Here are some of my favourite songs from 2012. While not necessarily released this year, this is when I discovered them. So if you’re looking for some samples of some new tunes. Enjoy.
Lemme know what you think and what you enjoyed! Add your own!
And if you’re too lazy to sit through these videos, you can go to:
You’ll get bite sized snippits of some of my favourite songs of 2012.
“Lady Adelaide” – Benjamin Gibbard – Former Lives
“I Am Europe” – Chilly Gonzales – Ivory Tower
The video of this one is pretty weird, but totally worth it.
“Home” – Gabrielle Alpin - Home EP
“Make the Money” – Macklemore - The Heist
“Don’t Move” – Phantogram - Nightlife
“Electric Pow Wow” – A Tribe Called Red - A Tribe Called Red
“Reaction” – Acres of Lions - Collections
“They Are Filled” – Bison - Quill
“Write It All Down For You” – Elliott Brood - Mountain Meadows
“First Breath After A Coma” – Explosions in the Sky - The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place
“Call Me In the Afternoon” – Half Moon Run - Dark Eyes
“Take Me With You When You Go” – Jack White - Blunderbuss
“Seeing the Glass as Half Broken” – Mayor Mayor - If We Don’t Move They Can’t See Us
“Gettysburg” – Ratatat - Classics
West My Friend “Place”
Grammar Fight Records 2012
West My Friend is:
Eden Oliver: Vocals, Guitar, Flute
Alex Rempel: Mandolin, Vocals
Jeff Poynter: Accordion, Vocals
Steven Taddei: Bass, Vocals
Place represents a milestone in the relatively short life of West My Friend. Their first full length album, following up on their self-titled EP released in 2011 will be available for wide-spread release on April 5th 2012. I’ve had the pleasure of working with West My Friend before to record backing tracks to BFA: The Musical in the summer of 2011, and I am excited to bring you a sneak peek of what you can expect to hear on Place.
The 4 piece consisting of guitar, bass, accordion, and mandolin bring a unique style. The 13 song album comes in at just under 50 minutes, making each song just shy of an average 4 minutes each. A unique aspect of the creation of this album is that the band used the fast-growing site IndieGoGo.com. It allows for groups such as West My Friend to let their fans donate money to their cause. In this case it was recording this album. Their campaign using YouTube helped them with the funding of Place.
The first track on the album, “Tic-A-Toc,” is a great opener and sets the tone for the rest of the album; a slow build to the first chorus that introduces all the elements of the band. This instrumentation is not one that the average listener will encounter on their everyday music-going experience. The mandolin and the accordion bring a distinct feeling to the band’s vibe and musical structure, the shuffling drums carry the momentum of the track throughout, and syncopated lines between the band members provide a back and forth swaying motion (dare I say pendulum like?). “Tic-A-Toc” closes with a fantastic melodic line – with the male members imitating the ticking, and Eden, the lone female and lead vocalist, leading with “Ding Dongs.”
Throughout the record, Eden’s voice has the ability to rise above the instrumentals and then sits comfortably, meshing with the gents in harmony. The production is generally consistent over the course of the record, with the accordion in your left ear and the mandolin in your right.
One of my favourite tracks on the album is “Shakes and Rattles.” It starts stark with just the mandolin and the lead vocal. The reverb suggests a large empty space, bordering on cavernous. The pseudo-sloppiness of the drums works fantastically with the reverb, and this track marks, albeit briefly, the introduction of the flute for the first time. The climax comes when Eden’s voice returns in the chorus with “Shakes, Rattles, Shakes,” and the track denouements into black with a trailing cymbal.
(“I Refuse” – with Chris Ho)
Although the band is able to maintain a high level of energy on all of their tracks, I feel that the ones with drums backing them tend to be more cohesive and convey the style of the song just a bit more. A track like “I Refuse” would benefit from a solid beat behind it, as well as smooth fills in the syncopated bits where the music drops. A few tracks later, the band shows off their strict music talent doing a version of the “Pin Oak Reel.” Each member takes the lead, with Jeff on guitar and Eden on flute, while Alex provides some rather slick mandolin lines.
“Home By The Sea” provides a change of pace from the previous mainly upbeat tracks. The male vocals, provided by Alex, are a welcome variety, the lyrics describing a dwelling the title refers to. Swelling accordion and vocals combine for a captivating timbre as the percussion rises, causing the track to lean toward a bobbing motion while boomy drums rise, wave-like, which was one of the stand-outs for me on the album.
The album closes with what feels like the music that would be playing during the credits of the West My Friend movie. “Oh Future” is a blues and folk infused track with a crunchy piano that fits into the half-ragtime style of the song. It is definitely the perfect track to end the album.
West My Friend provides a great outing on their first full length album, Place, drawing inspiration from many different styles and showing off their ability to play create lush indie, emotional folk, with a bit of roots-twang here and there. The upbeat and downbeat tracks provide a fantastic contrast in sounds that the classically trained band is able to produce. If you wish Mumford and Sons had an accordion and a female lead singer, West My Friend is the band for you. You can pick up Placeon April 5th, 2012 from their website http://www.westmyfriend.com/apps/webstore/ or at their CD release show (featuring the Kovich String Quartet) at Hermann’s Jazz Club.
Mylo Xyloto by Coldplay – 2011 – EMI
With their fifth album, and latest since Viva La Vida… in 2008, Coldplay picks up where they left off in their experimentation from Viva. For people who enjoyed Coldplay of olde, with songs like “Yellow”, “The Scientist” and “Sparks”, I would advise you to immediately stop reading this review and go listen to A Rush Of Blood to the Head. You will not like Mylo Xyloto. The album blends styles of funk, dubstep, pop and almost everything in between for an interesting en-devour from this supergroup.
To start, the title Mylo Xyloto has come under quite a bit of scrutiny in the press even before its release. Martin, a man who has named his kids Apple and Moses, is quoted as saying
“It is pronounced My-low Zy-letoe… and even the lads admit the title doesn’t mean anything. Chris says: “At the moment it seems a bit ridiculous and I accept that. “Something about it feels quite fresh. The title doesn’t have any other meaning. I think we’re a band with a lot of history now so it’s nice to come up with something that doesn’t have any history at all. We’ve had that title for about two years on a board and any other potential titles had to be written next to it. Other ones made more sense but we just liked this one, that’s all we can defend it with.”
It seems to be pretention bordering on idiocy, which some might say is a decent way to describe the band as a whole, but one cannot dismiss the fact that they have created some powerful music for quite some time now.
The title aside, the album unfolds in a continuous manner, with songs blending into each other as is the style with CD’s for some time. What is unusual about the Coldplay CD is that they have a few shorter tracks that sort of divide the CD into three almost equal parts. These short tracks play as “soundscapes”, and show direct influence from producer Brian Eno. Eno is famous in the music world for his work with legendary bands such as U2 and David Bowie, as well as being the composer for the Windows 95 introduction sound. Eno’s background in electronic and ambient music has a large impact on the band’s overall sound and these smaller soundscapes.
Specifically speaking, a few tracks stand out against the rest, but there is nothing that feels like a stand-out hit. The first single “Paradise” quite nicely reflects the direction that Coldplay is heading. Lushly filled with strings and synths, the half-time tempo of this track just begs for a dub-step remix (Oh wait – they already exist! See the end of the video). This emphasizes the departure from the bare bones of what Coldplay became known for when they first emerged. With Eno’s production, it sometimes becomes hard to find the skeleton of the band beneath all the foliage of sound.
The track “Charlie Brown” stood out to me as a song that many who liked Viva La Vida will latch onto and enjoy. The similar four on the floor beat throughout makes for a driving song with a return to the guitar based tracks. The track ends with a nice little piano homage to the yellow striped character for which the track is named. If you listen closely, you can almost begin to hear the beginning of the “Christmas Time” song in Chris Martin’s final piano lines.
A track that feels like it’s off in a whole new direction is “Major Minus”. Once it broke into the meat of the song, I immediately felt like this should be a Red Hot Chili Peppers hit from the 90′s. The chunky guitars and the “Ooh ooh’s” just scream “Higher Ground” off of Mother’s Milk. “Major Minus” doesn’t have the same energy as the early Peppers did, but the song doesn’t suffer either.
Another foray into the synth driven pop world, and bound to be their next single, ”Princess of China” feat. Rihanna is the last stand out from the album. Mostly due to the combination of Martin’s and Rihanna’s vocals, which at times can seem over produced, this track catches the listeners ear. The bridge kind of lags on, but the energy is quickly brought back with a drop leading to the final chorus and hook.
Lastly, it pains me so much to listen to the song “Up In Flames”. The simple piano and vocal track is ruined by a digitized drum set. Martin’s reverberant vocals and harmonies would be so much better suited to a real drum set. When the strings, back-ups and guitar solo comes in, the drums move out of focus and the track finally sits in a really nice place. This track could have been a hidden gem without that drum sound. I think with a few more listens, it might grow on me and become my favourite number on the album.
To conclude, Mylo Xyloto is more so removed from the Parachutes, Coldplay’s first album, and much more similar to Viva La Vida. Hopefully this distinction helps people decide whether or not to pick up the album. It’s definitely worth a listen for its production and thick sounds and interesting experimentation on the band’s part. For those who want Chris Martin to just record himself at a piano singing, avoid this one.
And now for a dubstep remix of “Paradise” – as promised!
So tonight I went to the Hey Rosetta! concert, and I was a little apprehensive at first, as I was going alone and the night seemed like it wasn’t going to turn out great. But boy was I wrong.
I’m going to try and write as much of this as I can now before I forget it all, so here goes.
The indie darlings of Canada were nominated for the Polaris Prize last year and are riding high off the release of their newest album. Seeds came on out the 15th of February, and the band is currently touring to promote the new tunes. Seeds has been rumored to be the one that is their breakout; the one that gets noticed and is the final step to international stardom. Personally I don’t agree with this. I think that Into Your Lungs, the band’s sophomore album is more rounded and balanced record. Not that Seeds isn’t up to snuff with what is to be expected from Hey Rosetta!, I just prefer Into Your Lungs.
And this band knows how to put on a good show. It was probably one of the best I have seen in the past few years, if not in my life. Their sound is impeccable and their presence immaculate.
It’s not just the mass amount of people on stage: with usually two, sometimes three guitars, a bass, piano, cello, violin, viola and drums. There is a lot of sound produced by this band. And it’s their balance and reign of that power that which makes them a great band. Although the live settings doesn’t allow for the best mixture of sounds, it still exists and is a wonderful thing when you can hear it. There are plenty of moments like in “I’ve been Asleep for a Long, Long Time” where you think the song is about to end and the lights fade, and then the back is back in with a huge last chorus.
Hey Rosetta! is one of the only bands in this day in age that I know that really uses dynamics effectively. Their range of volumes is captivating and are a huge drawing factor for me. In particular “There’s An Arc” has a perfectly executed crescendo through the first 2 and a half minutes of music. Another thing about Hey Rosetta! that strikes me is their sheer musical talent. The cellist, sometimes holding his cello with his knees, guitar around his neck playing chords and then switching back to the bow and playing with the strings in the same song is awe-inspiring. The string players themselves are very skilled and use extended techniques to extend the musical lines. The band as a collective also has the ability to nail syncopated lines and complex off-beat rhythms that shatter the typical four-to-the-floor beats of the Top-40 today.
But the biggest and most important thing about Hey Rosetta! that makes them a great band to see live, is that they look like they’re enjoying and really feeling the music. Tim, the lead singer appears almost in pain singing some of the lyrics and the rest of the band is moving and reacting to each other. As the band came out for a 3 song encore, playing a moving rendition of “Time After Time“, the sparklers came out as well. A feat that I have never seen done at a live show probably had the security guards shitting their pants, was a homage to the band’s video for “Yer Spring” and a nice way to end the evening.
If you haven’t already heard Hey Rosetta!, I highly recommend you give some of their songs a listen and hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
- In a new music world, Hey Rosetta! rises to the occasion (theglobeandmail.com)
- Hey Rosetta! is full steam ahead (arts.nationalpost.com)
So I’ve been getting more flack on the Sick Puppies fan forum about my review for their CD.
So this is fun! I’m kind of enjoying being this bad guy who ‘hates’ on their band with no valid opinion and no taste in music. So I decided to listen to this album for a second time and see if I was wrong in what I said in my first review. With all my new insight on this band and that they’re not actually this soft rock band that I had originally expected them to be, I was willing to see if my opinion had changed at all.
Granted this is probably what Sick Puppies fans want. A CD with tracks very similar to each other and what they’re used to. Fair enough. I recently picked up the new Secret and Whisper album, Teenage Fantasy, and a lot of the songs on that CD are very similar to their first. And many songs on that CD are very similar to each other. So I’m not saying that songs that sound the same are a bad thing if that’s what you want.
For me, when I pick up a CD I try and come into it and give it a good representation of what I think it is in a whole. I am looking to hear something new, something different and something that stands out from everyone else. And I didn’t hear that on this Tri-Polar album. I heard a variation of a form in many of these songs. The same form that almost every band these days follows – Verse Chorus Verse Chorus Bridge Chorus. Every musician and popular music enthusiast knows this same form. Comparable to Sonata form of the Classical Era, everyone these days does it. It’s what makes a catchy consistent pop song. And a catchy consistent pop song makes money. Period. And this doesn’t stand out from the crowd. Which is why this album fell by the waste-side for me.
So there are a number of good songs on the album, and the three-piece band is comprised of great musicians. I am impressed with their musicianship, particularly the bass lines – usually more than just eight notes of the chord. But there’s nothing that stands out! Each chorus feels like it drops into half time and each verse has some kind of guitar riff, comparable to that of Billy Talent. To me it just got boring. Plain and simple. I decided to look through all the lyrics too. Regarding the Explicit Content sticker which I think was unnecessary. I found one use of profanity and maybe two songs that involve “Explicit Content” – involving sex. Now, this sticker was brought into effect with the NWA’s CD Straight Outta Compton and I just think it’s distributed a little to freely these days. Songs about life don’t automatically make them explicit, I could name hundreds of songs about life that are able to make their point without being explicit.
It may be because I am not a particular fan of this kind of music. Because to me, it all sounds the same. Breaking Benjamin, Seether, Default, Nickelback, etc etc etc. Everyone lumps those bands together, and I hope that Sick Puppies, if they reach a larger audience and larger reign of stardom don’t fall into the same category. But unfortunately, I have no reason to believe that they won’t. But apparently their fans love them long time. So we’ll see.
Now speaking of these fans. Crazy sorts. I feel kind of insulted that my review was considered half-assed. As I said earlier I try and give a good representation of the CD on a whole. That’s not including the back story of the band and not including what they’ve done previously. It does help when you try to chart the progress of the band. I feel that when you’re trying to write for a certain audience – in my case, university students – you have to write a certain way and give them something that they can relate to. Now the majority of students at my university – in Canada – have probably never heard of Sick Puppies and if they have, it’s going to be from the Free Hugs/All The Same video. So that’s what they could relate to. I said if this is what you like, you’ll enjoy it. If not avoid it. It’s a pretty fair and general review, and I think that if you (being all you Sick Puppies Fans out there who didn’t appreciate my review) were to read my review from an unbiased point of view, say if my review was for a different band (which is you weren’t half-assed and did some “research” and realized I did OTHER reviews) you will see my point. A bad or sub-par CD deserves an equal review, not for the views on a blog. One doesn’t write a CD review for his university newspaper for the views.
Well fans, if you got this far, thanks for reading. Thanks for all the nice comments about me and my musical styles. I’m looking forward to my plane ticket to Australia to see the band live – which I’ll requires a review on entirely different circumstances.
Is this lie worth defending?
Close your eyes cover your ears,
Shut your mouth.
You can act naive
But I know you’re not stupid.
(“In It For Life” – Sick Puppies – Tri-Polar – 2009)
(UPDATE: See my newest defense after a flurry of posts from the Sick Puppies Fans. Click here!)
So I did a review of a Sick Puppies CD, Tri-Polar, way back last summer. I found out recently that it ended up on the Sick Puppies fan forum. They didn’t really enjoy it that much. Saying that I’m a “crippled old fart” and apparently a female.
I find this pretty funny. I think that my review is a fair assessment of that CD and discussed it thoroughly. I will admit that the only song I’d ever heard of theirs was “All The Same” and that’s what I was expecting and based the review off of. Maybe if I were getting paid to do these reviews, I’d put a little more research into the music before I started. But nyeh. Not too choked about it.
It’s cool to see that people from all over the world are reading my reviews via my blog. And not surprising that they didn’t like it. I probably wouldn’t like it if someone bashed an Alexisonfire or City and Colour CD, so I will give them that. In my defense, I think I do have good tastes in music and I can definitely tell when all the songs on a CD sound similar and have little variation.
So to all you Sick Puppies fans out there, thanks for reading and enjoying!
I’ve put the link to the forum below. Take a look!
I just spent the past 10 minutes googling myself. There were no links to any of my blog/facebook/photos/anything other than my CD reviews for the Martlet.
This is a good thing. I hate the feeling that someone out there (a potential boss) may be learning everything there is to know about me from my blog before we even meet.
Luckily there’s a XXXXX XXXXXXX who rides horses somewhere in Texas. So all his stuff comes up first.
Me – One. Google – Nothing.
The third record from Halifax’s In Flight Safety was released earlier this year. The band will be playing on Granville Island during the Olympic festivities come February. The Canadian foursome had the first single of this album, Model Homes, featured on the great Canadian teen sitcom Degrassi in early November.
Right off the top, the band brings on their not-so-unique sound. Take a cross between Coldplay, the Killers and a splash of any other pop-rock male vocal led band and put them in a blender. The result would be In Flight Safety.
The first track, I Could Love You More, is not a great way to start off a record. The band chooses to use grandiose harp runs to usher the listener into the chorus. It’s almost impossible to tell if they just found the harp tone on their keyboard and really wanted to incorporate that into a song.
Tracks like Amy Racina and Big White Elephant are soothing enough that one could probably fall asleep to the music. CloudHead is a little bit more upbeat but nothing substantial enough to make you want to get out of your seat.
Upon reading the track list on the back of the disc, one will notice that track 9 is entitled “Paperthin II” while the track after is “Paperthin”. Maybe the band wanted to pull a Star Wars move and put out the sequel before the original. Who knows; all in all, Paperthin II turns out to be a minute and a half waste of time. It could have just gone on the end of the first track and no one would have cared.
“We Are an Empire, My Dear” is nothing special. For those out there who enjoy the soft comforting rock and pop of the bands like Coldplay but not the indie aspect of Joel Plaskett, In Flight Safety would be the perfect fit.
Saint Alvia is one of the first bands I’ve heard that combines the screaming element of bands like Alexisonfire but a funky almost ska element of Sublime, and at times sounding like the Offspring.
It’s upbeat, thumping beats and twang of the guitar of the title track get you into the music pretty quickly. The chorus of this song sums up the band fairly well: “You gotta read between the lines, if you wanna follow me/I lead these streets of mine, with four letter words and hollow deeds.”
The highly stylized sextet from Burlington, Ontario is currently touring Europe after a small set of dates with acoustic shows across Canada. One stop included Chinook Mall in Calgary. Why a band would ever want to play a mall is beyond me, but to each their own.
Saint Alvia is able to have a good mix of styles on Between the Lines. The track “Trouble Keeps Me Busy” is a slower, mellower tune, which is quickly followed by the upbeat “Romeo.”
Between the Lines is a well-rounded CD from a socially conscious band. They’re stylistic mix provides an enjoyable listen for the average music listener.
Blah, I feel like I’m in one of those moods where I have to blog everything.
In case you haven’t seen it, my twitter on the side “Things She Says” has been going for a while, and it’s all the random things that my girlfriend asks/says to me. So check it out if you’re bored! It’s a good way for us to remember the things we talk about. But she’s getting kinda annoyed with it I think. I tend to whip out my cell phone pretty frequently when we’re together. http://www.twitter.com/thingsshesays
Also, my reviews are doing well in the paper here. I had a meeting with the Arts editor and he said if there’s shows or bands I’d like to interview then I just have to let him know, and he’ll try to make it happen. Which is pretty cool. Maybe I’ll finally get to go to all these shows like I’ve always wanted to! I think it’s kinda weird and kinda cool being in a paper like this one. I walk by people reading it and kinda giggle to myself and think that they could be reading my articles and stuff. It’s cool to know that there are people out there, who you walk by everyday, maybe even sit next to in class that do that kinda thing. Maybe even on a more grandious scale.
Things are going well at home. Our one roommate who cooks went to Calgary for thanksgiving. So we’ve been kinda managing on our own. My one roommate K made us a good dinner on Friday night, but unfortunately it wasn’t until 8 pm. He did a great job of making everything, but it just didn’t come together at the right times, we were sitting around waiting for food for a couple hours and it really sucked. I’m still undecided on the cable. I don’t think we need this many channels. I thought it was going to be good and we’d watch the news sometimes and what have you. But not really, we only really watch about 6 or 7 channels: Discovery, CBC, TSN, Sportsnet, Spike, and a few other channels here and there. I dunno, still seems kinda like a waste to me.
Okay, I have to go shower now. More homework to do today.
The Bird & The Bee – Ray Guns Are Not Just The Future – The Blue Note Label Group
Get ready for something you’ve probably never heard before. This duo out of California provides a unique sound that is stark by comparison and will blow you away. “The Bee” aka Greg Kurstin has produced albums with indie, rock, and synth sensations like Lily Allen, The Flaming Lips and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. And it’s clear; the production on this album is outstanding.
“The Bird’s” (Inara George) vocals can be compared to those of Feist or Adele, but without the soft guitar or piano in the background. For only their second full length album this is truly something fantastic. There are so many layers to every track on this album, and each song is so distinctly different from the next, from the ballad of “Ray Gun,” to the upbeat “Love Letter To Japan.” Each song is a great utilization of every musical element.
The track “Diamond Dave” is a tribute to the former lead singer of Van Halen, David Lee Roth. It speaks of the turmoil the lead singer went through as she followed David’s path through the music scene. Stating triumphantly, “I will always love you.” But the lyrics to this song aren’t the only thing that are a little out of the ordinary. The track uses synth and chimes throughout giving it a poppy feel.
The Bird and The Bee use a great combination of sounds in their album. Their use of dissonance and catchy hooks will have you listening and cringing, but always begging for more. I would highly recommend this CD to anyone out there. You’ll find a track on it that you are bound to like. I know I’ll be blasting this out of my girlfriend’s car, whether she likes it or not.
This is honestly one of the best CD’s I’ve heard in a long time. I love every bit about it. I really want to download this band’s entire discography. It’s so crazy. I think I enjoy this music so much because it’s unlike anything I’ve ever heard before. That’s a big thing for me. I’m always looking for something new, and this is definitely it. There’s so much to say about every song on Ray Guns are Not Just The Future that the only way for you to understand it best is to go listen to it.
Well, it’s been a ‘long’ time since I’ve posted on here, so I’m sure you’re all waiting eagerly for my next post. I know my brother is, one of the first things he’s said to me this morning was “no new blog posts in a while?” Which isn’t completely untrue. Thursday was only 3 days ago. So whatever. I feel like I post more than the average blogger does with my schedule as full as it is.
Alrighty so the last 3 days have been quite the whirlwind of events. Classes ended on early for me on Friday so that was nice. The night was spent at one of my roommates girlfriend’s place where drinks were consumed, rockband was played, and fridge poetry was written. Now, I find myself to be somewhat conservative, but at times I can be quite brutal and often crossing the boundaries that some people consider normal. And for some people, like my roommates girlfriend, those boundaries are not hard to cross. Thus when I got a hold of the word poetry, things got a little out of hand. I came up with things like: “your mother dreams visions of dripping honey over me panting like a precious puppy” and “he fingered her bare butt” and “he tongued her sweet wet juices from a sweaty pink raw void that resulted in a symphony of moans”. Or something of the like. So that was basically the funnest part of friday night.
Saturday was a busy day as well, K, B and I went to Future Shop, Shaw and got our cable box, and then Wal-Mart to buy rockband. They’re logic is that: We don’t want to borrow our friends rockband because then all our saved data won’t get transferred. And we’ll probably buy it eventually anyway. This is really weird for me. I don’t understand what’s wrong with not keeping our data, and I’m sure my friend won’t mind letting us borrow his game.
I’ll probably have to fork over some coin for it. These guys seem to have a magic money tree that provides them with a never-ending surplus of cash. Which is not what I’m used to. I’ve been living on bare bones for the last 4 months, scrounging to even go see a movie. And now these guys will buy whatever they need. I’m not used to it yet, or the system by which we buy/share our food.
Everything in the house is for anyone to use basically. So when you go buy groceries, you put the receipt up on the whiteboard and everyone pays a set amount for it or whatever. So we have a list of who owes who what. I’m not really a fan of this system because I don’t see where I am spending my money. I end up paying for food I might not even get to eat and someone is going to get short-changed in the end, or someone is going to have to spend too much. It’s weird.
I feel like I shouldn’t even be writing about them on here, in case that they do read this. But I think they’re mature enough to realize that this is just a blog and read my other posts on this topic.
I came with my girlfriend to a spiritual retreat centre where she volunteers today. It’s an interesting place. Quiet, really big. I hope she gives me a tour later. I think it’d be a good place to come and just study or do homework.
Speaking of homework and classes. I have this one listening to music class, which is basically classical music for dummies. It’s going to be a breeze, because it caters to lots of non-musically trained people. But on the first day, we were talking about this piece and what we heard. And there’s one guy in the back corner, and this seems to happen in every class, who puts up his hand and makes some crazy stupid remark like “being a piano player, and you [the teacher] a musician yourself, what do you think of the interpretation of the performer? Do you stay true to what the composer wrote and wanted to hear? Or do you make it your own?” And everyone was like, “What?!” We weren’t even talking about that. Way to single yourself out as the biggest douche-bag in the class buddy. I think I’m going to hate that class.
Also! In school news, my reviews got published last week! There were two of them in the paper! So I was pretty stoked on that. I’ve got a bunch of more CD’s, just need to find the time to review.
Anywho, I should get down to some homework.
Madina Lake – Attics To Eden – Roadrunner Records
If you happened to go to Vans Warped Tour this year, you may have seen Madina Lake play songs from their newest CD, “Attics To Eden”. These four guys are generally what you would expect to see on the Vans Warped Tour; V-necks, headbands, and facial piercings are sported by most of their members. You might find more makeup and hair-dye in their bus than your girlfriends bathroom. If you saw Madina Lake at Warped Tour, and stayed for their set, you probably could have heard the entirety of “Attics To Eden” as it spans just over a half hour, with no song over 4 minutes in length.
Of the 12 tracks on “Attics To Eden” most are the poppy dance infused with punk similar to Fall Out Boy and The Maine. Songs like “Through The Fire” and “Welcome to Oblivion” incorporate the tambourine and give you bouncy tracks. The bass drum pounds on all four beats of “Statistics” which is a little more synth based and “Never Walk Alone” features a pretty intricate drum intro, but soon a screechy guitar comes in and kind of ruins what you expect the track to be (Good perhaps?). It’s hard to find something that makes Madina Lake different than a lot of the bands. They incorporate a few synth and dance elements, but then they start to sound like Nine Inch Nails does the Backstreet Boys. One interesting track is “Friends and Lovers” which is entirely synth and drums, no guitars. It’s of the better tracks on the as it differs so greatly from it’s counterparts.
Much of this CD is the manufactured pop-punk and I wouldn’t be surprised if Madina Lake’s demographic was more aimed at a younger teenage crowd then that attending a university. With that being said, that’s only my opinion, if you like this kind of music, then you will love “Attics To Eden”, it will have you hopping and bopping along with every track. But with 12 tracks spanning only 37 minutes, it’s not really bang for your buck.
Marcy Playground – Leaving Wonderland…In A Fit Of Rage – EMI Music Canada
In lieu of the upcoming Alice and Wonderland movie, I think that “Leaving Wonderland…In a Fit Of Rage,” by Marcy Playground would be a suitable CD to review. The trio hails from the United States of America, have put out their first record since 2004. They pulled in quite a few favours and brought in Daniel Powter, best known for his hit “Bad Day”, to play piano on their CD.
The first song, “Blackbird” has a sneaky bit of personality in the lyrics. The chorus states “Thank you rain/Thank you rain/Wash away all my pain” which seems like a seemingly simple line. But reading the first part of the liner notes, and noticing that the lead singer, John Wozniak, thanks his wonderful wife, Raine Munro-Wozniak. It becomes clear what the song is really about, a love song to his wife. Aww, how cute, and very clever! But the music itself is brings parts of Death Cab for Cutie, Joel Plaskett and Switchfoot. Most of the tracks, like “Gin and Money”, seem to feature the vocals in particular, later they are coupled with a quick guitar rift that match perfectly. John’s voice is very unique and he is capable of hitting some fairly high notes, equivalent of Chris Martin of Coldplay, and his large range provide the listener with a varied CD.
Leaving Wonderland…In a Fit Of Rage has a good variety of tracks on, each one giving you something different to listen to. “Star Baby” and “I Burned The Bed” give you an upbeat rock vibe, while “Irene” and “Good Times” slow it down and mellow you out. The CD comes off lackadaisical, which would very easily compliment a lazy laid back evening on the beach, but with some tracks to get you up on your feet and grooving to the beat with the soulful melodies. Unfortunately, I feel more like I am in Wonderland when listening to it, rather than leaving in a fit of rage, but I would still check out the CD.
BidiniBand – The Land Is Wild – Pheromone Recordings
The band name may be a little daunting at first, but it becomes much clearer when you learn that “The Land Is Wild” is the debut solo effort from Dave Bidini. His website proclaims that is a CD of “dead hockey players, cannibalism and lesbian school teachers”, which definitely sounds like an interesting combination. Dave is clearly a fan of hockey, also penning more than 5 novels on the subject, one of which inspired one of the songs on the album.
The whole CD is unabashedly Canadian, the title track was used during the Stanley Cup Playoffs on an opening of Hockey Night in Canada. You are left hoping that Dave might sing a song about your current town, or your home town. The first track “Desert Island Poem,” is the one about cannibalism in Drumheller; ” But who would cook and season the body?/He’s always done this before/What happens if we don’t leave Drumheller.” The track ends with a disorderly merge of another song is unnaturally dissonant.
“Take A Wild Ride” is simple minute track, the only lyrics in the minute long track are that Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
the title, it’s fun and easy and gets you singing along. BidiniBand is very similar to the rock styles of Sam Roberts, Sloan with a hint of Buck 65. You’ll need to read the lyrics as you listen just so you can catch all the pop culture references in the lyrics, a little research is required for “The Land Is Wild” which is about the hockey great Bryan Fogarty. Dave definitely knows how to make fun of himself and his Canadianity, but you’ll have to listen to the last track for his poking fun at Chad Kroeger and Tim Horton’s.
Most of the music is acoustic guitar based, with a band surrounding it and driving it forward. Each track is it’s own little story in a book of stories, and you’re a part of the adventure. Much of the content on this CD is told to the you like you’re a friend of the band, and you’re sharing all these experiences with them. It feels like a journey of University student in the heart of Canada with it’s random themes and sometimes silly lyrics. This is the kinda CD you need in your car on your roadtrip across the great country we reside in.
Sights & Sounds – Monolith – Smallman Records 2009
Sights & Sounds are a group made up of a collective of previous bands, including Comeback Kid, Sick City and Figure Four. They cite influences such as Mew, The Police and Sigur Ros. They incorporate a mix of distortion, melody and aggression that has placed them in the “post-hardcore” genre with the likes of AFI, Funeral For A Friend and Secret & Whisper.
Monolith is a 13 track outting from Sights & Sounds which is a good representation of the entirety of their sound. You can tell right from the get go that each member of the band has their own style and each contribute accordingly. The vocals vary greatly from song to song giving a great amount of depth to the band. The second track “Shudder, St.Kilda” starts with a quiet whisper, and then breaks into a heavier section complete with screams and “whoa”s. The CD runs an hour in length, with 6 songs clocking in at over 5 minutes, seems quite long for bands of this kind, but the large amount of material is welcomed.
Each track has an overall similar sound, but a careful listener can easily distinguish from songs they may like or dislike. Track 6, “The Furthest Truth” is a more melodic track with harmoies from the two male vocalists, along with a reappearance by the female singer from the first track. The later tracks on Monolith step away from the heavier influences and more towards a lighter kind of pop-punk with a growly vocal line. Which really contradicts the post-hardcore catergorization. The CD is generally good, but nothing stands out to completely seperate them from the bands in which they sound so similar to.
Finishing their “Weight of The World Tour” with Misery Signals, Haste the Day and others in June, Sights & Sounds are getting their sound out and being seen. Monolith is a well rounded CD dwelving into just about everything from punk, to pop, to acoustic, to post-hardcore.