ice cream dinner

lots to talk about today.

i was just cleaning the kitchen while listening to what i believe is the latest aphex twin release, orphans. i like it. i put it on because it was recommended on youtube and i liked the artwork for it, and because i generally like richard d. james’ stuff. i don’t listen to electronic music much because i find most of it boring and derivative but when i do find something in the genre i like, i get pretty excited about it. it’s also usually summer when i get pumped on electronic stuff so i always associate it with summer, which i think is interesting. i should make a conscious effort to listen to it more in other seasons and see how that makes me feel.

so i’m listening to EDM on a summer day, cleaning the kitchen, feeling pretty good about summer 2017 so far. jenn and i have been taking the dogs swimming lots lately, at the quarry, the koksilah river, and various beaches at shawnigan. we’ve also done some great hikes around here in the last few weeks to some awesome, out of the way places that we’ve never seen before. after one of those hikes, we stopped at ice cream mountain and both got double scoop waffle cones. they were fantastic. we didn’t even eat any dinner after that because we were still too full. i felt terribly guilty about it. but then last night, we had a few friends over to watch trick r’ treat on the side of the house and guess what — i ended up eating nothing but ‘extreme cheddar’ old dutch crunchys. that’s two junk food dinners in a week. my god, i’ll be as big as a house in no time at this rate.

all signs of a decent summer.

other stuff: here is the artwork for that aphex twin record.

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i really like it. it’s subtly weird. if i was a kid and saw this in my dad’s record collection, i would have been unsettled by it though i can’t explain why. so it makes me sad that digital music doesn’t allow us to hold physical pieces of visual art in our hands anymore and have those kinds of experiences. i mean, i have an old hawkwind album on vinyl, warrior on the edge of time, and not only are the covers of the record beautiful but the sleeve unfolds into a fucking warrior’s shield. it’s amazing. album artwork like that gives the aural presentation a whole other layer and opportunity to make an impression on the listener. i miss that.

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the fantastical cover art on one side…

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…a shield on the reverse!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

i think that’s all i wanted to say right now. back to cleaning.

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i hate madonna

i know, there are a ton of equal and far more hate-worthy people in the world so why pick madonna? why focus on her? because i watched her video this morning. it’s that simple.

i’ve always hated madonna. she had some great singles back in the 80s so i picked up some of the albums those singles came from but except for those hits, the albums were utter trash. she didn’t even write the songs and they were still juvenile child’s play, so stupidly simple and straightforward. terrible music, terrible lyrics, terrible vocal performances, not even any hooks. by the mid-90s, even her singles sucked. so i haven’t given madonna much thought since about the year 2000 when i realized all this.

then a few years ago, i saw this video.

i learned that madonna can barely play an instrument despite being a lifelong career ‘musician’ (i use the term loosely, obv). even worse is that she dressed up in ‘rocker clothes’ (all black with those stupid fingerless, knuckle-less, open-backed leather gloves that i’ve never seen in real life because they are completely impractical) and finishes the godawful performance with a sad impression of a grand rock n’ roll finale ‘big guitar strum.’ wowee! it was all so pathetic that it has stuck in my mind clearly since i saw it those years ago.

while listening to zepellin recently, i decided to revisit this video to see if it was as bad as i remembered. it was, but even worse was the next video in the list, bitch i’m madonna. i had never heard of this song before but i noticed it had over 240 million views. i thought, how could i have never heard this song when it’s obviously so popular? i wonder if i’m missing out on something good here? so i gave it a listen.

guess what. more trash. incredible.

  1. musically and lyrically, it’s just a cookie cutter new pop song, full of phony attitude (calling everyone ‘bitch’ and people giving double middle fingers), outrageous partying, and outdated EDM. i’m sure madonna would consider herself a trendsetter but i think that hopping on a bandwagon several years too late is anything but. this seems like a song and video that kesha threw away which madonna then eagerly picked up. that’s not a compliment to kesha, either. she sucks too.
  2. ‘featuring nicki minaj.’ every new pop song ‘features’ some other pop artist. it’s stupid. if a song can’t stand on its own merit, if it relies on guest appearances by famous people to garner interest, you know it’s a piece of shit.
  3. madonna is 58 at the time i’m writing this. i believe there is a way to be yourself while simultaneously aging gracefully but i don’t think madonna is doing it. i think she is having a really hard time admitting her age, and she looks positively absurd parading around as if she’s a 21-yr old hot brat. i actually wish this video was shot in HD so i could see her cracked, withered husk more clearly.

however, i take solace in the fact that the song has 1.5 million ‘likes’ and .5 million ‘dislikes.’ that’s a high ratio of disapproval for such a popular video. i’m grateful that a fair chunk of other people in the world feel similarly to me on this.

the blueprint for (heavy metal) success (and subsequent abject failure)

metallica1986

if you aren’t fascinated by metal, this post will bore you to death.

there is an interesting career arc in heavy metal that a lot of the biggest metal bands share. i think every metal head is already intuitively aware of this but it occurred to me while listening to sepultura’s arise album that they too followed the same arc, and i hadn’t noticed that before so it got me thinking about it a bit more.

the arc is this:

  • first album is raw and juvenile but still manages to garner respect
  • second album is still a little rough in areas but shows excellent overall improvement
  • third album is like, “whoah, these guys are serious. what a killer record.”
  • fourth album is possibly even better than the last, and boasts better production values.
  • fifth album shifts slightly away from metal and incorporates some mainstream rock influences. some old school fans decry this as the end of the band while the majority of listeners think this is their best shit yet.
  • everything after that sucks ass.

now, let’s apply this arc to some of the biggest metal bands to see how it fits. the most obvious example that fits into this story is metallica.

  • kill ’em all – check
  • ride the lightning – check
  • master of puppets – check
  • and justice for all – check
  • black album – check
  • garbage ever after – check

how about that! now, let’s see how the second biggest metal band — megadeth — compares.

  • killing is my business…and business is good! – check
  • peace sells…but who’s buying? – check
  • so far, so good…so what! – nope. i love this album but it’s far from a fan favourite.
  • rust in peace – check
  • countdown to extinction – check
  • nothing else worth bothering with – check

besides the misstep on their third album, megadeth follows the trajectory pretty well. what about slayer?

  • show no mercy – check
  • hell awaits – check
  • reign in blood – check
  • south of heaven – sort of? this one is tough because some people love it but i think most see it as inferior to its predecessor. either view is justifiable in my opinion.
  • seasons in the abyss – check
  • a bunch of albums that don’t stand out in any way – check. i actually think divine intervention is a solid album, and much better than seasons in the abyss, but i’ve only met one person who agrees with me.

so another close fit. how about sepultura?

  • morbid visions – check
  • schizophrenia – check
  • beneath the remains – check
  • arise – check
  • chaos AD – check
  • nu metal and super lame korn impressions abound – check

this is incredible. ok i don’t like anthrax much but let’s look at their albums.

  • fistful of metal – check
  • spreading the disease – check
  • among the living – check
  • state of euphoria – no way. this record stinks like shit. but if we disregard it and pretend it doesn’t exist, then…
  • persistence of time – check
  • sound of white noise – check
  • a bunch of albums no one remembers – check

one more. let’s try testament.

  • the legacy – check
  • the new order – check
  • practice what you preach – ehhhh…not quite, but almost. it’s respectable (as far as testament’s catalogue goes, i mean) but i don’t think anyone would say this was a big step up from the new order. half check.
  • souls of black – check
  • the ritual – check
  • now, i love the following album, low, but i know most people don’t care about it at all, so i’ll give this one a check too.

(edit: ben just pointed out to me that children of bodom also fit perfectly into this career arc, and he’s right. so that’s another one.)

i think this is uncanny. it basically tells me that every metal band should quit after their fifth album. go out on top, you know? leave an incredible legacy, don’t spoil it by experimenting with EDM and dub step. start another project if you want to do that stuff. i mean, it’s absurd for metallica to play country songs since metallica is a metal band. using the name metallica purely as a brand or label so your garbage experiments actually find an audience is bullshit. if your experiments are actually any good, they’ll do well on their own without a recognized brand name on it.

just quit while you’re ahead, for god’s sake. have some dignity.

glenn-danzig-kitty-litter

don’t let it come to this.

why live music is dying (or part of the reason, anyway)

i fucking hate electronic music, or EDM or whatever you want to call it. basically, if some loser with a laptop and mixer in front of them is just pressing ‘play’ on their computer and then pulling this stupid move

i’m loading a gun right now

as if they’re actually playing music, as if they’ve actually created something unique and interesting, i become homicidal.

but it’s not all EDM’s fault. live music — live rock and metal music in particular — have been doing some fucking corny stuff for years and years and years, and even still continue to perpetuate the stuff, so i can’t blame people for wanting something different, something new. my first complaint is big light shows.

oh wow, COOL, i love lights

light shows are fucking stupid. maybe coloured lights were cutting edge back in the 50’s when people still used tins cans and string to call each other but wake up, it’s 2015. and the worst part is that all those expensive lights and their crazy controllers can’t compensate for a boring fucking live band. just look at the pic above. imagine it with normal room lighting. it would be boring as all hell because the band is all just standing there, doing nothing. throw some lights on it and guess what. now it’s red and blue and still boring as all hell.

and smoke machines. give me a fucking break. who thought smoke machines were cool in the first place, and why? did they think it looked like a seance, like a demon was being summoned? it just looks like a corny fucking magic show at a kid’s birthday to me. i honestly don’t understand what vibe or ambiance anyone is trying to achieve with smoke. plus it dries out my eyes, nose, and throat like crazy. it’s basically the equivalent of clapping a bunch of chalk board erasers together — it’s shitty, especially for the people on stage singing and playing instruments.

if i was a caveman, this smoke might add an element of mystery or danger to the show.

and it’s the same thing as the lights — take the smoke away, and is the show entertaining? get that band playing in broad daylight, is it still exciting? because if it isn’t, if a band is relying on tired old fucking gimmicks as a pathetic attempt to inject some energy into their live shows, they’re a fucking disgrace. smoke and lights do not an exciting show make.

artists and performers who love and believe in what they are doing make an exciting show.

my beef with electronic music

i’ve been playing music since i was 14 when i convinced my dad to rent me a shitty bass and shitty amp. i was hooked immediately. i was practicing for hours upon hours each day, working and saving money to buy more and more gear. then i started writing my own (shitty) songs. then me and some pals started forming bands, learning those songs, playing crappy shows. over time, we got to be decent musicians, our gear got better, our songs got better. by the time i was in my mid-20’s, i was making some decent melodic doom/death metal with some other great musicians.

some musicians came and went. recordings were made. tour vans were bought. maintenance on said vans was done. merchandise was made. tours were organized and executed. the profits from the merch allowed us to break even on the cost of touring (keep in mind we were sleeping on the floors and in the guest beds of some very generous folks—no 4-star hotels for death metal bands). i really enjoyed it. here’s a song by that old band of mine.

but there came a time when i had had enough. i was tired of busting my hump, making the most thoughtful, intelligent, skull-crushing death metal i could and bringing it to people when only a handful cared about it. this wasn’t a surprise, of course: any dimwit recognizes that there is an extremely limited market for my choice of extreme music. however, that’s not my complaint here. my complaint is that there is a limited market for live music in general. less and less people care about real musicians and the crafts of both playing an instrument and writing a good song. live music is a dinosaur on the verge of extinction—yet electronic music continues to grow and thrive.

there are some real, tangible reasons for this. i think the most obvious is the cost of live music vs electronic. live music often requires multiple musicians who all need paycheques, food, and lodging. gear is required for each person, studios are required to record in, and vans and trailers are required to tour. on the other hand, electronic music has less people involved to require paycheques, food, and lodging. less people means less gear so it can be toured in a much smaller, cheaper vehicle. it is usually recorded at home on a plain jane computer. so financially, electronic music is far more viable. i don’t hold that against it. it’s a financially smarter, more streamlined art form in that sense and i applaud that.

what i don’t applaud is the art itself. mindless, droning, repetitive 1/4 note bass drum beats with the occasional ‘drop’ where the bass drum stops and high pitch things go wee d-d-dee, d-d-dee, d-d-dee, faster and faster until that fucking bass drum comes back in and everyone loses their minds because they’re so fucking relieved, as if they believed that precious beat was actually gone for good, never to return. jesus fuck. it’s the same thing, over and over, and people eat it up.

most electronic music lacks any interesting melody, or melody at all. if there is a melody, it’s beaten to death because it’s only a few bars long and is repeated for the whole length of the 8-minute piece.

a lot of electronic shit samples other songs, which i have found can be done tastefully just for effect but this is not usually the case. usually the sample will be a few lines from or even the entire chorus of an already popular song, looped endlessly. what a fucking wank move, grabbing the hook from someone else’s hit, throwing it in your thing, and taking credit for this ‘new’ creation. even worse is taking all of the music and simply replacing the lyrics. for example, consider puff daddy’s ‘i’ll be missing you’, which is nothing more than a pathetic, lazy ripoff of the police’s ‘i’ll be watching you’.

that’s not a puff daddy song. that’s puff daddy mumbling over some music written and recorded by real musicians 20 years prior. FOAD, puff daddy, you motherfucking talentless hack.

continuing on: live performances are not performances at all. i have watched electronic ‘shows’ that consist solely of some fuckhead pressing ‘play’ on his laptop, which is hooked up the PA system, and then bouncing around on stage with their hands in the air, occasionally looking at the screen or mixer as if they’re actually playing or creating the music right then and there. how many years did it take them to learn how to drop in pre-programmed beats and hit play? probably not as many as it took me to learn to do sweep arpeggios cleanly.

marvin-at-the-summertime-ball-2013-1370791911-custom-0

this fucking one-arm-up thing is as nauseating and overdone as assholes giving the metal horns and saying “this rocks” — which is yet another typical loser move

as someone who has spent countless hours practicing both alone and with other musicians to hone our personal skills, and then working with each other to create music that is challenging and interesting yet also pleasing to listen to (to our ears, anyway), i am fucking offended that people would rather listen to neanderthal, predictable 1/4 note bass drum beats and ‘drops’; rip-offs of songs written and recorded by other people; non-live performances that could often be performed by any dickhead dressed like a hipster. i feel like a chef who makes great meals, watching people prefer to eat dog food.

it’s obvious that i have a lot of hate for any non-live instrument ‘music’ but there are exceptions. there are some innovators who are incredibly talented and make exciting, original shit, like bassnectar, beardyman, and die antwoord, to name a few. i am lucky enough to have seen all of them live and loved them. but in a genre that enshrines repetition, predictability, and musical fraud, these acts are rare gems. most are simply just the shits.

i realize, of course, that art is entirely subjective and regardless of my strong opinions, neither i or anyone else is ‘right’ when it comes to tastes. i guess i am just writing this entry in the hope that some other people with some musical background will one day see this and go, “i know, electronic music is the shits, and a real insult to hard-working musicians and artists!” maybe then i won’t feel so alone and outnumbered on this topic.

to follow, eventually: why i hate the every other music scene (metal, country, indie rock, hip hop, etc) for many of the same reasons i hate electronic music; the reasons i have given up on creating my own serious art and music; and my disappointment in the inescapable link between all live music and intoxicants; also, in non-music hatred, the witless devotion of partisan politics.

oh, joy. good times ahead indeed.

but wait, that reminds me, and i’d like to end this with something i actually do like.