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Passenger Action

March 20th, 2009 No comments

passenger action

One of my saddest musical moments was when I found out one of Canada’s best bands ever, Choke, broke up. Luckily, Shawn Moncrieff is a compulsive songwriter.

Choke was together for 13 years, blazing a trail of constantly-evolving tech-punk that has had an incredible influence on me and a lot of Canadian punk bands. From their early days as speedy skate-punks to the semi-conceptual, staggeringly-intricate and emotional latter albums they never hit a wrong note…pretty incredible considering how many of them there were.

Now we have Passenger Action, featuring Moncrieff in the role of one of the primary songwriters once again. Admittedly, the product is not much different. In fact, there are many ways in which it might be hard to tell the difference between the two bands. But where Choke flourished in experimentation, their sound a furious combination of four incredibly advanced musicians challenging each other to reach the next plateau, Passenger Action almost comes off as a continuation of their later sounds. Almost, because the new members are clearly not yet on the same wavelength as those that came before.

Where the two guitarists once competed to come up with the next jaw-dropping riff, they’ve now settled into roles: one plays the dynamic, complex clusters of notes that are so key to the sound of both groups while one provides a meatier, power chord-based heft to back it up. The drums stick to more consistent tempos, no longer reinventing themselves at the drop of a sixteenth note only to leave the listener frantically trying to following along.

Don’t get me wrong, this is no less satisfying a listen. Moncrieff remains a gifted songwriter and lyricist and a unique singer. He writes songs that are as emotionally complex as any tune about a girl, but in his world his bands stand in for the women. From the first track (the note-perfect “Tonight We Resonate”) he’s off and running; it reads like an affirmation the band could have been performing backstage before their shows every night for the last two years, the players akin to heavyweight fighters with the hoods on their robes up and their gloves taped down, mentally preparing themselves for another night of full-contact rock. “To Credit The Archives” takes a similar tone, Moncrieff acknowledges the transitional state, insisting there’s no disguise in his songwriting; he’s just doing what comes naturally.

Elsewhere, he lets the tone and texture of the songs speak for themselves. “(Good Ones Are Hard To Come By)” floats in with a quick-but-delayed guitar figure that could fit in well with any of the last three albums Moncrieff has released. Joined soon by splashy, delicate cymbals it becomes the most beautiful moment of music he’s written. Lasting little more than a minute and a half its gone, having left a mark you’ll feel even when his insistent, yearning vocals crash back in on the next track.

I can only imagine dedicating your life to something for 13 years and then having to reconcile the fact that its gone for good all of a sudden. Passenger Action seems to suggest that Moncrieff is taking his time figuring out what his next move is going to be. I won’t begrudge someone for doing something they do so well, and I definitely won’t complain if he continues to follow a songwriting muse thats similar to what inspired so many epic and incredible Choke songs. I guess what I’m saying is that wherever this fallout leader goes, I’ll be right behind him.

Passenger Action and the band’s first EP are available at My Merch Table dot com.

Full Archive, Pt. 1

January 29th, 2010 No comments

Below you’ll find the title, author, and subject of each and every substantive post to the site. Easy browsing!

1. Ten Hut
2. Inaugural Mix Tape, Part 1 (mix tape)
3. Inaugural Mix Tape, Part 2 (mix tape
4. Cocked and Loaded (Tanis – Jarvis Cocker)
5. Inaugural Mix Tape, Part The Last (mix tape)
6. planeta del hielo (Pat – Minus the Bear)
7. Armagideon Time (Sam – various artists)
8. Kissing Eight Chinese Brothers (Jeremy – Okkervil River)
9. Pre-Punk Art Terror (Pat – the Mouth-Boat)
10. Hail To The Thieves (Tanis – Radiohead)
11. I Finally Had A Story To Tell (Jeremy – Iron & Wine/Calexico)
12. Afros Are Aerodynamically Flawless (Pat – At The Drive-In)
13. We Built This City On An Hilariously Awful Song (Pat – Jefferson Starship. Seriously)
14. the Biz (Pat)
15. South Nashville Blues (Sam – Steve Earle)
16. Good Grief (Tanis – Spoon)
17. Fuck Where I’m Going, Look Where I Been (Pat – Mike Hale)
18. Pop Goes The Interwebs (Pat – the Pipettes and Sahara Hotnights)
19. the Story of D’oh (Pat – Damien Rice)
20. Yo son, I had crazy visions (Sam – Wu Tang Clan)
21. Special Delivery (Pat – the Postal Service)
22. Surprisingly Not Miserable (Pat – Wintersleep)
23. Through Dang’ris Nights (Pat – Chuck Ragan)
24. Drivin’ Herself Crazy… (Pat – Common)
25. Big Baby Jesus Just Can’t Wait (Pat – Ol’ Dirty Bastard)
26. His Breath Is A Hammer (Pat – Austin Lucas)
27. Man-tastic! (Jeremy – Man-Man)
28. I got the sickness! (Pat – mix tape)
29. Doin’ a little sole searching (Tanis – Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings)
30. Michael Bolton Would Be Proud (Pat – mix tape)
31. The Kids Are Alright (Pat – Attack In Black)
32. Do What Famous People Tell You (Pat – mix tape)
33. Calculating Infinite Criticism (Pat – Dillinger Escape Plan)
34. Live and Disappointing (Pat – Stars and Tool)
35. Everything Old Is New Except Also Weird and Unnecessary (Pat – mix tape)
36. Indiana Jones’ Least Favourite Band (Pat – Cobra Skulls)
37. the Red Bells Rang Like Thunder (Tanis – Neko Case and Robert Pickton)
38. Studio-core (Pat – the Mountain Goats)
39. Risk vs. Reward (Pat – the New Pornographers)
40. Dear Rockers… (Tanis)
41. Jesus Birthday Mix Tape Pt. 1 (Tanis – mix tape)
42. Jesus Birthday Mix Tape Pt. 2 (Tanis – mix tape)
43. Jesus Birthday Mix Tape Pt. 3 (Tanis – mix tape)
44. 2007 In Hindsight — Pt. 1 (Pat – various artists)
45. ‘Con’ Stands For ‘Awesome’ (Pat – Tegan & Sara)
46. Studded Leather Jackets Never Went Out Of Style, You Did (Pat – various crusty punks)
47. One Song, Three Reasons To Get Psyched (Pat – the Loved Ones)
48. You Can’t Stay Ignorant Forever (Pat – Face to Face)
49. Gimme lickle soul, oh lord (Sam – Bob Marley)
50. I less than three you. (Tanis – mix tape)
51. This Is Distance More Than Miles (Pat – Lemuria and Discount)
52. Change calls the tune we dance to. (Tanis – the Sadies)
53. Top Two Months Late (Jeremy – mix tape)
54. Singing the sound that you found for me. (Pat – the Weakerthans)
55. Flux is highly underrated. (Pat – Bloc Party)
56. Thank you Europe, for giving us Canadian talent. (Pat – Basia Bulat)
57. Painters can be in bands too. (Pat – the Burning Hell)
58. the Gaslight Anthem (Pat – the Gaslight Anthem…?)
59. We’ll all be forgiven. (Pat – Murder by Death)
60. Last.FM brings it on home. (Tanis – Britt Daniels)
61. PBS stands for “Pretty Bitchin’ Sets”(Jeremy – the Flaming Lips, various artists)
62. Every day should be Record Store Day. (Tanis)
63. Stay weightless (Pat – the Mountain Goats)
64. Take Away Shows, how we love you. (Pat)
65. Get on board. (Pat – Busdriver)
66. Something to do (Sam)
67. Now you’re hearing it (Pat – Ghost Town Trio)
68. He’s got them shaking gums and a couple of loose “tooths” (Pat – Why?)
69. I was a record from England (Pat – Maritime)
70. On local acts and international delights (Pat – Geronimo)
71. The RAA took my baby away. (Tanis – the Rural Alberta Advantage, the Summerlad)
72. I’d dap that. (Tanis – Barack obama, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings)
73. Whatever could it be that has brought me to this loss… (Jeremy – TV, mix tape)
74. I’ll only let you down (Pat – Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash)
75. Clarity in a blood parade (Pat – Ghosts of Modern Man)
76. She and him, volume two (Pat – Lemuria)
77. You’d better leave my kitten alone (Tanis – mix tape)
78. Tales of a banjo-pickin’ fool (Pat – Old Man Luedecke)
79. The mountains might seem better (Pat – City and Colour)
80. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iPod (Pat – I have a column in Ebony called ‘Musings’)
81. White whales on the shoreline (Pat – I have a column in Ebony called ‘Musings’)
82. A Brief and Ill-Advised Road Trip, Pt. 1 (Pat – A Wilhelm Scream)
83. A Brief and Ill-Advised Road Trip, Pt. 2 (Pat – mix tape)
84. I don’t know why it’s a rat either (Pat – Wardogs, now known as For.The.Win)
85. As if majors and myspace weren’t bad enough (Pat – Say Anything, selling out)
86. Regina gets folk’d up (Pat – Broken Social Scene, Old Man Luedecke, Library Voices, Final Fantasy)
87. Diggin’ like an animal (Pat – Chuck Ragan)
88. I’ve been waiting… (Pat – Malcolm Bauld, the Frenetics)
89. Becoming Major (Pat – Alkaline Trio)
90. You’ve got to stay positive (Pat – the Hold Steady)
91. Take a chance, lose it all (Pat – the Stills)
92. Super Summer Mix Tape, Pt. 1 (Pat – mix tape)
93. The end of progression (Pat – LaGrecia)
94. They were even born to run (Pat – the Gaslight Anthem)
95. Death of Magnetic Tape (Pat – Metallica, mix tape)
96. Final Fantasy + Beirut = Yippee (Pat – Final Fantasy, Beirut)
97. Give in to love (Pat – Papermoons)
98. Spin the black circle (Wax Trax #1) (Pat – mix tape)
99. Wax Trax #2 (Pat – Austin Lucas)
100. No one on the corner has swagger like us (Tanis – M.I.A.)
101. Live, before and after (Pat – Neil Young, Death Cab For Cutie, Feist, Hayden)
102. Go ahead, I’ve heard all you say (Wax Trax #3) (Pat – Armchair Martian)
103. Sometimes your legacy can’t save you (Pat – Bob Dylan)
104. Vinyl is for lovers (Wax Trax #4) (Pat – various artists)
105. Mystery pop (Pat – the Lucksmiths)
106. the One-Man Band strikes again (Pat – Atom & His Package, the Mountain Goats)
107. Setting the bar high (Pat – Kay Kay and His Weathered Underground)
108. Sound Salvation Army of the Damned (Pat – mix tape)
109. This Feels So Unnatural (Jeremy – mix tape)
110. Making big business little (Pat – mix tape)
112. Extracurricular Activities (Pat – Pavement, the Jealous Sound)
113. By 10:15 I’ll be stinkin’ of whiskey… (Wax Trax pt. 5) (Pat – the Ergs!)
114. 16 Strings (Pat – String Quartet Tributes)
115. Pick up your telephone (Pat – Papermoons)
116. On covers (Wax Trax, Pt 6) (Pat – Murder By Death, William Elliott Whitmore)
117. Talent lockdown (Pat – Kanye West)
118. Pat’s Favourite Songs of 2008 (Pat – various artists)
119. There’s something to be said for delayed gratification (Tanis – Chapman and Brocker)
120. Pat’s Best of 2008, Part 1 (Pat – Chuck Ragan, Austin Lucas, Frightened Rabbit, Why?)
121. Pat’s Best of 2008, Part 2 (Pat – Shad, Basia Bulat, the Hold Steady)
122. Pat’s Best of 2008, Part 3 (Pat – Drag the River, the Lucksmiths, Old Man Luedecke)
123. Pat’s Best of 2008, Part 4 (Pat – LaGrecia, Mountain Goats, Papermoons)
124. Pat’s Best of 2008, Part 5 (Pat – the Gaslight Anthem, Glass and Ashes)
125. Pat’s Favourite Album of 2008 (Pat – Fucked Up)
126. Giving me the creeps (Pat – O Pioneers!!!)
127. Brightening the corners (Pat – Pavement)
128. Measuring Up (Pat – the Measure [SA])
129. Starting over (Pat – Anthem Red, Sixty Stories)
130. Blogging for a good cause (Pat – Neko Case, charity)
131. Music makes the people come together (Tanis – Hillside Festival)
132. Fidelity is for losers (Pat – Underground Railroad To Candyland, Vivian Girls)
133. You don’t know how to tell (Pat – Bon Iver)
134. All he can do is try not to screw this up again (Pat – Butch Walker)
135. Saying goodbye to Touch & Go (Pat – various artists, Touch & Go Records)
136. What a good boy, what a smart boy, what a strong boy (Pat – Barenaked Ladies)
137. Red Eye vs Pink Eyes (Pat – Fucked Up, Fox News)
138. Ladies and Gentleman (Tanis – Barenaked Ladies, Gentleman Reg)
139. An The Horse you rode in on (Tanis – An Horse)
140. Ringing with horrors (Tanis – Elliott Brood)
141. Passenger action (Pat – Passenger Action)
142. Local hicks make good (Pat – the Lazy MKs, the Deep Dark Woods)
143. Covered with love (Pat – Bloc Party, Final Fantasy)
144. Here’s to the here and now (Tanis – Jason Collett, Zeus)
145. The joke’s on them (Pat – Rusty)
146. Goin’ to church on a Sunday night (Tanis – Danny Michel)
147. A thousand punk adorn my grill (Pat – Danny Michel, Starling)
148. Joke about their evolving sound goes here (Pat – the Thermals)
149. Thriftstock a raging success (Tanis – Thriftstock, Guelph, Family Thrift Store, the Burning Hell, Jenny Omnichord)
150 Because nothing says Good Friday like naked punk rockers (Pat – Fucked Up)
151. Grandpa rock (Pat – Nomeansno, Ultimate Power Duo)
152. Who’s your daddy? (Pat – the Burning Hell)
153. Protesting is a riot and remixing is an art (Tanis – Green Go, Fox News)
154. They aren’t kidding about the “bad” part (Pat – Loney Island)
155. Bruce vs his legacy (Pat – Bruce Springsteen, the Hold Steady)
156. He runs the heart while you control the soul (Pat – Two-Minute Miracles)
157. Adding it up (Pat – the Polymaths)
158. I wanna shred your band (Pat – Molten Lava)
159. Here comes the story of the Hurricane (Tanis – Beast, Florence and the Machine, Omar Khadr)
160. I’d touch the hem of his garment (Pat – Sam Cooke)
161. I know… (Pat – Drag the River)
162. Struggling with the unnecessary (Pat – Mike Hale)
163. Not northern, but pretty great (Pat – Great Northern)
164. Luck is relative (Pat – the Lucksmiths)
165. From blown speakers (Tanis – the Rolling Stones)
166. Why keep on trying to break my heart? (Tanis – Jay Bennett, Wilco)
167. The Paint Movement wishes you a very jazzy summer (Tanis – the Paint Movement)
168. Everything in one package (Pat – the Rest)
169. Old-timey mustaches and banjo songs about punk rock (Pat – Franz Nicolay)
170. Being up front with the audience (Pat – Green Day)
171. Alopecia just makes you more aerodynamic (Pat – Why?)
172. Straight from the generation fields (Pat – the Mountain Goats, John Vanderslice)
173. Someone asked for good pop music? (Pat – Phoenix)
174. You need to take a stand (Pat – Hayden)
175. High school confidential (Tanis – the Canned Goods)
176. Like a phoenix rising up out of…the Phoenix (Tanis – Phoenix)
177. No currency for soiled thoughts (Pat – Anchor Down)
178. Saturday night special (Tanis – Mark Seymour, Sue Smith)
179. Fourget aboot it Jake, its Canada Touwn (Tanis – Joel Plaskett, Canada Day)
180. u2 and the “Yoot” audience (Pat – u2, marketing)
181. the Dudes are bloody amazing; take it from us (Pat/Tanis – the Dudes)
182. the Job can work for you (Pat – the Job)
183. “Salvation” and some Perms (Pat – the Perms)
184. You can’t pigeon-hole the Bronx (Pat – the Bronx, Mariachi el Bronx)
185. The only proof he needed for the existence of god was music (Tanis – Library Voices, Hillside Festival)
186. Or Maybe She’s In The Bahamas (Tanis – Bahamas)
187. Brooooooooce (Tanis – Bruce Peninsula)
188. Silver Starling hatches at Hillside (Tanis – Silver Starling)
189. Green Go commands you to dance (Tanis – Green Go)
190. Songs to murder your lover by (Tanis – Timber Timbre)
191. Hallelujah Hillside (Tanis – Notre Dame de Grass)
192. Hippied, Birkenstocked, Hillsided, it’s over (Tanis – Final Fantasy, Woodhands, Shane Koyczan and the Short Story Long)
193. Out on a Spookey limb (Pat – Spookey Ruben)
194. Something subversive (Pat – the Lowest of the Low)
195. We were promised awesomeness and we got it (Pat – We Were Promised Jetpacks)
196. In the danger zone… (Pat – Kanye West, Young Wiz)
197. Speaking in half-truths (Pat – Austin Lucas)
198. Folk you Regina! (Pat – Regina Folk Festival preview)
199. You damn preverts (Pat – Fucked Up, fucked up Google searches)
200. The best year ever (Pat – Regina Folk Festival, Basia Bulat, Iron & Wine, Plants and Animals, Deep Dark Woods)
201. Kick out the jams! (Tanis – roller derby)
202. Wishing for other places, different sounds (Pat – the Paper Cranes)
203. Looking for the tragedy (Pat – the Tragically Hip)
204. Angus Young can suck on this (Pat – AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix)
205. Chock Full of Hoot, Little Bit of Nanny (Tanis – $100, Carolyn Mark, NQ Arbuckle)
206. Wasted potential (Pat – Awol One & Factor)
207. Where it ends (Pat – Strike Anywhere)
208. A haunting in a dark room (Pat – the Wheat Pool)
209. Broad strokes (Pat – Share)
210. Always rushing (Pat – the Fast Romantics)
211. Dying off (Pat – Ghosts of Modern Man)
212. Selling music vs selling yourself (Pat – hookers)
213. Moving to the front (Pat – Strike Anywhere)
214. Modernboys Moderngirls debut all over again (Tanis – Modernboys Moderngirls)
215. I picked this record for you (Pat – Jesse Matheson)
216. Rediscovering misery (Pat – mix tapes)
217. A good week for stuff I like (Pat – the Hold Steady, Fucked Up)
218. Why I listen to songs in the first place (Pat – Laura Stevenson and the Cans)
219. Rah Rah Regina! (Tanis – Rah Rah)
220. Eskimo Snow (Pat – Why?)
221. A sky for shoeing horses under (Pat – the Wooden Sky)
222. Two Hours of Dankness (Pat – Two Hours Traffic, the Danks)
223. Iron Front redux (Pat – Strike Anywhere)
224. Watch yourself, cowpoke… (Pat – Corb Lund)
225. Pursuing the pastoral (Pat – the Wheat Pool)
226. Home sweet home (Pat – Lemonwilde)
227. Canadian content (Pat – Said the Whale)
228. (Pat – Hawks and Doves)
Inspire in me the desire in me to never go home (Tanis – Library Voices)
230. Quick Hit – Tegan & Sara (Pat – Tegan & Sara)
231. I wanna know about the mystery dance (Pat – Elvis Costello & the Attractions)
232. Catharsis! (Pat – Papermoons)
233. On a school night! (Pat – Ohbijou, Slow Down Molassess, knitting)
234. EP round-up pt. 1 (Pat – A Wilhelm Scream)
235. On a school night part deux: Peaches is the business (Tanis – Peaches, Amanda Blank)

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When I get to the bottom I go right to the top (Best albums of 2009 Pt. 1)

January 5th, 2010 2 comments

palm tree

Ooooh, boy. Year-end list. Best albums of 2009. Here we go.

I’m going to start with the ones that didn’t quite make it, the albums that were excellent but not the very top of the heap. Some Canadian groups shone brightly, groups like The Rest, Bruce Peninsula, and Passenger Action are getting off to amazing starts. Bob Mould continued to excel in his new solo career, his prolificness exceeded only by the quality of the songs. Austin Lucas continued to shine with the help of his friends and family and Tegan and Sara’s familial connection continued to result in great pop songs. Attack In Black, Vivian Girls, Manchester Orchestra, Two Hours Traffic, and Dead To Me put out great second albums. Thursday, Lucero (and Ben Nichols), Pete Yorn (with Scarlett Johansson), and William Elliott Whitmore all wrote compelling new chapters in their songbooks.

But I’m going with a top 20 this year for the absolute cream of the crop. Let’s begin.

converge-axe-to-fall-200920. Converge – Axe to Fall
This album is so good it makes me wish I listened to heavy music more often. It’s not their albums specifically, I just only listen to a few heavy bands with any regularity. I’ve always liked Converge but I tend to listen to them much less than most other heavy bands. Which is odd, because their work has been transcendental; they’ve changed hardcore at its very roots and literally everything they’ve done is as the very least highly interesting. This album is very, very good. It would be ranked higher if I felt compelled to listen to it more but for some inexplicable reason I just don’t. Even though it’s amazing.

danks tiny19. the Danks – Are You Afraid Of The Danks?
Spiritual cousins to fellow PEI rockers Two Hours Traffic, the Danks have a slightly more energetic, driving sound that embraces the hooks-only aesthetic of bands like the Ramones. Throw together some Super Friendz, Thrush Hermit, Stone Roses, and Buzzcocks and you’ll be tapping your foot until you start to lose feeling (or until the half hour is up). Read more here and celebrate the East Coast resurgence.

wewerepromisedjetpacks18. We Were Promised Jetpacks – These Four Walls
Perhaps their eyes are bigger than their stomachs, but We Were Promised Jetpacks have come forth with a stirring debut packed tight with tension and youthful energy. Compressed to within an inch of their lives, each song is big, loud, and brash and full of life. Not every moment is flawless, not every note resonates, but everything comes together in an inspiring package. Commenters liken it to a Scottish version of Bloc Party covering Thursday’s Full Collapse. Read more here and decide for yourself.

btmi scrambles17. Bomb The Music Industry! – Scrambles
It took me forever to “get” Bomb The Music Industry! Or at least what seemed like forever, seeing as Jeff Rosenstock puts out an album or two every single year. While his arrangements continue to have a considerably chaotic tapestry this is lyrically his most mature offering to date. Yes, he’s aping Springsteen more than Black Flag but he’s also making it work. He still talks about “the scene” to an ob-scene degree (which is a little Inside Baseball for me sometimes) but no one speaks for the slowly-maturing punk rockers of this generation quite like he does.

andy shauf cover16. Andy Shauf – Darker Days
This is easily one of the best albums released by a Regina artist in a long while. Shauf’s style is understated and gentle, his tender singing voice a perfect compliment to his acoustic guitar and banjo arrangements. Some are hushed and atmospheric, some are peppered with sprightly electric guitar runs, and all are imbued with the quiet intensity and intimacy of bedroom recordings. Even better for Shauf and the world at large, the album has been released on a wide scale by P Is For Panda, an imprint of the wonderful Hopeless Records. And he has a new EP out! Huzzah!

Andy Shauf: Website and iTunes
Bomb The Music Industry!: Donation-based label, vinyl purchasing, iTunes
We Were Promised Jetpacks: Fat Cat Records store, iTunes
the Danks: MapleMusic, iTunes
Converge: Buy music, iTunes

Dying off

September 12th, 2009 No comments

ghosts of modern man

Our site is back up! Sorry about the downtime, world!

As I mentioned yesterday on our twitter, Ghosts of Modern Man are doing their last show ever in Regina tonight. Their last show ever, mind you, not just the last one in this city.

They’re really awesome, as you can attest if you’ve listened to the songs below. They’ve had a long (like 14 year) career arc that has seen plenty of ups and downs, and its a shame we only got one (two) records out of them. They really have done some incredible things and have been very inspirational to the locals here.

Even better, the opening band slays. Half of Passenger Action has very close ties to GOMM, so there should be some heavy emotions flowing all night long.

Do them a favour, Regina: pack the Distrikt tonight or else I’m coming after you.