Daily Music Fix: Titus Andronicus

[“I will be as harsh as truth and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or speak, or write with moderation. I am in earnest. I will not equivocate, I will not excuse, I will not retreat a single inch, and I will be heard.”]

Day #7: “To Old Friends and New” – Titus Andronicus

Album: The Monitor (2010)

New Jersey? Walt Whitman? The American Civil War? All feature prominently on last year’s The Monitor, but what remains to be explained is why I should care about those subjects, living in relative obscurity from them as I do? Well Titus Andronicus convinced me that all those things are fucking relevant to my teenage Canadian life by way of their completely unhinged, uncontrollable, as close to perfect rock music as possible. The Monitor is only the second LP from Titus Andronicus (Bandomynology: One of Shakespeare’s shittier and more graphic plays) but I’m floored by how seemingly every square foot of this album sounds masterfully written, recorded and engineered. Their sound is brilliant, classic rock overtones but not exactly like anything I’ve ever heard before. You can easily pick up on the Springsteen connections, especially in A More Perfect Union, but when listening to the album as a whole you get the idea that there’s truly bit of everything in there. None of their influences are excluded from the final product; they have Craig Finn of The Hold Steady reciting Whitman’s poetry, and recently on their appearance on A.V. Club Undercover they sampled Charles Bukowski while covering They Might Be Giants. They are a band after my own heart, when listening to them I feel like a witness to the turning of the Rock n Roll ages, and I can not recommend them highly enough.

Daily Music Fix: Mister Heavenly

[Raihan went to Sasquatch and all I got was this lousy blog post.]

Day #5: “Mister Heavenly” – Mister Heavenly

Album: Out Of Love (August 2011)

A passion project/collaboration between Man Man frontman (man) Honus Honus and Vancouver Island’s Nicholas Thorburn that also features the drummer from Modest Mouse and occasionally Michael Cera on bass, Mister Heavenly is exactly what you want to hear, right now. All the time, in fact. Their sound is somewhere between Man Man’s Tom Waits-channalled mania and The Temptations’ dreamy Motown sound. What results is a genre affectionally labelled Doom Wop by the bandmates themselves as they attempt to mix sounds like “Mister Sandman” with “King Rat”. They’ve only released two songs so far (the above namesake and an equally catchy “Pineapple Girl”) but they’re already leading the race to become my favourite new band of the year.

Besides, they’ll have to do until the (hopefully) inevitable formation of a real Sex Bob-omb.

My Top Five Albums of 2010 – Connor

Nothing glamorous today, folks! I just thought I’d give you a long overdue (read: belated cause I’m a lazy fuck) list of some of my favourite things that came into existence over the last year. THAT’S RIGHT! A 2010 “Best Of” list from Grub Street! You feel that? That ‘s what it feels like… when dreams come true…

So here you are, just some humble and innocuous opinions on the year that was. Enjoy, and please, feel free to share your opinions as well.

Top Five Albums of 2010 (With respects to Rob from High Fidelity)

Odd Blood – Yeasayer

Click to view on iTunes

This was a bold new direction for me; coming from strict indie-rock backgrounds and having certain, chaotic psych-rock expectations from their first album. But I was absolutely blown away by the relatable pop-influenced rhythms and serious, impressive lyricism. Honestly, the album embodies everything I’ve ever want from pop music: I can finally talk about the amazing addiction of certain hooks without being down-trodden about the terrible lyrics therein. It reminds me of the sound that Radiohead used for In Rainbows, but more up-tempo, and with many of the same themes. It was a wonderfully mature follow-up to their first album; it seems they were able to focus each track to produce the highest quality pop-rock they could.

Download These: Ambling Alp \ O.N.E. \ Madder Red

Continue reading

A Pirate Told Me This

There are legends about us you know- legends and knock knock jokes. What the fuck happened to piracy over the last few years? One day we’re boogeymen the next minute we’re movie stars and children’s attractions and hyperbolic comedy figures. Worst of all is now we’re fashionable.

I’ve read about all the greats that came before me, Anne Bonny, Mary Read… what makes them better pirate queens than me is that they had the good sense to come and go when it was still a man’s game. They had the novelty of being first, lucky bitches. If I had my say I would have been born in the early nineteenth century, when romantic meant gunpowder and adultery. I didn’t become a pirate to break copyright laws, goddamnit, I became a pirate for the sole purpose of being a pirate.

If there is any difference at all between terrorism and piracy, that’s it; terrorists have a motive, to spread terror. Pirates only see that as a fringe benefit of the job. We have no motives. We’re anarchists to anarchists, and we love it.

He said that about me? When? I wouldn’t put the idea past him, but I wouldn’t necessarily trust him with it, not him, not anymore. I’ve seen him staring through the threshold of the great be-damned, and not even give a shit enough to sweat, but something’s different now. Someone must have put the fear of God into him. Funny, that. Fear of God. You can know the devil all your life, shake hands with him, make him your friend, but one thing gets a little too out of hand and all of a sudden you’ve got the fear of God in you. Still, I’d see him again. If he isn’t too afraid of me.

Did I tell you I’ve been writing a very specific kind of fan-fiction where Ringo kills and eats the rest of The Beatles for making fun of his big nose so much? No? I’ll show you some drafts when we get back. I don’t want to say anything more, could spoil it.

He used to read to me a lot. No- not Ringo! We’d be lying under this big apple-suckiling tree and he’d read from an old tome that I think some wise-man had given him a while back. I began to love a lot of the poetry from those old days, and now the only people I miss in the world are people I’ve never met. Mostly dead, white, English guys. The exact kind of people I wish to avoid on the mortal plain. Maybe I miss him a bit, too. But fuck it. Let him come to me if he wants his whiskey.

He seemed pretty tired, the last time I saw him. He probably still is. I remember him best, being tired.

A Cowboy Told Me This

I don’t fear the gun – a lot of respectable people get shot. I don’t fear the blade, it’s a coward, it’s ashamed of itself, it’s got no creed or conscious. I don’t fear the fire, if it takes me I’m sure it will have earned my life. I only fear the gallows. I only fear the noose. I fear their earnestness and their righteousness. I fear the justice they bring.

Don’t tell me what happened. I don’t want to hear about it now. Don’t talk to me about angels, I know about angels, I don’t need to hear what they do in their off-time. And don’t tell the others about my visions, it will only trouble them, they’ll take me right back to the church and I don’t need that most of all. If you can tell me one thing – one thing in the whole world. Tell me about her. It’ll do me some good, I’ll be the audience instead of the spectacle for once. Just don’t hold your hands out for any more, I won’t give you anything, least of all my hands. Seriously. Stop it.

Can I trust you? I mean, if there was a gun in my back pocket and you were starving, could I turn my back? Don’t give me that look. You don’t fear what I fear, we can never be that close. Fine. Fine. Your word then, that’ll do fine.

You’ve heard the one about the philosophers on the mountain? They debated the meaning of existence while the the world came to an end. I guess that kind of describes my relationship with women.

I used to be the type, you know, ‘Lord, I’m Discouraged’, but I figure the only thing worth praying to is the sun. It wakes me in the morning, when it leaves I know it is time to rest. It keeps me warm – when it can – and allows me to eat what it grows. It illuminates my shadows and guides my journeys. Its angels are the stars, they help me map my world. Its only son is the moon, and you already know how much that’s done for me. I pray to the sun everyday, but I never ask it for anything, no, that would be presumptuous and greedy. I only pray to it. Meditate with it. The sun is a very good listener.

To answer your question from before, no. I don’t. Mostly I just hope she stays alive.

BAM! Dinosawrs

At the turn of the 17th century, in London England, an untameable young playwright by the name of William Shakespeare was busy writing plays such as Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet; works that would later be universally recognized as some of the greatest pieces of literature ever put to paper. Two hundred years later, at the dawn of the 19th century in Vienna, Ludwig von Beethoven, a disciple of the great Hayden and admired by the iconic W.A. Mozart, had the ability to write symphonies so beautiful that emotion itself was given a physical manifestation; so monumentally brilliant that both Love and Hate became tangible – and they danced with each other across starlight into your now blessed ears.

Then for a long time nothing happened.

But now… as the conquered sun of the 21st century rises like the celestial ascendance of man into the great, black ocean… we are deemed worthy to behold another artist of such caliber and magnitude that, were Jesus Christ with us today, he would fall to his knees and attest eternal allegiance to the wonder and beauty of her art, NAY, to her work of Beauty incarnate.

I speak of course… about Becky Bam.

Being witness to Becky Bam’s art is like seeing an angel make love to a unicorn. It’s like an anti-kick to the balls. It’s like receiving oral sex… for your soul!

But my words are only a cheap, blundering attempt to explain the glory of her creations. They cannot do justice to that which makes The Mona Lisa look as bad as it tastes. On first looking at her work I grabbed a book of Romantic Era fine art and tore it asunder, crying “YOU FALSE GODS OF OLD! RETREAT TO THE RIVER LETHE! FOR NO ART HAS EXISTED BEFORE THIS DATE!” I implore you, the only way you can understand is to see for yourself, so that you may become enlightened, and briefly see the face of your Lord.

Behold:

Becky Bam has been a friend and contemporary of mine for a long time, and I’m excited to feature her and her unbelievably cute, occasionally disturbing, and always funny web comic BAM! Dinosawrs on Grub Street.

Marry, Screw, Kill

If you’re anything like me, you’re assuredly going to hell. That said, hopefully you’ve heard of this mostly innocuous game where you and a few friends choose three random people, preferably NOT people you know in real life so as to avoid dickishness (yes, computer, I’ll have you know dickishness IS a word), and in as much detail as you can conjure on the subject, inform everyone as to which of those three you would marry, who you would screw, and who you would kill.

NOW, this might come off to you as one of those lingering “middle-school” games, where pre-and-young-teens use the blanket term of “game” to hide the fact that they’re gossiping and bitching about their friends. WELL I’LL HAVE YOU KNOW, SIR that this game is more commonly played by men than women, and is basically that Girl/Farm Animal thing you’ll all know from the online diaries of Mark Zuckerberg. Just without the farm animal (well, depending on who you choose, I guess).

So in the spirit of good will, good times, and a passable article to get the old man off my back (hi Raihan!) I’d like to stir some intelligent debate between our devoted and naturally enlightened readership. That in mind, here are some example choices of Marry, Screw, Kill that I’d be just riveted to hear all of your opinions on. Enjoy:

(Btw, Mary Screwkill is a great name for a gothic heroine.) Continue reading