs are social media right?

But like I said, if writing stuff here is my distraction, then I am cool with that.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Once upon a time, I tried to explain why I thought Harvey Danger were an underrated band and very culturally significant.

This article does a much better job of that than I did.

Monday, November 2, 2015


There seems to be an inevitable lifecycle as a punk where you go from curious to nervous to invested to jaded to bitter. We all try to avoid this as much as possible, but it is apparently failsafe. If you've been interested music and ever involved in a particular scene, there is always a certain time period or group of bands that evoke the most nostalgia. You start to think "Back then, it was different. It mattered", but in reality everybody thinks that about something. The punk kids older than you thought that about what came before you and the kids younger than you think about right now. Life, of which punk is of course a part, is always changing

It's really easy to look back on a certain time period as the "Golden Age" of a scene simply because you were there to experience it. Maybe just being there is what really matters.

For me, that time was about 2005-2012 or so (or maybe now? I guess?) in Ontario. I went to a lot of shows, though more importantly I went to a lot of shows that featured local bands from Ontario. I have vivid memories of the first times I saw Junior Battles, !Attention!, and The Decay and when I think about that now, it's more or less like there's a rose-coloured lens over the whole thing. I couldn't believe how good the music and bands around me were. I made unforgettable memories in weird and awesome places. It mattered more than anything to me.

With that, I give you this collection of music made by my peers that affected me in a major way. I have strong memories tied to all of these releases and the people who made them. I tried to limit it to one release per band for the sake of it not being overwhelming and tried to go for 7"s or EPs when I could. It can sometimes be a little daunting to jump into a giant collection of music, or at least thats the way I find it, so I tried my best to curb that as much as possible. I hope you like these songs, because they were a big deal for me.

The Essential Ontario 2008-2012.