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Saturday, December 6, 2014

When Friends Become Models

     Another season, another collection that wound up only being half of what I had in mind. Such is life! I had neither the time, money, nor energy to do everything I had planned. But forget all my negativity, here's some of the ridiculousness that ensued during the lookbook/product shoot!

     We took a little trek out to the old Kodak building for the shoot. I'd hoped to go inside and explore how fantastic it is in there, but some time over the past year or two, all the windows were boarded up and doors welded shut. There wasn't much for graffiti on the outside, but we made do with the most colourful little piece that was there. There were so many burrs around! They loved sticking to me in groups. Any time Jess and I do a shoot, it never takes very long before it devolves into a whole lot of derp face; the resulting combination of an 11-year friendship between a model who isn't a model and a photographer with no clue how to direct. Throw in the bizarre character that is our friend Yossi, and you turn a bitter cold windy day of outdoor wardrobe changes into a surprising amount of fun. These two are champs!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Oh life...

My word have I been busy. So much so that I just said "my word".

Not all my busyness has been good. Sure, it's been a lot to do with working a full-time job and trying to have the energy for Hellhound, but it's also been outside stresses that's kept me from my art and reviews. The mid-20s joy of learning to handle finances, and the heartache of continuing to watch friends day way too young. Sometimes life happens all at once, and it's fucking terrible, but then it calms down... For a while at least, I'm hoping.

Reasons I don't give two shits about New Year's Eve:
You ever had just a really shit awful year, and thought "well, tomorrow's [insert year here], it's gotta get better!" only to have it get much worse? And then it picked up, something good happened and life had meaning again, but then shortly thereafter you learned the true meaning of tragedy down to your bones? Maybe that cycle repeated three times in two years? Easily one of the best ways to kill your enthusiasm for the changing of a calendar.

Sometimes it's just god damn impossible to see things being better in the future, which can completely drain you. Half-finished projects start to pile up, and you know it would be "so easy" to sit down and finish at least one, just get something done. But it's not always that simple. We all know the old trope of the tortured artist, well it's a very real hell for a lot of creative people. The passion we have to paint, write, make music, what have you, it's not always our best friend. It holds a sensitvity in itself that has the capacity to tear us apart, suddenly if you're lucky, else slowly in a way that you can see it coming, feel the claws slowly dig in to pull you down, but remain helpless to stop it. Thankfully we tend to be surrounded by people who are much the same, even (or especially) if they don't admit to it. Reaching out when you're at your most mentally vulnerable can feel like the worst, most imposing, most terrifying thing you could do. If you find yourself at that point, remind yourself of who else has been there and would probably be a good shoulder. It's easier if you can feel like you're not the only one who's crazy when you rant about how everything is wrong.

Now that all that's out of the way, there was also another thing that's set me back recently: my phone died. Well, its face got broken and, being a touch screen, it was rendered useless. A combination of being dropped on the regular, and an instance of flying out of my hand to land face-down on the sidewalk of Queen Street West, on a drunk walk in the rain to a show at the Bovine. That last part was completely unnecessary to the story, just making it known that I do in fact still have some semblance of a social life. Occasionally. Probably for the best I'm not super social anyway, since I can't remember the last time I washed my hair. And that's the case every time I end up washing it. Hey, I still shower! That's the important part. Actually, the whole point of mentioning that is I lost all my notes by not being able to access my phone, so...

Realistically, I doubt I'm gonna finish off this year's reviews. Might just post a list of albums I like, minus the ranty bits on why I like them. I'm gonna keep trying to sketch and paint. Christmas is coming, so I'll probably spend the early hours of Christmas morning doing something for my dad again, on account of I am the world's greatest procrastinator, which is something at least. Though if I use my time off wisely, and budget myself accordingly, I could theoretically get three pieces done. Theoretically.

I know I don't post much here anymore, nor am I active much of anywhere but twitter these days (how the hell did that happen?), but the fact that I post at all is a good sign that I might return to semi-regularly slathering my existence all over the internet. (Strange wording, I know. That's why I'm keeping it. XD) I still haven't made good on my plan to purge this site of all my talking about the issues in my head, hell I continue to add to that content, so that's another good thing I guess. In fact, I'm halfway through writing two rants about mental health issues: how I feel with writing about my own whatever-I-have(s), and the anger of being on the left-behind end of the suicide spectrum - anger at the system rather than the victim (yes, victim). And while all that is important to me for reasons that will be said in the bio-type rant, it's really only a small part of what I want this site to be. When Maydwell shuts down for the holidays, it's gonna be time to write myself out a schedule. Allot time for Maila, Hellhound, Art, boyfriend, Maila, maybe some social life, bit of sleep, puppyyyy. Her snow white hairs are mixing with greys and spreading down her neck. Oh, how I loathe the passing of time!

Damn, I cannot keep to the positive things right now. Point is, more sketchbook, more painting, more printing and photography, and way the fuck more costumes. I'd try for maybe a bit less swearing, but that's how I talk and this is my space so fuck it - feel free to stop reading if you don't like it.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Music of Spring/Summer 2014 - PUNK

Keeping most of these short and sweet cause if I don't, the three parts I'm doing for
spring/summer will never get finished. Frankly, I'm amazing I bothered to finish these at all.

OFF! - Wasted Years (April 8)
genre: punk rock

California's OFF! deliver classic heavily distorted punk rock so effortlessly, you might think they're among the many old school bands experiencing a revival. Though that's mainly because all the members have been in the punk game for decades. With short songs, bending riffs, and a politically charged "fuck authority" mentality, Wasted Years is not one to be missed.

My favourite tracks: 2 - Red White and Black, 5 - Over Our Heads, 8 - Exorcised, 12 - Time's Not On Your Side, 16 - Wasted Years

The Menzingers - Rented World (April 24)
genre: pop punk/emo

The Menzingers offer up a blend of the usual emo themes: heartbreak, loss, apathy, and hope in self loathing. Emotional without being overly whiny, they don't skimp on the pop punk sounds with a couple anthem-type tracks and a lot of jumping rhythm. When You Died hits really close to home, even three months later, and while my current life experiences may make it impossible to be objective over things addressing the subject of death, I'm pretty confident in saying that it's a fantastic song regardless.

My favourite tracks: 1 - I Don't Wanna Be an Asshole Anymore, 8 - Nothing Feels Good Anymore, 12 - When You Died

Brody Dalle - Diploid Love (April 28)
genre: alternative rock

I've had the biggest crush on this woman since I first saw the video for "The Young Crazed Peeling" on the Punk Show when I was 13. The Distillers are still one of my favourite bands, I will take my copy of Sing Sing Death House with me to the grave (baby the hell outta that thing), and Dalle remains one of the few people I'll give the title of "idol" to. So when I saw she was coming out with her first solo album, it was a no brainer to get it.
Upon first listen I didn't really like it, but that's a classic case of expecting something from 10+ years ago and being in a bad mood. Through the years Dalle has grown and left behind most of her youthful rage, and while her vocals and writing style may be softer, the lady has not lost her edge. Her punk past is very evident in this poppy alt rock collection. The songs might be more accessible, but she's still got her gritty voice and things to yell about. Sure they're more emotional than raging against the machine these days, but just as powerful.

My favourite tracks: 1 - Rat Race, 2 - Underworld, 4 - Dressed In Dreams, 6 - Carry On, 7 - Meet The Foetus/Oh The Joy (ft. Shirley Manson!!!), 8 - I Don't Need Your Love

Buzzcocks - The Way (May 1)
genre: punk rock

Old school punk rockers the Buzzcocks are how they've always been with their recent release, and that's not a bad thing. The Way might not be anything close to innovative, and a bit on the side of repetitive, but it's still a quality offering. With basic drum beats and the usual guitar tones, it's simplicity all around. In the very low key and mellow spectrum of punk, they remain true to their sound.

My favourite tracks: 1 - Keep on Believing, 3 - The Way, 7 - Out of the Blue, 9 - It's Not You

Mad Caddies - Dirty Rice (May 13)
genre: ska/punk

Oh upstrokes, be still my heart. The newest from the Mad Caddies opens up strong right away, with some old timey piano and a full but not in your face horn section, a little singalong tune about one night stands and breakups. The album has an excellent swing to it with the drums and guitar riffs, and they don't go overboard on the trumpet and trombone like many ska bands are prone to, leaving them mostly to buildups and choruses. It's no secret there's some reggae influence to ska, and they brought that to light perfectly on a few of these tracks (namely 4 and 10). They also take some time to focus on the punk rock side of things with their guitar hooks, the flowing bass following the drums with a bend of its own. If you've yet to get into the Mad Caddies, this incredibly well-rounded selection of songs is a great way to introduce yourself to them.

My favourite tracks: 1 - Brand New Scar, 4 - Shoot Out the Lights, 6 - Bring It Down, 8 - Little Town, 11 - Back to the Bed

Me First & the Gimme Gimmes - ‎Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! (May 13)
genre: punk rock

As if this punk cover bands wasn't already enough ridiculous fun to begin with, they went and did an album full of diva pop star hits. All those overplayed pop love songs you've grown to hate, tolerate, love, and then hate again over the years. Just when you think you've heard Cher's abuse of autotune in "Believe" enough times you'll know it forever, these guys go and completely reinvent it. Turning radio-friendly polished pseudo-ballads into a few minutes of ridiculous upbeat fun, Me First & the Gimme Gimmes keep doing what they do best - flipping hits upside down and making them exponentially better. I'd go into this more but I neglected to take notes, this is the last one I'm doing, it's no longer on my phone, and I just want it done. But I promise, it's fantastic.

My favourite tracks: 1 - I Will Survive, 3 - Believe, 5 - My Heart Will Go On, 6 - I Will Always Love You, 9 - Karma Chameleon

Mongol Horde - Mongol Horde (May 26)
genre: hardcore punk // listen to it

This album is easily my most listened to spring release; it has not left my phone since I got it, and probably won't for another few months still. It's choc full of of angst, and not in the whiny pubescent way -- in the "fuck you!" calling people out on bullshit kind of way, with the age and intelligence to insult someone by calling them a "weak fucking handshake".
You could easily be forgiven for not recognizing Frank Turner on vocals, but yes, that lofty English voice is the same one tearing your face off through this. Even if you're familiar with Million Dead, his young aggressive voice has grown darker and full of the fury that was missing to pull me in to that band. But beyond the recognition factor attached to Turner's name, lie the rest of Mongol Horde.
The drums (Ben Dawson, ex-Million Dead) and guitar (Matt Nasir, The Sleeping Souls) play off each other so well you don't even notice the absence of bass. Spaces between cutting riffs are filled with crashes on the cymbals and beating snare and toms, melding together in a heavy-hitting groove. Amid the calculated hectic nature of the instruments, are smart words on varying notches of the insanity spectrum. To quote Turner "Lyrically it's very different from what I do now, it's kind of depraved. The first song we wrote is about Natalie Portman's tapeworm using her as a glove puppet to lead an uprising in Hollywood".

My favourite tracks: 2 - Weighed and Found Wanting, 4 - Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen, 8 - Winky Face: The Mark Of A Moron, 10 - Your Problem, 13 - Hey Judas

7 Seconds - Leave A Light On (May 27)
genre: punk rock

7 Seconds have always been one of those bands that I liked, I just never owned anything of theirs to know them well because Belleville's selection of music was dismal at best, at a time when buying things online was impossible for a 15-year-old. And I've been too broke since moving to Toronto to buy anything, let alone anything new. Nevertheless, they've always been a band I've enjoyed greatly, when they'd come on the radio from that one Rochester station that only came through in the Wal-Mart parking lot with either punk or metal, and I'm rambling. Point is, these guys have been around since the 80's, and have survived this long by being fantastic at what they do. Punk Rock at its finest, Leave A Light On is packed full of simple chord progressions and short solos, fast drum beats, and the bassline holding balance between the two. Their lyrical subject matter is all over the place. Hate for a crumbling system with faith in the individual, rage over political ignorance, music is life. They even addressed their own longevity, and love and longing. Basically, every usual subject for punk rock songs.

My favourite tracks: 1 - Exceptional, 4 - I have Faith In You, 6 - Leave A Light On, 7 - Empty Spots , 10 - Rage Quit

Rise Against - The Black Market (July 1)
genre: // listen to it

Well fuck, if you had a couple friends die recently, there are a few songs on this album that are perfect for you. Or really if you've faced any sort of tragedy that's made you question everything, listen to Tracks 2, 3 & 4 a whole bunch. In true Rise Against fashion, it's not just heart-wrenching emotions for subject matter, but anti-war political tirades as well. Still sticking to their usual format without being tired, from slow and passionate to fast and angry, they know what works for them and how to keep it fresh. While I do love the album, as a loyal fan often does, I could've lived without "Sudden Life". It doesn't seem to fit with everything else.

My favourite tracks: 3 - Tragedy + Time, 4 - The Black Market, 5 - The Eco-Terrorist in Me, 9 - Zero Visibility, 11 - People Live Here

Handguns - Life Lessons
genre: pop punk // listen to it

I wish I'd been paying attention a couple months ago, turns out they played KOI Fest this year, but oh well. They'll be here with Comeback Kid in January, so I'll see them soon enough. Life Lessons has a strong foundation in pop punk instrumentation, with just enough whine in the vocals to lean them towards emo with the lyrics, not quite enough to put them into a crossover. They've got simple and catchy riffs, fast jumpy drums, and all the whoa-oh's you expect from pop punk. The songs are about heartbreak and loss, identity as a concept, not wanting to be here and questioning the point of existence. All extremely good for dealing with loss, I can tell you that much for sure.

My favourite tracks: 2 - Sleep Deprived, 4 - Heart vs. Head, 8 - Give and Take, 9 - Waiting For Your Ghost, 10 - New Years Resolution

     Told ya I'd get to it eventually. I cut out a lot of releases, pretty sure I'm forgetting something that happened within my circle of friends, but I finished the post! Finally. Metal will come soon (I hope), then Rock/etc, then I'll get started on Fall/Winter posts. No top picks this year. Just a long game of catchup.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween!

     Because I'm an obsessed spaz who can't wait past midnight to say it: HAPPY HALLOWEEN! This is without a doubt, hands down, my absolute favourite holiday ever. Costumes, candy, skulls and monsters everywhere, and leaves crunching under your feet everywhere you go. Let's not forget the binge drinking us 20-somethings enjoy! For me it will be at Bloodbucket, after a day of work in full costume because, not only do I work with a bunch of nerds, but I also happen to be employed at a company where costumes are mandatory. MANDATORY. It's like I belong there or something... But anyway. October is the month I shop the most, collecting as many creepy, bony, bizarre things as catch my eye, and laughing hysterically at all the cheap cheesey things I leave behind.

     As you can see, my decorating style is basically just BONES EVERYWHERE and webbing wherever it will stick. I did all this in a couple hours after work myself, with 95% things bought from dollar stores. Last year Layla and I tackled the decorations together, but she moved out earlier this year - thankfully leaving behind her two large boxes of plastic skeletal remains and whatnot. Probably my favourite thing I did this year was have the fingers come out of the dirt, made to look all the better with one when the headstone got stepped on and broken. I was going to post these yesterday and my costume today, but I didn't get around to editing and I'm not paying Danielle so the costume pictures will be done whenever she's finished them (you can see a few here, though). More on that later.

     So once again: HAPPY HALLOWEEN! And if you've got any decorations/costume posts of your own, send me a link! I love seeing how other people celebrate this greatest of holidays.

gratuitous Maila shot because she's adorable

Saturday, October 25, 2014

30 days, 30 pages (pt. 3)

Yes, this took forever to get posted. Are you surprised? You shouldn't be.

     Turns out the battery charger that I "lost" was only a few inches from where it was supposed to be, hiding in a crevice I ignored. Go figure.

     Were these all done in September? Of course not. I knew starting this that chances were I would't meet the deadline. It's absolutely absurd how many different things I'm trying to do all at once lately, while working a full-time job and trying to take care of a very needy dog. The point is, I managed to fill 30 pages! More than that, even, which has made it so much easier to put pencil(/pen/marker/brush) to paper and have something come out without having to think about what I'm doing. So yay! I don't really have much to say on the subject otherwise...

     Still trying to chip away at those album reviews. The longer I take to finish them, the more new things come out and the more daunting a task it seems to be. But I'll get there. Probably. We'll see. Either way, I've got some Halloween stuff to share next week!