Posted in News and Information, Riffs with tags on April 17, 2018 by Ben

If the bare, howling tundra of my recent blog posts hasn’t been enough of a clue, I’ve been occupied by others for the last little while. Probably the next little while too. Call it a seasonal slump if you will, or just accept the fact I’m both lazy, inconsistent and un-motivated. A real catch.

Anyway, while we’re not quite at the point where I would be dragging this old dog behind the wood shed, I’d be lying if I didn’t have the shotgun loaded and polished. Y’know, just in case.

Until next time.

Wrong released a new album. Loud, guttural, dense anvil-pounding knuckle-draggers.


Missing Links: Oh Sees – Orc

Posted in Riffs with tags , , on March 26, 2018 by Ben

There are a lot of blank spots in my musical background. Empty slots in the bookshelf left by classic bands I’ve never been pointed back to or contemporaries that I’ve just passed by. This is probably due to my spastic choices of music, as I pick and poke my way forward I always end up missing some choice morsels on the carcass. However, this does have one benefit in that I keep finding exciting surprises when I expect them the least, like for example, Orc.

Depending on how you’re counting, Orc is the twentieth (!!!) album from the current band that happens to have John Dwyer in it, or as it was released, the Oh Sees. The reason I seem to be dancing around semantics is because this band has also gone by OCSThe Ohsees, The Oh Sees and Thee Oh Sees. Psychotics, clearly, who can’t let a person have a straightforward album collection.

Leaning back over to the blank spots I mentioned earlier – this band is one of them. I had heard of them in passing but always passed on for whatever reason. As such, I’m taking Orc completely at face value, with no history or predisposition to the band. I don’t know how this album fits in with an established sound, or if it’s derivative of older albums. I don’t need to know any of that though because god damn, this album has got the juice.

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Half-assed Show Reports: Spectral Voice & Primitive Man @ Lee’s Palace

Posted in Random Riffage with tags , , , , , on March 26, 2018 by Ben

After a frigid walk that felt more like December than spring, my companion and I arrived at the venue just as the nights opener, Minors, were about halfway through their set. There were a decent amount of bodies in attendance already, which is nice to see after going to so many shows where the opening band has to wail away at an empty room. They played a good set, going through their own hybrid of hardcore and powerviolence with plenty of proficiency. Their most recent album was Atrophy, released last December, you can check that out below.

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Bone and Blood: Idles – Brutalism

Posted in Riffs with tags , , , , on March 17, 2018 by Ben

My faith in music is very transient. While there are plenty of euphoric moments, more often than not those quickly fade into memory, leaving my enthusiasm to stutter and calcify. This is followed by a long, slow fall into silent apathy, where I struggle to ignite excitement for anything musical, regardless of genre or age. These are bleak periods, ashen fucking wastes of dry cardboard and inane radio chatter. I stumble through these spells, hoping to find a new sound, something urgent and mentally violent, a blazing neon star that will shatter my pitiful reverie and wake me the fuck up. Several albums have done this for me in the past but few with the same degree of emotion and propulsion as Brutalism.

Image result for brutalism idles

I don’t maintain a social media presence (unless blogging to an audience of ten counts) and as such, tend to be several months behind albums that have already blown up and been devoured by the public hordes. I’m the lazy vulture, waddling over to the carcass after even the maggots have had their fill, slurping up whatever grease and sinew remains. Such is the case for the debut album from Idles, released last March to near universal acclaim that has already got them on a label and a sold-out set of North American shows (The current sold-out Toronto show is at Hard Luck, which makes sense for a band this size. However, the show was originally booked at the Smiling Buddha – a tiny venue that usually hosts locals. Whoever booked it there was either insane or a genius). With no background, no predispositions from the hype-machine in my subconscious, this album came crashing down on me like a tonne of liquid concrete.

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Benzedrine Dreams: Vypers – Champion 100

Posted in Riffs with tags , on March 15, 2018 by Ben

I find our long relationship with drugs and chemicals fascinating. For many years during our rapid industrialisation we had random concoctions brewing in labs, usually for nefarious ends. This synthesized magic was quickly adopted for whatever use it served best, spread among the population as quickly as the creaking infrastructure could handle it.

Now here is where these new substances could fall down two very different paths. The first path was the one of wanton greed, where company science men had found out their wonderful chemical child was actually quite bad for you (see; asbestos, lead, mercury, thalidomide et all) but the powers that be kept pumping that shit to you until enough people got fed up with the deformed babies.

The second path, the left hand path if you will, was when The Man eventually realized that certain chemicals were just too much fun. People could abuse these things, we should ban them for public safety, said they. So all these commonly available ways to spend a Saturday night became relegated to back alley street deals and confidential laboratories, like for example, the euphoric decongestant Benzedrine.

Vypers are one of Toronto’s garage rock alumni, a fashionable quartet providing venues with sweaty crowds and a wholehearted embrace of drugs, rock ‘n’ roll and more’n likely, sex. Flashy and tight, like a glitter-greased leotard sashaying through your amphetamine haze.

Champion 100 is their newest release, an EP of 4 tracks, some of which had been released previously (“Deepsave” & “Mr.Girl”) and others that are (probably?) new. All amble close to their established sound of lethargic, blissed-out melodies and a heavy stomping on the pedal board. While Vypers may exert the illusion of careless talent and impersonal fluidity, quiet frankly, you don’t write songs this tight without giving a damn.

This is a strong release, wiry, coked-up, unpredictable strength – princely glamour that would happily kick your knees in if you toyed with it wrong. A dexterous balancing act of memorable choruses (“Reaper”) and hazy instrumentals (“Deepsave”), they are more than capable of punching beyond the weight class of “psych” and shoving themselves some room around their contemporaries.

You can find Champion 100, along with their other release on Bandcamp and you can check them out at a show in Toronto whenever the mood strikes you.

Well I Never: Sitcom Free Jazz

Posted in Awesome Things with tags , on March 15, 2018 by Ben

By default I think the internet is a shithole. As a lifelong pessimist (Thanks Mom!) I am inclined to find myself blinded by the vast, septic savannas of bullshit that make up most things in the 21st century. But even in the most toxic of suppositories, there’s usually something with a little shine that you can pick out of the murk.

Like for example, a dexterous percussionist rambling on with a free jazz solo to a classic monologue from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Not something I can say I’ve ever considered, nor something that I would have thought could be so amusing. But here we are, and there you are, and there he is.

Let’s Wander: Middle Man Demo and FEAR on SNL in ’81

Posted in Random Riffage with tags , , , , , on March 15, 2018 by Ben

I’ve been moving around and not spending much time at home over the past couple weeks, hence the lack of posting. I’ve been generally treading through re-listens or digging up well-known classics instead of trawling through all that hot new shit Bandcamp has to offer. Even today, I’m not finding much that has got me clawing at the plaster but I’ve got a couple portions to dispense.

Whores are responsible for this discovery, as they posted up “Lets Have a War” by punk legends FEAR. This led to that and several related videos later I ended up on a video of FEAR playing Saturday Night Live on Halloween, 1981. As all this occurred a decade before I was born it was new to me but apparently, John Belushi hisself booked FEAR to come on SNL since they had written a single for his upcoming movie Neighbours that was derided by the movies producers, so booking them on SNL was an attempt to make things right.

Suffice it to say, letting a real life group of rotten hoodlums on national TV backfired as you would expect such an idea to go. Although, kudos to SNL at the time, since they brought in an audience of regular punks to have FEAR play before, almost like they wanted one of those shifty-eyed bastards to fuck the whole thing up. Conspiracy I say! So after barrelling through 3 songs in something like five minutes, some disreputable bastard grabbed a mic and got some profanity on air, knee-jerking the censors into cutting the performance short and shelving the footage for years. Even now, the film that eventually got released is only a truncated version of the full set.

Some 30-odd years later, this serves as a showcase and cultural touchstone of both 80’s hardcore and golden-era, coked to the tits SNL (Cumon’ Donald, at least try to paw at your nose for leftover blow before you introduce the band). In 10-ish years of going to shows I’ve seen some nights that have come close to an 80’s stage brawl but nothing to top one yet.

Rambling inwards, I got a new demo I would like point your attentions towards in yonder streaming widget below.

Recently I’ve been sorting Bandcamp by local new releases (gotta keep that hype close to home) in effort to find a sick new artist that I can then go see for $5 whenever the hell I want. So, Middle Man. Noisy fucking bullshit very much in the vein of my treasured trolls, witchface. A reduction boiled down too far, burning the bottom of the pan with leftover slime from your reptile brain purring in pleasure. Scream more, think later.

And that you cretins, is all.