Thunder Buddies (Broken Social Scene, Hug of Thunder review)

Every once and a while, we all need a hug. Especially when it gets weird and dark.

 

Broken Social Scene – Hug of Thunder

released July 7, 2017
********* 9/10

Broken Social Scene are a Canadian indie rock band (yay for Canadian content!) formed by Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Sometimes they have six members, and sometimes they have nineteen band members, because above all, Broken Social Scene are a musical super group of popular Canadian indie rock acts and solo artists…

Metric (Emily Haines, James Shaw), Feist (Leslie Feist), Stars (Amy Millan, Torquil Campbell, Evan Cranley), Apostle of Hustle (Andrew Whiteman), Do Make Say Think (Ohad Benchetrit, Julie Penner, Charles Spearin), KC Accidental (Kevin Drew), Valley of the Giants (Brendan Canning), Land of Talk (Elizabeth Powell), Raising the Fawn (John Crossingham), Reverie Sound Revue (Lisa Lobsinger), Treble Charger (Bill Priddle), Jason Tait, Justin Peroff, Jason Collett, Ariel Engle and a few other people have all featured at one time or another.

Altogether, they have released a whopping five studio length albums since their inception in 2001, which I think is pretty admirable given that all of these artists are in at least one other full-time band.

Despite misgivings that no band can be this big and still sound like the individual artists within, BSS manages to do just that. Sometimes they are chaotic and experimental, other times they are orchestral, sometimes they are sad and introspective, and still other times they are celebratory, but they are never timid in their presentation. Hug of Thunder is no weak sauce either.

This isn’t your Spider-Man album, no pulled punches people, please.

BSS spend most of the album letting us know that they are counter-culture, and by that, I mean that they refuse to share dream pop tracks and emotionally abuse people on the internet. This is a community of people shouting the importance of community, when most of us are screaming about politics into our phones. It resonates with the hipster nihilism we started to experience in the early 2000s, the stuff that took root in popular culture and grew into a field of bullshit weeds.

Ideas of love, community, sexuality, and honest to goodness rock and roll seem to have been completely forgotten about in recent years, but BSS refuse to give up on us ingrates. They’ll elevate us up, despite the incredible effort it takes to produce tracks like Gonna Get Better, tittle track Hug of Thunder, and Vanity Pail Kids.

I’m not gonna lie, this album deserved better than the world it’s been brought up in. Our celebrations of libertarianism are so common now that it’s tough to stomach the idea of pulling together and getting along, but Please Take Me With You and Skyline insist, almost plainly that we do. Though never quietly.

But here’s the catch, while you can consume this album in parts and pieces, it’s actually best viewed as a whole. Recognizing that a stable of musicians reunited after a seven year hiatus in order to combat against global indifference is a far stronger statement than Protest Song can deliver all on it’s own. Broken Social Scene have come together to release a pragmatic optimism, and that is probably the best antidote we could receive. Unabashed positivity isn’t realistic in 2017, but stating that the world is ending is foolish too.

We need to keep up the fight and keep working, vigilant without naivety. A challenge to be sure, but I wouldn’t have the message delivered any other way.

Pros: Halfway Home, Gonna Get Better and Protest Song are all excellent demonstrations of the gentle-hearted politics of this album, Hug of Thunder being a personal favourite.

Cons: At certain intersections the lack of a frontwoman or frontman is difficult to digest, and leaves the album feeling disjointed, like a compilation or a soundtrack, rather than an album. But this rare.

Runtime: 52 minutes

Points of Interest: In March of 2017, Broken Social Scene made an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, featuring past members Emily Haines, James Shaw, Amy Millan, and Evan Cranley, indicating we would see the a return to form. Ariel Engle is a new member of the band, and she has worked with Andrew Whiteman on AroarA previously, which is how she was introduced to the rest of the troupe.

The best and worst parts of Broken Social Scene come from their ability to work together as a group, and in taking it a bit safer with this record, those aspects become more apparent. This is still an excellent record, but not perfect because the exploration isn’t quite where it has been previously. Their message is amazing though, which makes up for a lot of that safety net.

theories Summarized

To put it in brief, this is an anthem for a new generation of apathy. The WIIFM (what’s in it for me) drone need not apply themselves in this case, because Broken Social Scene are all about that open concept of love, empathy and pulling together as a greater community. I’ve not much else to say, except that you really should listen to this album. And those are all of my theories on the matter.

Tim!

The Price To Not Pay Is Steep (Health)

Holistic health has been on my mind as of late dear readers.

 

You see, I have this theory that there is a strong connection between art, healing, and health. And I think holistic health holds the key to that connection.

Holistic health is a type of healing process which considers the whole human being and not just the body parts and/or symptoms. As we strive towards optimal health and wellness, considerations of the body, mind, spirit, and emotions are all relevant.

I like to believe that we can address each of those aspects of ourselves with some basic activities. For the body, there is exercise. When it comes to the mind, reading things and a variety of things covers it off, emotions are founded in both positive relationships and pursuing our passions, but spirit is the most difficult to address.

To put it simply, I think that art is key to addressing the spirit, and if we ignore this part of ourselves, we suffer all the more for it.

Medicine For The Heart

 

The interesting part of this theory is that there is evidence out there which suggests a healing connection between art and the spirit, but it is not given nearly as much research as other disciplines, but it certainly can provide value. The point we need to consider most in this discussion is that each of us is drawn to different forms of art, so what heals me might not heal you as easily. And I think that has to do with our preferred learning styles.

  • Visual learners prefer two dimensional forms of art like drawing, painting, and photography.
  • Kinesthetic learners should look towards performance arts, like dance, magic, and theatre.
  • Auditory learners are best served by music, writing, and narration.

Now, outlining the reasons why I think art has the power to heal our spirit will take up far more time than a single post can give, so rather than diving deeply into it today, I will share a few of my favourite videos on the power of art for affecting the spirit.

Namely this one.

 

And also this one.

And definitely this one.

Health Matters

If it hasn’t been made clear yet, the aim of this post is to address health as it relates to the OECD index, making this the eighth entry in the Wellness Factors of Life series inspired by Postconsumers.

Artists matter, and I know in my heart of hearts that I will always advocate for the arts, no matter where I am or whatever the context that I am making the argument in. But timotheories isn’t just about me, it’s also about providing you with the resources you need to fight the good fight. As art makers, art facilitators, art collectors, and art enthusiasts, each of us has a responsibility to share with the world the merits of working on creative projects, from economics, to health, to politics, to entertainment, you creative cuties know that art has the power to heal. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The spirit is the key in all of this.

 

theories Summarized

It is absolutely essential to reconsider the notion of the starving artist, and start to consider the notion of the starving souls who do not support the arts nor make room for creativity within their lives, it takes time to establish yourself creatively, no different than any other specialization.

Doctors, engineers, lawyers, scientists, politicians, professors, and teachers, I’m looking squarely at you.

So let’s invest in art, because it’s good for us.

And yes, I am theoried out for the night, so I’m gonna settle into bed with a good book, after a night of exercise, writing, and communicating with my lovely girlfriend, and know that I met all of my wellness needs. Another day, another theory satisfied.

Tim!

On The Shoulders Of Giants (89th Annual Academy Awards)

Last year the two words whitewashing and oscars seemed to be synonymous with each other. I wrote a rather exhaustive post about it, point of fact. To be fair, I am an artist though, so it’s quite difficult not to be a lens for the big issues I find wrapped around my heart. Sigh.

Now, I have written about this theory before, but let me remind you that there is an idea out there which states that creative professional experience the highs and lows of life even more deeply than an average person. I want to posit something different from that.

We all feel things very deeply, and humans are capable of amazing things when we work together. In fact, I think it’s because we should work together that we achieve greatness.

Children start out with the same basic abilities and aptitudes, as we age, personalities come through and environments shape us into complex individuals.

 

The Full List of Nominees

I’ve always been a fan of film. Cinema. The movies. Whatever you want to call it, I’ve celebrated motion pictures in my life.

Sitting here at my desk, I’m watching the trailers for the nine films which have been nominated for Best Picture 2017. La La Land, Moonlight, Manchester By The Sea, Arrival, Hacksaw Ridge, Hidden Figures, Hell or High Water, Lion, Fences. I’ve seen more than half of these movies already and I cannot wait to watch the remaining ones I’ve missed. Films make my heart ache with joy, fear, sadness, compassion, anger, excitement, achievement and a number of other emotions.

It’s because so many creative people come together to engage our sense that films mean something. And I think that this year in particular, the academy has done an excellent job listening to the public. 4 of the 9 choices are headed by minority actors, and that’s a big deal.

La La Land has the most votes by far, and while it is an excellent film, it is something of a self-congratulatory piece about Hollywood. So I really hope that this movie doesn’t take it, because we’ve been there, and done that. And Arrival is my new favourite first contact film. On the other side of the coin, Hell or High Water is a classic film on all accounts – I reviewed it late last year and I loved it. It perfectly serves as to what film making is all about. It would be an excellent dark horse entry.

But looking more closely at the nominees, I have to notice something. I’ve only seen the 5 films with white actors headlining them, and that’s an important point.

Award Winning

When you give an award you are truly GIVING something as payment, compensation or as prize. Consider that statement for a second. How many billions of people are there in the world? 30? And how many different ethnicities make up that total?

The challenge we face is that for decades the Academy Awards (like many other institutions) have focused on certain types of people, non necessarily because those people were the most deserving, but because they were singled out for compensation. As the global community expands, it makes sense that we continue to honour those who do the best job, but in instances where many are deserving, it’s those who go over and above should be awarded. By default these means minority groups which need more representation. I haven’t seen Moonlight or Fences, but could easily see them taking it.

I hope they do. Hidden Figures and Lion would be fantastic as well, but based on what I’ve read, Moonlight and Fences are better films. Guess we’ll find out in three days though.

theories Summarized

#OscarsSoWhite was a necessary rebellion against disrespectful authority. I think with it came even more artists working together this year to create films that represent life as it is, and even better, the voters now have an opportunity to choose recipients that better depict humanity. We may be standing on the shoulders of giants, but while every statue has a head of gold, the feet are always made of clay, and liable to crumble towards the end. It’s time to choose a different champion, and that’s my theory.

Tim!

Just Let It Gel (Facebook How-To… Page)

When laying down a canvas, I think it’s important to set the foundation first, usually with white gesso, but sometimes simply with some soft gel. Almost every visual artist will tell you same, unless they are painting on paper, mylar, or some other strong gripping surface. Then again, said artist might not even want to create an archival work OR rather the degradation of the work is key to the process. Whatever the case we understand the basic of what to start with.

After that decision is made, I start applying broad strokes to block in shapes and highlights, carefully choosing colour(s) which will give a tone to the story. Once that step has happened and I’m confident in my decisions, I begin the process of focusing on areas of the painting, slowly laying in or uncovering details and telling stories within the story of my canvas. It’s easy to get caught up in the romance of it all, so I’ll spare you that as best I can.

ah-romance_o_903595

This might seem like a common practice, but there really are a lot of different ways to make a painting. Truth be told, no two artists will tackle it the same way, even if we pretend subject matter and material choices are the same. And frankly, I don’t expect marketing to work in a catch-all matter either, even though many people think it’s a simple process.

And given my personal experiences with it, once you set the foundation, just like fine art, marketing comes down to taste, experience and the message to be delivered.

About Face

Way way back in November 2016, which feels like ages ago, I met a beautiful woman and we had our first date. It was wonderful, and she is very special to me, when she reads this post we will have passed our 3 month anniversary, and I couldn’t be happier about it.

Right, I promised no more romance.

Well, I’ll just try this one more time.

Way way back in November 2016, I wrote a post about Facebook. Now at the time, I didn’t expect to cover the whole social networking service in one post, so I decided to break it up into several parts, aptly naming the first part, Facebook pt. 1. And like any good franchise, I’m going to immediately deviate from that pattern and set out to call the next set of posts Facebook How-To … (insert topic here).

Clever right? Yeah, I’m usually pretty clever, but it all depends on what I have else I have going on upstairs in that old noggin of mine. Which I think makes perfect sense, and even if it doesn’t immediately make sense for you, you’ll find a workaround I’m sure.

A Face Only A Mother Could Love

 

Let’s talk about Facebook pages my dear, sweet, and wonderful readers. You creative cuties, you.

I’ve said this once before, but Facebook pages are to individual profiles what corporations are to small businesses. This is where you share content with your followers and get them involved in your personal brand. You have to set up your business page if you want to get to the ads step, so do that first. Then focus on lifestyle over product. You also want to be actively involved in comments and service… this can include incentivizing your user base and sharing user content too.

How do you accomplish this you ask? Well with 3 (condensed) tips like this:

  1. Build your community by focusing on your members and how the page provides value – This means using the page as the voice of your brand, but always eluding to insights that are available for people who have purchased your product(s) to make them feel special. You don’t have to treat page likes based on sales, but exclusivity is important. Then focus on followups for customers in PMs and for answer questions when you can.
  2. Discuss current events and promote events too – But I would add that you keep it relevant to your user base at all times. People will get frustrated if you talk about sports when that’s not in your business mantra, for instance.
  3. Communicate with your biggest fans. If you build strong relationships with those who love you, they’ll reach out for you, but it also allows them to network WITH EACH OTHER. Like attracts like as the old adage goes. And if you have team members, it gives them a place to function as ambassadors and stewards of your brand.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is to keep your page active and allow people to participate in a discussion, much like how a Facebook group is forum for it’s user base, the Facebook page is the podium. It allows you to build trust with your fans and become a representation of your brand.

Obviously I’ll spend some more time in the future on success stories, but for now, you have some foundation to set up your canvas. I hope you can keep on rocking in the free world creative cuties, and I’ll be back tomorrow with a story about a concert. It’ll probably be romantic though.

Tim!

When I Left You, I Was But The Learner, Now I Am The Master (Cross Talk Ep. 16)

 

The circle is now complete. When I left you, I was but the learner, now I am the master.

– Darth Vader

Of all the choices I could make to start this post off right, this is easily one of my favourite quotes from Star Wars because it demonstrates rather visibly resolution, the progression towards an end. Plus, it helps tie in A New Hope directly with my third favourite Star Wars film, Episode III Revenge of the Sith. Each of us moves through life encountering teachers, those who already have key abilities of intelligence, judgment and experience, realized as wisdom.

Darth Vader roughly translates to Dark Father. At least that’s the popular statement. An excellent coincidence that George Lucas used to his advantage when building the lore of Star Wars for us young fans.

But that’s what great storytellers do, they build into the mythos they’ve created and simultaneously strengthen the chronology with each addition to the franchise. Thus making those initial choices seem intentional and enmeshed with later stories. The value of of prequels and sequels is that they enrich an already great story. When the content lines up, exploration of themes is worthwhile.

So while Darth Vader is correct to say that he is now a master of the force, Obi-Wan is also correct in saying that he has only mastered the dark side of the force as a Sith. And when you watch Revenge of the Sith, you can see how handily Obi-Wan beat Anakin, how he admonished him for taking a risk and getting cut down, but only because Obi-Wan had wisdom which Anakin did not.

Because Obi-Wan knew better.

and-he-said-to-the-romans-if-you-strike-me-down-i-will-become-more-powerful-than-you-can-possibly-imagine_o_6496953

When you begin the process of watching films, one of the biggest lessons you can learn is that there are levels of emotion which you can experience. Through repeated viewings, with different genres, and by having shared experiences. A popular one that is a perfect example of this is a parent watching one of their favourite movies with their child. You witness their emotions as they experience similar feelings that you had the first time you enjoyed that art, and then you gain the enjoyment of sharing that art with them, plus another bond you now have available in relating to your child.

That now shared, Chris and I have spent a lot of time discussing the inherent value of film before, but today we run through some real-world examples of the merits of this medium and why the more time you spend with it, the more likely you are to build social relationships, enhance your passion, step outside of your comfort zone, and learn about humanity. The highs and lows of the hobby, and the maturation the love is real my friends – wisdom to be gleaned from watching film.

This is episode sixteen of Cross Talk, produced by my friend and yours, Andre Lindo. I hope that you enjoy this episode as much as we enjoyed creating it. Cross Talk is a passion project, and this exemplifies that passion very well!

Yet another theory knocked right out of the park, and I’m spent. This is atypical of our normal Cross Talk videos, but I really do  hope you enjoyed this episode creative cuties, and that you have a wonderful week. Check back-in for a review of the new AFI album.

Otherwise, please comment, subscribe, and share this video with friends. We want to hear your feedback!

Tim!