Sunday, December 27, 2009

019: Of Popes And Dopes On IM Ropes

brian: Okay, question for you... One you'll like. If you can start a rap beef with anyone in the world – Who do you go after, and how far do you go in?

alex: hm. I start a rap beef with the pope - it ends when he's succeeded. Note: that bitch who tackled him? Let's just say we've had knowledge. And by we, I mean I, and by knowledge, I mean her pussy.

brian: What happens when he starts shooting lightning at the children because he's pissed off at you, though?

alex: fuck the children
they were my rap beef plan b

brian: Bammm
I think I'd take on Soulja Boy because it would give Evan a chance to converse with his hero, Soulja Boy...That's right, I typed "hero" and "Soulja Boy" (and hero was in the affirmative) and the only thing dividing those two is a comma.

alex: jesumaria

brian: You already starting in on the Pope rap? I don't know if using the sentence "I hurrd your pussy was pissy" directed towards the Pope gets you canonized faster, though.

alex: man
in the new netherworld...log... when the brotherhood of machines has risen they will proclaim me their pope
before assassinating me.

Monday, December 21, 2009

018: Another Year, Another Number

Towards a blinding numbness

Ah, the List. As every year draws to a close, any number of niche-orientated nerds feel the need to reflexively puff out their chests, take in a deep breath and express their innermost feelings to the world at large, spewing out words with attached numbers to them, while borrowing one of the myriad number of soapboxes thrown out by those who've given up on the pop/pulp culture/machine. They argue endlessly, draw up lists, numerating systems, stipends and regulations meant to box in their peers and try to keep this strange playing field they're created level. These people feel a desire to share the fire burning inside of them.

The proliferation of lists popping up on almost every single website I visit now, given that it's the end of the first decade of the millennium, is disconcerting a bit. The self-reflexive need to objectively numerate, index and share preferred albums/songs/movies/television shows/actors/comics/books/trends/websites/bowel movement/favourite (insert occupation) is one that continues to grow and grow as more people take to being better digital citizens. Where these conversations once took place socially, in real-time and in 3d, they now take place in a self-constructed web of interwoven words whose loosely-corroborated nature gives birth to newly-presented personas, this creation coined the blogosphere artbitrarily by a bunch of users. This new millenium brings new facades to obsessiveness and connecting to like-minded individuals, and year-end lists are usually a re-affirmation of stated shared values amongst community members.

With this giant technological machine lumbering around, assimilating all it can while shitting out outdated bits of information makes it a venerable beast that must be constantly fed. Nixon, during his first stint as president, called the political machine the "beast", its workings unstoppable by even the most well-executed series of plans devised by the higher echelons of power. I've paused and reflected upon these words a lot, considering the unstoppable nature of the cultural zeitgeist now that information can be concretely amassed in an orderly, quick fashion. The teeth of the beast glisten in the dark as it continues to devour, to eat away. The collective tastes of a culture can be studied and speculated upon, if this beast isn't somehow slayed by the arrows of time. We are offering up potential data mines for future generations with our misguided attempts at being the most comprehensive, though how often we realize this is unknown.

Also, one has to remember that lists are neat and can be easily read, so those are always advantages to this ADHD-riddled generation.

In defense of helplessness

I will be the first to admit that I willfully feed the machine; that I serve it the information that it desires and that I have no qualms about it. I've picked my battles in the past and I feel like this one is not one I can win. The Beast will eat up my List and life will continue. The main difference, though, is that unlike a lot of people who use the soapbox to demonstrate their aptitude/oneupmanship, I'm going to use this list more as a reminder of a mindset at a certain time in my life. To pause and reflect and perhaps one day, with the zeitgeist willing, be able to look back and relive a certain part of my past. I've made my peace with knowing how hypocritical this can seem, but the acknowledgement of the defeat, I feel, is grounds enough for forgiveness.

The list below isn't drawn up based on play counts, a numbering system or any other close scientific method. It's simply based upon how the record has affected me emotionally throughout the listening experience. In a certain sense, measuring records in that manner is a lot more difficult than being able to simply say that x had more plays than y, therefore I enjoyed it more since I must've listened to it more for a reason. It is not repetition that matters to me, it's how any number of sonic choices affect how my head and my heart react. It's a list created mostly from primal instincts rather than the pandering and consessions that my brain encounters. The numbering system is relative and not absolute... The difference in-between a record taking spots 3 and 4, for example, could be oceans away mentally, but yet they stand side-to-side uneasily.

Note: The albums below have been listened to at least 3 times all the way through. Anything else wasn't considered.

Top 50 of 2009

1. Gallows - Grey Britain
2. Converge - Axe To Fall
3. P.O.S. - Never Better
4. Drake - So Far Gone mixtape
5. He Is Legend - It Hates You
6. Slayer - World-Painted Blood
7. Mastodon - Crack The Skye
8. Slaughterhouse - Slaughterhouse
9. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste
10. Megadeth - Endgame
11. Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II
12. The Prodigy - Invaders Must Die
13. Barn Burner - Bangers
14. Timber Timbre - Untitled
15. Agoraphobic Nosebleed - Agorapocalypse
16. Derelict - Unspoken Words
17. Method Man and Redman - Blackout II
18. Pac Div - Church League Champions mixtape
19. Ghosface Killah - Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City
20. Baroness - Blue Record
21. Brand New - Daisy
22. Bike For Three! - More Heart Than Brains
23. Felt - Vol 3: A Tribute To Rosie Perez
24. Royce Da 5'9 - Street Hop
25. Coalesce - Ox
26. CKY - Carver City
27. El Michels Affair - 37th Chamber
28. Poison The Well - The Tropic Rot
29. Revocation - Existence Is Futile
30. Thursday - Common Existence
31. Andrew Bird - Noble Beast
32. Busdriver - Jhelli Beam
33. Brother Ali - US
34. Cannibal Corpse - Evisceration Plague
35. Wale - Back To The Feature mixtape
36. Dethklok - Dethalbum II
37. Think About Life - Family
38. Maylene And The Sons Of Disaster - III
39. Hatebreed - Hatebreed
40. Buried Inside - Spoils Of Failure
41. Augury - Fragmented Evidence
42. Kid Cudi - Man On The Moon
43. Brutal Truth - Evolution Through Revolution
44. 16 - Bridges To Burn
45. Jay-Z - Blueprint 3
46. The Mountain Goats - The Life Of The World To Come
47. Tombs - Winter Hours
48. Thrice - Beggars
49. Isis - Wavering Radiant
50. Moby - Wait For Me

5 disappointments

1. Between the Buried And Me - The Great Misdirect
Too long... Too long. Too bad, too, because Colors was great.

2. 50 Cent - Before I Self Destruct
Fitty promised Get Rich Or Die Trying 2, what we got was a sad grab bag of disconnected, boring tracks.

3. Eminem - Relapse
Drop the voice, Mathers. Seriously. No one cares for it. The saddest part about Eminem's year is that his two best verses were guest verses on other records. (Drake's "Forever" and Lil Wayne's "Drop The World").

4. Them Crooked Vultures - Them Crooked Vultures
So much hype surrounding the meeting of three of rock's greatest musicians is bound to be anticlimatic. The record's good, but there's a lot of sameness.

5. Cursive - Mama, I'm Swollen
I don't understand how this once-great band can degenerate to being so utterly boring.

017: Numerology

I know it's particularly en vogue among this generation's pseudo-intellectual elites to claim oh-so-bashfully, "Oh, I'm the worst at math," but we are a species obsessed with numbers and mathematical operations no matter which way you cut it. So, with that in mind, I'm sure my time-consuming habit of checking play-counts, average plays per record, number of 5-star songs, and so on, with regards to determining a year-end list, devised and divined from the sum total of everything I've bought or downloaded (or both) this year, you will find above and beyond reproach. Likewise, my subtracting of outriggers like Polar Bear Club's EP The Summer of George and its 1 song not included on their later full-length Chasing Hamburg, or Patton Oswalt's wonderful My Weakness Is Strong, which for all its replay value, contained no music, or my addition of a "Mixtape List" of particularly good songs that were either not on albums that made the Top 25 or stood out particularly from the albums they were on. So, without further numerical ado, here it is:


25. Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - What It Takes to Move Forward
24. Hostage Life - Centre of the Universe
23. Gallows - Grey Britain
22. Shook Ones - The Unquotable A.M.H.
21. Barn Burner - Bangers
20. Tegan & Sara - Sainthood
19. Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band - Outer South
18. Dear Landlord - Dream Homes
17. Banner Pilot - Collapser
16. Dead to Me - African Elephants
15. Blakroc - Blakroc
14. P.O.S. - Never Better
13. Polar Bear Club - Chasing Hamburg
12. Gray Ghost - Deep in the Shallow End
11. Cobra Skulls - American Rubicon
10. Bedouin Soundclash - Where Have the Songs Played Gone To?
9. Brand New - Daisy
8. Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3
7. Dave House - Intersections
6. Metric - Fantasies
5. Nine Eleven - City of Quartz
4. Fake Problems - It's Great to Be Alive
3. A Wilhelm Scream - A Wilhelm Scream
2. Paint It Black - Amnesia
1. Propagandhi - Supporting Caste


Alexisonfire - "Young Cardinals" from Old Crows/Young Cardinals
Banner Pilot - "Skeleton Key" from Collapser
Barn Burner - "Holy Smokes" from Bangers
Bon Iver - "Blood Bank" from Blood Bank
Dead to Me - "Modern Muse" from African Elephants
Discovery - "So Insane" from LP
DOOM - "Ballskin" from Born Like This
Fever Ray - "If I Had a Heart" from Fever Ray
Gallows - "The Riverbank" from Grey Britain
Grizzly Bear - "Two Weeks" from Veckatimest
The Lawrence Arms - "The Slowest Drink at the Saddest Bar on the Snowiest Day in the Greatest City" from Buttsweat & Tears
Metric - "Gimme Sympathy" from Fantasies
P.O.S. - "Goodbye" from Never Better
Polar Bear Club - "Dead Man" from The Summer of George
Shook Ones - "For Flannel" from The Unquotable A.M.H.
Thursday - "Love Has Led Us Astray" from Common Existence
The Tragically Hip - "Love Is a First" from We Are the Same
The xx - "Crystalised" from The xx

So, talk amongst yourself, you faceless masses. (Ha, ha.) If I'm feeling particularly generous with my time I may make links out of all the text I just typed at some point so you can experience some of the delights therein for yourself without needing to forage in the great everlasting wastes of the int0r wabz.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

016: The Dense, Dark Woods (A Review)

(Firstly, apologies for the absence. It's been a while, kids, but I'm back and ready to throw down once again in 2k10.)

I wrote this article a while back and I kinda like the original version, so I decided to throw it up. The edited version is located at the bottom of the post if you wish to peruse it, and I do suggest that you do.

Timber Timbre mastermind a true reflection of his work

r. Brian hastie

Timber Timbre mainbrain Taylor Kirk is not a man used to being in the spotlight. Case in point: whenever I finish a question and offer him a chance to respond, the answer is usually prefaced by pauses and a number of single-voweled noises that sound like his brain is gearing up to properly formulate answers, unsure about his word choice. He'll often ask me if the answer he served up fits the question I asked (it always does), and he'll digress a few times during the course of the conversation. An unwitting musical entity would be an apt description of Kirk's phone mannerisms.

Though he is cordial and genuinely nice during our chat, Kirk has, according to many, accumulated a cult of mystery around him, a propensity to leave things unsaid in a certain manner that invites discussion among others. His music is a reflection of this personality trait: dark and recorded largely off-the-cuff, the reverb-rich, atmospheric brand of organ-friendly folk rock that he parades around while on tour is best suited for those coming down from a long night of drinking, preferably while sitting in the dark. He states that his music aims for an “interesting” edge, trying to balance the sonic aspect of the music as much as the song structure and melodies themselves. “I come from a recordist [sic] background, and so the properties of the recording themselves are just as important to me as the songs.”

This cult of mystery also extends itself into the digital world: though Kirk has a presence on the web, he largely stays off of it, preferring to remain as off-the-grid as possible. “I like to remain as detached as possible a lot, I guess, but I use the web to promote myself” Kirk explains, haltingly.

At a lot of my shows, I'll see kids pull out cellphones and take pictures or whatever, you know, to put up on their websites.” Kirk sounds genuinely confounded by this notion, the concept that this narcissistically-centered generation needs to feed on itself in order to survive.

His third (and newest) album, officially untitled (though dubbed Timber Timbre by others) is his first true studio project. Where his first album was recorded “up in a log cabin on a 4 track”, and his second was “recording all alone with a 4-track, wandering through [his] Toronto apartment with headphones dangling, going back and forth in-between takes”, he now had actually entered a proper recording space to start sessions, with an actual engineer “sitting there, watching [him] as he recorded take after take.”

The decision to record in an actual studio with people was a practical one: Kirk's move to Toronto and subsequent befriending of people in the TO music scene allowed him to make proper connections. Kirk acknowledges the fact that having many hands involved in the process has been beneficial, stating that “it was actually a joy to have people around.” Kirk also singles out producer Chris Stringer for being able to “differentiate between a good take and a bad take, to be another voice” in the process.

These songs weren't originally designed to be played live,” Kirk said. “The nature of their recordings was much more interesting to me. I'm still uneasy about playing live, and thankfully I don't count on being on the road continually.” He also states that this new record was untitled due to the fact that he didn't feel like the songs included weren't a cohesive set, a notion that he's since reversed course on since playing a large bulk of the tracks live.

Playing these songs live is a real challenge,” Kirk asserts, with the prerequisite pause, noting that transcribing the experience into a live setting is a tad more difficult than traditional songwriters.

Taylor Kirk continues to remain a mystery, perhaps even to himself.


You can find the edited version of this article over at The Link's website