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!

Real Talk (Bridging The Talent VS Vision Gap)

What if you only had a few more months left to live? How would YOU spend YOUR time? Would you stay at the shitty job you took to get your career started or because you didn’t know what to do with yourself, or would you restructure pretty much everything so that you could finally do the things you’ve been saying you’ll do for years? And that probably means travelling, time with family, and projects that might not work out.

Seriously think about that for a minute.

Think about the dreams you have in the back of your mind and which ones (yes plural) you are not pursuing right now. I’m sure you’re scared about them too, right?

But that’s not gonna cut the mustard anymore!

I’m going to share a list of ten things you likely haven’t considered simultaneously but seriously need to if you want to get out of your funk and start contributing to society proper. That means you need to take a good hard look at your life and what it is made up of and start dissecting many things and nurturing other less obvious things.

This is real talk! And not the creepy kind from R Kelly.

Shitjustgotreal

10 Sentences That Can Change Your Perspective On Life

  1. People aren’t against you; they are for themselves.
  2. Climb mountains not so the world can see you, but so you can see the world.
  3. You learn more from failure than from success. Don’t let it stop you. Failure builds character.
  4. The most dangerous risk of all – the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.
  5. Go where you’re celebrated not where you’re tolerated.
  6. The person that you will spend the most time with in your life is yourself, so better try to make yourself as interesting as possible.
  7. If you accept your limitations you go beyond them.
  8. People often say that motivation doesn’t last, Well, neither does bathing. That’s why we recommend it daily.
  9. Everyone you meet is afraid of something, loves something, and has lost something.
  10. Comfort is the enemy of achievement.

I originally found this list from imgur a few years back, so I can’t properly source it, other than the link itself, but here is the link if you want to do some investigating.

Today’s post dear readers is about this theory I have that most people are only willing to do the bare minimum to get through life.

You, yes you, as a creative person have a choice though – decide if you are willing to accept this as reality, or if you are going to fight with everything you have to stay passionate, to burn to produce something real, and to keep doing it until the day you die.

You see my friends, nobody is going to tell you the most obvious thing, they expect you to figure it out yourself.

We all have a reach that it is much longer than our grasp, in terms of asethetics/ability and our vision of what we will accomplish. We will always have this vision, from youth to our old age; but you have to work through potentially years of work in order for your talent to reach your vision.

Admittedly that last point is not my own idea, it comes from Ira Glass, host and producer of This American Life. I paraphrased it, but here is the quote I took the idea from.

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me.

All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.

But there is this gap.

For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.

We all go through this.

And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.

It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap. And your work will be as good as your ambitions.

And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

Ira is right though. And I am gonna expand on his idea –  when we have nothing to lose AND we are physically able, we finally hunker down and start making beautiful things. And that’s when we start to close the gap.

Take for instance this song Clouds about a young man who was an incredibly talented musician.

As delicately as I can say it, the point I am making with Zach Sobiech is not that he FINALLY started to make art and follow his passion because of his cancer (though that is true), my point is that many of us finish school or enter the workforce and give up on our dreams. That was not Zach’s story, but look how much he accomplished in 4 years because he had a purpose and committed to it.

As I mentioned, most of us wait.

But if we wait until we get sick or when we retire and show signs of age, then decide to take up “hobbies” and finally start to share our unique visions with the world, we might not close that gap.

And that’s my theory for the day. Leave some comments or reach out to me with your thoughts! I’ll see you tomorrow with a Melodic Monday review.

Tim!