Monday, November 30, 2009

every hum and echo and crash paints my cave

Can't you see

In this see of people I am standing

Screaming at the top of my voice


Silence

Just see me the way I want you to


Once the one looking out into the sea, now the one trapped in the undertow

take a deep breath

take the leap

just don't look down

look out

straight ahead

i'm right here

i always will be

flibbertygibbit...

fml...
if you want something done, do it yourself
don't impose your problems on others because they don't have a choice
UGH

Sunday, November 29, 2009

you are my dream

This is our only chance to make it big."- Requiem For A Dream

Chances are you may recall the film from which the above line is taken. After all, it shook fear throughout an entire generation while propelling it's cast to world-wide fame. One in particular, who has starred in many (of my favourite) movies such as Fight Club, The Thin Red Line, Girl Interrupted, American Psycho, Panic Room, and of course, Lord Of War.

Back in 2007, he even gained approx 65 pounds by consuming pints of melted ice cream mixed with soy sauce and olive oil daily in order to play the role of Mark David Chapman in the film Chapter 27. His weight gain was so rapid that at times he was confined to a wheelchair in order to let his body cope with the stress.

Jared Leto is his name, and taking Hollywood by quiet storm is most certainly his game.

Oh, and as if that wasn't already enough, Jared, along with his brother Shannon and good friend Tomo Milicevic happen to be members of a little band called 30 Seconds To Mars (former bassist Matt Wachter left the band in 2007 to replace Ryan Sinn as the bassist for Angels & Airwaves).

Since their self-titled debut release in 2002, the band has managed to produce two more albums; 2005's A Beautiful Lie, and their latest release, This Is War, which will first hit shelves in Australia, Austria, Germany, Italy and Switzerland on December 4th of this year. The album will be available for purchase in stores in North America as well as on iTunes on December 8th (one week this Tuesday).

If the first single Kings and Queens isn't convincing enough already, surely a quick glance over their two previous albums will get your attention.

(Seriously though, it's that good.)

Actor.

Musician.

Oh, and apparently he's really good looking?






Tuesday, November 24, 2009

wide awake in america


Seeing as I seem to be writing more about the present and future, I feel I need to recap on my first post and take a walk back in time. All the way back to March 9th, 1987. Exactly three years before my birth, my dad went out to the local music store to pick up the most anticipated album of the decade. 10 years since they formed, U2 released the album that would send them straight to the paramount of music on a global scale.

13 years to the day after the release of the album, my dad once again would step into a local music store in Saratoga Springs, NY, to make the very same purchase. I remember watching eagerly from the third story window of the Holiday Inn as my dad made his way back to the hotel. My family and I were on our way to Vermont for a ski trip over the March break, and I was celebrating my birthday with room service Kraft Dinner with shrimp (AMAZING, b-t-dubs).

"Happy Birthday Sash!"



I remember tearing the CD out of the small white bag and glancing carefully over the black, white and gold album cover with incredible attention to detail. This was, after all, my tenth birthday. Life, chapter #2, and the world of double-digit age. It was an important moment in my life. Anyone else on their tenth birthday would agree.

After glancing over the CD sleeve and finishing my KD ala shrimp (mmmmmm.....), I popped the CD into my little Sony Walkman and clicked play. I didn't move from that spot on my bed for the next fifty minutes and eleven seconds.

I will now take you one track at a time through the journey that turned me into the person I am today.


1. Where The Streets Have No Name

The album opens with a swell of organ and synth, creating a looming spectrum of tone. From within the swell comes the very guitar riff that turned me into the music freak that I am today. Add the thumping bass line, and the military-esque rolling drums, and you have a solid foundation for catching someone's attention. What's amazing is how it seems that nobody seems to stop playing for the entire course of the song, however their use of trails and space create this constant cavern of modulated sounds that constantly fold over one another like waves on the west coast. When the choruses hit, it's like the wave hitting rocks. The swell of the storm continues to grow throughout the entire tune without hesitation as layer after layer of colour are added to the song. Finally, after the climactic final chorus, the waves hit the shore line and the seemingly infinite final note is struck with much authority. End it with the same guitar riff from the beginning, and you have a recipe that Beethoven himself would have killed for.

2. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For

Beginning with a blend of percussion, drums, and percussive guitar, the toe tapping begins instantly. When the bass line kicks in, an immediate happy-go-lucky feeling takes you, no matter how bad you might be. The sporadic flutter of the guitar once again creates a sonic landscape never heard before. As if that wasn't enough to get you going in the first place, the gospel line of the vocal melody will get you dancing in no time (extra thanks to Daniel Lanois for his continuously impressive input when it comes to melody). One may begin to recognize that the real secret weapon of this band is their ability to create songs which would normally be to long for radio play by creating such long climactic passages, but keeping it so alive, you never get bored. Fade out. Never forget it. At least until the next song comes on.

3. With Or Without You

Brian Eno's magic comes to the forefront at the start of this song with the creating of infinite guitar, processed to create pitch elevated, heavily modulated sounds that literally did not exist before this song was recorded. 1:51, the infamous guitar lick kicks in, the drums step it up a notch, vocal harmonies commence, and the song takes the stab If you can see past the instrumentation of this song and manage to focus on lyrics, you may find yourself visualizing the words as if they were real events transpiring, and find yourself asking "what do I do now?". 3:14, the famous vocal melody that gets 100 000 people belting at the top of your lungs kicks in, and after a few more seconds of the wall of sound, we drop out to a relaxed breakdown, before, of course, kicking it up another notch that would give way to an incredible guitar solo, but as the man once said, "it's not about how fast or impressive you can play, it's about how well you serve the song".

4. Bullet The Blue Sky

And now your dream becomes a nightmare.

Move over for the most world's most recognizable rhythm section (with hats clearly tipped to John Bohnam and John Paul Jones). Once again, the men in the back seem to do more playing than the actual lead section of the band. Credit clearly goes to the band in the back for this one. At least until the man in the cowboy boots rips through a Stevie Ray Vaughan-style solo that takes the song into a very dark place. Add some seriously graphic lyrics. And the message is very clear. "Outside, It's America". What began as a love relationship between the band and the country that inspired the album, has taken a serious turn, and the political fury of the band that made them so famous is brought forward once again. This time, to a new target.

"Into the arms, of America"

5. Running To Stand Still

Southern reflections kick start this song with some impressive slide guitar that introduces a locomotive beat from piano and guitar that would certainly make Jonny Cash spin in his grave. The song's indirect reference to America's heroin problem in the late 80's is presented
\with Dublin-drawn comparisons that create (in a rather appropriate way) a false sense of happiness. "She will suffer the needle chill, she's running to stand still". And just as quickly as the ecstasy of the song has taken you, it's already gone, leaving you wanting another dose. Coincidence?

6. Red Hill Mining Town

The song starts in a place that would seem like the build at the end of the song, which of course, builds, but fizzes out to a mellow beat with half-time guitars and bass over some steady drums (once again, carrying the song). This time though, it's time for the vocals to take the spotlight with some impressive scale melodies and control of power while the rest of the band take the back seat. This song was probably the strangest to me for that reason. At this point, I had become so used to what seemed to be the crutch holding up the band. Going 100% raw in tone and flavour has proved that to be utterly false. The brief key change toward in the middle of the song is also something very unlike the previously heard songs. The inspiration for this song still escapes me. And yet, I enjoy keeping it a mystery.

7. In God's Country

Once again we are shot back to the sound heard on the earlier tracks on the album with some heavy drum and bass lines complimented by colourful and percussive guitar lines. In fact, the bass is probably the most technical thing in the song. Although less prominent, reflections of Paul McCartney's ability to play very technical passages without notice, is a great touch. The mini-solo towards the end of the song sums up what could have been a minute-long fury of notes is the perfect touch.

8. Trip Through Your Wires

The vibe is still alive with this next song. The harmonica which has cast a few cameos throughout the album is probably the most prominent lead instrument of the tune. the chorus itself, realistically speaking, is the harmonica part. This is a song definitely fit for a road trip through the south. Oh, and who doesn't love a guitar solo that's just one note? Tim Reynolds would certainly agree. The song really only has three parts. Big, bigger, and biggest (who ever thought a tambourine would turn a song up to 11?). At 3:32, this track is the shortest on the album.

9. One Tree Hill

No, not the show. In fact, if this album is America, One Tree Hill is a vacation to the tropics. The native style dance rhythms are a nice surprise. The song keeps a relatively relaxed feel throughout, however once again the bass manages to sneak in an unnoticed, impressive passage. Towards the middle of the song, one can also hear some deep aboriginal woodwinds that will remind you of the tripods from War of the Worlds. As silly a combination of all of these themes may sound when put together, when actually heard, you will definitely nod with satisfaction. The song also jumps back to the earlier songs by adding layers of colour and shimmer to the latter half of the song. A fuzzed-out Hendrix solo pops out of nowhere, and then, it's done. Or so we think? Organ and vocals come back in a very drowned out, angelic way, with what sounds like a choir to compliment.

10. Exit

Just when you thought the album had been to it's darkest place and back, we once again return to an uglier place (far more than that already heard). The sound of crickets and a looming bass line creep up on you, followed by sneaky sounding vocals, and of course, the percussive guitar. In come the drums. Building...building...building..."the pistol weighed heavy"...building...

Bang.

Louder, faster, faster, louder. A few more seconds and you think you've reached the end. We then jump back to that dark place, only this time, when the drums come in, they come in with guns blazing. A second guitar can be heard at this time, with some furious snarl. An accelerated tempo kicks in, crash cymbals all over the place, snarling guitars, and then, the drop out. Once again, the crickets and the bass, fading away back from where the once came.

11. Mother's Of The Disappeared

The sound of mechanical devices is a new twist. Add some white noise, some malfunctioning guitars, and you've practically got the score from Terminator. That is, until the guitar comes in. Acoustic, in fact. Suddenly this mechanized beast has turned into something rather peaceful. Sounds not heard in nature take the lead spot on this song, with synthesized guitars poking out here and there, unnaturally deep bass pulsing constantly. Everything about the song is unnatural, which is appropriate, given the inspiration of the song came from a systematic extermination of young boys in South America ordered to be carried out by their political leaders. The whereabouts of the children is still unknown. Rain-sticks are added to the spectrum, and once again a clever fading out leaves you wondering.

Almost ten years since I first heard these songs, I still try and pick them apart piece by piece. However, something so incredibly constructed and brought to life, is not often torn apart with ease. It seems that the only thing capable of causing the destruction of the album is the album itself. And the album is America.

Crafty work, gentlemen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

and let our bodies intertwine

So it's been almost a week since the release of this year's most anticipated film (no, not 2012, Transformers 2 or Confessions of a Shopaholic). Yes, you guessed it. In fact, it's so obvious, you probably didn't even need to guess.

Thanks to the wonders of technology, some nifty teenypop managed to get the entire screening of New Moon (minus credits, how typical) that is all over the internet now.

Now, I will admit, a little over a year ago, I had no intentions of getting involved in the whole Twilight craze. I specifically remember the day my sister attempted to describe the "baseball" scene from Twilight, and all I could think was "oh. great. it's like harry potter. and degrassi. with vampires. wonderful."

I was wrong.

Ever since seeing Panic Room back when I was 12 years old, I've always had a thing for Kristen Stewart. The fact that people say she's a bad actor is clearly just an all around hater, and jealous of her fame if anything. Try watching such films as Into The Wild, Speak, and In The Land Of Women.

Therfore, I had to see Twilight. Although, as per family tradition goes, any film adapted from a novel must first be read before seeing the film (I was first exposed to this brutal torture when Peter Jackson's Lord Of The Rings trilogy was released). I began reading Twilight on the monday that followed the release of Twilight. By the time I saw the film on the Friday four days later, I had read the entire series.

Now, before I start picking at New Moon, here is my two cents on Twilight:

Excellent casting. Marvelous soundtrack and incredible score. Directing was meh. Catherine Hardwicke put her life into the film with good intentions, but I can only imagine that if the film had a larger budget, the film would have been directed by an actual studio director, something the film deserved. Animation was meh as well. Again, budget. Oh, and the blue light filter? No thanks.

Now, on to New Moon.

The first thing I noticed? The opening. The prologue narration as a recurring theme was excellent, and the cinematic to go along with it was MUCH better than that of Twilight. Next thing, no blue light filter! Woohoo!

Chris Weitz's talents come through beautifully right from the first scene. His ability to capture facial expression was very well done (American Pie, anyone?). Everything seemed very professional. No silly tilted camera shots, no extreme close-ups.

One thing I did recognize however, was the film's musical score. Alexandre Desplat has never been one of my preferred composers when it comes to film, despite the amount of recognition he has received for his work in film as well in symphony orchestra composition. Carter Burwell, who did the score to the first film, just so happens to be one of my favourite film composers. Some of his work (from my personal list) includes Fear, Fargo, A Knight's Tale, Adaptation, No Country For Old Men, Where The Wild Things Are, and my all time fav, Before The Devil Knows You're Dead.

Where Burwell often used drawn out space and dark undertones to cast emotion in Twilight, Desplat seemed like he was trying to be Tim Burton and Howard Shore at the same time (think Silence of the Lambs and Nightmare Before Christmas together. See what I'm getting at?). It was silly to hear an epic 50 piece string orchestra wailing over off-tempo toy piano when two people were in casual conversation. Personally, I don't think he lived up to the film. However, the one scene, where Bella meets Emily Young, the country-esque tune that plays behind their conversation was absolutely WONDERFUL. Kudos to his assistant who suggested he help him write a country tune last minute ;)

Now, here is where the film gets good. REALLY good.

For anyone who has seen The Golden Compass, it's no surprise Chris Weitz was chosen to produce the animation and special effects for the film entirely. And it's a damn good thing he did, too. The meadow scene where Sam Uley emerges out of the forest in his wolf form to confront Laurent just about made me shit my pants. As a child (and up until last night) I was always terrified by the Hound of the Baskervilles. I honestly thought nothing could top the fear a rabid dog could create (move aside, Cujo). The animation of the wolves was absolute top notch. Probably the best life-like CGI I have ever seen. I can specifically remember at least ten different, tiny little things about it that I LOVED that most people would probably overlook.

The screenplay wasn't QUITE what I thought it would be. All novel adaptations are like that, however I don't like the fact that political Hollywood clearly got in the way to give Rob more screen time than he really should have had (compared to the novel) and many of the events involving Jacob and Bella are very rushed (seeing as the amount of time they spend together seems to be cut in half compared to the book) and Jacob seems to develop an infatuation for Bella much too quickly.

And last but certainly not least, the soundtrack.
Oh Em Gee.

I thought the Twilight soundtrack was good. The one for New Moon was an masterpiece (3.5/4 stars in Rolling Stone for sure). I mean, just look at the artists. Death Cab, The Killers, Band Of Skulls, Thom York (L), Lykke Li, Bon Iver, Ok Go and Editors. And it's not like these songs were rush-written for the movie either. Alexandra Patsavas is starting to make a name for herself as a music supervisor (The OC, Gossip Girl, Grey's Anatomy, Supernatural, and of course, Twilight).

Overall, I would give the film 7/10, only because of how strongly I feel about music in film, and of course, Hollywood politics and the Robert Pattison Fever. Move over, H1N1.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

remember, remember

For something that has been handed to me 100% for free, I feel like I have not yet utilized such a blessing. Perhaps it is time to take control of this situation, and blog my heart out.

Yes, I do in fact like where this is going.

Much has happened over the past couple of months. During the month of September, my longtime friend Eric and myself attended the Kings Of Leon concert in Hamilton at Copps Coliseum. I have to say, it was one of the most fun concerts I attended. Apart from uncovering one of my greatest personal mysteries in music that night, I was also properly introduced to the music of Glasvegas, a Glasgow-based band with the attitude of the Sex Pistols and the harmonic overtones of My Bloody Valentine. Both bands did an exceptional job, and the crowd was just overall fantastic.

Following the events of September, my fellow bandmate Randie and I decided to take a few days off work and head on up to my cottage (bringing with us, were guitars, beer and xbox) in Thornbury to write new material and lay out a map of our musical future. Since then, we have managed to write and record demos to 20something new songs, establish a foundation in music publishing, and as of this weekend, will have officially released our very own signature guitar and bass with the Radix guitar company (www.radixguitars.com) in Indonesia.

(I have also since then developed an even deeper love/thirst for alcohol, and have become quite the Call Of Duty gamer [level 52, waddup])

My insomnia has since disappeared, and instead, I fall asleep to a combination of lovely sounds from various artists such as The Swell Season, Snow Patrol, Glasvegas (of course!) and one of my all time favourites, Placebo.

***11:11 - make a wish!!!***

My love for the piano has continued to flourish, however my 10 year love affair with analog delay has made a sweeping comeback (what brought this about, I do not know). In combination with the infinite repetition of sound, I have also dipped deeper into the ink of pitch modulation and space. Many thanks to Matthew Followill of Kings Of Leon for helping me take the next step down the road to tonal perfection.

And of course, for those of you who are as unfortunate as I am to be home tonight, you are probably aware that the prescreening for New Moon was tonight. If you haven't head the soundtrack, go buy it. With Band Of Skulls, Thom Yorke and Death Cab, could you possibly go wrong?

I can't say the same necisarily about the score, however. Carter Burwell [(L)] lent his amazing talents to the first Twilight film, although for some ridiculous reason, has unfortunately been replaced by Alexandre Desplat. Now, I am not a fan of his earlier work, however lately he has scored such films as Coco Before Chanel, Julia & Julia and Fantastic Mr. Fox. Maybe it won't be that bad?

---

for some reason I thought this blog would have much more depth than it turns out.
hmm.

for some reason i have not been able to write a satisfying song for a couple of days either.

looks like we'll just have to wait and see what the universe has planned for us next!

oh, and I leave you with this.




video