On The Road Again (The Back Catalogue)

It’s important to take day trips every once and a while, dear readers.

The reason for this is twofold. First, if you take a day trip you are taking an adventure, which is always important to do – you clear your head, gather inspiration, and separate yourself from your daily life. Second, a day trip forces you to either spend time with your thoughts or listening to someone else’s, whether those thoughts are recorded or in real life.

Think about it for a moment, because you likely fit into the same mold as most other people , you struggle with down-time or silence, meditation isn’t really something you get excited about. Thus, you’ll want to fill your day trip with music, audiobooks or talking with potential road companions.

Let’s be honest. Music is the most likely candidate here.

Music is a wonderful primer to organizing emotions in a meaningful way. But the challenge with music is that it is often polarizing between individuals, as well as groups. You get on the road and you hope your tastes line up with your companions, friends, and love ones. But sometimes it doesn’t. And if you dig deeper into the music decisions we make, a lot of the time, we get into musical patterns which limit our growth and stunt our emotional intelligence.

Let’s expand on this last statement a bit better.

For instance, you may only listen to specific genres of music, so you buy music which fits a certain genre and while you may buy new music regularly, you will always careful to stick to that particular theme you trust. Or alternatively, maybe you can only handle certain artists within a genre or genres. You buy up all of their records, but you just aren’t interested in exploring a world outside of those musical heroes.

And of course studies on music preference have been conducted which indicate that certain genres suit our personalities and can determine our intelligence levels too.

This chart below showcases the kinds of musical acts people with different intellects typically listen to.

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And this snippet from an article on music and personality associations shows the typing of individuals based on common musical genres certain personalities prefer.

[Blues, classical, folk, jazz] … “reflective and complex”, you probably see yourself as unathletic, liberal and intelligent (and do, in fact, do pretty well on exams and IQ tests). You are also probably very open to trying new experiences.

[Alternative, heavy metal, rock]… “intense and rebellious” listening types: you share most of your characteristics with the jazz/classical brigade, but you’re more likely to see yourself as athletic and slightly less likely to seek to dominate others.

[Country, pop, religious, soundtracks] “Upbeat and conventional”, you’re likely to be agreeable, extraverted and conscientious. You also see yourself as attractive, wealthy and athletic, as well as politically conservative. Good news: this group is the least prone to depression. Bad news: it scores lowest on IQ tests.

[Electronic, hip hop, rap, soul] You’re an “energetic and rhythmic” listener – extraverted, agreeable, attractive and athletic, but you probably don’t share the political conservatism, wealth or lower IQ of your upbeat-and-conventional chums. This group also scores highest for “blirtatiousness” – the tendency to blurt out your thoughts and feelings as soon as they arise.

 

But what if you don’t fit into one of those four musical camps? What if you have a few genre preferences? Heck, what if you have a really have high IQ and you love punk rock or pop music, does that mean the studies are off base?

Well, no, I think the studies are conclusive, they are taking date from a sample group and applying their models to the general population, and let’s face it, the social sciences, and particularly brain science have not received nearly enough attention yet for us to consider ourselves experts on the subject.

What if you listen to a lot of different genres so you can better appreciate where they are coming from, or what if you want to listen to music from all genres because you recognize that there is value in other perspectives, and you don’t know where to start? Well, I’d recommend checking out this link or this link, for starters.

I have this theory, you see, a theory that if I want to contribute to the music scene, I need to listen to a lot different kinds of music – so that I can appreciate all of what’s available, and quite frankly, expand my own horizons and grow.

This is why I’ve created a Back Catalogue; a list of albums I need to experience reaching as far back as the 1950s. Similar to my list for film, the Back Catalogue is broadening my own collection while strengthening my tastes in good music.

By expanding our music tastes, we can grow our intellect and emotional intelligence. That way, when we take day trips with others, we won’t struggle with the radio on the ride down, no, we’ll be comfortable with the music decisions and will be happy to be on the road again.

But what do you think? Am I wrong for suggesting you expose yourself to new music and artists? Please leave some comments and if you like what you read today, don’t hesitate to like the post and subscribe to my blog. That’s all of my theories for today, see you tomorrow friends!

Tim!

 

… Son of A (Catalogue Your Artwork, Please)

You know what one thing I hate more than so many other things in the world is?

The boring-ass menial labour involved in executing administration, no matter WHAT kind I am tackling and how it relates to my life.

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Now hate is a strong word, and I generally don’t subscribe to hate in other areas of my life, because it’s the path to the dark side – plus it’s incredibly toxic for your mental health. But it really is a bitch to do certain types of simple and tedious planning & execution, well, for me anyway. But I know that a lot of other creative types struggle with it as well. Especially when we already know what needs to happen, and just don’t want to do it.

That’s kind of what cataloguing my art work feels like. One gigantic painful never-ending process of taking pictures, uploading files, labelling said files, and then storing them somewhere (usually an external hard drive)

Interestingly enough, I’ve already done a pretty good job of it over the years, which is the biggest hurdle, in truth. Getting a system in place – coming up with names for each piece, the dimensions, material used, and the year (sometimes even the month) the work was completed. That’s the first step to a successful inventory.

But in order for that to happen, you have to do one of two things…

  • Take photos of everything shortly after completion and then label accordingly on the file name OR
  • Make notes on the back of the work immediately (year, medium, title), for when you CAN get around to photography

Remember that post I wrote last week about the Allegory of the Collage series I’ve been working on for the past decade or so?

Well I was really good at recording those key details of the pieces in the series, especially at the beginning, but then I lost my stride for a bit, and figured “no big deal, I have a good memory, especially when it comes to my own art, I’ll be able to come back and write the year on these drawings,” which was true at the time.

But another year passed, and I was submitting new drawings in the series for art exhibitions, luckilyI had the foresight to write down those names too, and immediately take photos! But after that point in time, I totally lost track of the work completed in subsequent years, as second time. Until last last year, when I decided to start making the collages again, and began the process of marking the details directly on the back of each piece.

So I have two gaps in the work created, I think some of it was made in 2007, and the rest between 2009-2011, but I cannot be sure. Which sucks.

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I can make a bunch of excuses for why this happened, but it doesn’t really matter because, whatever the excuse is, I still don’t know where to place about 25 of the pieces. And that sucks, because I don’t really want to guess, but in order to properly catalogue the work online, I need to have those details.

I mention this for two reasons.

First, I need the work digitized for a post I’ll be writing on Pinterest in coming weeks (which was supposed to be written a posted tonight, until I ran into the above issues)

Second, I’m going to show you in detail why it’s important to do an inventory of your work, and how to accomplish this exactly.

If you don’t have a studio inventory, you’ll be kicking yourself in a few years, and as painful as it is for me to workaround a problem of 25 images, imagine how much it would suck to do this with hundreds of pieces? Don’t fret though, this isn’t meant to scare you straight out of the studio. This is an education; it’ll get better, I promise.

For now, get started by taking photos of all of your work, including the title, the materials used, the dimensions of the piece, and the year it was made. I sound like a broken record, I’m sure, but trust me on those points. Then either store the images on your computer, a hard drive or find a place on the cloud.

I’m personally toying with Flickr option at the moment, but I’ll give you an update when I have an ideal solution, or two.

But what do you think? Have you already organized your work? How did you do it? Please leave some comments below and I’ll have some more theories tomorrow!

Tim!

 

Popular Science (MGMT, Little Dark Age review)

We all have a little darkness inside of us, some of us embrace it, some of us run from it, and other find a way to little it simmer just under the surface. Adding some texture to life.

 

MGMT – Little Dark Age

released February 9, 2018
********* 9/10

MGMT is an American rock duo comprised of Andrew VanWyngarden and Ben Goldwasser. They’ve been playing together since 2002, well before you would’ve expected from a band that hit the big time back in 2007, I remember because it was at the apex of indie electronic music. The singles Kids, Electric Feel, and Time to Pretend were everywhere that year, in movies, on the radio, and at most of the clubs I attended.

Yeah, this was back when I went to clubs, looking for loves.

And TBH, that music perfectly fit with the beautiful nihilism of the day, but I didn’t want to be part of it, so I ignored them, even though Ornacular Spectacular was clearly an amazing album. Then they followed it up with Congratulations in 2010, and it was even more experimental, but I had moved on and wasn’t really into that kind of music anymore. Around the time that the self-titled MGMT landed, the duo weren’t even on my radar, as in, I just discovered that Little Dark Age is their fourth studio album, and not their third one.

And thus, the history lesson concludes, because the boys appear to have some full circle. Older and wiser, fortunately for us, because Little Dark Age is their best album to-date and the sythn-pop was always their strong suit anyway, that and a subtle darkness, which is not unappreciated in the album title.

She Works Out Too Much is a perfect opener, capturing the challenges of dating in a smartphone app era, and later accented by TSLAMP. Then comes the big kahuna, the title track (Little Dark Age) which has been on everyone’s mind since it dropped as a single back in October of 2017. If you listen hard enough, you’ll hear Gary Numan, The Cure, Depeche Mode, The Smiths, and a host of other emo progenitors. Geez, now that I think of it, I can even hear the Police in there – and that’s an incredible thing.

Me and Michael is perfect in it’s subject, a quant song about friendship. That pairs well with Days That Got Away and When You’re Small.

It’s the kind of album that I know will get better with repeated listens, and I can almost guarantee will find a place on my shelf in years to come. Dare I say it, this album might even have me aching for possession of their back catalogue.

And if you’re worried that the album slows down too much as you sink into it, One Thing Left to Try is just as upbeat as the opening songs.

I’m glad that we were able to get back on track with MGMT, and even though their third album should have been the point where they came back stronger and wiser, not every flower blooms at the same time, and we can’t fault a band which debuted on a high note, without understanding the intricacies of their relationship with music and popular culture.

Pros: Obviously the return to pop music is a welcome change. And inserting notes of psychedelic rock into the mix has proven to be a recipe for success.

Cons: I know that Ariel Pink had a hand in When You Die, but I find it difficult to separate his production from MGMT’s natural sound, and all it does is make me want to listen to his music instead.

Runtime: 44 minutes

Points of Interest: The record was conceived partly out of the election of Donald Trump as president of the US, and partly because of a desire to return back to their roots.

I guess all it took was some time for these two college friends to embrace their identity and make music which suits them. I’m personally thankful for the opportunity to revisit their music, and I truly do believe that they’ve matured into their sound finally.

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Do I think that you should give this album a listen? Absolutely. I didn’t really expect to like this record, as I had avoided MGMT for years, but as I sit in my office on a warm March evening, I can see fairly easily how this will become one of my favourite albums this year. Yes, I’m calling it a quarter of the way through.

And speaking of bands that got better with age. Brendon and I wanted to remind you of one of the greatest punk rock albums of the 1990s, The Offsprings SMASH. This is seriously one of my favourite albums ever, and if you’ve never heard it before, you are in for a treat. But if you have listened to it before, and you needed a reminder, give it solid listen, and appreciate their skillful guitar playing, choice lyrics, and exciting melodies.

Thanks for taking the time to read the review, watch the video review and hopefully you’ve left a comment or two. If you liked what you saw, click on the like button, and even better, subscribe to the channel! Come back tomorrow for a film review about Darkest Hour. There’ll be more theories!

Tim!

They’re Barking In The Wrong Key (AFI, AFI (The Blood Album) review)

When a band has been around for over 25 years, you probably should stand up when they enter the room and definitely stop talking out of respect when they say something, unless you’re a dick. If you’re a dick, you can just close your ears and pretend it never happened. Probably to your detriment.

This week we explore an album which I personally think deserves your attention. An early entry that might make my top 10 for 2017, but we’ll just have to dig in for now.

 

 

 

AFI – Self-titled (The Blood Album)
released January 20, 2017
********** 10/10

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A Fire Inside, better known as AFI, are an American rock group that focuses on punk, alternative and emo music. The lineup hasn’t changed in almost twenty years, but only features two of the original four members – Davey Havok on vocals and drummer Adam Carson. Hunter Burgan provides bass support and Jade Puget is the guitarist, but all three instrumentalists share backup vocals. Having released tend studio-length albums now, AFI is the first self-titled album that AFI has completed.

Affectionately called “the blood album,” this record has been released on vinyl in four limited edition color variants matching the four blood types (A | O | B | AB). But is it any good, you ask?

Well, yeah.

I’ve been a fan of AFI since Sing The Sorrow hit the ground running, earning the band mainstream attention and Billboard attention for almost a year, just shy of a week. Then Decemberunderground came out and I was hooked, I picked up their back catalogue and haven’t looked back since. Granted, I don’t think Crash Love or Burials had quite the same visceral impact as AFI’s sixth and seventh efforts, but dammit if this self-titled album doesn’t remind me of Sing The Sorrow. And well, everything else they’ve ever done.

You see dear readers, at this point in their career AFI don’t have to take any real risks, but they are more than capable of revisiting genres they’ve already explored and giving a tempered reflection of what preceded, this even application of sonics is what reminds me of Sing The Sorrow – it’s intentional subdued but infinitely more thoughtful and considered.

Some of my favourite tracks include Aurelia, Hidden Knives, So Beneath You, Dumb Kids, Pink Eyes, and The Wind That Carries Me Away. None of these tracks are much like the other one, but each are familiar because AFI has been down these roads before.

Now before you accuse me of accepting this as a middle-of-the-road AFI and not A Fire Inside, you should know that Havok and Puget wrote over 60 songs before they got to this 14 track offering. And you need to listen to the whole album more than once, it gets better on subsequent viewings, like any good piece of art.

This is AFI committed to their art, and it’s a beautiful thing to witness.

 

 

 

 

As I sit with the realization that one of the last mega-stores of music and film is dying off and that I’ll have to change my own tactics going forward (read: goodbye HMV), it’s satisfying to know that music will still find a way. AFI are still relevant and that means more to me than cheap prices and the convenience of online shopping. But maybe I’ll learn to embrace that too. No harm in checking out a new theory.

Tim!

The Final Deviation (The Tragically Hip, Man Machine Poem review)

I remember when I first really heard about The Tragically Hip. I was in my first year of high school (2003), sitting in Social Studies 10 reading about the Canadian government, it’s culture, and the landscape of the country. There was a section dedicated to famous Canadian culturemakers and The Tragically Hip were cited as one of the most famous rock bands out of the Great White North.

Sure I had heard songs of theirs before, but I didn’t really know their music. I probably should have though. With my love of different musical formats, and enjoying musicians which evolved over time, The Tragically Hip were accomplished trend setters.

The Tragically Hip – Man Machine Poem
released June 17, 2016
******** 8/10

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The Tragically Hip, sometimes simply known as The Hip, are a Canadian rock band, consisting of lead singer Gord Downie, guitarist Paul Langlois, guitarist Rob Baker, bassist Gord Sinclair, and drummer Johnny Fay. They have released thirteen studio albums and two live albums. Nine of their albums have reached No. 1 in Canada, they have fourteen Juno Awards, and they have also received an assortment of Canadian Music awards over the years.

I wrote about this detail once already, last week during my review of Gord Downie’s newest solo album, Secret Path, but this is likely the last studio album that The Tragically Hip will ever release. Following Downie’s diagnosis with terminal brain cancer last year, the band toured heavily across Canada to promote Man Machine Poem, with their final stop taking place in Kingston, the band’s hometown. The event was broadcast globally by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) on TV, internet, and radio as a media special, for approximately eleven million people.

Though it has been confirmed a few times and in a few ways, just as other reviewers have mentioned previously, this album was recorded BEFORE Gord Downie received his terminal diagnosis. So we shouldn’t try to read anything into it’s content, and instead take it at face value.

This is a solid record.

It isn’t perfect though. It’s not the best The Tragically Hip album I’ve ever heard, nor is it in the upper echelon of rock records. But it IS really entertaining, inventive, and full of a darkness which kind of permeates throughout the album. And as much as I hate to say it, sometimes they sound like Radiohead, especially on opener Man and closer Machine, and well, also on Ocean Next. It was co-produced by Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Dave Hamelin (The Stills), and this is an experimental album that makes simultaneously draws you in and forces you to sit on the sidelines. So much of what we hear is straight up exploration from a band that has been playing together for over thirty years.

Tired as Fuck reminds me of classic Hip, but also definitely has a Broken Social Scene taste on its lips – Here in the Dark and Hot Mic are arena rock with no aftertaste. To top it off, In Sarnia and What Blue definitely have that pop and blues aesthetic which have given Gord Downie his pensive and romantic credibility for the past few decades.

It’s interesting, because it’s not fully experimental, nor is it completely a middle-of-the-road Tragically Hip rock and roll experience. And I think that’s a good thing. If we got a completely inventive album, many fans would struggle to connect with it, but if it was solely rock then it would feel stale. Instead, this album is fully, completely it’s own hybrid.

This album, like the entire back catalogue of The Tragically Hip, is not a send off of the band as they are, but a snapshot of a moment.

 

 

 

It was over fifteen years ago that I first heard about The Tragically Hip. They were already almost twenty years a band at that point. But they weren’t popular music like the indie and hip hop I was absorbing at the time, and so I wrote them off.

I shouldn’t have done this to myself, and now I have to live with the knowledge that I could’ve been enjoying The Hip for years. Do yourself a favour, listen to this record, and then start backtracking through their discography. It’ll be worth it. Yes, it could be a just a theory, but 30 million Canadian can’t be wrong, right?

Tim!