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Posts Tagged ‘SIANspheric’

Ignored 29: An education

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

#ignored29

As a lifelong music fan, there will be times when you remember things wrong, assume an artist is something they’re not and have various WTF memories and misappropriations seep into your consciousness. The Internet and various reference manuals can help clear up these mistakes while others will follow you to the grave. It’s fun!

Here is a small sampling of musical misunderstandings I’ve had over the years. Obviously since I’m now writing about them on a WordPress blog, I’ve cleared up the details.

The video was Men without Hats “The Safety Dance” wasn’t an actual song but rather, a TV show for kids or maybe a TV commercial. This was 1984.

The video for M+M’s “Black Stations White Stations” wasn’t an actual song. Rather, it was a bumper for Citytv. In the spirit of Mark Daily’s “Citytv: Everywhere” contributions. Again, this was 1984.

The Fat Boys was a TV show and not a band.

Lou Gramm and Lou Reed were the same guy.

Strange Advance and the Escape Club were the same band. Confusion rooted in the former’s “Love Becomes Electric” and the latter’s “Wild Wild West”. Note: these songs sound nothing alike.

The Who and the Guess Who were the same band.

The Band were fictitious. No one where this came from. I think maybe I was vaguely aware of The Last Waltz and thought these were actors playing a band. Potential crossed wires when I became aware of other real fake bands like Spinal Tap and The Commitments.

Jeff Lynne from the Traveling Wilburys was not a real musician but actually somebody famous (not sure who… maybe an actor?) wearing a disguise.

Jane’s Addiction were Canadian and later, I’d confuse them with the Leslie Spit Treeo. The former’s “Been Caught Stealing” and the latter’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” were both in rotation on 680 CFTR at the time. I think the opening of “Been…” with the dogs barking threw me somehow.

Spandau Ballet and Roxy Music were the same band.

Ice-T changed his name slightly and became Ice Cube.

Rumble was British. Aside: was there a more random one-hit wonder from this era? Some Jamaican guy from Toronto rapping over a Massive Attack song and hitting the Top 40.

James was a guy and then upon learning James was a band, assuming they were a heavy metal band. Later, I thought the song “Laid” was a Spirit of the West song. I was so confused.

Primus was a heavy metal band. Fair assumption since most people who liked Primus in 1993 were also into Metallica et all.

Pavement were a heavy metal band. The name just sounds heavy. There’s a scene in Pavement’s Slow Century DVD where Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cops to making the same assumption. Also, I thought their drummer Steve West was the singer for the longest time.

Dinosaur Jr were from the UK. Reason: their 1994 release Without a Sound came out on the UK-based imprint Blanco y Negro which I naively assumed meant they must be British too.

Sloan were from Boston.

The Cranberries were from Canada.

Catherine Wheel was a lady. I’m assuming more than half of 102.1 listeners of the 1990s also made this assumption?

Molly Hatchet was a lady.

Bettie Serveert was a lady.

PJ Harvey was a dude.

Pop Will Eat Itself were German. This was based purely on their 1994 single “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”. Once I learned they were British, I tried to share this knowledge with anyone who cared (estimate: 3-4 people, tops) and always got massive push back from people who insisted they were German, namely because of this song and also, their hair. Pre-Internet, these debates raged for months.

Tha Dogg Pound were a band that contained Snoop Dogg Dogg, Nate Dogg and friends. 95 per cent certain that Suge Knight hoped that the record buying public would make the same assumption. They did briefly.

 

Sugar’s Beaster EP was actually an EP by the Beastie Boys. Beaster was one of those CDs you’d always see in vast quantities at used CD shops and whenever I’d catch a glance at this disc, I kinda just assumed it was a Beastie Boys’ release with some alternate spelling. In part, I think there was some confusion with the Beasties’ Some Old Bullshit EP that came out around the same time. Aside: has their even been a band with worse cover art than Sugar?

Buffalo Tom and Grant Lee Buffalo were the same band.

Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the same band.

Paul Weller and Paul Westerberg was the same dude.

 

The dude L.V. who sang the chorus of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was Luther Vandross. Not sure if I really believed this or just WANTED to believe it. It would’ve been a really unlikely transformation and pretty funny that Vandross could up his cred by reducing his stage to sinister…. initials!!! Also kinda funny: the real L.V. stood for “large variety”.

Big Star influenced the Beatles. My roommate in first-year university told me this and I just went with this. Obviously, this timing makes no sense since the Beatles were toast by the time Big Star even formed.

Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” was actually sung by David Bowie. Obviously some confusion RE: Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and no doubt, Schilling was hoping to profit from the confusion. Note: the voice on “Major Tom” sounded nothing like David Bowie.

Yo La Tengo and Pizzicato Five were the same band.

The Birthday Party and the Wedding Present were the same band. This was fueled by the same gaff made in Alan Cross’ first book The Alternative Music Almanac where they mislabeled a shot of the Wedding Present playing at Lee’s Palace as the Birthday. The horror!

Death Cab for Cutie were heavy.

Crystal Castles were from either Europe or Chicago.

Wolf Eyes and Japanther were the same band and both from Toronto. Neither/nor.

Deerhunter and Deerhoof were the same band. Also, Deerhunter were heavy.

Big K.R.I.T. was British. He laid down some rhymes over an Adele track, after-all.

Mac Miller and Mac DeMarco were the same dude.

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Ignored 22: Revelations 2013

In Uncategorized on December 21, 2013 at 1:54 am

Ignored22

A selections of revelations revealed vis-à-vis CompletelyIgnored.com in 2013. Enjoy!

1. A person’s understanding (and by understanding, I don’t mean appreciation) of music is going to be predicated on whether they “lived through it”. (#ignored1).

2. The segment of the world population that TRULY “experienced” Kraftwerk is very small. (#ignored1)

3. If they were positioned differently, the Replacements could have had Bon Jovi’s career. (#ignored2)

4. The five-minute feud between Wale and the Toronto Raptors’ play-by-play team wasn’t anything. (#ignored3)

5. The iPod has morphed all “guilty pleasures” into simply “pleasures”.  (#ignored4)

6. The MuchDance CD series is the Nuggets of (underrated) Top 40 Europop. (#ignored4)

7. Coachella Festival speculation is the fantasy baseball of music fandom. (#ignored7)

8. The Columbia Record and Tape Club preyed upon the lazy and dim-witted. (#ignored8)

9. I listened to the Jesus and Mary Chain’s Psychocandy in a speeding motorboat. (#ignored8)

10. Being vague and/or absent is a good technique for bands to use to become more beloved. (#ignored9)

11. Adult moshing levels are a strong means of measuring the room energy of a live music performance. (#ignored10)

12. The Wikipedia definition of “headbanging” is amazing. (#ignored10)

13. SIANspheric were superior to 90 per cent of the original shoegaze bands. (#ignored12)

14. The Breeders would be remembered completely differently if they used different album art and weren’t signed to 4AD. (#ignored12)

15. The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love” and R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” were both good-to-great songs. (#ignored13)

16. Big Sean’s “Control” is not a diss track, (#ignored14)

17. People create fake LinkedIn profiles for their (assumedly) favourite musicians. (#ignored15)

18. Mating 1980s modern rock with 1990s Canadian beer advertising was a thing. (#ignored17)

19. Lou Reed spent his life conflicted between being Lou Reed and “Lou Reed”. (#ignored18)

20. “They’re awesome live!!” can be either a help or a hindrance in music marketing circles. (#ignored19)

21. Hipsters wrongly assume that R. Kelly is self-aware. (#ignored20)

22. Limblifter deserve a career achievement in the “random lip ring” category. (#ignored21)

Ignored 21: 1990s CanCon SEO bait

In Uncategorized on December 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

#Ignored21

In recent discussions with my close personal friend @GaryEdgar, we both agreed that an entire generation of Canadian bands just missed out on the Internet ubiquity of the 2000s onwards. This made us sad as many of these outfits entertained us for good portions of our 10s and 20s.

It’s not as if having a strong web presence is some sign of righteousness for our local recording artists. However, there is a risk of (partially) losing these acts to history if fresh online content is not created pronto to preserve their legacies/”legacies”.

We’re doing our part via this carefully-constructed PDF document. It contains a transcript of a Gmail chat between Gary and myself on our individual CanCon memories from Burlington, Thornhill and beyond.

Click here to read our full “1990s CanCon SEO bait” PDF

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Bonus: a few key videos from the era…

The Inbreds sing “You Will Know”

Hayden sings “Bad As They Seem”

Limblifter sings “Tinfoil”

jale sings “Not Happy”

The Pursuit of Happiness sings “Young and In Love”

Ignored 12: 1,200+ words about SIANspheric

In Uncategorized on July 25, 2013 at 12:24 am

Ignored12

Bold statement: SIANspheric is/was awesome, need a larger web presence and everything else.

SIANspheric is one of those bands that continues to have a small but severe reverence close to 20 years in. Which is amazing considering the band was, at its peak, ‘obscure’ at best. If you are aware of SIANspheric, chances are you like or love SIANspheric. It’s a high percentage proposition to be certain.

Born of the sleepy bedroom community (terrible expression BTW) of Burlington, Ontario, the outfit arrived slightly late to the first wave ‘shoegaze’ thing but ultimately, kinda slayed 90 per cent plus of the outfits in that scene. They specialized in a moody nuance that was both bleak and beautiful and while their cues were obvious given the era, they were one of the few North American shoegaze bands to break. Relatively speaking in terms of style and stature.

SIANspheric sits in a bit of black hole digitally in so far as they emerged just before the Internet became “The Internet!!” As a result, there isn’t a ton of content about SIANspheric online in spite of the fact they toured Canada multiple times, had CDs that were popular in certain circles and were a pseudo-flagship band of one of Canada’s top indie labels of the 1990s, Sonic Unyon.

Case in point: you Google them in 2013 and early on, you’re directly to such binary afterthoughts as their order page at Indigo.com. Related: lame shipping terms!

The first two SIANspheric albums (1995’s Sominum and 1997’s There’s Always Someplace You’d Rather Be) are (really) fantastic and everything else in their discography is good to very good/great. The music is  nice and watery, and seemingly effortless. While the band ultimately got a bit more dubby in later releases, part of the charm of Sominum especially is breaks in tunes like “Watch Me Fall”. The band kinda sorta abandons the shoegaze/space rock/dream pop thing for a stretch and more or less, reverts to a relatable suburban indie band. In the process, they momentarily sound like any outfit on the Squirtgun Records roster. Then, they fog over on the next track and go back to doing it better than Slowdive et all.

For a handful of 30-somethings in the GTA, the effect is powerfully carnal. It’s a weird balance of sounding completely familiar and comfortable on the one hand and totally austere and distant on the other. And this was a band you could catch with some regularly on small stages. A complete anomaly of the era.

There isn’t a strong narrative to this feature since it’s largely an exercise in giving SIANspheric a bit of an SEO jolt. Accordingly, here is a collection of three additional observations about SIANspheric.

Feel free to read out-of-order as it won’t matter to the non-existent arc.

1. I ‘m going to suggest than Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the two Canadian indie bands of the 1990s most often mistaken for each other, purely based on their name, pedigree and geography. As awesome as they were/are, SIANspheric’s branding was a bit troubling. Sianspheric, SIANspheric, SIAN spheric, Tristan Psionic… through no fault of their own (aside from the fact they named the band), the name seemed to throw some people in terms of the correct spelling and proper capitalization. That being said, there were other Canadian bands of the era (namely, Treble charger/treble charger and Rusty/rusty) who seemed to inspire like-minded confusion vis a vis capitalization and whatnot. In summary, I guarantee I’m the only living person in 2013 who is still giving these matters any thought whatsoever.

2. In hindsight, it is notable that there really weren’t any truuuuuuuue North American-born “superstars” of the original shoegaze movement. That’s to say, no North American bands achieved the widespread notoriety of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Curve, Catherine Wheel et all. One could argue that outfits like Galaxie 500 and the Smashing Pumpkins took major cues from these fellas and gals. But seriously, it’s not the same thing at all. DC-based weirdos Lilys were probably the highest tally on the North American/popular/shoegaze-y Venn diagram, especially whilst in the throws of their foggy 1994’s “mind eff” Eccsame the Photon Band. Even still, the band quickly packed up the phaser and went on a heavy 1960s power pop riff as the late decade fizzled out.

3. The shows SIANspheric did with Mystery Machine about a year ago are potentially on my Top 10 concert misses list. Twin underappreciated greatness.

For more information on SIANspheric, visit their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SIANspheric

Aside: Getting back to this “North Americans don’t/can’t shoegaze” notion, could this be 80 per cent a cultural thing and 20 per cent a marketing thing? Here is the breakdown…

80 per cent cultural – To be a shoegaze band by perception, you need to be withdrawn in a way that is specific to the UK: A cornerstone of the shoegaze persona is shyness. And we’re not talking about your standard, garden-variety shyness here. This is next level. Clinical. Dudes like Kevin Shields and the younger version of Neil Halstead seemed completely withdrawn in a way that was entirely foreign to these eyes: vastly destroyed emotionally but also sarcastically hilarious with great hair and cool pants/shoes. It’s more perception than anything as there appeared to be something inherently European (and by European, I mean British or Irish in these instances) in the way these people stood on stage, spoke in interviews and composed their music. Their personalities were entirely oblique (and essentially, glossed over) and their music was awesome in the way in seemed four, five or six degrees removed from anything that resembled “presentation” in the traditional sense. I suppose that was the appeal. Stateside, Sonic Youth could loop their effects pedals ad naseum, pierce ear drums and through it all, there’d still be a carnal sense of familiarity within the chaos since you knew Thurston Moore grew up in Connecticut and chances are, his cultural touchstones were probably not disimmilar to yours. This goes ten-fold for SIANspheric (for me, anyway) since they were literally a short drive away and yet were creating this powerful, impactful music that certainly didn’t sound like the Burlington I knew (not that I knew it at all beyond signs off the QEW and a single visit to Martin Streek‘s club night on Plains Road East). Again, to reiterate my early statement, SIANspheric are probably the one band I have ever listened to that (A) sounded completely familiar and comfortable on the one hand and (B) totally austere and distant on the other. They broke through the exoticism that is essentially required to “shoegaze” proper and ended up on an island (a noisy, ponderous island) in the process. Good job!

20 per cent marketing – All shoegaze album artwork and liner notes must be abstract and hard to interpret/read: A shoegaze album requires blurry artwork. No exceptions! The 4AD label was the touchstone for this approach as everything they ever put out appeared 25 per cent more “arty” than it was because of their dramatic cover art aesthetic. Case in point: I’d argue that the Breeders would be remembered completely differently if the album art on Pod and Last Splash was more (ahem) provincial to where the ladies and that drummer came from (yes, Wiggs was British.. shut up). Kim Deal is beyond awesome but at the end of the day, she is effectively a gregarious “salt of the earth” type from Dayton who just happens to have a compellingly strange sense of rhythm. Yeah, bit of a cheapshot at Dayton but essentially true. Also, it’s a fine line between “arty”/cool and “arty”/garbage when it comes to album art. Ergo, while the artwork on Sominum is not bad per se given the era, it kinda of looks like software packaging moreso than music in retrospect.