Thursday, June 12, 2008

Back to Basics

I passed my drivers test on Tuesday. Barely, but I did. How exciting. I also decided to bike to and from work (although I started at Yonge and Bloor). It was not nearly as bad as I thought it would be, but I'm sore today from biking with a heavy backpack. Overall though, I feel good about the amount of cycling I've been putting in and hope I keep up with it. I feel good for the most part lately and I think it helps.

Saw the Red Dons and the Estranged on Tuesday as well. I really like the Red Dons, straight up. Some people were iffy on them but I thought they were insanely good. I was way too tired and preoccupied to focus on preparing a review around the show, but needless to say I was impressed. Steve's band also got a lot of good feedback which is awesome.

This Friday we have some band coming to perform in the office for lunch, and next Friday Lick's is catering a BBQ. To make things even sweeter, the Friday after that marks the start of half day Friday's for the rest of the summer. Yessss. Speaking of not sweet, we tried this Caribbean place in the weird strip mall on Don Mills by my work today. Yuck.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

I suppose I'll start writing in here again

Operating this as a music blog was too much for me. I can barely write for Exclaim any more. I'm not sure if that is a plain lack of motivation, the lack of good new releases, or the fact that working in the music industry sometimes takes the fun out of music for me, albeit mostly in temporary spurts. Funny, considering the title I chose for this blog. Anyway, I suppose I'll just write about life.

Last night Patrick, Sandy, Rick, Steve and I rode out to the Leslie St. Spit. While the frequency of my biking adventures this summer have (comparatively) been great, the distances I've ridden have not been. I didn't have any idea how far we'd be riding, and it was only the second weekend on my new bike (more on that later) but I did it. Of course it would be the first place I'd get a flat, all the way out at the lighthouse (probably the furthest point). Thankfully just as we were getting ready to take a long and increasingly dark trek back to the main roads, a kid with a patch kit showed up. I learned how to patch a tire, as well as a lesson to always come prepared. Sandy had tubes with her all along, but my bike is so small it only uses 650c's, and apparently those aren't as common. I'm learning!

Anyway yeah. Sandy took tonnes of pictures at the spit so hopefully I have those up soon. In the meantime, here's a picture of my new bike:

It's an IRO Heidi. Thank you to Matt for recommending the company. I got a great deal, and it was the only place I could find a frame small enough for me (this was a 46, and it JUST fits me. I could have used a cm or two smaller). Any suggestions on what I should name her?

Here are some more pictures from the spit, including the flat tire fiasco:

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Polar Bear Club Interview!

Funny enough, I was at the bar the other day and a friend I don't see often came up and started telling me that everyone in Canada is now talking about "my" band- Polar Bear Club. I never really thought of them as "my" band, but thanks to a friend in Rochester and a lover for all things post-hardcoreish, I've been on everyone's ass about these guys since their EP and I'm glad the results are being acknowledged here! On a more serious note (since I'm sure that it has more to do with how awesome they are than how much I talk about them), here's the official unabridged version of the interview I did (and then had to seriously cut down) for Exclaim! out in March.

Polar Bear Club has seen quite a bit of attention online since the release of your EP in 2006. If we rewound 15 years and the Internet was out of the picture, how do you think things would have worked outfor you guys?

Guitarist Chris Browne: Good question! Honestly, the answer is probably "not very well." We owe so much of the "success" we've had to MySpace, message boards, email, and stuff like that. It's really weird to even think how bands attracted attention or got anything done before all of this. We probably still would have toured around and played shows and had a good time, but things definitely would not have gone as well for us. We'd probably still be struggling to fill holes every time we left our hometown, and we'd be playing for 5 friends instead of a bunch of people that want to hear us. I feel like mainstream media tends to focus on the negative effects of the internet on artists and labels lately; so much time is spent discussing how the industry is losing money because of people "stealing" music. But for a band of our size and genre, it has really done nothing but great things; people can just stumble across our site and hear songs, and if they like them they can download more and tell their friends. Sure, CD sales for a lot of bands have declined, but for us they've increased a ton from the very same technology. Not to mention, we're so fortunate that people took notice and decided to HELP us by spreading the word via internet. Otherwise, we wouldn't be able to benefit from sheer laziness the way we do.

Your new album is coming out on Red Leader Records this month. Where did the name "Sometimes Things Just Disappear" come from?

We were in the studio and having a really tough time coming up with a memorable/cool/meaningful name that we could all agree on. Actually, pretty much the only thing we EVER agree on is that Taco Bell rules. So we were well in the midst of a competition amongst ourselves that we affectionately dubbed the "Taco Bell Challenge," during which we all tried to eat one of every single item on the menu over the course over our studio time. As you could probably guess, no one finished and we were all pretty miserable for having tried. But one of the days when some of the guys went to order some tacos, they had a really huge order and were a little short on money, and they had a pretty awkward encounter with a really slick 17 year-old manager guy in a suit who turned out to be one of the best individuals any of us have ever encountered. Our old bass player, Greg, was trying to order his Mexican Pizza and was surprised at the price, and told the manager he was which our hero replied, "you know what? Sometimes things just disappear..." and proceeded to take out a mysterious card and swipe it, giving Greg all of his food for free. Manager dude...if you read this, we love you, and sorry if this gets you fired.

How would you compare your full length to your EP?

It's really tough to compare the two, honestly. I'm personally proud of both of them and enjoy them for different reasons. The member changes in between the two created some different chemistry in both the songwriting and in the studio itself for sure. I think that the full length in general was just more of a collaborative process that we all really invested a lot of time and effort into, while the EP was a bit more individually dominated. In terms of music or genre differences, I really have no idea how to explain it and would hope people will listen for themselves and enjoy them both for what they are. We tried some new things on the full length, but the one constant is that we've always been really genuine about what we're trying to do, and the music always gets us really psyched. So there may be some stylistic differences, but I don't think any of it was consciously decided. It was a very natural progression and we're really happy with what came out and can't wait to do more.

It seems like most new bands tour pretty heavily following an albumrelease. Are more shows in the cards of PBC in the near future?

Unfortunately, we are not most bands in this respect. PBC is something we all do for fun, and we get a ton of enjoyment out of it, but given where we all are in our lives right now its just not feasible to do a ton of heavy touring. We've all agreed on our level of activity and are really happy with it for the time being, so we'll continue to do as much as we can in the time we have. We all have work and/or school commitments and are kind of geographically scattered as well, so its never easy, but we've always made it work. We did a quick tour in December and January around when the pre-orders came out, and we have a couple awesome weekends with some shows we're REALLY excited about coming up in April. After that, we'll probably be laying low until the late summer, when we're planning on going out for a couple weeks. It's kind of a bummer, but it makes us really appreciate when we can do things together.

It would seem like almost an injustice for this album not to be released on vinyl. Is this something that is likely to happen?

Yes! We're working out details as this is being written. True to form, we're totally disorganized and can only blame ourselves, but it will definitely be coming out on vinyl sooner or later and we can't wait for that. It's cool that people seem to want this to happen, for sure.

Your sound gets compared to lots of late 90s and early 00s post hardcore bands that seemed to saturate the market up until the last few years. Was timing a concern at all when you began releasing music?

Actually, absolutely not. I know your question wasn't meant in this way, but had that been a concern for us, it would have gone completely against what we want this band to be about. When we started writing and releasing stuff it was purely for fun and because we wanted to play music we liked, for us and irrespective of anyone who might be judging. It's really awesome that we've been lucky enough to have some good timing and find people who are reviving their interest in our style of music, whether its considered a throwback or something new. But for us, we've always just wanted to do stuff we were into, and our songs are as much an outgrowth of our own experiences and old bands as they are a product of timing. As things go better and more people seem to care, its sometimes hard to remember that, but we really try and we want people to know that we do this for the same reason as everyone else plays in bands or goes to shows; music is fun and we love doing it, and anyone besides us being into it is purely a bonus.

AND FINALLY! Look out for the April 26th show with Polar Bear Club, Arietta and some other bands at Sneaky Dee's in Toronto! For details.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chuck Ragan, Ben Nichols, Josh English... Chicago Night 1

Finally getting around to updating about chicago two weeks late. I've been having to keep busy at work and discovered when it comes to my free time I'm way lazier than I thought. Anyway, we arrived in Chicago on Thursday just in time for snow to make it incredibly frustrating and difficult to get downtown. When we finally got there, we were just in time for the show, which was at a venue called Schubas. Honestly, this venue was built for this show. I don't know what it was- the wood floors, high ceilings, slightly dilapidated stage.. but the environment couldn't be better.

Josh English has already started when we arrived. He didn't blow me away. The fact that his drummer was playing a bass drum case that sounded surprisingly amazing did though.

And then there was Ben Nichols. Oh Ben.

If someone had asked me if I enjoyed Ben or Chuck better that night, I don't know if I could have chose. His set was incredibly interactive and he played almost any Lucero song the crowd requested; and yes, even the Kiss the Bottle Jawbreaker Cover. Here are some photos an videos:

I was really surprised/excited that not only did Chuck play some acoustic Hot Water Music songs, but he also did some Rumbleseat songs.

The only thing that would have made Chuck's set better would have been him playing Restless as well. He borrowed Ben's lap steel guitarist and the violinist from Whisky and Co. and while the songs were a bit simpler than on record, they were still crazy. Chuck is definitely one of the most emotional performers I've ever seen.

Anyway, later that night we went and saw Able Baker Fox, and Saturday was the HWM show. I'll blog about those soon, I promise.

Friday, February 8, 2008

I'll have more pictures of videos from this past weekend soon. I promise.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Able Baker Fox - Voices

It's not hard to tell that I am a huge Small Brown Bike fan. I have been since I was in early high school, and so it should be obvious to assume that in light of their 2004 breakup, I was incredibly excited to learn almost randomly that previous members of Small Brown Bike had joined together with Nathan Ellis of Casket Lottery to form Able Baker Fox and released a full length LP entitled 'Voices'.

My liking of this band went through three phases:

1) Absolutely ecstatic. I loved it. It sounded like Small Brown Bike and it was new.
2) A bit confused. It wasn't quite Small Brown Bike and it almost just made me miss them more.
3) And finally, I came to terms that this wasn't Small Brown Bike. It wasn't Casket Lottery...

Able Baker Fox have a songwriting style that has dynamics which are at points vastly different than their connected projects, while still falling in the post-hardcore/emo realm of their pasts. The shining point of this project is definitely the triple vocals. With an impressive range of style, the contrasting vocals in songs like 'Stuttering' should be enough to sell anyone on ABF. Once you get over the 1-2 songs on 'Voices' that sound like 'River Bed' album rejects, it's easy to appreciate the songs that are unique and unexpected. Songs like 'Folding Pocket Blades' impress with tinges of 90s alternative, whereas 'Whispering' seems to mould the styles of both previous efforts into tamer expression of emotion with a solid hook that resonates through the albums end.

I would post MP3s for everyone but they've made it easy for us all. Stream the whole album here:

On a side note, I will be in Chicago this Thurs/Fri for not only Able Baker Fox but Hot Water Music, Lucero (and their respective solo side projects) as well as Milwaukee for Dillinger Four. Expect cool stuff when I return.

Friday, January 25, 2008


My interest in all things Chuck Ragan has been admittedly amplified by my excitement for my upcoming weekend in Chicago. This also means my attention is being given to projects like Rumbleseat, who I sometimes feel don't get enough attention. Featuring Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard as well as Samantha Jones, Rumbleseat played a fairly straight forward acoustic-folk style complete with covers from Johnny Cash, Don Gibson and Tex Ritter. The thematic content across their discography is not very dynamic; if a song isn't about drinking, it's probably about love/loss. I wouldn't want it any other way, either.

Story time: About 4 years ago a friend of mine on the east coast burnt me a pile of CDs for my 22 hour bus ride home. Among those was a 19 song "complete discography" of the band Rumbleseat. I had heard all the stories of this release being delayed, and at this point, it still hadn't officially surfaced. I retained those 19 files over the years and just recently realized that only 12 of them were ever released when No Idea released the discography entitled 'Rumbleseat is Dead'. Some extensive searching awarded me with the names to a few of the better tracks, but I have still yet to figure out where exactly they came from. I'm choosing to share two of my favourite today, and I would very much love it if anyone who listens to these happens to know or discover anything about them that they share that information with me.

Rumbleseat- Love Song

Rumbleseat- What Do You Say