Month: May 2016

Thrice – To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

It’s been a while since Thrice last released a studio album, almost five years in fact. So today is a day I’ve been in anticipation of for quite some time. They’ve always been my favourite band for their drive in pushing forward and trying new sounds and approaches to songwriting and To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is no exception.

ThriceTBEITBN

I was tempted to write this as a track-by-track but we’d be here for days so I’ll just go over the main highlights.

The most noticeable singular element of almost all of Thrice’s more recent work has to be the guitar tones, and TBEITBN follows suit. The cleans sound so crisp, bluesy and piercing without drawing your attention from the rest of the song, and the heavier tones feel like a warm musical hug, but not in a way that drowns out the more subtle elements. If you listen to The Window and Black Honey you’ll understand. And the vocals. Oh, the vocals. I’ve been in love with Dustin Kensrue’s voice for around 14 years but it seemed to reach a new level on Beggars and Major/Minor. It’s all gravelly and lovely. Blood On The Sand and Death From Above are my favourites for showcasing exactly what I mean.

They’re lyrically just as strong as ever too, I’ve been sat here for ages trying to pick some of my favourite examples but I can’t. They’re all just so so good. There’s such a wide variety as well, with some political songs such as Death From Above (which seems to be written from the perspective of a drone pilot) being a clear contrast to Stay With Me, the track directly before Death From Above and is more like a love song. Songs like Stay With Me show how incredible Thrice consistently are at constructing songs, there isn’t a single dull or out of place chorus on the whole album but the thought that goes into the writing is so evident in Stay With Me. They know when to keep it simple and when to play with time signatures of structures, and do so in other songs, but Stay With Me is fairly straightforward but not lacking in brilliance.

From watching the studio updates on YouTube, they said they were bringing in new music but trying to shine light on various eras of the band’s duration and it’s been so carefully done to make it seem either accidental or casual. In places it feels like an amalgamation of the best bits of the albums following The Artist In The Ambulance that you’d only really notice if you had them pointed out to you or if you’re a Thrice nerd like me.

The chorus for Death From Above brings about memories of Silhouette though I can’t place way (probably the time signature and general heaviness), and Whistleblower would fit perfectly on Vheissu, but by far the easiest one to point out is Salt And Shadow. It’s such a perfect album closer, reminiscent of some of the tracks from the Air chapter of The Alchemy Index. It almost feels like a lullaby, with the multi-layered vocals lending themselves to probably the best ‘light’ song Thrice have ever written. I also love the way Salt And Shadow ends, it’s a very subtle hark back to the “You’ve got to play it again” from The Beltsville Crucible from The Illusion Of Safety but it’s so expertly done that it’s easy to miss.

I had high expectations for To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, as I do with every album by every band I love, and I’m so pleased to say they’ve all been exceeded. I know a lot of other amazing albums have been released this year but TBEITBN has shot to the top, with most of the songs mentioned here being among the best songs I’ve heard for a long time.

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Screaming Into The Abyss

A few people have asked for this so here we go.

Firstly, this isn’t in response to the Neil deGrasse Tyson video about the presence of aliens in the universe, but it is something I think about a lot. If you’d like to watch it, the link is here.

It’s always a weird thing to consider. Humans seem to have this arrogance that if there is life ‘out there’ that they are not only able to communicate with us, but also that they want to communicate with us. It could be that they’ve received our messages but didn’t see it as worth replying for whatever reason.

There are a number of other reasons why we’ve not been contacted, of course. Maybe we’re going about it in entirely the wrong way. Humans can only see around 2% of the electromagnetic spectrum and hear around 1-2% of the acoustic spectrum. Even on Earth there are life forms that can’t communicate with one another. I’m sure we’ve all read that story of the lonely whale who could only make noises out of the hearing range of the rest of their species and was thus unable to communicate. Considering this happens on Earth it isn’t too far fetched for it to happen anywhere else. It could be life on other planets have tried to contact us and we’re just unable to ‘hear’ the message. Or they see a different 2% of the electromagnetic spectrum and as a result we’re just ghosts to one another.

Another thing is the timing of our attempts to contact alien life. Say it takes 50 years for our message to reach whoever may receive it, it would have to reach them at a time within their development or evolution where they’d be able to collect and interpret that data, then form a response that we’d understand. We’ve tried to send references for them to use in building their response, but what if they didn’t understand that was what it was for? There are ancient languages on this planet that we’re unable to translate. Given the universe is around 13.8 billion years old, we might be contacting a civilisation in it’s infancy, or conversely a civilisation where our technology is considered to be archaic. They might view television and radio the way we view ancient Egyptian methods of communication at the very least. And even if they are able to receive our message, decide to reply, manage to form a response, know where to send it then transmit it back to us, it would probably still take another 50 years to reach us. So from our original transmission we’re talking at least 100 years for it to get back to us, assuming the 50 year model. If we extend that to 500 years we won’t hear back for a millennium, at which point our technology may very well have moved on to the point we can’t receive those messages anymore.

To go back to Dr deGrasse Tyson, he’s been widely quoted as saying that with the universe as huge as ours, saying there’s no alien life based on the areas we’ve looked for it is like looking into a drop of water and concluding there is no life in the oceans. There are currently approximately 10-14 million species on Earth and over 5 billion species having ever existed. It seems bizarre that all of these will have been condensed onto one tiny speck in a universe that is billions of light years wide.

Eurovision. Eurowow.

Hoorah, hooray, it’s Eurovision Day!

It’s hard to write this without giving away too many of the tweets I have saved in my drafts on Twitter. There are a few things to cover though.

Firstly, a handful of people have asked me what Eurovision is. In short, it’s an international music contest featuring basically every country in Europe (and Australia, though nobody really knows why). Whoever wins hosts it the next year, this year it’s in Sweden, and it’s broken down into two semi finals and a grand final.

Each semi final consists of 18 acts, of which 10 go through. These are then added to the previous winner’s entry and the “Big Five” to make a final of 26 acts. The Big Five are the five countries who make the largest financial contribution to the competition, and in doing so get a free pass to the final. The Big Five are France, Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK. It’s probably a good thing the UK get a free pass every year because if we didn’t there’s no way our past few entries would have made it to the final, especially not this year. Honestly. It’s dog shit.

But yeah, some people didn’t watch the semi finals because they’re super duper shit and would rather watch just 26 of the 42 entries so here’s a brief run down of what they missed from not watching it. You missed Bosnian rapping, Greek rapping, a gravelly man representing San Marino, an Estonian card trick, some droney rock shite from Montenegro, Nicky Byrne from Westlife, a man from Belarus who was naked and howling in a wolf’s face and a few handsome men from Denmark. Sucks to be you. If you’re able to watch them on iPlayer I’d recommend it, but skip through the sketches in between. Again, utter dog shit. Especially the BBC’s attempt at a comedic version of a Scandinavian drama. I’d rather watch my grandparents fuck than go through that again.

As for the ones to look out for in the final, Belgium are the openers of the competition. This is a shame as it suggests they may not do well with the voting, but it’s a very typical 90s Eurovision song complete with a glittery jacket and some snazzy dancing. I’ve got the Netherlands, Israel and Bulgaria in my top five even though they’re also relatively early in the running list too. All strong songs with a bit of something extra to help you remember them. I’m not giving anyway away though, you’ll have to watch to see what I mean.

A couple of other songs I’ve been singing to myself lately are Croatia’s entry and Latvia’s entry. Both pretty big outsiders as far as the bookies are concerned but they’re just about memorable enough to get a decent spot in my opinion.

The others kind of tend to merge into a big mess with only a few others standing out, some for the wrong reasons. Poland’s entry has some of the worst lyrics of the competition and the singer looks like Weird Al Yankovic, and the less said about Georgia’s entry the better. I just hope the people in the venue are protected with some form of eye protection. It’s a light show that can be seen from space.

Anyway this has been brief as fuck but I’m excited and I’m not gonna spunk my best material away here so you’ll have to wait until 8pm tonight when I start live tweeting the whole fucking thing.

Attention Artists and Small Businesses!

I have news!

I really hope this is of use to some of you. I’m sure it will be.

You know at the start of this year I was sorting things about buying equipment to start manufacturing myself, and as a result also being able to manufacture for other small businesses and independent artists? If you didn’t, you do now. Well I’ve been working on things and have finally started producing my own mugs and tote bags. This should speed up delivery time for those items, and a few others that’ll be developing soon. For the moment I’m not going to be making phone cases myself as it means having to guess the number of blank cases I’ll need for each model and I don’t have the storage at home to accommodate them at the moment.

This means two things. One, I’ll be able to make stuff for brands, bands and artists. Either in bulk or to order. I’m still working on prices as it’s fairly new but from what I’ve seen it’ll be pretty competitive. I already have the mug prices worked out. I know a few people have been looking to add some items to their stores but didn’t want to pay for a lot of items etc in bulk. That’s not a worry now! I can make them for you as the orders come in, and even send them direct to your customers if you like.

Before moving on to number two, I’ve also recently purchased a lovely thing called a light tent for my product photos. Once I’ve got that fully sorted and worked out I’ll also be offering pictures of the items I make for you as part of the package. That’d be especially useful for anyone who’d prefer for me to send items straight to their customers.

Second, I’ve started work on a new set of products to sell under a different brand name under the Mr Crypt umbrella. A few of my designs are vaguely linked to the BDSM/kink/DDlg community (my Daddy’s Little Princess being one of the most notable) so I decided to roll with that and make a few more. I’m working on the same sort of items as I sell through Mr Crypt alongside new products that I’ll soon be introducing to both brands. The new brand is called Little And Hyde and at the moment largely works around pet names and terms of endearment used for partners. Very soon these will be customisable for people who have less common names for their partners. There’ll also be a range of colours etc too. It’s all very exciting!

In other news I’m looking to do more big pieces, particularly ukuleles and woodburn projects. I already have two ukulele plant pots that need painting and finishing off and you kindly picked a theme for a skateboard deck by voting on Twitter. There’ll also be pint glasses coming very soon to mrcrypt.bigcartel.com. In the meantime, head over and get some lovely stuff!