I am waiting at the audiologist’s office to have my hearing checked. I made this appointment six months ago (that’s how it is in Canada…free but takes forever) so I better find out that my hearing is amazing (they will probably tell me it is damaged, that I have tinnitus, too much wax, etc).
Anyhow I am perusing my Google Alerts and see this one:
“Where Investment Bankers Go To Get Back in Touch By Aaron Tucker
(This critique is not just directed at Do Make Say Think; most bands that played the mainstage struggled a bit to maintain any momentum, including audience-passive The Dears. In fact, this was the second time Torontoist has seen The …”
I’ve seen the Torontoist before and have heard that it is a great blog. Actually this is the first Dears poke I’ve seen on it, so I was compelled to get the link and read the whole story. The quote: “…most bands that played the mainstage struggled a bit to maintain any momentum, including audience-passive The Dears. In fact, this was the second time Torontoist has seen The Dears live and we’ve now come to the sneaky suspicion that the group doesn’t really care for audiences.” OK, just for a minute here before I go off: the expression is “sneaking suspicion.” Next, This is the type of comment that totally makes be crazy, mainly because it is narrow minded and totally a personal opinion (see To Review or Not To Review). Man, its short and cutting and lame. I think this attitude that all bands should pander to their audiences, tell them about merch, the name of the band, act like a musical infommercial is bogus. It works for some bands but doesn’t mean that its gonna work for The Dears. Our set gets so intense muscially on stage that there’s no time, no room for pleasantries. Its like if you’re making out with someone you think is really hot, you’re not going to stop making out to say: “Wow, you’re really hot.” Its just a pointless thing for someone to say.
Anyway, I’m all done at the audiologist’s and my hearing is totally fine. It’s above average, in fact. So it’s proven then: earplugs work. Use them at rock shows. Point finale.
When Murray and I actually have a chance to go to the theatre, it is inevitably to see something with lots of explosions. Our last outing was no exception: we went to see Transformers (or as our friend Renaud would say, “Transformatateurs”). There were a lot of explosions and explosive moments, and some action sequences were so CGI’d that I was just like: “I have no idea what is going on right now.”
The big debate around here was whether or not they would use the signature “onh…onh..awn..awn…enh” sound effect when the robots (in disguise) came out of their disguise. They busted it out a couple times, but they created something more 2007, more refined and less annoying, considering it was used like dozens of times during the movie. Also, slightly disappointing was that they didn’t use the original cartoon theme song. I would have expected – in keeping with today’s genre – a Linkin Park version of “Transformers…robots in disguise! Nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh nuh…the Decepticons!” with overly processed guitars and big, super-compressed drums.
Anyhow, the theatre was full of thirty-year old dudes with their reluctant girlfriends. I mean, I watched the cartoons when I was a kid and I even had a Bumblebee toy (actually I thought the other transformer toys were too complicated to transform, and Bumblebee was more at my level…it transformed in like three moves). Transformers is a movie for grown kids, for men to relive their youth, and give each other high fives and exclaim: “Wicked!” for no other reason than that the movie is wicked.
This movie is like Terminator 3 mixed with Spiderman and a little Matrix. Perfectly entertaining and completely mindless.
Krief is a prolific writer. He’s always got something on the go, always working on some new riff at Dears soundchecks. Aside from being the best guitar player I know, he is remarkably talented, and wears his influences well. Take it or Leave is mellow, a sort of mix of George Harrison, Air, Coldplay and well, Krief. The production is clean and doesn’t hide anything or pretend to be more than it is. From the inside, I know he agonized over who should sing his songs; once he gave Murray some demos that Krief sang on himself and they were the best tracks we’d ever heard. Highlights from the record include the dark, piano-led “La Vérité” and the messy, energetic “What We Wanted.” The album leaves off with the hopeful acoustic and Mellotron track “In This World,” perfect for lying in the grass either getting wasted or just holding hands. That’s the genius dichotomy behind Kreif.
Being a mother, or an otherwise normal with dull job, restricts the amount of “going out” time allowed. Between real-life responsibilities and early-morning wake-up cries, the life of the party seems less and less important. The extra effort to organise a stepping out this past Sunday was made for my favourite band because I thought it was necessary. One thing I admire about Air is their high regard for production: they are true and pure to their music. Their records always sound amazing and flawless, and the four or five times I’ve seen them live I’ve been either blown away or moved to tears. This most recent Montreal appearance had all the makings for another such performance and it was super. Simple lights that made white-suited Jean-Benoit Dunckel and Nicolas Godin seem to glow on stage (check out my crappy photo below). I respect the one million touring analogue keyboards, manned delightfully, with nothing but a poised air of confidence by Dunckel. He is my inspiration! I love you J-B! There is no ego up there: half the time he is not even playing the leads (my second favourite keyboardist lurks in the shadows, I think he is the long-haired Dave Palmer: his licks are so dead on it’s scary). Anyhow, that’s how it should be, just making the songs happen. No smiles necessary. The weaknesses of this gig were very nerdy: the sound wasn’t so hot. Its as if the PA wasn’t loud enough; the drums sounded like we were hearing the snare off the stage instead of through the PA (that said, the drummer was pretty weak…the last Montreal show was more mind-blowing because the drummer was frigging amazing…this must have been a different guy). So the snare sounded like crap and the mix was weird at times, therefore not moving me to tears at all. It was still fun. Afterwards we went for a poutine at Frites Dorée. The end.
I like Jade. I’d heard some rough mixes of the material on her EP, but I’d never actually sat and listened to the songs. After a good listen, I was amazed by the strength of her voice and the maturity of her song writing style. Her songs have a cabaret-style playfulness, like a liberated, unstuffy Rufus Wainwright meets a pop Gonzales Piano Solos. Knowing some of her collaborators so closely, I could hear their influence on the arrangement side. Especially Murray’s signature guitar chops and leads on “Christmas Eve,” and Chris’ synth-stylings tucked neatly into every corner. It was fun to listen to, and “Life in Grey” has been running in my head for a couple days now. The closing track, “Comedian,” I thought was nicely dark and intense; initially I thought it should have come sooner on the EP but realised that I liked the effect, that it left me with something to think about, left me wondering what would be next. Now if I could just find a babysitter I’d love to see her next show.
The other night I was talking with Jade about how I used to be a music writer, and how when The Dears started to get serious, I found myself unable to write about music. It was a dilemma: who did I think I was, having the right to critique other people’s music? What would my rating scale be? Would everything be compared to The Dears (obviously the best band ever)? Doesn’t that guy from Death Cab write about music? But it forces the questions: What effect does that have on the conscience? Would it cause sleepless nights? Or painful confrontations after shows or during soundcheck? I was inspired when I heard Alex Kapranos from Franz Ferdinand had a column of restaurant reviews from a touring musician’s perspective. That’s genius! At any rate, here I am, surrounded by musicians and friends and strangers putting out records and I’m torn: should I review them? Well, I think I’m going to do it. I’m diving back in, head first, eyes closed, into shallow water. Please let me know if I’ve lost it completely.
P.S. Something I hate is how music writers make album reviews somehow about themselves. It fails to show any professionalism, especially when these kinds of reviews appear in reputable, influential media (I’m struggling to bite my tongue and not give references!). That said, this is not a reputable media source, so I grant myself license to write about myself when talking about music.