Showing posts with label metric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label metric. Show all posts

Sunday, January 6, 2019

the top 25 best albums of 2018 (VIDEO)

And that's the last of year-end list promotion...whew.

Next up... honestly, no idea, we'll see - stay tuned!

the top 25 best albums of 2018

Normally this is the list that feels like the greatest relief to make - it's the final moment where we can lay a year to rest chronicling the best of the best, the sort of release that comes with it being the last list but also one that feels the most professional, for lack of better words. I'm having fun with the lists of the best and worst hits, I'm getting more personal with the overall songs list - this list for critics is staking claim, drawing our lines in the sand, and as such, it's normally the most professionally rewarding.

But I have to say, in comparison to previous years, this list was not that hard to make. Even though I covered far more albums in 2018 than ever before, it felt like I hit greatness less often on average. Which is probably not completely true, but it sure as hell feels like it, especially given that the cuts weren't that painful this year, or it certainly seemed like there was less of them to make. And while I don't do an Honourable Mentions segment for this list, I will say I'm a little regretful that I have to leave Rolo Tomassi and Against All Logic off this list, and I'm sure I'm going to surprise some folks by saying that Beach House and Kacey Musgraves also missed the cut - sorry, but especially in country, Kacey had stiffer competition. But really, if we're to highlight a genre that turned out in spades in 2018, it was hip-hop - and no jokes here, this is more hip-hop on this albums list than I think there has ever been before... which yes, means that there were two painful cuts in the form of Marlowe and Armand Hammer. But you know, let's start off with hip-hop here...

Monday, September 24, 2018

video review: 'art of doubt' by metric

Yeah, it's the haircut, I know. Certainly not the sling - but hey, it's hard in those streets for a critic. :p

Anyway, I'm still working on polishing up that Vallendusk review and then Billboard BREAKDOWN - stay tuned!

album review: 'art of doubt' by metric

It's a common thing for critics like me who aren't constantly plugged into the hype cycle to say that we don't know what to expect for certain albums. And while in some cases it's just verbiage in the review to heighten anticipation, most of the time for me it's pretty genuine - if I think I know what's coming from a certain act, I'll tell you, for sure!

But with Metric... I just don't know at this point. The last time I covered the group was their understandably underappreciated 2015 album Pagans In Vegas, a pretty damn sharp satire of the mainstream pop music industry that kind of missed the mark when it came to writing that totally stuck the landing with their concept - a good record for sure, but not a great one and certainly one that didn't quite hold up to their releases in 2009 and 2012. But from there... I just wasn't sure what was coming. Emily Haines rejoined Broken Social Scene for a comeback record in 2017 as well as reforming her solo act Emily Haines & The Soft Skeleton for an indie pop album that wound up on my year end list and was better than it had any right to be... also probably better than any individual Metric album, but that's a different conversation. So when you have that, and then she's returning to Metric for their longest album to date and the buzz was inconclusive surrounding what sound the band was taking up this time, I wasn't sure what Art Of Doubt was going to deliver, only with my hope that Haines would bring over her considerable writing heft and hooks from that solo album. So, what did we get on Art Of Doubt?

Sunday, September 24, 2017

video review: 'choir of the mind' by emily haines and the soft skeleton

So this was... actually way better than I thought it'd be, really happy I got a chance to cover it. 

But now onto our scheduled event, the record I really was anticipating before this pleasant surprise, stay tuned!

Friday, September 22, 2017

album review: 'choir of the mind' by emily haines and the soft skeleton

So I'm a little stunned there was as much interest from my patrons in this project as there is - a primarily piano-driven side project of a Canadian indie pop rock singer who has never really crossed over to the states, with her last album in this side project coming over a decade ago.

Okay, let's back up. For those of you who don't know, Emily Haines is the frontwoman of Metric, an indie pop group that had a remarkable amount of success around the turn of the decade before hitting a snag with their 2015 record Pagans In Vegas - which really did deserve more attention than it got, because I think the satire went over too many heads. But it didn't produce the same singles and Canadian indie success, so I'm not really surprised Emily Haines wanted to step back towards solo work, especially as she already contributed to the Broken Social Scene album released earlier this year. Now I went back to listen to that last Emily Haines and the Soft Skeleton record, and... well, it was alright enough. If you put it up against the piano-driven indie acts of the mid-2000s, I could see this standing out a bit thanks to the trip hop elements around the edges, but I was never wowed by the writing and you do need that to be on point if you're playing in this solo style. Never quite experimental or dark enough beyond some clever turns of phrase, it had the feel of a side project, and thus it's not surprising that Metric was the breakout act here. But hey, a few of my patrons wanted me to cover this, so what the hell: how is Choir Of The Mind?

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

video review: 'pagans in vegas' by metric

Well, this was an interesting listen. Wish I liked it more, but eh, it happens.

Next up... oh boy, might as well deal with this now. Lana Del Rey, folks - you can imagine what's coming.

album review: 'pagans in vegas' by metric

So here's something I bet the majority of you don't know. Back during the summer of 2012 when I was first getting a handle on making these reviews in written form on my blog, I reviewed Synthetica by Metric, a band that I've tended to like and admire but never quite love, the sort of over-ambitious indie rock act that liked to play with nifty big ideas and anthemic choruses that never quite managed to quite stick the landing, at least for me. Like most people, I started getting into them with the noisier, razor tight Fantasies, a record that anchored its groove in buzzy guitars and synthesizers, punchy drums, and the eerie multitracking of Emily Haines' vocals, and yet always fell a little short for me. Maybe it was the disparity between a great Metric track and a bland one was palpable, maybe it was Emily Haines' vocal timbre feeling perpetually disconnected, or maybe it was the lyrics that didn't hit home as often as they should, but Fantasies was about half of a great record.

And upon reflection, I'd probably make a similar observation about Synthetica, overall a more ambitious, cohesive, and engaging album, but never quite hitting the huge high points of Fantasies with songs like 'Gold Guns Girls' or 'Gimme Sympathy', and it seemed as through the rough edges and grooves were slowly being smoothed away in favour of more mechanical synthesizers. Of course, it fit the running motif of the record, distinguishing that difference between the human and artificial, but with rare exception it felt like only about half of the record really stuck with me. Although here I suspect I'm in the minority, as Metric seemed to only be getting bigger on Canadian alternative radio with an ever-increasing profile as an indie rock act with real crossover potential.

And yet in hindsight, Metric's steps towards new wave and synthpop almost seem prophetic, because over the past two years a considerable number of their peers have gone in the exact same direction. Which might now be the best thing for Metric, especially given they've got close competition from CHVRCHES, whose sophomore album is breathing down their neck right around the corner. And it was further concerning to hear to that this record was supposedly much more synth-driven, with Metric having an entire analog album waiting in the wings. So what did we get with Pagans in Vegas?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

album review: 'synthetica' by metric

Short version: an intriguing, but flawed album from a band I can recognize is good, but I've never quite liked. In this review, I try to figure out why with mixed success, and take a look at a pretty good album that's missing the thesis statement that would elevate it to greatness.

Here's an odd question for you all: have you ever found something - be it a video game, a movie, a television show, a band, a song - that you've realized is quite good, but is just missing something to make them a favourite of yours? Maybe it's a flaw in the art design, maybe it's a bad character, maybe it's an awkward control, or maybe it's just a personal foible - hell, you might not even be able to distinguish what the flaw is, but you know it's there. You can fully recognize why other people like it, and you can even respect the talent and effort that goes into that thing, but you just can't get behind it like everyone else. 

I can answer the question definitively for a number of things. I know that Lil Wayne is really good, but his meandering flow and hashtag rap doesn't connect with me. I know the Foo Fighters are a great band, but there's something about their delivery and performance that puts me off slightly. I know both of these acts are really good, sometimes at the very top of their genre, but there's something that's preventing me from liking them as much as I want to.

And in the indie rock scene, one of those acts that I wish I could like more than I do is the Canadian post-punk New Wave band known as Metric.