Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Best of 2008: #18. The Mars Volta - The Bedlam in Goliath

Note: Due to the density of albums being presented over the upcoming weeks, I won't be posting links with them. If you want a link for any of the albums shown, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

For the past five years, the group started by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez and Cedric Bixler-Zavala has come to dominate progressive rock, breaking into the mainstream consciousness despite their experimental nature and lack of traditional song lengths and structures. But it is this desire to experiment beyond the traditional limits of commercial music, and more importantly, the band’s success in doing so that has come to define them; their ability to remain offbeat yet accessible has given the Mars Volta a surprising mass appeal, one that would threaten to belie their technical disposition were it not an already accepted fact.

However, the release of Amputechture in 2006 revealed a downside to this experimental approach, as the album often forwent listenability for jam band-style arrangements that rarely showed the Mars Volta at their energetic best. On The Bedlam in Goliath, the group goes in the exact opposite direction, trying their hand at a more straight-forward rock album, without all the clumsy peripheral dickering that held Amputechture back. The result is an improvement over their previous album, as Omar and Cedric provide a heavier focus on creating the lively funk-inspired tunes that got them noticed in the first place, but ultimately it fails to match up to the grandiosity of De-Loused in the Comatorium, or the epic ambitiousness of Frances the Mute. There is plenty of excellent material here, no doubt - the ardent and spastic "Aberinkula", the horn-laced crescendo of "Wax Simulacra", the catchy and expansive "Cavalettas" - all of which can live up to the Mars Volta's best work. But in the end, simply not enough of the material presented lives up to the band's high water mark, and The Bedlam in Goliath appears simply content to be a pretty good release by a band which has done better.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best of 2008: #19. The Mountain Goats - Heretic Pride

Note: Due to the density of albums being presented over the upcoming weeks, I won't be posting links with them. If you want a link for any of the albums shown, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

John Darnielle is a busy man.

Ignoring for a second the bevy of albums he’s released in his seventeen years as the singer/songwriter behind The Mountain Goats, and the hundreds of songs he’s written during that time, 2008 saw Darnielle release his fifteenth (really?) full-length album, Heretic Pride, as well as a free EP release, Satanic Messiah, which you can download here. How the man can find time for all of this is beyond me; I struggle finishing even the basest of tasks (like, say, this Best of 2008 list) even with no other responsibilities to tend to.

On Heretic Pride, Darnielle takes yet another step away from the lo-fi folk sounds of his earlier records, furnishing his songs with lush pianos, horns and string arrangements. All of this works in creating a very warm and comfortable atmosphere that’s perfect for immersion. Darnielle’s song-writing skills are also again up to task, as his erudite lyrics reveal the story of each individual song through layers of allusions and metaphors. This can all be quite daunting, and rightfully so, but the fact that such craft is put into the lyrics trumps any immediate sense of deterrence, allowing you to slowly delve into the rich tapestry of the song-writer’s vision.

I guess the only criticism I can levy here is that it’s been done before and better at that. Darnielle doesn’t really cover any new ground here or bring any new elements to the table that weren’t already apparent in the brilliant The Sunset Tree. Instead, his songs carry with them the sense of familiarity; which isn’t bad in of itself, only in that it reminds you of a superior work. But arguing that the artist set the bar too high is one of the more positive criticisms one can impose. Indeed, for what it is, Heretic Pride is still a great album in its own right. Warm, intelligent and emotional, this is yet another strong release from one of the best song-writers around.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Best of 2008: #20. Nine Inch Nails - The Slip

Note: Due to the density of albums being presented over the upcoming weeks, I won't be posting links with them. If you want a link for any of the albums shown, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

This pick is due almost solely to my latent NIN-fanboyism. Trent Reznor's 7th studio album, and his second of the year after the entirely instrumental Ghosts I-IV, was released for free on his website to no warning or antecedent fanfare, a refreshing gesture, if not quite as an anomalous one as it was presented by the media. On The Slip, Reznor continues his long-standing fascination with electronics, incorporating both the disparate soundscapes of Ghosts and the dance-laden industrial pop of Year Zero into the album, with the result being a fun, if not necessarily ground-breaking release.

Yet despite the fact that most everything Reznor has done here has been done before by him (and better), The Slip still manages to feel like a comprehensive and self-contained album. The dark, eerie electronic vibes that open "999,999" still feel at home next to the jumpy, discordant "Discipline", even though the two songs could easily be placed into separate NIN albums without any trouble (Ghosts and With Teeth, respectively). Never does this feel like an assorted collection of B-sides, despite the fact that it very well could be, considering that Reznor only planned on releasing it as an EP, and that it was written and recorded in a span of two months. As a result, the average song quality isn't quite up to the par for NIN; "Letting You" sounds noisy for the sake of noisiness, and "Corona Radiata" is a seven plus minute instrumental track that never goes anywhere at all. But despite these faults, The Slip still manages to be enjoyable of its own regard. No, it's not the temperamental masterpiece that was The Fragile, but then again, it never tries to be. This is just Reznor having fun recording and giving back to his fans in the process. That the result is even more fun for the listener should be considered a bonus, a symbol that the relationship between artist and fan can still thrive in spite of a recording industry that seems intent on waging war between the two.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Best Albums of 2008: From #30 to #21 (and then eventually to #1)

Now that Christmas is over, and now that no one still cares, I figured it was as good a time as any to post my obligatory Best Albums of 2008 list. Over the next few days/weeks/however long I choose to draw this out for, I'll be counting down the 20 best albums released in the past year with an individual post containing a mini-review pertaining to each. But first, and in the interest of covering as much ground as possible, I'll first count down the top ten albums that didn't make the cut, as well as the most disappointing albums of the year and the best non-full length releases.

Note: Due to the density of albums here, I won't be posting links with them. If you want a link for any of the albums seen here, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

Biggest Disappointments:

It's worth noting that I don't consider any of the following albums bad, merely disappointing for one reason or another, be it due to hype or my own personal expectations.

Cynic - Traced in Air

I'm probably alone in this one, but I don't really care. After the paradigm-shifting record that was Focus, this just feels empty by comparison.

Foxy Shazam - Introducing...

After the madcap zaniness of The Flamingo Trigger, it was disappointing to see the Cincinnati natives move away from their earlier hardcore-leaning sounds to more keyboard-focused music. And yet, on songs like "Ghost Animals" and "Introducing Foxy", the focus works incredibly well, coming off like piano rock on acid. So what's the problem? While half of this album sounds like the ravings of a demented Billy Joel (I mean this as a compliment), the other half falters, coming off as anywhere from contrived to just plain irritating.

Fucked Up - The Chemistry of Common Life

There was a lot of good hardcore music released this year. This wasn't even in my top ten.

Murder By Death - Red of Tooth and Claw

With their fourth album, Murder By Death stick with the Old West stylings and story-telling motifs that have made past releases so strong, but forget to include enough musical variety to keep it interesting. The album peaks after the first song ("Coming Home"), and the song quality, not to mention the quality of singer Adam Turla's incessant Johnny Cash impersonation/homage, goes downhill from there.

Subtle - ExitingARM

Pitchfork called this "Subtle's pop album", and as far as I'm concerned, that's a pretty accurate descriptor. Unlike Pitchfork however, I'm not sure I can consider this a positive development. ExitingARM sees Subtle move away from the already estranged hip-hop they originated with, further showcasing the side of the group that likes swirling melodies and electronic sounds. The idea is sound, considering this was never a group to confine themselves within conventions anyway, but there are a few problems in the execution. For one, there is an unnecessary level of polish on display in places, occasionally obscuring the voice of its most distinctive vocalist, Dose One (it almost feels like he's on auto-tune). Subtle still manages to pull off a strong pop song on occasion, but they do so with a lower rate of success than before, making long-time fans more likely to just listen to A New White for their fix.

Best Extended Plays (EP's, Splits, etc.)

65daysofstatic - The Distant And Mechanised Glow Of Eastern European Dance Parties

65daysofstatic are post-rock band from the United Kingdom, known primarily for their blending of electronic influences with guitar-heavy build-ups and crescendos. But on The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties, the group shows off their electronica influences, creating a collection of songs that sounds like a house mix at a high-scale rave. The result is a swirling, infectious concoction that stands up to, and possibly surpasses anything else 65daysofstatic has done. Here's hoping that the dance influences remain apparent on their next release.

Andrew Jackson Jihad - Only God Can Judge Me

This will get its own post soon. These guys were one of my favourite discoveries from this year.

BATS - Cruel Sea Scientist

See Here.

Envy/Jesu Split

This is actually more than long enough to qualify as a full-length, but I'm putting it here so that I can give it its proper due. With Envy, by now you know what you're getting, so you either like it or don't, but Jesu's side features some of Justin Broadrick's best work this side of Godflesh. Broadrick's dense, lengthy, metal-tinged shoegaze is at its strongest here, making this the best of Envy's many EP releases from the past year.

Fire Team Charlie - ...And Everything Will Be Undone 10"

Solid band reminiscent of Daniel Striped Tiger makes intricate and noisy emotive post-hardcore.

The Gaslight Anthem - Senor and the Queen

In the aftermath of The '59 Sound, I had almost forgot about this. These four songs, totaling just over eleven minutes in all, act as the stopgap between the band's first and second albums, with songs like "Say I Won't (Recognize)" showing where they've been and "Wherefore Art Thou, Elvis?" signifying where they were going.

The Mountain Goats - Satanic Messiah

Fantastic free release courtesy of John Darnielle. More on him later.

Red Sparowes - Aphorisms

On this EP, the Red Sparowes create guitar-driven post-rock that burn with intensity. The climaxes are booming, the build-ups are superb, and the song titles are never longer than twelve words, all of which suggests that the band is headed in the right direction. Here's hoping that their next album is the one to finally capture this group's massive potential.

Wingnut Dishwashers Union/James K. Polk and the Family of Friends Split 7"

James K. Polk’s side is delicate folk music which ends up marred by lyrics that make the Andrew Jackson Jihad look like Paul Baribeau, a juxtaposition which makes their two songs very hard to get into. But they're ultimately irrelevant to my enjoyment of this split, because the other side of the split features some of Pat the Bunny’s best work yet. “Free and Alone” is a song about the loneliness and weariness that results from the singer’s state of constant travel, and “Fuck Shit Up (Wha-Na-Na)” is a song that almost manages to be beautiful in spite of its self, showcasing the introspective punk ethos that Wingnut Dishwashers Union exemplifies so perfectly.


And now, the best albums of the year, starting with #30.

30. United Nations - United Nations

I am not a fan of Glassjaw or Converge. Glassjaw either bores me or does nothing for me and Converge is just too much for me. As for Thursday... well, that's better left unsaid. Suffice then to say that I was not one of the many fanboys heavily anticipating the so-called grindcore/power-violence (really, that's exaggerating it) release from this super-group, featuring Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw, Geoff Rickley of Thursday, and Ben Koller of Converge. But I ended up checking it out regardless, and I'm glad that I did, because once you get past the deliberate attempt at inaccessibility made by the band, you find an uproarious hardcore release that's far more progressive than it lets on. Is it worth the hype, well, no, not entirely, but it's still a strong album with some vicious commentary that more than matches the belligerent tone of the music. "Say Goodbye to the General Figment of the USS Imagination" deserves special mention for its fantastic use of a saxophone solo drenched in feedback and distortion, the ultimate fall-out after such a relentless onslaught.

29. Black Ships - Omens

Have you ever wondered what sludge metal would sound like if it was sped up to 80 mph? Wonder no more. Straight out of Montreal comes some of the dirtiest hardcore you will ever hear, featuring densely layered guitars tuned all the way down and an angry, throaty roar that perfectly matches the din of noise surrounding it. Or, to put it in layman's terms: This. Fucking. Rips.

28. The Riot Before - Fists Buried in Pockets

Folk-punk generally takes one of two directions (an over-simplification, but bear with me): there is the more folk-sounding, but punk-inspired bands that you'll see on the Plan-It-X roster, and then there's the more true-to-the-name amalgamation of punk and folk, which generally utilizes both acoustic and electric guitars in their application of punk. This is of the latter. On their debut album, Fists Buried in Pockets, The Riot Before create an angry, literate punk album for every Orgcore kid looking for something new. "5 to 9" is a highlight here, telling the tale of a Mexican man who crosses the borders looking for work to support his family. The message isn't subtle in the least, but the song kicks too much ass to fault it for its overtness. The Riot Before balance these political songs with more introspective turns, such as "Words Written Over Coffee" wherein the singer presents an analysis of himself and his choices in life, eventually concluding that the path he has embarked on was the necessary one. Recommended for anyone who liked The Falcon or Chuck Ragan's solo turn.

27. pg.lost - It's Not Me, It's You

2008 was a very strong year for post-rock, and few albums were better than pg.lost's debut album, It's Not Me, It's You. Featuring soaring peaks and searing crescendos, this is the kind of aggressive, treble-heavy post-rock not seen since How Lonely Sits the City!, albeit not quite up to the level of that album. When the band climaxes, the results are often spectacular; the rest of the time, however, their music often reaches a lull, unsure of what to do when not building to a finish. Regardless, pg.lost are better more often than not, and the impression they leave is one of a delicate balance between intensity and nothingness, a prime example of crescendo-core done right (ew, now I feel all dirty).

26. Mesa Verde - The Old Road

What is most impressive about Mesa Verde is their ability utilize a number of techniques of band's that came before them and apply those influences into their music while still sounding like a breath of fresh air in an over-exposed genre. Mesa Verde manages to encompass both extremes of what you would expect from European screamo at the same time, switching back and forth between glistening post-rock build-ups (“A Deep Sleep Without Dreams”), and unkempt bursts of raw energy (“Return to Victories”), never content to rely solely on one or the other. At their most progressive, they sound like an even more post-rock leaning version of Sed Non Satiata, and at their most violent, they border on a more abrasive La Quiete.

25. Killing the Dream - Fractures

Killing the Dream are a hardcore band from Sacramento that utilizes the heaviness of metal with the musical harmonies of melodic hardcore. Fractures is the band's third full-length album, taking the formula from their past outings and refining it through the course of twelve superb bursts of forceful, energetic hardcore. The result is one of the year's best hardcore releases, one that manages to be both progressive in focus and aggressive in practice (Fucked Up, take notes).

24. Mogwai - The Hawk is Howling

Mogwai, though long considered a benchmark for post-rock, have never been a band that has thrilled me. Their so-called opus, Young Team, feels terribly overrated to me, albeit definitely different when presented with the stereotypical example of post-rock, and my other experiences with the band have left me even more apathetic. But The Hawk is Howling changed that for me. While it was met with lukewarm hype by most, to me it showcases a band that never tries to do too much, and as a result never manages to completely blow the listener away, but instead focuses on churning out interesting melodies and captivating riffs. Unlike on Young Team, where Mogwai's emphasis is on volume, The Hawk is Howling shows a lot more variety to the band; the trippy synesthesia of "The Sun Smells Too Loud", the haunting piano of "I'm Jim Morrison, I'm Dead", the gentle yet ominous progression of "I Love You, I'm Going to Blow Up Your School"... all great songs, all of which show different musical emphases by the band. The Hawk is Howling may not have much in peaks, but it more than makes up for that in its absorbing and refreshing manners of progression.

23. ...Who Calls So Loud - ...Who Calls So Loud

Taking their name from Dickens and their pedigree from Funeral Diner, ...Who Calls So Loud have created some of the best and most varied emotive hardcore of 2008 with their self-titled debut. Through the course of this album, the California four-piece works its way through some of the most intensely passionate epics since, well... Funeral Diner.

Hey, did I say they were ex-Funeral Diner? I did? Alright, just making sure. I wouldn't want to violate a statute of limitations or anything.

However, while the comparisons to their former group are inevitable, it's not like ...Who Calls So Loud don't deviate from their parent group, as the band makes a point of showing more variety to their assault than Funeral Diner ever did. For example, "Assume the Power Focus" begins with a delicate country lick that comes off as beautifully emotional without a word being uttered, a far cry from the dark, dense, and viciously aggressive approach of The Underdark. The result of this more varied approach is that ...Who Calls So Loud ends up feeling more refreshing than redone, making it one of the year's strongest releases.

22. Baader Brains - The Complete Unfinished Works of the Young Tigers

Mike Kirsch is back, and with yet another band. The former member of Please Inform the Captain... and Bread and Circuits has returned with The Complete Unfinished Works of the Young Tigers, the first full-length album by Baader Brains. Baader Brains was formed back in 2005 by Kirsch and former Swing Kids/Bread and Circuits member Jose Palafox, with their name acting both as a play on Bad Brains, as well as a tribute to the Red Army Faction and the Baader-Meinhof group. They play a relentless, heavy and revolutionary brand of hardcore that could be very aptly compared to the members' former band, Bread and Circuits. Like in previous Kirsch bands, sampling is used prominently, breaking up the fiercely defiant anthems with sarcastic educational film clips and the like. Angry, pointed, and resistant to the end, The Complete Unfinished Works of the Young Tigers is another chapter in the life of a musical revolutionary.

21. Made Out of Babies - The Ruiner

Noisy, tumultuous, and occasionally terrifying, The Ruiner is the third album of New York noise metal band, Made Out of Babies. Featuring members of Red Sparowes and Battle of Mice, Made Out of Babies take the deafening guitars of the former and the ominous post-metal temperament of the latter, combine them, and then add a lot of noise for good measure. Where it works is in the incredible atmosphere created, much in part due to the vocals of singer Julie Christmas, who may or may not be a banshee (I haven't confirmed it). Christmas sings much like the secretly evil child in a horror movie talks - you know, the one who insists upon saying everything in a really unsettling voice as the music around him suddenly builds to an operatic tension, just so you know that he's fucking evil. When surrounded with the kind of unholy racket the rest of the band puts up here - as emphasized by some stellar guitar work courtesy of Brendan Tobin and Eric Cooper - Christmas sounds like she might just be the anti-christ.

Additional entries will be posted in the days to come.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lifetime - Tinnitus EP

Lifetime - Tinnitus

This EP was part of a supremely awesome Zen post, so you can check that out and/or download it here.

Lifetime was a melodic hardcore/pop-punk band from New Jersey, formed by Ari Katz and Dan Yemin (who would later go on to play in Kid Dynamite and Paint It Black) in 1991. Before breaking up (for the first time) in 1997, the group was heralded as one of the strongest acts to come out of the New Jersey punk scene, a pop-punk band that was just underground enough to be cool to like. The Tinnitus 7” was released in 1994, and features a brasher, more aggressive sound than the poppy, streamlined approach shown in their later, more famous works. It would eventually be collected in The Seven Inches collection a couple of years later, along with other early EP’s released by the band.

“Isae Aldy Beausoleil” begins the record with a screeching riff, and immediately transitions into an aggressively fast-paced track, showing the band’s superb ability to seamlessly change pace. Much of the credit belongs to Yemin, who weaves an endless loop of riffs in stream-like fashion, only breaking to build tension. The next song, “Ferret”, shows more of the same, with the highlight coming just over two minutes in when the band completely tears it up coming out of a solitary bass line. “Starsixtynine” brings with it a heaving instrumental combination right off the bat, reaching calamitous levels of energy as the throaty yelp of the title track brings the end to another break. This capability for building momentum out of nothing is a huge strength of the band, and it’s exhibited to perfection throughout Tinnitus. The last song, “Ampersand”, is possibly the most cathartic of all, starting off slowly as the guitar and bass intertwine, working together to some leisurely yet interesting melodies. Eventually, the band breaks yet again (Are you noticing a pattern yet?), with the drums and guitars eventually bringing the pace to a frantic rate as Katz screams his heart out in confronting yet another faceless oppressor. The emotion and sentiment come off as even more real thanks to the production, which has a rawness to it that really makes these songs unique in the spectrum of pop-punk, showing that layers of polish are anything but necessary in crafting intricate punk gems.

This is angry, passionate punk music full of throaty, cathartic gasps and some great fucking melodies. In other words, it’s what I’ve been told every other Lifetime release is. Except Tinnitus actually lives up to the reputation.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

now that's reporting!

Too apathetic/busy to post anything of substance, so here:

from the 'great moments in journalism' file

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

In Circles - Demo (2008); Plus Contempt! Derision! Scorn!

As the year comes to a close, tradition has it that you will find egregious list after list ranking the best albums of the past year, churned out in a fashion befitting the craftsmanship of an assembly line, by blogs and magazines everywhere; all of them joyfully eager to get their opinions out before people stop caring about where exactly each individual journalist gave placement to one 'Lil Wayne' and move on to more interesting list-related activities, like People's upcoming countdown of the "10 Funniest Drug-Related Addictions Celebrities Faced This Year". And so too, as tradition has mandated it, will I indulge in an eventual year-end list, regardless of whether or not I (unlike the magazines I have so callously derided) have an audience that readily gives a fuck.



Anyhoo, I figured in keeping up with the theme of 2008, I have decided to share with you one of my favourite finds from the past year, a 4-song demo released this year by In Circles. I couldn't tell you anything about them, or even where I found this (I forgot). Checking out their Lastfm page reveals nothing about the band, except that they have a grand total of 27 listeners (and a healthy portion of free downloads that don't appear on this demo). So in lieu of any real background information, I will just assume that they took their name from the Sunny Day Real Estate song of the same name. There. I said it on the internet, so now it's true.

In Circles play a jumpy kind of post-hardcore, merging the raw explosiveness of hardcore with a gentler, SDRE-tinged sense of melody. On this demo, they focus mainly on the former, to surprisingly stellar results. Opener "Echo" begins with a furious energy reminiscent of a less progressive City of Caterpillar, as the singer screams out-of-breathedly how he was "gasping for air" over the frenzied burst of the guitars. It is this continued energy, shown both in the voiced frustrations of the vocals as well as the constantly changing and progressing guitar lines, that makes this demo exceptional. The band has all the rawness and enthusiasm of a garage band, with an instrumental prowess and sense for composition far beyond what would be expected of them. What you have on this demo is just over 10 minutes of dynamic and intense post-hardcore that takes an established structure and plays the hell out of it.

Here's hoping that now, with my substantial endorsement, we can get that total up to 30 listeners.

In Circles - Demo

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pat The Bunny at the Brooklyn Tea Party

I was going through youtube and found this show, done about a year ago, and thought I'd post it, as it's an excellent performance by one of my favourite current artists. Pat The Bunny, for those who don't know, is an acoustic punk artist, formerly of Johnny Hobo and the Freight Trains (a post on which is almost certainly to come), and currently putting out music under the name of the Wingnut Dishwashers Union through his own Spare Change label. The songs below are all from the Wingnut Dishwashers Union side of his discography. If you like what you hear, you can find his website here, where all his songs are free to download on a by-donation basis.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Naked Raygun - All Rise

So I was sitting in a psychology lecture today, and, as psychological discussions are wont to do, the topic inevitably turned to Naked Raygun (my psychology professor is awesome). Specifically, the instructor used his desire to listen to Naked Raygun vinyls in order to explain the concept of drive in relation to Drive Reduction Theory. The analogy was a mess, but it accomplished two things: one, it made me envious (I want All Rise and Throb Throb on vinyl), and two, it transferred onto me the desire of listening to Naked Raygun. It was a situation which could have been considered ironic, but only by someone who does not fully understand the definition of irony.

Released in 1986, All Rise, Naked Raygun's third album, marked the in-between phase of a transition in which the band would evolve from the brasher punk of their debut into the noisy-but-melodic post-punk outfit seen on Jettison (see my post here). It moves away from their previous album, Throb Throb, with an increased emphasis on atmosphere and a change in production style; the sound here sounds more like their later albums than anything they had done previously. There are still some examples of blaring, balls to the wall punk, specifically on "New Dreams", which almost feels like a Throb Throb b-side, but for the most part, the album is more mature than anything the band did before it. Still, this is vintage Naked Raygun, featuring some classic riffs, and the same overriding theme of pessimism found throughout their discography.

In some ways, All Rise could be considered the younger brother to Jettison (unless you have a better metaphor, in which case I suggest you use that instead). The two albums share a great amount of similarities, but the ideas presented on All Rise are accomplished to a greater degree of success on Jettison. All Rise contains the same strongly pop-oriented song structures of Jettison, but feels more like the Buzzcocks than Big Black in doing so, with some of the hooks veering closely into pop-punk territory (see: "Mr. Gridlock"). Combining this development with the darker, more cathartic songs like "Backiash Jack" leaves this album feeling disoriented, caught between the contrasting ideas of melodic punk and noisy art-rock dissonance. The main strength of Jettison was in combining these ideas, but here, the result isn't as cohesive. While some songs pull off the feat perfectly, others just feel awkward, as if they'd rather belong on a Stiff Little Fingers album; which is likely intentional, given the degree to which the former influenced Naked Raygun (see their "Suspect Device" cover for more). It's not that these songs are bad; it's just that they don't exemplify the reasons why I listen to Naked Raygun. Their ability to integrate haunting pop hooks into a blistering punk attack is unparalleled, and it comes off a tad disappointing when they take their foot off the gas just to ape another band's approach. Not bad, just... disappointing.

But slight blemishes aside (and they are only slight), this is still a fantastic album created at a time of transition in the band's career. All Rise generally gets ignored in Naked Raygun's discography, sandwiched in between the band's two more accomplished efforts, but just because it hasn't the intensity or creativity of their other efforts doesn't mean it should be looked over in the least. Lack of cohesion aside, some of the band's best songs are on this album, and it can stand up to, if not surpass, most any punk album of its time. No, it's not Jettison, but what is?

All Rise

Monday, November 24, 2008

Ampere/Funeral Diner Split EP

1. Ampere - Secret Hallways
2. Ampere - Sleepwalkers
3. Funeral Diner - I Was the Sword

I will not pretend to be overly fond of Ampere. Their spastic, chaotic style, while brimming with energy and a strong sense of technicality, never stays with any one idea long enough for me to grasp on to it. In fact, I have a fun and easy-to-use formula on the subject:

Orchid - enjoyability = Ampere

And while their side of this split is surprisingly listenable given their track record, that's not why I'm posting it. The reason why is because the other side of the record is possibly the best thing Funeral Diner has ever done, which is too bad, considering this was also their last release before breaking up.

"I Was the Sword" is quite frankly a brilliant song, somewhat reminiscent of On the Might of Princes at their best. It builds through some sharply darting guitar lines and chaotically rhythmic drumming to a blisteringly emotional and intense climax, breaks it down, and then finds a new and effective way to do it all over again. This is 'epic' in every sense of the word, and should be considered a must-have by any fans of the band.

Ampere/Funeral Diner

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Wrote Haikus About Cannibalism in Your Yearbook - 8 Song Demo

Q: I actually wrote a haiku about cannibalism in someone's yearbook once.

A: He didn't get it.

There's an unstated point to this.

i wrote haikus about cannibalism in your yearbook

Thursday, November 6, 2008

I have way too much free time.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New God is an Astronaut! Plus Additional Hyping

I've spoken before in this space about the awesomeness that is God is an Astronaut. They're a fantastic group that has carved out a niche for themselves, moulding layers of obfuscating electronic haze into breath-taking post-rock brilliance.

Anyway, they have a new album coming out on the 7th, the self-titled God is an Astronaut, which is currently streaming about half of its tracks on their myspace page (it has also apparently leaked, so you can probably find it if you're intrepid enough). You'll also be able to purchase it from their website once it officially releases. I encourage you to check it out.

And while I'm at it, I may as well throw out a recommendation for what is currently my favourite post-rock outing of the year, Up-C Down-C Left-C Right-C ABC + Start's Embers. Simply put, it's one of the best albums of the year, and an excellent example of taking a tried-and-true formula (in this case, the type of 'crescendo-core' [I feel dirty just writing that] derivative from Explosions in the Sky) and making it your own. If you want, you can order it from their website, or you can just wait until the end of the year, at which point I will likely pimp it into oblivion.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Eric's Trip - Love Tara

Eric's Trip - Love Tara

I had a chance earlier this year to see Eric’s Trip in concert. I didn’t, because it was at some club that requires membership to get in and it seemed like a pain in the ass to go through and they wanted five bucks or so for membership, but if I had, you can sure bet it would have made an interesting story to recount here.

Oh well. (True story too!)

Eric’s Trip was a Canadian indie rock band hailing from the listless shores of New Brunswick. They formed in 1990, and, after a number of demo tapes, were signed to Sub Pop records at the peak of their post-Nirvana influence. In 1993, they set out to record their first album for Sub Pop, ending up with Love Tara, a collection of garage-rock influenced, lo-fi love songs. They broke up in 1996, but have reformed multiple times throughout this decade to tour and play particular events.

I first found out about these guys a few years back while doing random searches as inspired by awesome songs (As you may as well have gleamed, I have no good stories about finding out about bands. Just random shit I found online while I was bored. Stay tuned for a future post in which I tell you about that one time, at the bank, when I deposited a check and the teller gave me a dirty look and I’m like what? and yeah pretty cool right). I figured hey, anyone who would name themselves after a Sonic Youth song with some of my all-time favourite lyrics probably has good enough taste in music to make some good stuff themselves. And lo, I was right. I just didn’t expect them to be this good.

Eric’s Trip’s sound is not the hardest to describe. Think of stereotypical folk-inspired indie rock, from the time before it became popular to emulate crappy post-punk from the 80’s and call it indie regardless of what label they’re on (no disrespect to all the good bands who were emulated as well). Add in conditional use of the electric guitar, and fill the recoding with all the crackling distortion of an overplayed vinyl record, and voila: pure, heartfelt lo-fi indie glory. This is music that you could imagine listening to before a roaring fire on an Autumn day; delicate enough to set the mood, but not content just to linger aimlessly in the background as first-date muzak. Singer/guitarist Rick White described their sound as "sappy melodic pop music on top of thick distortion”, and that’s probably a good way of summing it up. It’s a very simple formula the band uses, combining the softness of folk and the noisiness and anguish of grunge, but they utilize it to perfection. In fact, I’d go as far as to call Love Tara one of the best indie records of the 90’s, an all-too unknown masterpiece, and put Eric’s Trip well ahead of their more well-known contemporaries such as Pavement and Built to Spill.

Much of what makes this album great comes in the vocals, which are shared between Rick White and Julie Doiron with White taking the brunt of the duties on this album (also, both share guitar/bass duties alongside fellow guitarist/bassist Chris Thompson). Both White and Doiron display a great amount of tenderness and care in their deliveries, which does well to enhance the sincerity in lines like “looking around for an extra person in my life to call my friend” and “how come it upsets you so/shouldn't it be me who feels uneased”. The lyrics tend to fit into a very conversational style, with the songs mostly being person-to-person tales of love or regret, communicated with a muted sadness by the band’s vocalists. That they come off as so genuine can be put on White and Doiron themselves (especially White), who sing in very soft and melancholic tones, almost to the point of whispering at points (“Behind the Garage” being an excellent example). The way this album is produced is notable too in this sense, as the sound fashioned here takes on a very warm and personable style. The background noise on “May 11” for example, suggests a real-world atmosphere, as if the singing is just one half of a conversation we’re not getting all of. When White or Doiron sing, the clearness of their vocals in the otherwise often distortion-fueled mix helps communicate the band’s message as heartfelt and honest. Another example of a strong effect utilized by the band is showcased in the song “Frame”, which pits White’s soft croons against a very jagged riff, placing the delicacy of his delivery against the overlying sharpness of the guitar. The ensuing contrast is quite powerful, as White’s fragile voice is swallowed up by the strident waves of distortions, overcome by the power of the amplifier.

With Love Tara, Eric’s Trip not only put out an outstanding debut, but a lo-fi indie classic. The distortion, the folksy warmth, the emotional, utterly personal song-writing, all standards Eric’s Trip would uphold throughout their career, but possibly none used to the same success as on the band’s debut album. What we have here is marvellously minimal indie rock, adorned with lyrically relatable feelings regarding love, alienation and friendship. Put it on, sit by the fire, and watch the leaves envelop the ground outside your window, as they desert the now barren trees from which they fell.

Love Tara

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Decahedron - Disconnection Imminent

Decahedron - Disconnection Imminent

In the aftermath of Frodus, its members went on to a number of other projects. Nathan Burke, Frodus’ latest in a long line of bassists, went on to form The Out Circuit, where he still resides today. Shelby Cinca formed steampunk band The Cassettes, moving in a number of more experimental directions past even what was hinted with And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea, as well as playing briefly in the band Mancake, alongside Frodus drummer Jason Hamacher. But eventually, Cinca went back to his post-hardcore roots, again enlisting Hamacher on drums as well as former Fugazi bassist Joe Lally, and together they created Decahedron, a socially conscious outfit that lived by the mantra of “Delete False Culture”. Decahedron only released one album, Disconnection Imminent, but it signalled a spiritual return to the protest-punk of Frodus, as well as a musical progression that combined the angry, dissonant hardcore they were known for, with Cinca’s growing experimentation with ambience and electronics (a couple years afterward, Cinca would put out a solo album based entirely around this concept). The result was an original and unsettling album, which contrasted sci-fi bleakness with a very real and disconcerting look at modern society.

As mentioned above, the music feels like a noticeable progression from And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea-era Frodus; by which I mean you can make comparisons between Decahedron and Frodus easily (and I have), as the underlying form seems obviously influenced by Cinca and Hamacher’s former project, but there is also a natural evolution on display here. As such, Decahedron feels like a spiritual successor to Frodus, and not just in the phylogeny of the band itself. The angular raspiness of the guitar is more than familiar to the listener, and the way in which the smoothness of the bass plays off the guitar in intertwining fashions is again exhibited, but the way electronics have been integrated keeps any sense of derivativeness at bay. Interludes such as “Dislocation” showcase the way in which the band manages to insert abject dissonance into their tracks, and while this may become grating within the parameters of an instrumental song, it works well in giving an even greater sense of desolation to calm, brooding epics like “Every City is a Prison”. Indeed, feedback is used constantly throughout this album, as the ominous cries of what sounds like industrial machinery audibly rusting on the spot are injected and pumped into the backgrounds for mood. This works to varying degrees in terms of listenability, but what can’t be denied is how it communicates the isolation of the music in a very direct way.

As far as the vocals go, Cinca remains more austere than usual here, generally finding himself content to passively croon along to the despondent flow of the music, but he still has his moments to shine. The chorus of “Burning Lights” is a definite highlight here; after a very menacing passage leads to quiet, Cinca’s obstructed screams of “Drowning into yourself/turning against your will to live” manage to come off as fierce as ever. “Lt. Col. Questions Himself” provides another prominent example of Cinca’s ragged intensity, shouting his lines just as loudly as the music can drown them out. The way Cinca screams so wholeheartedly and forcefully has always been a highlight of Frodus for me, as he always conveys an emotional passion and intensity that can rarely be matched, making it something of a shame that he doesn’t do it more often here. The result is an album that is less focused on anger (despite the virulence of the lyrics), and more focused on detachment. A great example of this is in “No Carrier”; when Cinca screams about disconnection during the chorus, the message is transmitted with all the accuracy of a drive-thru order, cutting out and obscuring the words from full recognition.

All in all, Disconnection Imminent is a strongly atmospheric post-hardcore album that, while not quite matching the greatness of Frodus’ work before it, manages to impress. Experimental without being impenetrable, smooth while still keeping an edge to it, Disconnection Imminent remains a gem in the catalogue of three men with much bigger claims to fame.

DELETE: False_Culture

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Conglomerate's Tendrils Are Spread Throughout Many Sinister Soups

Also: they know you. And they think that you and they should meet.

This is either delightfully absurd, or decidedly retarded, depending on how you look at it. I fall into the former group.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Frodus - And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea

Frodus - And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea

Frodus was formed in 1993 and dissembled in 1999, issuing two full-length albums and a number of other releases while together and recording a third just before breaking up. Their exceptional blend of mathy, D.C.-style post-hardcore has earned them praise from, and given inspiration to countless followers. The band reached their pinnacle on what was regrettably their third and last album, the post-humous And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea, experimenting with a number of different esthetics to add to the noisy, jumpy punk (affectionately deemed “spazzcore”) they originated with.

Like nearly all D.C. post-hardcore bands that came about in the 90’s, Frodus takes a number of cues from the godfathers of post-hardcore themselves, Fugazi. Fugazi helped shape the landscape for post-hardcore with their aggressive, discordant sound, as well as their desire to experiment beyond the traditional means and limits set out for them, two things Frodus had going for them as well. An analogy between the two wouldn’t be hard to follow; both D.C. bands, both playing styles of angular, occasionally abrasive post-hardcore, and both considered to be among the best at what they do.

As the 90’s went on, Fugazi became more and more experimental, and while this lead to them gaining a reputation as some of the premier pioneers in underground music, it also involved them losing much of the aggressiveness that made them great in the first place. Whether or not this was positive is irrelevant; the point is this pattern of development was not theirs alone. Near the end of their days, Frodus was going down a similar path, wherein they wanted to experiment with the boundaries of their already developed sound. The result is less chaotic and far more polished than, say, F-Letter, and has a feeling of maturation when compared to their previous releases, not unlike comparing The Argument to 13 Songs.

And this is where the analogy ends. Because unlike Fugazi, Frodus do not seem even the slightest bit tamed on And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea, remaining just as angry and as vigilant against the mainstream culture that spawned them as ever. Sure, there’s the occasional ambient interlude, suggesting that the band just didn’t have anything left after writing this, but don’t let that fool you; cries like “Stupid human scum!” are only the most literal examples on an album full of cynicism and frustration. The aggression is most palpable on tracks like “The Awesome Machine” and “There Will Be No More Scum”, wherein the coarse power of the guitar and the screams of singer Shelby Cinca lend an incredible amount of intensity to the proceedings.

Yet there is a certain wistfulness to a lot of the songs as well; while the lyrics are as angry as ever, managing to be both veiled and direct in their vitriol, they also convey a very defeatist approach toward the topics taken on. For example, in “The Earth Isn’t Humming”, as the minimalism of the bass combines with Shelby’s resigned cries of “another one must fall down”, the listener is greeted with an overwhelming sense of despondence. This feeling of hopelessness engulfs much of the album, whether Frodus is working toward a frenzied, noisily cathartic climax, or constructing a slow, melodic instrumental piece. The contrast between the angrier and more aggressive songs, and that of the more despairing and gloomy songs do a great deal to suggest a level of exhaustion in the band, as if they just couldn’t keep up the same level of defiance anymore. This weariness also finds itself coming into play in the rest of their music too; the angular, mathiness of the band which could have previously been likened to a San Diego-style band like Drive Like Jehu, now sounds more relaxed, almost to the point of post-rock territory.

With their last album, Frodus created the monument for which, for better or for worse, they will be remembered for. And We Washed Our Weapons in the Sea is a triumph of subversive, experimental music which manages to combine the sensibilities of math rock with the volatility of hardcore and come away a rousing success. Gloomy and ominous, it takes the bands’ pessimistic, wearied take on the modern world and translates it seamlessly into audio format. There may be more famous bands to come out of D.C. in the past 15 years, but there are few better.

Frodus Conglomerate Intl. thanks you for listening

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

conservatives win minority government!

$300 million spent, and no one got what they wanted.

ohhhh canadaaaa

Just figured I'd update the situation for all those people just dying out there for word of what happened in that all-important Canadian federal election.

...I'll get back to music stuff as soon as I can muster the composure to overcome this shocking development.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Joys of Voter Apathy

This is sort of a follow-up to my previous post. It's just a video I really liked featuring one of my favourite artists (probably my all-time favourite, but I'll play it safe), Matthew Good, discussing the perils of [cue 50's horror film voice] Western Voter Apathy.

Some background first: back in the day, Muchmusic (kind of the Canadian counterpart to MTV, only they sometimes played music videos - they don't anymore) would occasionally do these shorts in which they'd profess an interest in some kind of issue, and bring in someone to talk about it. For example, in the following video, the keyword was politics and finding some way to get young people to vote; in others, they would play to teaching media-consciousness, a vicious irony once you consider the source. Enter Matt Good, with his edgy brand of gen-X cynicism that was just bound to get the young peoples attentions. Or something. I remember seeing these videos at the time, and in the past couple years, upon discovering Youtube, managed to find a couple of them on there much to my delight.

I figure this is from the early 00's, during that brief period after Stockwell Day (see video) became relevant, but before he became a complete joke.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

A Frighteningly Glib Look at the Modern Canadian Political Atmosphere

Or: Everything You Wanted to Know About Canadian Politics but Were Too Apathetic to Ask

Oh, hello there. If I know you, right now you’re probably thinking about the upcoming American elections and how they will shape the coming national, as well as global landscape over the next four years. However, did you know that that’s not the only election occurring over the next month?

That’s right!

Consider, if you will, your friendly neighbours to the North, the ones who control all the lumber and fresh drinking water. On Tuesday, October 14, they too will be having their own election to decide the leader of their free world.

“Well, golly!” I hear you saying to yourself now, “I had no idea! If only there was some handy guide wherein I could be told which Canadian political party is right for me!”

I had suspected you would say that. And now there is.

First, let us start with the basics. In Canadian government, unlike American government, there are no set designated periods for elections, so long as one is called within five years of the previous election. An election is instead called either whenever the ruling party wants there to be one (pretty much the only way during a Majority government), or on the account of a non-confidence vote in Parliament, in which the members of the opposition outvote the ruling party on any old issue (they don’t necessarily have to disagree, they just have to feel apathetic enough on the issue to throw it to the wolves). For example, for this election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper dissolved Parliament on Sep. 7, and the election is being held only a month later. This is in stark contrast to the American elections, wherein the long, laborious process has been going on for the better part of two years now. Since the run-up to the Canadian election is much shorter, this puts significantly less pressure on the media to waste the considerable time given with sensationalist news stories that have nothing to do with the political values of the candidates in question, and instead focus on the issues that matter.

Like which candidate cares more about their family: the upstanding, well-dressed, well-groomed, and quite frankly gorgeous incumbent (I get lost sometimes in his deep blue eyes), or the French guy who no one can understand and is probably a polygamist? Or whether the current Canadian Agriculture Minister should be fired for making what amounts to a bad pun? (There really should be laws against that kind of stuff)

So now that you know how Parliament is dismissed, why are they being dismissed? Namely, why is Canada having an election now? That’s a good question. There’s really no great political motivation for it; in all likeliness, the Conservatives will win another Minority government, and gain/lose very little power by doing so. My guess is they view it as “better sooner than later” proposition, wherein the Conservative government can only fuck up the situation from here on out. But that could just be me.

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Canada runs on a Parliamentary system. Essentially, instead of directly voting for the Prime Minister, each voter votes for a local representative for their community who belongs to the same party as the candidate they want to choose (or vice versa). The idea being that each riding has an individual MP to report back to, rather than just a national party. There’s some other relevant stuff here too, but I won’t go into it, as the specifics bore me tremendously. Oh yeah, we also run a multi-party system. Which is exactly how it sounds.

So, dear reader, now that you have been acclimated to the basics of the Canadian political process, I hear you wondering now: what of the parties? When I hear that my leader is engaging in diplomacy with the Canadian Prime Minister, who do I want that Prime Minister to be?

What an excellent inquiry on your part! Luckily, I had prepared for such a circumstance.

The Conservative Party:

The current party in charge, lead by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who claimed power two years ago by capitalizing on a Liberal sponsorship scandal. For the past 15-20 years or so, in the aftermath of the horrific Mulroney (and even more horrific Campbell) government, the Conservatives have gone through a very tumultuous time. Much of this was because of a split in the party-base; during the 80’s, in which Alberta was practically bankrupted due to Liberal policies, Western (and by Western, I almost always mean Albertan) conservatives began to view the current system as not only non-representative of their goals, but as one which simply didn’t care about them. This begat the Reform Party in 1987, a religiously right-wing populist party which seeked to fix the inequalities in the system that favoured the Eastern provinces (i.e. Ontario and Quebec) and that thusly caused the main parties to do the same. This, in turn, decimated the vote totals for the Progressive Conservative Party, a far more centre-leaning party which had traditionally catered to its Eastern base. The Reform Party would eventually try to expand its base eastwards, in the hope of drawing away power from the PC’s, with varied amounts of success. This continued on throughout the 90’s, with the Liberal Party easily winning majority after majority government at the expense of the feuding conservatives. At the turn of the century, the Reform Party decided their problem wasn’t one of differentiating values, but one of image, and changed their name to the Canadian Alliance. With this, they overtook the PC’s, but still fell short to the Liberals in the 2000 Federal Election.

By 2003, the two parties put aside their differences and joined to form the Conservative Party of Canada, in hopes of finally gaining enough momentum to oust the Liberals. The current incarnation of the Conservatives is very Western-centric, as their strongest base resides in Alberta. They’re essentially the more moderate version of the American Republican Party in ideology, only with the intelligence and pragmatism to only stray as close to the Republicans as they think the voters will let them (For example, Stephen Harper is an evangelical Christian, the first evangelical Christian, in fact, in over 40 years to lead the country, and as such, has been quoted as being against same-sex marriage. Yet, despite leading a campaign against it early on as leader of the Conservatives, has ceased much of his efforts to do as Prime Minister, well aware that any effort would likely prove fruitless anyway, and would only kill his political career.) The greatest question surrounding the Conservatives at this point would likely revolve around whether they can keep power, or whether this was just a brief flirtation on the part of the Canadian populace, akin to being drunkenly exploited by a smooth-talking lothario who convinces you that the best way to get back at your cheating boyfriend is to have sex with someone else. And just who are they competing against?

The Liberal Party:

I don’t have the facts to back me up on this, but I’m pretty sure party leader Stephane Dion has it in his platform to end charisma once and for all. Jesus, why do the Liberals keep picking French people with only the most basic command of the English language? At least Chretien was entertaining. You know what? It’s fucking arrogant is what it is. Like they know the general population has no other choice of who to vote for if they don’t want Conservative, so they can throw the least electable candidate out there and you’ll have no fucking choice.

Liberal ’08: Nyah nah nyah nah nah nah.

Okay, to be fair to Dion and the Liberals, it’s not like there were great candidates just leaping onto the boat to get whacked by the oar. Being a Liberal Party candidate post-sponsorship scandal is like being lost in one big fucking desert. The party has been directionless, aimless, and completely resting on its laurels in the post-Chretien years. Their big idea to get back to the top? A carbon tax. In addition to practically spitting in Alberta’s face (“You’re not going to vote for us? No? WELL, FUCK YOU! Let’s see how you like living in Alberta once your economy collapses, fuckwads!”), it doesn’t exactly scream ‘out of the desert and back on course’. In fact, it’s more of a “These are my principles. And if you don’t like them, I have others” kind of deal.

Fun Fact: The Liberal catch phrase for many of the MP’s in this election has been “It’s time for a change.” And if I need to point out the irony in a party who has been in control of the government for 13 of the past 15 years pulling the “change” card, well…

The Libertarian Party:

Ha ha, just kidding. Nobody gives a fuck about them here either. I'm surprised I even found a logo.

The New Democratic Party:

I’ll keep this history lesson shorter than the Conservative one: Tommy Douglas was the Premier of Saskatchewan for 17 years. Tommy thought socialized medicine might improve things. The people agreed. When he left office in 1961, the NDP was born, eventually rallying enough support for the Liberal minority government to create Medicare in 1966. Ever since, the NDP has kind of been the designated third party, the socialist little brother who goes off to college and comes back with all kinds of ideas and dreams that no one else in the family ever pays attention to.

In this election, the NDP’s role has been that of an attack dog. Their ads actually seem more prominent than the Liberals (seriously, it’s almost as if the Liberals aren’t even trying), despite the much smaller stature of the party, and have focused almost entirely on attacking Harper and the Conservatives (“We need a new kind of strong.” Catchy shit). Of course, considering that the Conservatives and the NDP often aligned with one another in order to pass bills through a minority Conservative government, chances are that they aren’t too steadfast in their attacks. I wonder if Jack Layton will change his tune if (and likely when) we see yet another minority Conservative government emerge victorious?

The Bloc Quebecois:

Their power has waned since the go-go seperatist days of the 70's-90's, but they still exist to play their unique part in Canadian politics: that is, the role of the complete dicks whom everyone hates, but is afraid to say anything about for fear of offending Quebec's delicate cultural sensibilities. Ah, Jacques. If only you had done a better job of fixing the ballots, maybe you'd have your own country to hold hostage. Dare to dream.

Fun fact: In the 2006 election, the Bloc Quebecois received 10.5% of the popular vote. The NDP received 17.5%, and the Green Party received 4.5%. Both the NDP and Green Party are national parties, whereas the Bloc Quebecois runs only in Quebec. The Bloc ended up with 51 seats, compared to the NDP’s 29 and the Green Party’s ever-majestic zero. Furthermore, the Bloc was invited to the Federal debates, despite having no Federal policy and no desire to ever run the country. The Green Party was not.

Viva la democracie!

The Green Party:

Is probably pretty pissed off right now.

So those are your Canadian parties. Feeling confident and excited about which one you want to have a faint say in the governing of the free world? I hope so. Because nothing fights off political apathy like the facts of the matter. Like how, if you live in a district that votes overwhelmingly to one party, your vote doesn’t count in electing your chosen candidate. Or how, if you live in a Western province or, god forbid, one of the territories, your vote ultimately matters less than someone in Ontario or Quebec. That kind of stuff.

And if you still don’t see the reason to care about the upcoming Canadian election, and you’d rather spend your time on “Barack v. McCain: The Bloodening”, we won’t blame you. As a matter of fact, we feel the exact same way.