Wednesday, 25 November 2015

IC2S Playlist Update 25/11/2015

First up this week we have "Kashmir" by Led Zepplin from their album Physical Graffiti. I know that you know this song. Everyone knows this song. It's just so damn good and the usage of middle-eastern-style sounds was just inspired... and there's not much more I can say than that. I didn't intend for this entry to be so lazy, but it's occurring to me while I'm writing this that there really isn't much that I can add to the conversation on Led Zepplin or "Kashmir" which hasn't already been said. As a result, I will say "enjoy!" and move on to the next entry.

Secondly we have "Long Live the Party" by Andrew W.K., from his album The Wolf. Over the past couple weeks, I've been really getting into this album and have been listening to it almost every day. As much as I like I Get Wet, The Wolf is just a more interesting album in almost every department. The songs do skew towards Andrew W.K.'s reputation as the "god of the party", but there are also some which show his current status as a "positivity activist" of sorts, such as "Never Let Down", "The End of Our Lives" or "I Love Music". Apparently telling stories about positivity is what his whole radio show on The Blaze is about which, considering the rest of The Blaze's raw sewage output, is rather strange and just baffles me on how Andrew W.K. managed to secure it.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Circular Logic (aka, Let's Blame the Feminists for Gaming Sexism)

So recently my morning started off in fantastic fashion as one of my friends on Facebook shared a forum post by Merlynn132 which blamed feminists for the issues with female representation in video games (click on the picture for the full-sized image):

Now admittedly, I actually found this guy's points to be quite interesting at first glance and there may actually be some kernels of wisdom in here. However, the more I thought about the points that he was actually making, the more I realized that his argument is fundamentally flawed and falls apart under just a little scrutiny. So you know what time it is then, good reader: it's time for yet another I Choose to Stand feminism post!

One big disclaimer before we move on though. I get the distinct feeling that Merlyn132 is directing some of these criticism specifically towards Anita Sarkeesian, but unfortunately its context has been removed to make it "shareable". Admittedly, I haven't looked into Sarkeesian's criticisms myself, although I have found some of her examples to be at least somewhat suspect. If this post is intended to be a direct response to specific criticisms that Sarkeesian has made, then that's fair enough (I would still disagree with its ultimate conclusion, but I could at least get behind some of its points). However, the tone and body of the post is written in such a way that it ends up being directed at feminism in general, which makes it fair game for a general response as far as I'm concerned. The lack of overall context for the post is unfortunate, so be sure to keep that in mind as the reality of the original post may somehow be shifted if we could see the whole conversation it was a part of.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

IC2S Playlist Update 18/11/2015

If you've been reading the blog for a long time (hi Matt!), then you might find it sort of conspicuous that I haven't written anything on the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday. The simple truth is that I have tried on a couple occasions, but everything I've come up with just feels hollow in the face of the enormity of that evil. It also doesn't help that the story has still been unfolding and, while we seem to have a decent grasp on what happened now, it's hard to say what the repercussions of this attack may be. I might write up something eventually, but at the moment I can't say for certain.

First up this week we have "Whip It" by Love and Death, from their album Between Here & Lost. This is actually a cover of a song by DEVO, which I hadn't actually listened to before picking this for the playlist. It's... wow, it's such an enormous difference that I'm having a hard time articulating it properly. The DEVO version is a really fast, silly, goofy-sounding 80s pop track, whereas Love and Death's version is a very heavy, crunchy, serious and slower-tempo track. It makes me wonder how the heck Love and Death got the inspiration to cover this song, because it's just so far removed from the original version.

Secondly, we have the title-track "Nostradamus" by Judas Priest. Last week I was going on about how I was (finally) starting to get into Iron Maiden, but still wasn't a big Judas Priest fan. However, I am a big fan of this song, which just so happened to play on Metal Rock Radio when I was thinking about how underwhelming I found Judas Priest to be. This is just the sort of metal that I love: dark, epic and lengthy. It sounds more like an Iron Maiden, Mastodon or old-school Metallica song rather than what I'm used to hearing from Judas Priest, but maybe I'm just not familiar enough with their discography yet.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

IC2S Playlist Update 11/11/2015

It's Remembrance Day here in Canada, and if you haven't read my Quick Fix related to it yet, then you might find it interesting. Naturally, it's going to be a sombre and respectful day around here though, especially since I have family in the Canadian Forces.

On a more positive note though, I'm making quite a bit of progress on the Metal Gear retrospective. I've completed 4 games in the franchise thus far and have their retrospectives all written up and ready to go, with a 5th game maybe an hour away from completion and the writing portion should take an evening to put together. It has been pretty fun thus far and I'm glad that I decided to take the plunge, because I doubt I would have gotten to experience the MSX Metal Gear games without it. It's also giving me a better appreciation for the series, but I'll leave any formal analysis for the retrospectives themselves. It's going to be pretty great and I'm putting quite a lot of work into this, so I hope that you guys enjoy when it's finally ready to go.

First up this week, we have "The Sneaking Chair" by My Heart to Fear from their album Algorithm. Back when Weathered Steel was still on the air, this song just dominated their Top 40 playlist. Most songs only last a week or 2 before disappearing entirely, but "The Sneaking Chair" must have been the #1 song for at least a month. It's a pretty great song, I've been meaning to put it in the playlist for a really long time. In fact, the last time I put a My Heart to Fear song in the playlist ("4th Dimension Opera House", way back in May), I had originally intended to use "The Sneaking Chair" but made a last minute switch. On an unrelated note, I have no idea how My Heart to Fear comes up with their song titles, some of them are just all over the place. Some will be really straightforward ("Wish You Were Here", "Angst", etc) and then others are... well, "The Sneaking Chair".

Secondly we have "Blood Brothers" by Iron Maiden from the album Brave New World. It had always been a bit of a secret shame for me that I considered myself a through-and-through metalhead, but wasn't really into some of the genre heavy weights, such as Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. However, since Weathered Steel shut down I have switched my Internet radio over to Metal Rock Radio, which plays the metal classics and modern metal all the time, and has been getting me quite into Iron Maiden. "Blood Brothers" might be my favourite thus far, it's just a really badass song that makes you want to sing along. As someone who likes Sabaton and Disturbed, you can probably tell that this sort of "comradery"/battle song really appeals to me and is making me want to have an "Iron Maiden week" where I just fire up Spotify and blow through their entire discography to find all their gems.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Quick Fix: Advances in Poppy-Wearing Technology

So Remembrance Day is coming up here in Canada, that transitional period between Halloween and the Christmas blitz where we honour our veterans. There's one little squabble which seems to flare up more and more in the past few years though, and that's in regards to the "proper" way to wear your poppy. If you aren't familiar with Remembrance Day traditions, basically you give a donation and receive a poppy in exchange (not a real poppy though, obviously) which you pin onto your clothing to show your respect for the veterans. However, the pin which is used for the poppies is notoriously problematic and causes quite a few painful jabs every year, which prompts some people to replace the default pin with something more secure and without the exposed pin, such as a "butterfly clutch".

In fact you will notice that the style of pin used with the poppy isn't even offered from this custom pin website. The long pin is the closest analogue, but even then it is far more secure and safe than the traditional poppy pin.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

IC2S Playlist Update 04/11/2015

First up this week is "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses from Use Your Illusion I. For years, I considered this my all-time favourite song. While it has since been dethroned by "(*Fin)" by Anberlin (which, even then, was my 2nd favourite), I still really like it and Guns N' Roses. If I had to guess, I'd imagine that my cooling attitude towards the song has to do with moving past teenage angst, so a breakup song like this is less appealing than a more thoughtful/theological/philosophical song like "(*Fin)".

Naturally I decided to pick this song since it is the first week of November. I used to have a tradition on Facebook where I'd post a line from the song every day until the end of the month, at which point I'd post the song's epic music video. It's really too bad that Axl Rose is such a crazy asshole - it'd be great to get the original lineup back.

Secondly, we have "Down the Rabbit Hole" by Sovereign Council from their first album, New Reign. This is probably their best song from their debut album, although due to lineup changes, they aren't able to play it anymore without a guest guitarist (since the song requires 2 lead guitars. This was disappointing, but it really reminded me just how good this song was and how much I wanted to hear it.

By the way, this entry how puts us to 56 songs and just short of 5 hours of music! That's a pretty big accomplishment as far as I'm concerned, but it does make me wonder how long I'm going to keep the playlist going. I'm currently thinking that I'd like to keep it on a weekly update schedule at least until the playlist's 1 year anniversary, but after that we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

IC2S Playlist Update 28/10/2015

First up this week is "God Is Dead?" by Black Sabbath from their latest album 13. I wrote a short article about this song almost 2 years ago*, claiming that the song was in fact the opposite of the anti-religious song that it appears to be on the superficial level. I still hold fast to this interpretation of course, and it has caused the song to endear on me ever since its release. I hadn't heard it in quite some time though, until a couple weeks ago when my internet radio station of choice put it on and reignited by love for this song.

Also, I just love how the song sounds. The dark, religious imagery is very effective, and the song has an unmistakable twinge of menace throughout it. It's just a great example of modern metal and proof that Black Sabbath still have talent and relevance even after a career spanning four decades.

Secondly, we have "Normandy" by Project 86 from their album Rival Factions. Rival Factions was a really strange album for Project 86. From what I understand, there seemed to be lots of frustration within the band about their musical direction - some of them wanted to branch out their sound, and I imagine that there was frustration over the control exercised by frontman Andrew Schwab. The band's drummer ultimately left prior to Rival Factions' recording, while the other bandmates (except for Schwab) would all leave as well by the time that the next album was complete. These frustrations are clearly the primary driving force behind Rival Factions, as the title points out. The album has a really diverse sound: they'll use their traditional post-hardcore sound for a couple songs, then they'll break into metalcore, then a straight-up rock song. The resulting album isn't entirely cohesive and has an extremely short runtime of just over 30 minutes, which makes it probably my least-favourite Project 86 album**... I mean, I still enjoy it, but it's a bit of a blemish on Project 86's otherwise extremely consistent discography.

Anyway, "Normandy" is probably the song which most directly addresses the background struggles of Rival Factions. In high school, right as I was getting into Project 86, I was actually going to do a presentation on this song for a class where we were supposed to interpret a poem or song. It's probably a good thing that I never did this presentation (I got my wisdom teeth taken out the day I was supposed to present so I got off scot-free), because even now I still have a fuzzy idea of what it all means. The song seems to very cryptically use the metaphor of a head-on collision to represent the opposing wills of individuals leading to a severing of ties.

*Side note: two freaking years ago? Where has the time gone?!?
**The only other album of theirs that I think is rather weak and might actually be my least-favourite now is their latest release, Knives to the Future. The album is pretty well-done I'll admit, but very few of the songs stand out and I can't help but be disappointed that their hardcore sound has been toned down significantly. Again - still a good album, but I just found it a tad disappointing and not the same high bar that Project 86 usually hits for me.