Three Things (Tuesday March 21 2017)

#1 – The Extremely Nerdy Music Science Behind Why You Love Drake’s “Passionfruit” (Noisey)

Looks like this week’s gonna be an ALL DRAKE ALL THE TIME kinda week. Dude has apparently beaten a number of streaming records, added fuel to the Drake x Jennifer Lopez dumpster fire (sampling J. Lo may have been a little too on-the-nose, really) and big upped UK rappers like Skepta, Dave and Giggs on More Life.

One of the more interesting pieces to emerge over the last few days, however, is a scientific explanation behind why one would perhaps enjoy More Life cut “Passionfruit”. The dancehall-flavoured song’s chord progressions can cause listeners’ bones to rise up and spontaneously dance. Now we know why.

#2Female Bonding: The Strange History of Wonder Woman (Bitch magazine)

While the internet’s all up in arms about the apparent de-fuzzification of Gal Gadot’s armpits in the new Wonder Woman trailer, I’d much rather explore the interesting origins of the superhero’s creations more than five decades ago. Bitch magazine’s feature from a decade ago is as pertinent a read as ever.

#3Angels & Demons (St. Petersburg Times via LongForm.org)

Undoubtedly one of the best longreads I’ve had the pleasure of sitting with in a long time, this piece about the murder of a mother and her two daughters while on vacation in Florida is a masterclass in feature-writing. At times heart-wrenching and deeply moving, this October 1997 piece remains a solid piece of journalism almost two decades on.

Advertisements

Three Things (Friday March 17 2017)

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Three Things, a short list of three interesting items found around the internet.

#1Why Rock Can’t Compete With Hip-Hop In 2017 (Genius)

The staff (geniuses?) over at lyric storing house Genius recently dropped an article outlining an argument as to why hip-hop dominates today’s landscape – because it can sound like anything it damn well pleases. An intriguing opinion that definitely has points for and against it.

People have also been proclaiming that rock’s been dead for years (exhibit A / exhibit B / exhibit C, to name a few), so there’s some food for thought.

#2Why We Can’t Give South Asian Artists Who Say The N-Word A Pass (The Fader)

Anupa Mistry over at The Fader details some of the problematic language that recent XO Records signee NAV has been using as part of his music. The Cultural Studies student part of me is eating this shit up like it’s going out of style.

#3An Open Letter to Kendrick Lamar (DJ Booth)

This article over on DJ Booth finds Montreal artist (and all-around good guy) Jonathan Emile penning an open letter to Top Dawg Entertainment / Kendrick Lamar about a verse for a track that Emile had paid TDE for some years back. Seems like JE is getting fed up of getting what’s rightfully his. Let’s hope TDE comes around – the track in question (‘Heaven Help Dem’) is pretty solid, check it out here.

BONUS – A video for your weekend

I’ve always been fascinated by people who speedrun videogames. I remember downloading silent .wmv files over a decade ago, watching people both play in real-time and use tool-assisted programs in order to achieve what some thought impossible.

Youtube user Summoning Salt has begun chronicling the evolution of speedruns from some of the most popular communities. Check out his video about the evolution of the SNES game Super Metroid below.

Suicide Silence – Suicide Silence (A Review)

SuicideSilenceCover

2017 has seen some shit, my friend. From the stellar to the strange, the landscape for heavy  music this year has run the full gamut and we’re not even through our third month.

Apart from some great releases from Code Orange, Iron Reagan, Kreator and Power Trip, we’ve also seen the likes of Emmure, Six Feet Under and Sepultura drop hohum albums that neither add nor detract to their respective legacies (In the case of the Emmure, the term “legacy” is used loosely. This is, after all, a band that dropped a song called ‘Bring A Gun To School’.)

Included in this pack of new entrants to the 2017 Metal Pool For Your Listener Consideration is Suicide Silence’s fifth full-length (and second with singer Eddie Hermida), aptly named… Suicide Silence.

The pre-album release of the song ‘Doris‘ indicated a definite shift away from the general chugga-chugga that defines this deathcore band. The backlash from their fanbase was immediate; the off-key vocals on the chorus and the tempo of the song weren’t kvlt enough for the diehards. The band doubled down on their defence of the track (and ergo the album) through the press, and release day was a true day of reckoning for the band. The album has sold less than its predecessor – first-week sales were down 69% compared to 2014’s You Can’t Stop Me.

I profess that Suicide Silence is not a band I actively listen to – I’ve largely stayed away from the band over the last decade or so – barring the occasional detour into Youtube search territory to hear tracks like ‘Witness The Addiction‘, their 2011 collaboration with Jon Davis (of Korn) off of The Black Crown, which also had the creatively-titled ‘Fuck Everything‘ and ‘You Only Live Once‘ on the tracklist.

I first became aware of their presence due to the proliferation of scene kids wearing their (in)famous “Pull The Trigger Bitch” shirt in the late ‘00s. (Amusing sidenote: The best associated Internet Thing™ I’ve seen about this shirt is an old thread over at the Ultimate Guitar forums where a poster asks if it’s illegal to wear the shirt due to “I don’t want cops or anything to think it’s supporting Terrorists for any reason.”) This sort of merch is certainly eye-grabbing and visceral, but also a turn-off to anyone over the age of 16.

With that out of the way, back to our regularly-scheduled review. Recorded by nu-metal godfather Ross Robinson to analog tape, the album’s got a lot of surprises to it that stray from the deathcore norm. Decidedly, two of the biggest of these surprises: 1) Hermida’s decision to go for clean singing all over the place and 2) the lack of proper song structure, choosing to go with emotion over order. The second point is the album’s largest upside, while the first point is decidedly its biggest weak point. I understand that Hermida feels a desire to better express himself through other forms of singing and were he a better classically-trained singer then I could definitely appreciate what he’s trying to do. Instead, his (mostly) on-key singing displays a punk-like DIY attitude to it. While I can mostly respect the ‘Can Do’ attitude, it doesn’t mean that I have to cotton to its actual performance.

Apart from the aforementioned singing, the album’s instrumentation most liberally borrows from metalish projects that were popular 15-20 years ago – the song ‘Listen’ has guitar tones that wouldn’t be out of place on Korn’s 1996 outing Life Is Peachy. The bass tone also pays strict homage in this respect: ‘Run‘ and ‘The Zero‘ display Fieldy-like touches.

The band also borrow liberally from another prior Robinson project: the merry masked men of Slipknot. Suicide Silence’s ability to mimic latter-day ‘knot (oh yes I did indeed do that) on tracks like ‘Conformity’ does indeed distance themselves from the deathcore pack – it includes an honest-to-goodness reverbed out guitar solo and ample clean vocals.

Some have argued that this band is aiming for the rock radio brass ring; while some of these tracks could do well there, they’re definitely not positioning themselves as the new Five Finger Death Punch – the material is almost too obtuse to be considered for playlisting.

Music listeners are often great examples of walking contradictions: they often want bands to break out of their genre boxes and explore new avenues but when an act does decide to do that then they take to their keyboards in all caps protestation through comment sections across the web.

It’s not a coincidence that the band has decided to self-title this album; it certainly is a new beginning of sorts. Consider this as Suicide Silence growing up, begrudgingly. Listening to it is certainly an adventure and has features that their previous albums do not share. It’s certainly worth at least one full listen to before passing judgment on whether this is career suicide or a hidden masterpiece.

Apartment Hierarchy

My apartment currently holds a very singular, very distinct hierarchy.

Think of it, if you will, as a tiny ecosystem where I am both deity and participant. And where there is a careful negotiation of space. A delicate balance, as it were.

The hierarchy goes as follows:

1) Me
2) The cat
3) The Blu-ray player

Obviously, I find myself at the top of the list for a few reasons. The first is that I am the sole breadwinner in this little entanglement; no matter how many times I politely ask my cat to get a job, she just continues to lick her butthole then stretch out like an accordion. I’m the one who keeps the lights on, who ensures that there is food (of both the cat and human kind) stocked. I allow my kingdom to prosper as a benevolent ruler should. I dictate which doors remain open/closed, as well as how many lights should be turned on.

For a nominal fee a month, I live in relative peace. My three-room apartment is my sanctuary, my storage space. It is where my collection of well-thumbed, time-worn paperbacks about UFOs remains. It is where my washed socks comingle with my shirts, and where my dishes remain.

Second on the list is the cat. My right-hand person in all apartment matters. Errant piece of paper on the living room table? She’s (literally) on it. There’s an ant marching? She will closely inspect it, using her snout as an advance scout. She’ll let me know if there are people at the door by either running towards or away from it, depending on how she feels. When I am gone, she gets to be in charge of the apartment’s official gun, which is in fact just a piece of cardboard with the word POW written on it. She gets select food scraps depending on my mood. She is also a heat lamp of sorts when I am reading in the evening, and her discarded fur could in theory be packed together to create some kind of cat-powered duvet, should I ever reach that point. She still refuses to answer correspondences I forward to her, however, and that’s also why she’s listed as the second most-important figure. She also harbours low-level revolutionary tendencies, as indicated by the time I found her sitting and listening to ‘I Just Can’t Wait To Be King‘ while biting at the corners of a picture of me that had fallen from a pile of recently-viewed photos resting on a living room credenza.

At the bottom of the list is my Blu-ray player. It feeds into my cinephile tendencies and requires little more than some electricity and some batteries for the remote. It allows me to view gloriously trashy cinema alongside the greats. I pair up Slime City with Sunset Boulevard, The Human Centipede 3 with Giant. I’ll sometimes do one of Jess Franco’s strangely surreal horror flicks alongside Seven Samurai. And the Blu-ray player spins them all effortlessly. It doesn’t ask much of me, but its existence is nearly singular, too. I can’t ask the Blu-ray to talk to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, or call for pizza. I can’t ask it to summarize what kinds of alternate facts exist for particular current affairs. It can’t even remember my name properly.

The reason that the player ranks below my cat is that my cat is able to (accidentally) control the player’s behaviour through judiciously stepping on the remote while trying to reach some nook of my apartment. The cat does not give one whole fuck about the Blu-Ray player, except when it ejects a disc. Then she’ll eyeball it as if it were someone ringing the doorbell and give it the sneer it deserves.