split tapes are nifty, especially when you can come up with a common and uplifting theme of riding your bike around and experiencing a sense of liberty and autonomy. maybe its growing up, mixed with the nostalgia of summer with all this snow outside, or whatever it might be, it makes me happy.
some say bikes are a hipster thing. thats like saying walking is an ascetic thing. maybe it is, i doubt it, but anyhow i dont really care too much. its fucking fun and makes me feel good, just like this tape.
owl and antler
i was also playing the night of the tape release. i was stoked to see old friends and introduce myself to new folks as well. everyone was excited to see robin home and to see joe and play their songs in the long narrow basement show on adelaide.
the show was great, with lots of singalongs and a pretty good turnout despite the cold and it being a wednesday night. but i guess im not reviewing the show, but instead the reason for the show, the celebration of the release of the split tape. fish food and owl and antler.
when you first press play on the tape, well, i guess when i first pressed play i had it on the wrong side so it immediately stopped and i had to flip it over, but after that there is a quiet sample of some sort of sleep medication or something and then robin kicks in with the epic strumming to "i love this bike". good contrast to the sleep aid sample as this song will surely wake me up anytime i hear it. with soaring, and breaking and tumbling vocal lines, robin screams more than sings sometimes, but there is still the melody, the rise and descent of the vocals, the dynamic clawhammer, and manic strum of the banjo. it would be like if marcus mumford lost all his money, studio technicians and the rest of the band, and had to sing on the street corner to get paid (yeah i just compared robin to marcus mumford).
robin is a great song writer and has a knack for writing catchy melodies and filling them with intricate stories of family, growing up and getting a little jaded. what else do you need to see you through long winter nights?
diy/production/up and coming
i think joe mentioned at that they recorded all the tracks themselves, playing all the instruments and writing all the songs. maybe i heard them wrong (see the earwax note), but the instrumentation is pretty well put together for someone likely recording it all in their bedroom at home. whenever ive tried to do that its turned out pretty bad so kudos to them on a job well done.
and again with the goddamn poppy catchy tunes. my god. i wish i could write songs like this. i wish i could learn to be personal and poetic with my lyrics in a way that sold a love song to the most jaded as fish food does with this tape. i wish i wish i wish, but instead of just practicing my song writing im writing reviews instead. gotta get on the practicing.
"and i will flip my pedals, the whole ride home" . goddamn. this line just melts my mid winter heart and makes me burn for a coming spring. i cant stop singing it to myself. i cant wait to watch this sims fellow over the next couple of years. i know they arent that young, but definitely not that old. i can see a ton of music coming in the next couple years. maybe this is their comparative "songs of innocence", to owl and antlers "songs of experience" on the other side. now i dont think william blake wouldve been a fan of folk punk or whatever this music is, but i do and im glad that this joe wrote these songs and put in all the effort to record them all and put them on this tape for everyone to listen to and enjoy.
two things i would've liked to see:
i wish there was more time for recording, and better gear. robin's voice peaks so often on the tracks that it gets frustrating sometimes, and when you think of the experience of a live show compared to the constrictions of whatever means they used to record (an older four track i think i heard) you wish it wouldve been right off the floor in a nice cushioned room somewhere.
also, robin was sick. i remember when i was in halifax last and robin would break down coughing between each song they played, and this happens during the recording as well. but maybe that could lend to an authenticity which most music lacks these days. i can get into it, in time, with nostalgia for hanging out late with robin encouraging them to take better care of themselves. but whatever... quality could be improved on the album, especially from a radio perspective. i cant play these songs on my show cause they are rough enough as is, and then through broadcast, even more is degraded and lost.
just dont do ya the justice, kids.
lyric sheets. fish food and owl and antler are a mumbly bunch, and sometimes on the tape, or even the digital recordings as heard on bandcamp, the vocals come out muddy and slurred, and i dont anyones drunk.
with all the singalongs at the release show, and at other shows likely i imagine there would be a ton of opportunities for gang vocals from all sorts of folks, if only we all knew the words. lyrics help tell the tale of the songs and if you spend time writing and working them to fit the music, then please share them! let's be witness to your beautiful creations.
but maybe its me. i am getting old and going a little deaf... or maybe its too much earwax?
- byron, january 21, 2014.
you can listen to my show "byron in the afternoon" on 93.3 cfru in guelph or online at cfru.ca every other friday from 2pm - 4pm.