Author Archive

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.

You just can’t knock that soul: Subway Joe

Posted in Not Riffs with tags , on March 7, 2018 by Ben

Hot, hot shit.


Platypus: Sleaford Mods

Posted in Not Riffs with tags , , on March 6, 2018 by Ben

Music is a constantly evolving beast, mutating outwards from its primitive origins in eccentric spirals. As time, technology and culture progressed, music kept pace, fragmenting and crystallizing along a thousand different paths. Since I already call myself a tenant in the derelict and frequently condemned hostel that houses a majority of music that people consider unlistenable noise, I have found that this have given me a much more open temperament to some of the more esoteric evolution’s music has brought forth.

Sleaford Mods have already blown up (They’re in a The Prodigy song. Shit, The Prodigy are still making music?) but are a recent discovery for myself. In terms of platypus-esque evolution, these guys rank damn near the top, with a caustically unique sound that strains the relationship with what you can argue as music versus noise. Their music is as simple and unpretentious as pain; vaguely melodic electronic loops used as propulsive wallpaper for the seething vitriol shout-sung in a thick fucking accent. I can’t help but think of a lyric from Future of the Left; “Our survey says that shouting inanities in a regional accent is valuable to culture. Look at Eastenders, Soccer AM or the Queen’s Speech.”

A weird evolution of slam poetry, lo-fi electronic and punk politics that just works. It’s an angry everyman howling about life and things that piss him off, things that more’n likely piss you off too. The burly accent is a large part as well, one part that’s totally dependant on your preference and background. Raised in Canada, this album hits my ears a certain way but for UK native it probably hits different. The accent is defining feature yes, but only if it sounds like an accent to you, it’s a non-issue if you’re from that part of the world. Usually I wouldn’t waste breath on dissecting this idea but when an accent being used like a lead guitar you have to have this conversation.

They’ve released 10 albums since 2007, you can find one down below along with the video for “Tied Up In Nottz” that spawned this whole spiel.

Rowdy Elegance: Charles Mingus – Blues & Roots

Posted in Not Riffs with tags , on March 2, 2018 by Ben

I am tired. In lieu of any effort on my part, please enjoy one of my all-time favourite jazz albums from the crazed perfectionist himself, Charles Mingus.