Wrap-Up Report July 2018

point one: this is very late.

point two: this is very salty, even for me.

i had to scrap the format of good and bad songs because it was a very very dry second half of july. there is only one OK entry in the following post, and it’s for a song i’ve already talked about.

yes, that means what you think it means. there has not been one single good song released in almost a month. if you are looking for recommendations here you will mostly find songs i recommend you avoid. ok, saltiness commence.

* One thing I like about having this little blog tucked away in a dark corner of the web is that I’m not beholden to anyone. I don’t have to lie through gritted teeth about how much I love a jangly upstart Toronto band, raving about how they’re the next big thing. Not the same for hipster websites who constantly have to push certain indie artists to generate content and to maintain credibility, saving their hILaRiOus vitriolic sass for mainstream artists whose labels don’t pay the bills.

Making the rounds now is some guy who goes by the name Hilang Child, and plays boring U2/Coldplay wannabe stadium music that sounds like The Boxer Rebellion (who I will really be ragging on them today but trust me they deserve it because they are really bad.)

Anyway, my point is that Hilang Child does not deserve any hype. He makes bad music.


* I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t mention that the Death Cab for Cutie track I was so excited for (“I Dreamt We Spoke Again”) is a prime example of the “extra minute of pointless instrumental tacked on the end” trend of 2018. I’m also not the biggest fan of the dissonant xylophone that pops up occasionally, but the rest of the song is strong enough to make up for these two missteps. There’s some neat additional drums that flutter in on the chorus that weren’t present in the previously released live version of the track, and the harmonies are a lot fuller than they were on that recording as well. It’s not one of Death Cab’s all-time greats, but it is an overall enjoyable listen.


*It was 2009 that Canadian group Metric swung for the big leagues and hit home run after home run with their album Fantasies, consistently delivering decent material in the years afterward. Unfortunately he law of diminishing returns set in, and their stadium ambitions led to increasingly worse singles.

New song “Dark Saturday” is a return to the scrappy indie rock the band played prior to 2009, it’s the best move they could have made at this point. Going bigger and bigger wasn’t working anymore, so naturally a back-to-basics move was the right direction to go in.

Here’s the thing though: I was not a fan of the band or their style before 2009.

But ironically, even though I don’t like the song, I like the fact that it exists. I like that I don’t like it. It’s nostalgic to return to a point where I was not a fan of Metric.


* I’ve written more about Imagine Dragons than is healthy so I won’t beleaguer this point, but it must be said that they’ve finally achieved commercial immortality. After a rough sophomore slump, they bounced back with their third album and can now pump out generic jock jams to their heart’s delight. They are the new Train, the new Lifehouse, and will pack arenas until the end of their days. Latest single “Natural” is a bold statement: we can put out anything at this point and some radio station will play it. Eventually their songs will be relegated to lite music stations but it doesn’t matter anymore, they can coast on filler forever. Filler like this song that sounds like a Disney villain version of every single other song of theirs.


* Listening to the first minute “Southbound”, the lead track off the new Brothers of North record Dope + Affection, I got pretty excited. It sounded almost like an accessible take on post-rock, a long underappreciated genre that I would love to see in the spotlight. And how great would it be if the band that brought it back were from my hometown? It was not to be, however, as the major-key chorus makes it abundantly clear the band would rather be The Fray than Hopesfall. It’s the same dreck The Boxer Rebellion pumped out nonstop for years, boring plain arena rock without any personality.

And then another surprise! As it turns out the rest of the album isn’t even in that style, with only three of the tracks emulating the U2-to-the-power-of-negative-ten sound. The rest is even worse: overdone blues rock heard in every bar across North America.


* Dave Longstreth, the “genius mastermind” behind Dirty Projectors, is not as super-brilliant as he thinks he is. All the band’s songs are just tepid R&B vocals over needlessly complex instrumentation. Sure he can noodle around on his guitar real good, but it’s so convoluted and there’s no hooks to be found anywhere on new record Lamp Lit Prose.


* Why does every Animal Collective and Animal Collective side project sound like it was recorded in either a marsh or a flooded basement?? There is always a water sound effect and almost always a vegetation sound effect. It’s forgivable when the song is a jam, but the songs were only jams once, on one album (Merriweather Post Pavilion), and that was nearly 10 years ago now. The band proper, Panda Bear, and Avey Tare have not put out anything worth listening to since, and it looks like that trend’s gonna continue with Tangerine Reef. “Hair Cutter” is the worst choice of first single you could imagine, a directionless slice of ambient synths and barely recognizable lyrics.


* This guy in full professionally done raccoon makeup appeared on stage during Bedouin Soundclash‘s set at Warped Tour‘s Toronto date on July 17th. It would be a pretty tame festival gimmick, if it weren’t for the fact that the band themselves barely acknowledged him other than some sidelong smiles. He didn’t do anything outrageous, just hopped around for about half a song before disappearing backstage and never returning. Looking online, there’s no reference to him on any other Warped Tour dates, or anything regarding raccoons in the festival’s history. Nobody else seems to have even seen this happen. What.


 

* I have nothing to add.