A Few Things:

  1. Yes, I know I need to catch up on my Canadian music thing. I spent two days in Vancouver this week, and it's kind of helped contribute to putting me behind on updates. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday's music reviews will be up by tomorrow. I hope. (Expect reviews on The Russian Futurists, Bend Sinister, and "To Be Announced"!)

  2. Regarding wednesday's haiku. Okay, so my sister is almost six months pregnant, which is very exciting news. Unfortunately, she had a bit of a scare in which she went into false labour last week. You guys can imagine how scary that would be. Anyways, the haiku was about that. Luckily, everything seems to be going well now, and my fingers are crossed things stay that way. I really want to meet little Olivia Geiger, after all. Anyways, this is one time I agree with you all - that haiku is very "ugly". Here's hope I have no more to write along those lines.

  3. I have been extraordinarily stressed out lately. There are quite a few reasons why: I've started two new jobs in the last month; money is as tight as ever; I have a rather big surgery coming up in less than two weeks (!); the aforementioned problems regarding my niece to be; starting new medications; and a few other things that aren't quite as major. The long and short of it is, I've kind of been a bit snappy to people around me. If I've been a bit pissy, my apologies. I really don't mean to be a dick. At least, not this time.

Weekly Haiku #60: my niece

low in the belly

breakout like krauts on the rhine

hold fast! or stillborn

20. Mother Mother, "Eureka" (2011)

Hometown: Quadra Island, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'The Stand', 'Problems', 'Getaway'

Didn't I just review this, like, a month ago?

Yes. Yes I did. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be included in this list, so here goes again.

Last time I talked about this album, I was unsure exactly what I felt about it. Now, a few months down the road, I can tell you with certainty that the album accomplished what it set out to do - it created a unique sound that is electric, quirky, and exciting. And while it's not always my cup of tea, there are definitely many tracks that worm their way into my head.

Of course, if the past few weeks have taught me anything, it is that my three picks for 'notable tracks' are completely off. I expect all sorts of comments telling me how I should have included the dance-able 'Baby Don't Dance' or the new wave-influenced 'Original Spin' or the rocky 'Simply Simple' as notable tracks.

And fair enough, I say. Because all of those songs (and others on the album I haven't mentioned ) are great. Way I see it, if people are telling me I picked the wrong "notable tracks", it means the artist has done a very good job at creating - because so many tracks on it are good. And Eureka (which means "I Found it" in latin, a very apt title for this breakout piece) is damn good.

19. Timber Timbre, "Creep On Creepin' On" (2011)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec
Notable Songs: 'Black Water', 'Woman'. 'Too Old to Die Young'.

If you listen to CBC Radio 3 at all, you already know Timber Timbre already - they're sort of the darlings of 2011, it seems. And it makes sense why - moody, bluesy, folksy, and delightfully urban, the band has a sound that is delightfully unique and familiar all at once.

Timber Timbre have really put together an album that's absolutely blissful to put on in the background. It's music that is absolutely 'cool' to listen to, and I'm sure there are all sorts of college students out there who are busily playing this to impress the other poli-sci students as they partake of recreational drugs and time-wasting.

For me, listening to the groovy and wistful 'Black Water' brings me back to the days of lying on my bed with BB King playing in the background, happily being miserable listening to what my mother calls "Music to hang yourself to".

'Woman', meanwhile, is bluesy in the exact same way that Deep Purple was 'bluesy', and I mean that as a compliment. Timber Timbre does a cover of "Smoke On the Water" here that is actually, you know, good.

Creep on Creepin' On has those urban, almost R&B tracks interspersed with atmospheric stringed pieces such as 'Obelisk' and 'Swamp Magic'. Couple those with folksy tracks such as 'Too Old to Die Young', and you'd think you were listening to something hailing from decades ago, and not just a few months ago.

18. Arcade Fire "The Suburbs" (2010)

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec
Notable Tracks: 'Empty Room', 'Wasted Hours', 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)'.

I kind of feel guilty, listing an album that is very well known and has won international music awards. After all, when talking about great canadian records, doesn't that go hand in hand with obscurity?

If that doesn't make me a hipster...

...But good is good, and The Suburbs definitely deserves recognition, even if it's already been recognized in places just a tiny bit larger than my wee li'l blog.

The Suburbs, a tightly-recorded concept album centred around suburban living, brings up and revisits several musical themes, particularly the guitar tracks that open and close the album - 'the suburbs' and 'the suburbs (continued)'. While much it has that indie rock vibe that is all the rage these days, it does stray into some uncharted territories - my favourite track on the album, 'Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)', is a strange lovechild between indie rock and ABBA. And 'Month of May' is almost punk like in its intensity, only without the jackboots and atrocious fashion sense.

But if you're a fan of the danceable beats and original guitar licks that have justly made The Arcade Fire famous, you'll still find them herein. This is very much a record that makes you feel good, and one that you will find yourself getting lost within.

When I first started listening to the album, I did so with trepidation. How much of it was due to hype and the music media, and how much of it was actually good? Turns out, most of it was good - I had to admit this to myself after listening to it three times straight. I had been finding more and more excuses to put on my ipod and 'walk for a few more songs'.

17. Black Mountain "Wilderness Heart" (2010)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: "The Hair Song", "The Way to Gone", "The Space of Your Mind".

On my itunes list, Black Mountain is nestled right between the Black Keys, and Black Sabbath. Which, strangely enough, could probably be used as a shorthand to describe the group - they're not quite as heavy and riffy as Black Sabbath, and not quite as bluesy and pared down as the Black Keys. And this is, of course, a very good thing.

Black Mountain are this decade's version of Stoner Rock, with a liberal dose of indie, a touch of keyboard-driven new wave, and even a bit of acoustic hippiness thrown in for good measure. If you're not familiar with "Stoner Rock", think of 1970s hard rock without the guitar solos, focused around the rhythm section, and lacking the aggression of heavy metal. Or, as I describe it, pure musical bliss. I was a stoner rock fanatic for years. And Black Mountain has singlehandedly reminded me of just why I loved it so much for so long.

It's the perfect storm of detuned guitar awesomeness.

That being said, this album isn't "pure" or "classic" stoner rock, if there's really such a thing. In addition to the "typical" stoner sound, it has acoustic guitar lines, female vocals, and atmospheric keyboards that manage to NOT be "prog rock". This is a very good thing for me, because it's almost as if Stoner Rock was saying "look, Dave, we have that stoner sound you love... but we've added those indie things you love, too!".

In short, Black Mountain seems to be perfectly suited for me. And because of this, I've spent the last two days in my living room, in absolute musical bliss. Easily the best album I've heard in 2011. Even if you don't like hard music, you need to check out this album. Listen to a few tracks, and I guarantee there's something in here that will appeal to you.

Like I said before. A Perfect Storm.

Scene from a job:

DAVE: (talking to a supervisor about a different co-worker) Go easy on her. You're only nineteen once, and I'm sure you were just as bad.
DAVE: Hunh?
COWORKER: You're not only nineteen once.
DAVE: Um. Yeah you are. You're nineteen for exactly one year.
COWORKER: Not true. You can be as old as you want to be.
DAVE: Uh...
COWORKER: For example, I never stopped being twelve.
DAVE: You never stopped being.... twelve?
COWORKER: I've been a twelve year old boy for more than fifteen years.

(Long pause)

DAVE: Stay away from my kids.

Yeah, this pretty much happened, word for word. My supervisor roared with laughter, and we proceeded to good-naturedly tease my co-worker.

Family Emergency

Spent last night pacing and being all worried and whatnot. While I was in more or less a good mood, my mind wasn't exactly clear to catch up on blogging. There were a few reasons why:

  1. My sister is in the hospital for some complications regarding her pregnancy (I'm sending all sorts of good vibes her way, and you guys should too!)

  2. I've got a surgery in two weeks, and I'm getting a bad case of the pregame jitters.

  3. Problems involving my enrolment in Pharmacare that, thankfully, have now been resolved.

Anyways. It made battling out a 500 word review on some album or another a bit difficult. But, as I did last week, I'll come back and write one late. Probably sometime tonight, so I can still technically hit my deadline.

In other music news, I just discovered Black Mountain today. I'm amazed it's taken this long. Maybe I'm the only person in the world who still loves Stoner Rock, but holy fuck, these guys are amazing. Next payday, I'm buying their entire discography at Ditch Records.

You are now updated.

16. Hey Rosetta! "Seeds" (2011)

Hometown: Newfoundland
Notable Songs: 'Welcome', 'Seventeen', 'Bandages'

Hailing from Canada's windier, colder coast, Hey Rosetta! has already forged a reputation based on sweeping string arrangements accompanied with indie rock guitars and aggressive acoustic stylings. This time around, they've taken it even one step further.

Seeds is a collection of songs all connected with that trademark "Hey Rosetta! sound", with songs rising in crescendo and pitch before dying down softly for a few seconds, giving us just enough time to prepare for the next one. No song on the album ends in the same way it began, and if there is anything as simple as a verse/chorus/verse chorus track to be found, it's hidden very well.

The lyric matter is based around the idea of seasons and growth, which I suppose makes this a work of fantasy for the Newfies, who are used to seventeen months of winter every year (they double up from september to january).

The album is best taken as a whole, and not as a collection of singles. Because of this, it's hard for me to pick out notable songs. I chose these three because they work incredibly well connected as they are, and because they do an amazing job finishing the album. 'Yer Spring' would be another likely choice.

Lines of communication

This is kind of a brain fart, a half-formed thought that's been kicking in my head for a few days. Bear with me, here.

Yesterday, I spoke a bit about history. And I'm going to carry on in that vein, with a quick little observation that was half pointed out during a class a few years back, by my very wise (and wry!) professor, Clarence Bolt.

It goes like this - empires have a tendency to form. Empires are composed of many different peoples, of many different cultural habits. For an empire to remain an empire, and not dissolve into many disparate pieces, the core of the empire has to control the periphery.

It can do this with force, or with commerce, or with many other means. But whether you want to control your fringes through force of arms, mercantile/economic controls, or through cultural assimilation, you need to have one thing first - communication. You need to be able to keep the lines of communication open in your empire. If your people speak different languages, your roads and sea-lanes are dangerous to pass, and the cultural differences between your disparate peoples are too great, your empire is in danger.

A recent theory that has emerged is that Rome made it as an empire because it ranged from East to West. See, cultural factors rely upon environmental factors - all desert cultures share common traits, for example. Since the roman empire was all on the same rough longitudinal lines, and therfore in the same climate band, the cultures that fell under Roman control shared many similar traits - you could live on the eastern border of the empire or the western border, and still be eating the same crops.

Compare that to the new world, where the Incan empire was arranged on a north/south axis that, so the theory goes, made the government doomed from the start. The people ate different food due to climate differences. And a jungle people overseeing a desert people meant neither culture was sensitive to the others' needs.

Okay. Following me so far?

We can presume that holding open lines of communication, cultural and economic as well as military, are the means to successful empire-building. The thing is, today, it is possible for there to be no "core" of the "Empire". And the lines of communication have changed from roads and seaways to telecommunications and the internet. In short, the globalisation of the world has enabled the possibility of a one-world empire.

While I don't think we'll see anything like that in any of our lifetimes, I imagine it'll happen in the next few centuries - a one world government. And it's the type of thought that brings me great happiness.

15. Tegan & Sara, "Sainthood" (2009)

Hometown: Calgary, Alberta.
Notable Songs: 'Don't Rush', 'Red Belt', 'Someday'

What? You don't know Tegan and Sara? Seriously? These guys, while still lumped in with the "indie" crowd, are very much mainstream. It's been said that Tegan and Sara are must-have albums if you want to be taken seriously as a lesbian, these days.

This is a poor joke, but it's one I've heard far too many times. I wonder how many people don't listen to these great western Canadian musicians, simply because of their "gay connection"? Some people definitely think of Tegan and Sara Quin as the indie punk/rock version of Lady Gaga, which is a crying shame, because the music deserves a good chunk of praise that often gets swallowed up in favour of conversations on sexual orientation.

And I've fallen to the same trap, discussing their sexuality for two whole paragraphs before I even mention the music. This annoys me, because the music is great. Upbeat, uptempo, and just generally "up", it's music that comes from a lot of different places. It has an unabashedly simple lyrical structure that is undeniably folk, yet the electric guitars are punk and the electronics and drums are dance or "new wave".

This is an album that always gets me tapping my foot. It never drops into ballads, and instead follows the punk rock ethos of an increasing, frenetic tempo. While this album, due to my own personal tastes in music, will never make it to my top ten list of albums, the drive and energy of it all has made this a recent preference when it is time to clean the house or do dishes. It's dance music for grumpy gingers who hate dance music, that's for sure.

As for the lyrics, some are personal, some are quirky, and some are the usual post-relationship stuff. Mention of poker faces are kept to a blessed minimum, and they never whine about the manner in which they were born.

Wanna hear something cool? Even though they're identical twins, you can hear the difference in their voices. Listen to it on the tracks; it's a pleasant surprise.

Isn't this enough (Tim Minchin)?

why do we still name what's beyond our stars
giving glory to what isn't ours?
we'll blame ourselves for the greed and hate
yet praise a being we all helped create?

why do we reach through space
hoping to touch our creator's face?
blind to our world, blind to our lives
yet said to see all reasons why?
why ignore the ground beneath our feet
ignore life, in favour of belief?
blind to our world when we see with faith
I ask you now for everyone' sake
isn't this enough?
isn't all this enough?

we went to space in ten year's time
freed ourselves and freed our lines
cured disease and healed our minds
mapped our genes and stretched our lives
yet still we cling to dead beliefs
misplaced facts long obsolete
like a two in a line of ones and zeroes
truth left behind in tales of heroes
look to the skies yet fail to see
no good ever came from a bended knee

why do we still reach out through pace
hoping to touch our creator's face
he's blind to our world and blind to our lives
we are our own reason why
why ignore the ground beneath our feet
ignore all this beauty and favour belief?
we're blind to our world when we see with faith
believe in ourselves and not in a fake
isn't this enough?
shouldn't this be enough?

Diabetes and Travel

Looks like I'm going on an overnight trip to Vancouver next week. Should be a fun little trip, with yours truly along mostly as "moral support". Two words seldom applied to me, either together or singularly. I'm relishing the change, though. Makes me feel all grown up and stuff.

While talking to my friend about the trip, I started asking a lot of questions about when we were leaving. Where are we eating? What time do we get there? Etc.

And of course, it began to annoy her, to the point where she finally said "Can't we just wing it!?"

My wounded defence centred around my diabetes, which worked. I said that I wanted to know roughly when meals were so I could plan insulin accordingly.

Afterwards, though, I realized that this is complete bullshit, and has been bullshit for years. I don't need to plan my insulin accordingly. Not anymore. In fact, when I travel, I do exactly what she wanted to do - I "wing it". I do my 28 units of Lantus insulin at 10 pm, every night, and I do my humalogue insulin in response to meals. Beyond that, nothing is set in stone.

This has been the case for about four years now, ever since my endocrinologist saved my life and changed my insulin types. While I have to carry food for low blood sugars, that's always the case, not just for travelling. So why the worries?

Easy. I used to be on different insulins - namely, "R" and "N", which while they sound cool (like the "Mr T." of insulins, or something), are kind of, well, shitty. "R" insulin supposedly had the "R" stand for "Rapid". Except, you had to do it half an hour before eating, and it stayed in your bloodstream for hours after eating. And the "N" was supposedly "Long lasting", but it only lasted twelve hours. And was unreliable.

True story. When I first met my endocrinologist, he was stunned I was still on "R" and "N" insulins. He said something like "Dave, your blood tester was made in 2005, and is state of the art. Your insulin was developed in the 1980s. You are a 1980s diabetic. Do you really want an insulin that's been around since before MC Hammer?"

Or something to that effect. It's been a while.

Anyways, these two insulins were a pain in the ass. They meant that you had to plan out most of your day before you got out of bed. I'm going to have a bowl of cereal for breakfast. At noon, I'll eat a sandwich at that nice deli. Three pm I'll have six graham crackers, and spaghetti for dinner at 6. I'll have cereal sometime around 10 pm, and be in bed by midnight.

Seriously. That was my life. For a good ten years or so, I'd have these charts that I'd have to follow. The "freedom" in the chart was that, yeah, while I had to eat a "fruit" at 3 pm, I got to choose the fruit. Any act of spontaneity in my life had a twelve hour delay. I'd wake up and say, "aw, hell with it. I'm going to eat steak tonight!"

You can imagine how travel would mess that up. If a ferry or plane was late, you might not be able to grab a meal in the right time window, and everything would get topsy turvy. You'd find yourself in the 7/11 at 3:05 in a panic, saying "well, mountain dew is kind of a fruit...." and hoping for the best.

If you were like me, your friends would make it even worse. Because unlike me, they had the luxury of spontaneity. Which I'm pretty sure they exercised just to piss me off.

"Hey, Dave, I know we planned to eat on the ferry... but let's just wait and eat at this nice steakhouse instead. It's only another two hours' wait!"

And then you have to decide whether you eat on the ferry and then watch your friends eat at this awesome restaurant while you have salad... or you skip your ferry meal and feel sick as your insulins mess you up internally. It's kind of the diabetics' version of Sophie's choice, only with better cinematography.

But nowadays? Not the case. So I guess my travel anxiety is kind of a relic. Ironically, though, it only shows up when I'm travelling with other people, because part of me is afraid they're going to throw my meticulously planned meal schedules off. Which is funny, because these days, my meticulously planned meal schedules are basically "Sometime before noon and midnight, eat something."

Which is a schedule I can keep. Most of the time.

And now, for something completely different

I don't really mention it too often, but I have a history degree.

A lot of people assume that history classes in the college and university level focus entirely on events - you spend the entire class associating names with dates, going on and on in an endless litany. And, well, this is not really case. While you do get a fair amount of dates and names, the main focus on the class is on comparing and contrasting events, and trying to interpret what was going on.

And often, in that interpretation, looking at ourselves. Really, how we interpret the past says a lot about who we are as a people now.

For example, the Romans. The Romans, as an empire, died out sometime in the third or fourth century C.E. (Common Era), though they'd been having problems before that. Now, we've had a lot of knowledge about the Romans, in the form of written records preserved at the time. There is relatively little in the amount of new knowledge that's filtered in over the years - archaeology gives us all sorts of pieces that fill in the "little picture", but the "big picture" has more or less been known since the late middle ages.

And yet, every few decades, the theory on why the empire ended has changed. It went from divine punishment (the Romans killed Christ, after all), to being one about the perils of autocratic government. By the time of the french revolution, the theory was that it collapsed under the weight of an overly centralized government. More modern theories spoke about the problems of extending the franchise of roman citizenship to too many people, that the empire could no longer sustain itself except through a military-industrial complex (sound familiar?).

In the 1980s, a lot of theories were written about the welfare state that Rome had become, since over a million romans were "on the dole". And it might come as a surprise to learn that the theories have changed since then - a lot of historians now say that part of the roman collapse was due to ecological strain that the romans were putting on their environment.

I'm not really interested in talking about the romans, here, though they are absolutely fascinating to read about. Instead, it is the fact that the past hasn't changed. The past cannot change. But our interpretation of the past can change. And history teaches us that we can use whatever lens we'd like to look back on past human lessons learned, and walk away a bit wiser as a result. Because here's the thing - all those theories? Most probably have a grain of truth in them, that we can use to better our own lives.

It bothers me that history degrees lead to nothing but McJobs. Way I see it, they should be mandatory for anyone involved in the public works. But then, maybe that's just because I'm sick of my McJob.

14. We Are the City, "In a Quiet World" (2009)

Hometown: Kelowna, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'Feel is a word', 'my old friend', 'Peso loving squid'

Confession time. I liked this band when I saw them live, and liked their album up until the song 'Astronomers', wherein the vocalist begins to question man's landing on the moon. This, for those who don't know, is one of my big pet peeves, and I wanted to hate the band then and there.

Luckily, I put my biases aside and listened to it a few more times. The beautiful piano lines, expansive drum rhythms, and incredibly tight guitar lines tie in together in a perfect example of "less is more". There is no bass guitar in this album, but you would never notice it until it was pointed out to you.

This is a rock album with just the right amount of experimentation, with occasional pink floyd and alt rock homages in the guitar lines. I know I'm not the only person to hear a Bryan Adams' tone in "Time, Wasted". (Hey, wasn't he from BC, too?) The reflective vocals have just the right note of melancholy, and the drums never try to get too fancy. It is an album that is at once heavy and soft, often with nothing more than a second's pause between gentle guitar lines and thunder coming down.

Ironic, I suppose, for an album titled "In a Quiet World". But then, in a quiet world, I'd feel like making a little bit of noise, too.

Weekly Haiku #59 - giant

stroll empty hallways

outstretched fingers brush both walls

a giant, alone

13. Library Voices, "Denim on Denim" (2010)

Hometown: Regina, Sasketchewan

Notable Tracks: 'Drinking Games', 'Haunt this House', 'Party like it's 2012'

The band describes themselves as 'Pop as Fuck'. They claim inspiration from The Talking Heads, The Violent Femmes, and Fleetwood Mac.

Yeah, that sounds about right.

I'd also add in a bit of The Strokes for inspiration - especially on the track 'Party like it's 2012', with stroke-like guitar lines and lines like "Party Like it's 2012, let's hear it for the Rapture!".

This is a band that comes with wry observations, catchy guitar and keyboard lines, and vocal cleverness galore. It is clean-cut in sound, and despite having something like seven members, nothing ever sounds extraneous. The band seems to know that less is more, and I can't wait to hear what the next full-length album (due out next month!) sounds like.

And, to make everything even better, they're coming for Rifflandia this year! You can bet I'll be up front and centre, singing along to 'Drinking Games', one of my favourite tracks of the last year.

12. The New Pornographers, "Moves" (2011)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'Moves', 'Crash Years', 'Your Hands (Together)'

I feel guilty with this review.

You see, those three "notable songs" up at the top there just happen to be the very first three songs of the album. Because of this, I'm almost afraid my reader(s) will accuse me of not really reviewing the album, and just picking the first three tracks as "notable".

It's not true. It's just that this is an album that starts off with such a huge bang that you have to give credit where credit is due. "Moves" is built around electric guitars and strings that sound like a modern version of 'Eleanor Rigby'. 'Crash Years', sung by the always amazing Neko Case, is your usual amazing New Pornographers' track, while 'Your Hands (together)' is, as the title suggests, the type of thing you will find yourself clapping along to.

Of course, as with any New Pornographers' album (they're all good), there are a lot more than three "notable tracks". 'A Bite out of my bed' is a weird combo of acoustic guitars and new-age synths (and strings) that really catches the ear, and the album-closing 'We End Up Together' is very much your anthemic rock ballad.

So, yeah, there are a lot of notable tracks. The whole album, with its sweeping string arrangements, simple yet effective guitar lines, and hand-clapping rhythms coupled with New Pornographer-style duets make this one of those albums that has a sound entirely its own.

The fact that the Pornographers have been doing that since 2001 should give you an idea of just how amazing (and underrated) they really are.

Phone Anxiety

How I Think The Conversation Will Go:

BC HYDRO: Hi. This is BC Hydro. How can I help you today?
DAVE: Uh. Yeah... I moved, and forgot to tell you guys. And now I don't have hot water.
BC HYDRO: Oh, yes. Look here. Also, you haven't yet paid last month's bill!
DAVE: ...right. Uh, I've just started a new job, things have been a bit tight, can I pay it on the 15th?
BC HYDRO: No! Pay it now, or we'll cut all your power. Your hot water is just the beginning!
DAVE: But, but....
BC HYDRO: Don't pay it soon, and we'll break your fucking knees, man.

How the Conversation Inevitably Actually Goes:

BC HYDRO: Hi, this is BC Hydro. How can I help you today?
DAVE: Um, yeah... I moved, and forgot to tell you guys. And now I don't have hot water.
BC HYDRO: But you still have power, right?
DAVE: Yeah.
BC HYDRO: Oh, then it's a hot water tank problem.
DAVE: Geez. I feel dumb.
BC HYDRO: Don't! We get this alot, it's a common question.
(Address is updated, etc)
DAVE: Uh, I actually still haven't paid my balance from last month.
BC HYDRO: We understand! These things happen. So long as you pay it by August, things'll be good.
DAVE: Oh, uh...
BC HYDRO: Is there anything else we can do to help you today?
BC HYDRO: Have a pleasant day!

11. Hey Ocean! "It's easier to be somebody else" (2008)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Songs: 'A Song About California', 'Alleyways', 'Moving On'

Hey Ocean! are a young trio from Vancouver, British Columbia. Fronted by the always adorable Ashleigh Ball and carried by two different guys named David (represent!), the band has an upbeat, pop sound that is well grounded in jazz. Basslines, guitar chords, and drumbeats all borrow generously from jazz traditions, resulting in a pop album that sounds considerably different than all of the other unique pop albums out there.

A big part of this is due to Ashleigh Ball's voice, the predominant voice on the record. Husky and yet seemingly paradoxically filled with joy, it is at once similar and completely different than, say, Amy Winehouse. This is a party album, filled with happiness even when it's sad. It is about love, the joy of life, and adoration of the world around us.

And of course, it seems to hit a chord among, well, everyone. For christmas, I put a few songs by the band on a CD I made for my mom. She put those songs on repeat, and begged me for a copy of this album. Strangely, my sister, who also had a few Hey Ocean! songs on her ipod, asked for more as well. As for me, this has been an album that's played in the background for the better part of nine months.

On Sports:

I once heard it said that Sports were invented so that fathers could speak to their sons.

It's definitely true, at times.

I'll call my mother and we'll chat for twenty minutes, talking about movies, baking, trips, or whatever. And then she'll pass the phone to my dad, and within about three milliseconds, he's talking about some trade the Maple Leafs are about to close, and I'm complaining about how Dany Heatley just got traded.

To all those people who complain about sports, who say they're a waste of time, or violent, or whatever else, all I can say is that you're missing the point. Or that you know nothing about being male in the 21st century.

Sports allow two men to let their guard down, and share in something beyond themselves. They allow two self-conscious men, taught by society to be isolated and tough, to say without saying that they respect one another. And that, I think, is why I think so many people obsess over minute trivia - so at the end of the day, they have more to talk about in those brief moments when they let their guard down.

This is what I love most about sports. Everything else is just gravy.

10. Christian Hansen and the Autistics, "Power Leopard" (2009)

Hometown: Edmonton, Alberta
Notable Songs: 'Cocaine Trade', 'Someone I Can Love', 'High School is Over'

This is one of those albums that you listen to, think you have an easy definition, and then realize it doesn't quite fit. I mean, this is obviously cheerful dance music, right?

Then you listen to the lyrics, and realize they're surprisingly dark considering the energetic nature of the beats. "Father Ray" is about church molestation; "Calypso Hippo" is about the overseas sex trade, and even the super upbeat "Cocaine Trade" is about the pointlessness of the mid nineties dance movement that this band is a nostalgic throwback to.

So what is Christian Hansen and the Autistics? For me, it's a band that frequently brings new readers to my blog. Everyone loves these cheerful throwbacks to the simpler times of nineties dance mixes and Rick Astley, after all.

If I had to settle on a definition, that's what I'd go with - Rick Astley with a better voice, better lyrics, and a bass line worth listening to. In other words, everything that Rick Astley is not, Christian Hansen is.

Aren't definitions tricky?


Cleaning my apartment, and found another old journal. It was filled with song lyrics, guitar chords, old D&D crap, and sketches.

I found this nice little lyrical snippet that I thought was kind of okay, considering it's in draft form. I figure I wrote it about eight, nine years ago. Maybe a bit more.

i still feel you in my fingers
i still smell you in my clothes
i'll still hear your voice in whispers
still see you in photos
i'm so sorry for leaving you
before what will be will be
i lay awake and hope you don't forget
all your memories of me
because i'm coming home
i'm coming home

9. The Rural Alberta Advantage, "Departing" (2011)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario (I know, it's weird. You'd think they were from, like, Alberta or something)
Notable Songs: 'Two Lovers', 'Muscle Relaxants', 'Coldest Days'

I can hear it now. "But Dave," all my non-existent daily readers loudly proclaim, "You already reviewed this album, like, two months ago!"

Yeah, so? It's a good album. And it deserves to be on this list. So shut up.

Since April, this album has been in fairly frequent rotation on my ipod. There is something about the album's energetic and simplified drum/keyboard/guitar rock offerings ("Stamp", "Muscle Relaxants", "Tornado '87") coupled with mid-tempo ballads ("Two Lovers", "Coldest Days", "North Star") that really pulls the entire piece into one cohesive whole.

In less hipster-esque speak, it's a damned good album, not just a collection of radio-worthy singles. Though you can no longer refer to this band's singles as being purely a hipster offering - they have had more market penetration these days than almost any band in Canada. You see, there was this little sports event called the "Stanley Cup Playoffs". And the R.A.A's single, "Stamp", was the background song for a beer commercial that featured very heavily in the TV timeouts. In other words, if you watchd the playoffs in Canada, you've already heard these guys.

Of course, hipster that I am, because the song was featured in a beer commercial, it is no longer "notable" in my book. Whoopsie doodle.

8. Imaginary Cities, "Temporary Resident" (2011)

Hometown: Winnipeg, Manitoba
Notable Songs: 'Say You', 'Ride this Out', 'Marry the Sea'

Okay. So pretty much at least once a week, I have to defend myself against people that accuse me of being a hipster. This is, of course, one of the many dangers inherent in writing a music blog. This post, unfortunately, is not going to help my arguments against being a hipster. Not one iota.

See, I'm currently reviewing an album that hasn't even been released yet. And, in case you don't know, that's kind of hipsteresque. Along with plaid shirts and ugly jeans.

In my defence, most of the album has already been released by the band on their CBC Radio 3 website. For what it's worth.

As for the album itself? Imagine deep, soulful R&B vocals, a la Nina Simone, paired with keyboards that masterfully straddle the border of "electronic" and "indie". Other instruments - drums, pianoes, even a guitar here and there - make guest appearances, but the main show is the interaction between classic vocals and new keyboards.

'Ride This Out', my favourite song so far, adds layer upon layer as it progresses, quickly accelerating into a frenetic climax that almost sounds out of place, considering the bluesy nature of the vocals. 'Marry the Sea' is this bizarre combination of 1950s pop rock and 1990s feminist alternative groups like the Cardigans. 'Purple Heart' is this moody, atmospheric piece that lives up to the song title as it explores the nature of being wounded. And 'Don't Cry' is the type of song Billie Holiday would sing were she alive today and fronting an indie band - I can't help but notice this song's similarities to Miss Holiday's 'Don't Explain', though maybe I am the only one in the world to do so.

In other words, this is an album that always seems to have one foot in the past and the other in the future. While I am unsure of the final product, or the exact track layout, of the samplings provided us, I can safely assume that the released product is going to be a true gift, and one that everyone should be very excited for. And, the true hipster I most assuredly am not, you can bet I'll be telling people I was listening to the band before their first album was released.

And you guys can, too.

New Religion:

I was at work the other day, with a co-worker I genuinely enjoy working with. He's from the Phillipines, and rather devoutly religious. At one point, he turned and asked me, point blank, my religion.

He meant nothing rude about it, so I answered him directly. Though it was rather difficult explaining to him exactly what an "atheist" was. When he finally did get what I was saying, he seemed almost a bit shocked, as if I had confessed to him that I was some sort of demon, intent on destroying his children and doing all of those other things that demons, atheists, abortionists, and telecommunicators are apt to do.

We worked in silence, each more mindful than ever of the gap between us. I am firm believer that religion's primary function is to further subdivide the collective "us" into divided "thems". But I digress.

The stereo played in that sweltering kitchen, until it came time for the Beatles to start singing. "All You Need is Love", John Lennon sang, and I looked over at my co-worker, who was singing along. So was I. We caught each others' eyes, and smiled.

Completely seriously, I l pointed at the stereo.

"You know what? That's my religion. And it's a damned fine one, if you ask me."

He smiled, nodded in agreement, and got back to work. The kitchen was peaceful once more as John Lennon preached.

7. Said The Whale, "Islands Disappear" (2009)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Tracks: 'Goodnight Moon', 'Camilo (The Magician)', 'Black Day in December'

Fun fact: I have a playlist on my ipod called "Cheer Up Music". It's basically exactly what it sounds like - a list of tunes that I can put on that guarantee a good mood.

Almost half of the songs are by Said The Whale, a group from Vancouver that seem to specialize in making poppy songs that, to me, are a much better-crafted and lesser-known version of The New Pornographers. Songs often have a perfect combo of acoustic and electric guitars, coupled with perfect keys and drumbeats.

Islands Disappear, the group's second full length album, consists of more than a few laid-back songs that pick up in pace, until by the end you're smiling and tapping your feet along. I dare anyone to listen to 'Gentleman' and not be carried away by the happy chords. And 'Goodnight Moon', played on a ukulele that progresses into what can only be described as a "musical dance number", is the spiritual successor to everyone's favourite StW song, 'The Light is You".

Another fun fact: I have sung 'Goodnight Moon' unknowingly while in a grocery store. And people have looked at me and laughed. And I did not care.

Because I was happy.

Weekly Haiku #58 - June

twisting in the wind

fall and hope I land intact

not as shattered glass

6. Hollerado, "Record in a Bag" (2010)

Hometown: Manotick, Ontario
Notable Songs: 'Americanarama', 'Juliette', 'What's Everybody Running For (part II)'

I'm not going to talk about how this album comes in a ziplock bag. And I'm not going to talk about how that ziplock bag is filled with stickers, guitar picks, confetti, instant tattoos, and download codes for additional songs. I won't even mention the chinese fortune included.

Because I really should just talk about the music. That's kind of what music reviews should be about, right? Right?

Clever marketing aside, Record in a Bag is rather brilliantly put together. It's upbeat rock and roll, plain and simple. Bluesy rock guitar lines, pounding bass lines that really form the skeleton of every song, and infectious radio-friendly lyrics. This is a feel good rock album, without any of the layers of pretension that we so often find in the indie scene. These are just simple, honest songs that don't pretend to be anything else.

Also, just as a heads up - if you get a chance to see these guys live, do it. Drop everything and do it. Even if you don't like rock music. Even if you don't like electric guitars and shaggy drummers. Why? Because these guys have so much energy and joy in them, it is impossible to walk away feeling anything but musical bliss.

Another dating story:

Yesterday, I mentioned the crazy horse lady. This reminded me of another story that happened at the same museum, a few years earlier.

It was another first date, with a different girl. The exhibit was about ancient Egypt, and this girl and I were really hitting it off, looking over various artefacts and attentively absorbing every minute detail.

Seriously, at one point, I was decoding hieroglyphics. Which was a skill I had at one point. People nearby were asking me questions about them. And I knew the answers. And the girl I was with? She thought this was cool.

I know, right?

It was a very good date. One of the best dates I have ever been on, before or since.

The crowning moment, though, was near the end of the exhibit. There was this giant stone block with drilled holes running through the bottom half. These tubes were for wooden staves, so that people (slaves) could carry the stone block. I knew this, but maybe the average person, seeing the block without those wooden poles, might understandably not realize this.

An old woman, who had seen me speak about the hieroglyphics and must have assumed I worked for the museum, asked me what these holes were for. And I told her.

"Those? Oh. They're actually ancient Glory Holes."


"Yeah. In fact, I think they're the first known appearance of a glory hole. You can see how primitive they were, originally."

My date laughed. Which was pretty awesome. The old woman, however, had no idea what the hell a 'glory hole' was, and there was no way in hell I was telling her. I have this private fantasy, though, that she got home and either googled it, or (better yet, in my cruel imagination) asked her grandson.

Good times.

5. Dan Mangan, "Nice, Nice, Very Nice" (2009)

Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia
Notable Tracks: 'Road Regrets', 'Robots', 'Basket'

When I first heard Dan Mangan, I didn't think much of him. But for the better part of a year and a half since then, I've found myself continuously coming back to this album. Again and again. And then, just when I thought I was sick of it, I'd find myself listening to it once more.

Dan Mangan's sophomore album has poignant, soulful, and beautiful lyrics that are always introspective and insightful; occasionally humorous and occasionally cynical; and never settling for cliched observations or rhyming schemes.

This whole work is an original, through and through. Nothing is ever done in a typical fashion, putting new spins on old themes. For example, the drums in 'Road Regrets' begin complex and steadily decrease in complexity until the outro, which is a simple beat reminiscent of Queen or AC/DC. Or listen to the hand claps on 'Sold', or the style of the call-and-answering lyrics in 'The Indie Queens are Waiting'. Or the complete lack of a chorus or steady rhyming scheme in 'Robots'. Or...

And that's the whole album. Nothing is easily labelled. Acoustic guitar stylings in the folk vein, with ramblings into rock and roll, country, bluegrass, and that catch-all commonly known as "indie" - there is no one genre that this album can be shoehorned into. This is one of a kind, and I fully understand what my friend Kate means when she says she's afraid of Mangan's next release - it's hard to imagine anyone being able to top this album. But after at least forty complete listenings, I have faith in Mr. Mangan.

This is, plainly, a "must have" album. Anyone who hasn't sat through beautiful pieces like the layered 'Fair Verona' or the cleverly self-deprecating 'Et Les Mots Croises' is missing out on something beautiful.

'Nuff said.

"Kind of a Dealbreaker"

Every time I mention dating, my blog gets a bunch of "ugly" hits. It would seem, in fact, that most of my readers don't much like me talking about dating, or women, or anything of that sort. But I like to tell funny stories, and I've found many of my funniest involve the fairer sex.

But until today, I hadn't shared one of the funniest.

It happened a little over a year ago. I had been talking to a girl online, and she seemed rather interesting and intelligent through our chats. She did work in a university lab, looking after and raising the test animals. She was, and is, the only girl I have ever gone on a date with who worked with monkeys as part of her day job, and for this reason alone, there will always be a special place in my heart for her.

We along well online, joking and trading stories. She seemed interested in the fact that I had a history degree, and assured me that she "loved" history. She even suggested we go to the new exhibit at the museum, which I thought was awesome. This was a mistake, however, because around three miliseconds after my money left my pocket and the tickets were in hand, I realized she had lied about loving museums as a way to impress me.

The girl could not locate egypt on a map, had no idea where mesopotamia was, and "knew" that Rome "went extinct, like, a couple of centuries ago." I nearly had an aneurysm on the spot. And it didn't get much better. You know a date is going bad when the highlight is talking to a sixty year old woman about Nordic chess pieces while your date plays with the makeup in the "kiddy korner".

Anyways, the date and I eventually found ourselves in the natural history wing of the museum, and things were looking much better. She mostly just looked at the stuffed moose and woolly mammoths. We were chatting pleasantly, and I had begun to put the awfulness of the main exhibit out of my mind, when we walked by a large stuffed horse. She began to go on, at length, about how much she loved horses.

And I mean at length. Did you know that people apparently think horse shoes are interesting? Or how to feed horses? Or cleaning up after them? I get that these are important things... but they are not interesting in any way. Let this be a rule: you should never discuss the bowel movement of horses on a first date.

Save it for the second date, ladies!

Anyways, I listened, made comments to show I was interested, and did all the usual polite first date stuff. When she asked me how I felt about horses, though, I started making jokes. Because this is what I do.

"Horses? I'm pretty sure horses eat people."

"Horses do not eat people, Dave."

"Really? Ever see a homeless person on a farm?"

This conversation was my crowning achievement. I could live another sixty years, and nothing will ever beat that conversation I had with a girl whose name I have since forgotten. I want my tombstone to mention it.

She didn't laugh. In fact, she looked like she was offended, which perplexed me. Were she, you know, normal, she'd be on the floor laughing her ass off. Because, in case you don't know, I'm hilarious. Despite this, I kept on talking. Because, hey, I was on a roll!

"Think about it. I'm sure horses are carnivorous. I mean, you've been on a farm, right?"


"You ever notice how, sometimes, chickens just.... disappear?"


"Horse got 'em."

I looked at her, and she began to clue in that I was joking. But still, she did not laugh. At all. Instead, we walked in silence for about a minute, before she asked:

"Dave? Do you really dislike horses?"

I decided to be honest. "No. I'm just nervous around them."

"Well. A guy not liking horses is kind of a dealbreaker for me."

Long pause.

"Fair enough."

And that was that.

4. Chromeo, "Business Casual" (2010)

Hometown: Montreal, Quebec

Notable Songs: 'Hot Mess', 'Night by Night', 'Don't Turn the Lights On'

The first time you listen to this album, you're going to have a hard time believing it came from 2010. In fact, the second time you listen to it, you'll have a hard time believing it came from 2010. The third time, too.

I still can't believe it.

This is an album rooted in the 1980s, coupled with the dance movement of the early 1990s. If you're familiar with early dance music from the time of MC-Hammer, or reverbed-up hair metal guitar solos, you know this album already. And if you know the lyrics to the "Ghostbusters" song by heart, I can assure you you'll love this album.

I am saying this is as a compliment. These are guys (a jew and a palestinian, the first time those people have ever worked together in the history of the universe, I'm sure) who are paying a homage to a lost art, and they maybe even cover a bit of new ground with it.

And people are loving it - this is a duo that is definitely up and coming, making new fans everyday. I'm sure many of these fans are similar to myself- people that listen and hearken back to a simpler time, singing along in the backseat while your mom drove you to swim practice.

Or maybe it's just me.

"That Guy"

I'll admit it. I can be a bit of a know-it-all sometimes. But only sometimes.

(That sound you're hearing is all my friends laughing at once. My friends are jerks. Also, liars).

Usually, I'm good at suppressing the urge to "correct" someone, and just let it lie. But sometimes, my mouth works faster than my brain. For example, two weeks ago.

I was on a first date, and it was going well. We were walking down the inner harbour chatting, looking at the various pieces of art. Some guy had done these drawings of various musicians, and my eyebrows raised. There was a great piece of Paul McCartney, and another one of Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

While they were good likenesses, they were filled with background images of stars, and numbers. The Led Zeppelin piece, for example, had the number "1948" just written in the background. And unfortunately, crazy artist started talking (at length) explaining the "meaning" of his art to us. And there is nothing worse than an artist who has to explain what his "work" actually "means".

Come on. It's a ten dollar painting of a rock star. And you're selling T-shirts of it. I don't really need to know why you put a diamond in the background.

But anyways. Turns out "1948" was the year Robert Plant was born. I happen to know Robert Plant's birthday, because it's the same day as mine, so I had to correct him. "Robert Plant was born in 1950".

Turns out you can turn an already crazy artist even crazier by telling him that he got some info wrong in his piece. Also, it turns out that yeah, Robert Plant was born in 1948, and I'm just full of shit.

Also, it turns out that even when I'm on a first date, I'm still capable of being "that guy".

3. Jenn Grant, "Honeymoon Punch" (2011)

Hometown: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Notable Songs: 'All Year', 'Getcha Good', 'Walk Away'

This is a hard one to explain. I'd like to say it's pop music as sung by the girl next door... but that'd be a gross oversimplification, and an unfair one, at that. It's an album that has beautiful high notes sung over keyboards and drums that at time sound less like a pop album and more like a late-nineties industrial album.

Seriously, many of the keyboard-focused lines remind me of the days when I used to sit at home and listen to old homemade goth recordings... except Jenn Grant isn't singing downer songs about running mascara and bullies at school. She's instead singing remarkably upbeat songs. "Walk Away", for example, sounds almost like it was a pop song sung to instrumentals from a Skinny Puppy album.

Other songs sound a bit more "pop-like". "Getcha Good" is old school country in a lot of ways that reminded me instantly of Robert Plant and Alison Krauss' cover of "Gone, Gone, Gone". And there are other songs that are carried by acoustic guitars or horn sections, in a more "traditional" Canadian indie vibe.

Moral of the story? This is an album that jumps genres readily, with everything kept together solely by Jenn Grant's crystal clear voice. Despite the variability of the tracks, and the genre switching, it has a unified voice that is remarkable. And dancingly upbeat. This is one of those albums you'll listen to a dozen times - and walk away smiling each time.

North Africa in the 1940s...

I've been thinking about the Second World War lately, and more specifically, my family's involvement in it. I've been tracking down things like my grandfather's unit designations, where he fought, where he was wounded, etc.

Because of this, I've also been thinking about other war stories regarding my family. My grandmother had four brothers (I believe), and none of them made it back alive. All but one died in combat. This is the story of that one.

His name was John*, and he was eighteen years old. He had enlisted as soon as he was able, having had to watch his older brothers go off to war. John went through basic training, and was assigned to a rifle company. He found himself on a transport ship, and wound up in North Africa.

This made him happy, as one of his brothers was serving in North Africa. This brother, by the way, was the guy who would introduce my grandmother to my grandfather, but that's another story for another time. Right now, we'll deal with John.

John found himself at the depot, his company loading onto trucks. Jack was the last person on the truck, which let him stare out at the desert landscape as they moved towards the front. No doubt John was nervous - would he get hit? Would he be killed?

They heard the artillery shells in the distance, low thuds that sounded like rolling thunder. The truck bounced along the hastily constructed road, and everyone bounced in their seats with bone-jarring regularity. Potholes were par for the course, and those who tried to power nap met with little success.

John was talking to a friend when the truck hit the mother of all potholes. John flew up, and hit his head on the ceiling with such force that his neck snapped. He was dead before he hit his seat.

I mention this because whenever we think of deaths in war, we always think of someone getting shot. Or bombed. Or somehow doing something that could conceivably result in a death. We don't remember that there are still fluke deaths in war. There are still accidents, falls, heart attacks, and even death by potholes.

My great uncle lies in a war cemetary. He never made it to the front, he never had a chance to fight for his country, and he never once fired a round in anger. But if you ask me, he deserves to be there. Because he still paid the ultimate price.

(*not really his real name)

2. Forest City Lovers, "Carriage" (2010)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Notable Songs: 'Tell Me Cancer', 'Pocketful of Rocks', 'Constellation'

Soft, folk-pop with a sharp lyrical edge, The Forest City Lovers are fronted by the lovely Kat Burns, whose latest album, Carriage, has lyrics that range from scathing attacks on hypocrites; the unsure nature of relationships; and love songs about being a tree.

There is an ethereal, ghostly quality to Burns' voice that echoes in the reverb soundscape crafted by the band behind her. This all combines to create the effect of a musical haunting - there is something spiritual and supernatural about the gentle acoustic chords and bare-bones electric approach.

This is very much a modern take on the old Canadian folk greats. Kat Burns is a modern-day Joni Mitchell, with an indie fashion sense and a throatier voice. While she can sing with acidic tinged beauty ("go tell your mother that you passed the test/befriended the good ones and fucked all the rest"), she still has her sense of humour, as in the final song, the poppy acoustic waltz 'If I Were a Tree' ("If I were a tree I'd give you wood/make you a dendrophiliac/I'd have a laugh because I could/oh my knots and twists are not for that").

As with all the great albums, there's a lot here. I've listened to it at least a dozen times, and I'm still blown away by the beauty to be found within.

1. Born Ruffians, "Say It" (2010)

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Songs of Note: “Oh Man”, “Retard Canard”, “The Ballad of Moose Bruce”.

Born Ruffians are a four piece combo of indie rockers that play with an unholy fusion of nerd rock, the clarity of 1960s surf rock, and the off-colour verbal nature of Modest Mouse. Their sophomore album reminds me of a stripped-down version of Cold War Kids’ Robbers & Cowards, with warmer guitars and approachable vocals that lack the typical indie-rocker pretension.

Say It is a strange hybrid. It is very much a "modern" indie record, with trendy off-key vocal lines and 1980s’ inspired bass lines and keyboard riffs. Yet, it is also a throwback to even earlier times, with warm – almost jazzy – guitar lines and rock and roll drum beats. This is an album that channels surf music, pre-Beatles rock, and surf in nature, and pop. This all ties together to create a sound that is both part of this decade’s “sound” while also being “timeless”.

After all, the album references the Ink Spots in “Retard Canard”, singing a line from the 1940s that is most well known these days as the refrain from Fallout 3. I’m pretty sure when Luke Lalonde was singing about not wanting to “Set the world on fire”, he was channelling a least a little bit of Three Dog (Awoooooo!)

I have no doubt that if Quentin Tarantino’s kid grows up to make movies, we’ll be hearing music like this playing in the background. Probably while Bruce Willis’ kid kills a gimp with a samurai sword or something.

This month's theme is "Canadian Music"

My general focus of this blog has long been music. It's been a bit more personal over the last few months, and that was all well and good. But it's time to get back to what's really important... music.

So, for the next month, expect at least one post a day. Each post will be about a Canadian album released in the past few years. Some of the albums are favourites of mine, while others have been recommended by friends. All are by Canadian artists. Some you may have heard of, some may be completely new to you. Each post will be fairly small - less than 250 words, mostly.

These daily albums won't be the entire blog, but they will make up the majority of July's posts. Hopefully, you guys will enjoy the change of pace. And, as usual, if you like the feature, lemme know - and share links with any friends you think'll be interested.

Looking forward to sharing music with you all.