Saturday, December 31, 2016

My Favourite Releases of 2016

Oh, hello. Pretty quiet year on the old TSTAT web-blog, no? As if this weren't enough of an antiquated format to begin with. Hell, I can't even be bothered to tweet, let alone post an entire paragraph of nothing on here. As far as TSTAT is concerned, I've had my newest release in the can for awhile now and I BELIEVE it will see a proper release very soon. I really swung for the fences on this one. I hope you guys like it.

Not that I haven't been busy. Quite the contrary. Here's a few things I managed to accomplish within the past 12 months:

HAMN - PIG PEOPLE (I sing, play guitar, and am the principal songwriter [so far] in this doom/grunge trio)

COASTAL PIGS (Just the drummer, no songwriting contributions on my part. The songwriter in question, however, is a genius so I'm thrilled to be along for the ride)

PRAYER WHEELS - SPRING EP (The brainchild of a friend of mine. I played all the drums and sang a bunch of stuff)

THEN & NOW (The radio show I've been doing for CHUO 89.1 FM for over a year now)

THE WRONG STUFF (I composed and recorded all the music for this fantastic short film)

But, as far as TSTAT went, I didn't really see the point in posting updates seeing as there weren't any, so I didn't. The end of the year list, however, is a given. So here goes...

1) AGORAPHOBIC NOSEBLEED - ARC EP "The first of a series of EPs focusing on the different vocalists of ANb puts KAT in the spotlight and knocks it out of the park with a very different metallic edge than we've heard so far. Awesome doom metal groove coupled with devastatingly personal lyrics. Sold."

2) SEVEN SISTERS OF SLEEP - EZEKIAL'S HAGS "This seemed to me like your pretty standard doom metal fare but they sneak these crazy-melodic guitar riffs into the mix every now and then which elevate the overall sound into something that really pays off."

3) SUNN O))) - CAHH O))) "I saw them earlier this year and this live album is basically exactly the set of music they performed. The sub-bass vibrations tickled the shit out of my nose."

4) GIGANTIC BRAIN - S/T "I'm very excited at the prospect of another GB release (I was under the impression the project was kaput). More of the same amazing electro-heaviness, weirdo vocals and cracked lyrics."

5) NOTHING - TIRED OF TOMORROW "The Dead Are Dumb is one of my favourite songs ever, ever. How often does that happen at age 40?"

6) APHEX TWIN - CHEETAH EP "I think I like this one even better than SYRO. Just feels a little more like classic APHEX to me."

7) BORIS w/MERZBOW - GENSHO "Much like DRONEVIL, this is a 2-disc album where both discs are meant to be played at the same time (aka - search "boris gensho" on youtube and you'll find a mixed version actually nevermind I did it for you it's no problem). That is just SO Boris, y'know?"

8) PLEBEIAN GRANDSTAND - FALSE HIGHS, TRUE LOWS "More waking nightmare music from this french-combo. Amidst wave after wave of samey-sounding black metal (Christ, there's more of that shit than ever - all of it equally yet individually AMAZING is that sarcastic enough???), this really stands out."

9) TOBACCO - SWEATBOX DYNASTY "A total no-brainer. This is amazing. If you don't think so, you must like other things (some of which are most certainly dumb)."

10) SHAHMAN - FRAGMENTS OF A DISTANT LIGHT "This band continues to evolve with every release and I couldn't be happier. Here, we find them leaning very heavily on the melodic side of things, giving the screamy sludgefest a bit of a rest. Heavy and majestic."

11) GAUSS - THALWEG "I came very late to the indie-rock game. It annoyed the living shit out of me for years. But I'm finding the good stuff. These guys have it. Man, I love those horns too."

12) WHORES. - GOLD "Basically a doom metal version of SHELLAC. Great idea!"

13) DÄLEK - ASPHALT FOR EDEN "Another band back from the purgatory of defunctedness. Just more noisy awesomeness from these guys. Reliable!"

14) BAD BREEDING - S/T "Angry British punk! Hailing from a council estate in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. How perfect is that?"

15) ADMIRAL SIR CLOUDSLEY SHOVELL - KEEP IT GREASY! "The production value on this release (all their releases, actually) is a big part of the appeal. Lively, overdriven mania."

16) TYCHO - EPOCH "Hadn't heard of this group until very recently but I feel like they somehow had my best interests in mind when they put this together so thanks dudes."

17) THE DIRTY NIL - HIGHER POWER "Kind of takes the best elements from METZ and JAPANDROIDS. Or, a version of PUP that doesn't make one feel like they should maybe start thinking about acting their own age."

18) BLACK MOTH SUPER RAINBOW - SEEFU LILAC "Another recent favourite. Just a mini-album from these guys but still jammed with more great music than most stupid, dumb, idiot, lame-o, dickweed, dingleberry, dorkess m'lorkess full albums."

19) NEUROSIS - FIRES WITHIN FIRES "I haven't heard anything from these guys since TIMES OF GRACE that really moved me in any way but THIS album moved me right down the stairs and out the door! Literally no idea what that means."

20) HELMS ALEE - STILLICIDE "The same gripe I always have with this band - the female vocals are far more interesting than the dude. If it were up to me, he'd be used a 'RICK WRIGHT' amount of the time."

21) DEAD CROSS - WE'LL SLEEP WHEN THEY'RE DEAD "Just the one song from these guys so far but I listened to it a hell of a lot. Am I alone in thinking that MIKE PATTON replacing GABE SERBIAN on vocals will make things worse? He's not exactly a team player!"

22) NO JOY - DROOL SUCKER EP "Lovely, lovely melodies. More music written specifically more me and my personal preferences."

23) ALCEST - KODAMA "I almost missed this one! Didn't even realize they put an album out this year! Dumb. Anyways, a lot of the SHELTER elements are present but the black metal vibes are creeping back in as well. Very nice blend."

24) HUMANITIES - S/T EP "I can't remember the last time I heard a current band tap into the spirit of 90s post-hardcore so perfectly."

25) DISASTERPEACE - HYPER LIGHT DRIFTER OST "I hyper-light-drifted the shit out of this incredible video game for a couple of months there. The original score stands on its own though. God, I'd love to own the double-cassette version of this (impossible)."

26) FULL OF HELL / THE BODY - ONE DAY YOU WILL ACHE LIKE I ACHE "More nightmare music. More interesting and captivating than most of the heavy releases that are being championed this year (and that's within the first 30 seconds of the first song)."

27) GARBAGEFACE - NØ FUTUR(E) "If you're a fan of this guy, this is a dream release. And if you're a newcomer, prepare to get your ass kicked. Dense grooves and an incredible delivery."

28) DARKTHRONE - ARCTIC THUNDER "Another heavy metal / hardcore history lesson from these guys. I love that they perfected black metal and had the good sense to leave it behind."

29) THE FIELD - FOLLOWER "Awesome beats, lovely melodies. Dance music you can sit and listen to."

30) CHRISTIAN FITNESS - THIS TACO IS NOT CORRECT "Amazingly compact, weirdo pop songs and the production value is so vibrant, it practically crackles."

31) SUMAC - WHAT ONE BECOMES "Heavier than hell but somehow not quite metal. I don't know what makes me say that. It's just really strange is all."


The JESU / SUN KIL MOON album is abysmally awful. THE DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN album just did nothing for me which is too bad, would've loved to have gone out on a high-note with them. Most of the heavy stuff I heard this year was basically minor variations of the same 6 minute black metal song (seriously, shut up about OATHBREAKER). There's lots of people who just pretend to like music, I'm pretty sure.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


It's that stupid time again for the year-end roundup. I felt like this year was my worst ever for being on top of checking stuff out. Soon I'll be that idiot going "they stopped making good music around (insert year when driving 5 - 10 hours out of town for a show stopped being an option). Nonetheless, still plenty of fantastic music to be had in 2015 (it's just I have a sneaking suspicion that I'll hear most of it many years from now).

I'll start off, as always, with a short summary of my own bullshit. Not a lot of new from me but many things in the works. Here are the releases (don't blink):



Wow, huh? Busy guy! Well, I've also got some other stuff in the works. My new band HAMN has got an EP in the can just waiting for a final mixdown. The next TSTAT full-length is completely demoed and itching for some live drums and re-amped guitars to get laid down on it. WORLD WAR 4 has also (believe it or not) got some drum tracks in the can for some new tunes. 2016 will most likely be a little more fruitful where new music is concerned. There's also my still-fairly new radio show THEN & NOW which keeps me real busy. Check it out, why don'tcha?

On to the list. As always, no particular order. Here's what came across my desk in 2015:

1) TORCHE - RESTARTER "These guys have proven themselves to be quite reliable as far as a real STRONG album goes. There's awesome power in their anthematic riffage."

2) LOCAL H - HEY, KILLER! "I was more than happy to contribute to the crowd-funding campaign that helped get this album made. Possibly the most unlikely band to come out of the 90s-grunge thing smiling. They exist comfortabley and righteously on the periphery of alt-rock."

3) BIG DICK - DISAPPOINTMENT "The first time I saw these guys, they did an Inbreds cover. That's when I knew.....they were probably the same age as me."

4) NO JOY - MORE FAITHFUL "Certain songs hit me in such a way as to make me think they were written specifically to cater to my own tastes. Which makes me think someone somewhere down the line fucked something up, rather than entertain the notion that unspoken human connection would be an option for me."

5) KEN mode - SUCCESS "As I've probably said before in these writeups, I'm a huge fan of when bands make huge changes to their sound. For better or for worse, the idea of every album sounding like a different band is a good one. In this case, it works fantastically."

6) METZ - II "A frustrating band indeed. By that I mean, practically every part makes me go 'Why didn't I think of that??'"

7) WEIRD OWL - INTERSTELLAR SKELETAL "An awesome blend of fine-tuned pop and weirdo psyche."

8) COSMIC GROUND - 2 "I don't have the slightest recollection of how I came across this. Probably dicking around on Spotify or something. Damn, it's tasty though. Spooky ambient sounds."

9) CHELSEA WOLFE - ABYSS "This ain't metal but it is DAMN heavy! Heavier than most of the garbage that actually would be classified as metal, funnily enough."

10) MARRIAGES - SALOME "I happened to catch and really enjoy EMMA RUTH RUNDLE when she opened for ALCEST this year, found out she's also in this band MARRIAGES. A great example of what I want from alt-rock (ie: twisted pop, not twisted moustaches)."

11) DEAFHEAVEN - NEW BERMUDA "The online pants-shitting virgins who'll go to their graves claiming that DEAFHEAVEN are 'NOT METAL!!! NOT METAL!!!' can rest easy thanks to this album which basically answers back with 'You're right, we're not'. So SHUT UP, already!"

12) MUTOID MAN - BLEEDER "The next-best thing to a new CAVE-IN album is a new MUTOID MAN album, especially when it's just firing on all heavy metal cylinders."

13) LOVIATAR - DIVA'S HYMN "Ottawa's got the stoner/doom thing covered right here. Man, I love those vocals too!"

14) KURT STENZEL - JODOROWSKY'S DUNE ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK "I was so bummed after I saw this movie to learn that no official (or otherwise) release of the soundtrack existed. And so unbummed once I learned that someone decided to right this outrageous wrong!"

15) GAUSS - SOFT FACE, SOFT GAZE / "CHARM" "An awesome recommendation via my very favourite Toronto (previously Ottawa [briefly]) band SHAHMAN. Sort of the indie-rock version of post-rock, complete with sad-sounding horns."

16) KILLING JOKE - PYLON "Yet another strong album from these golden oldies. Most bands are lucky to put out any kind of album 35 years in, let alone GOOD ones!"


18) UNCLE ACID AND THE DEADBEATS - THE NIGHT CREEPER "You'd think this would be a SABBATH soundalike but you be wrong. Weird, creepy, heavy rock."

19) THE JERRY GROSS ORGANIZATION - JUST PULL IT DOWN "Another Ottawa band, this one made up of members of THE CITY ABOVE and THE BAND WHOSE NAME IS A SYMBOL. This is almost like if GUIDED BY VOICES take a stab at stoner/doom. That's a good idea, right?"

20) GNAW THEIR TONGUES / DRAGGED INTO SUNLIGHT - N.V. "Heavy, unsettling, feral - very good!"

21) MAMMATUS - SPARKLING WATERS "The weirdest house party featuring an ambient project tag-teaming a twisted jam-band. Cool party!"

22) PYRAMIDS - A NORTHERN MEADOW "Weird, black metal type stuff but with pretty, singy bits and whatnot. The kind of crap I like, in other words."

23) FIGHT AMP - CONSTANTLY OFF "If your riffs are this massive, there's not much else you really need."

24) SUNN O))) - KANNON "My mom went and ordered the CD of this (I buy those) from HMV for Christmas. That was very sweet of her. Still waiting."

25) HYPNODRONE ENSEMBLE - THE SHAPE OF SPACE " The band name and album title say it better than I can."

26) KRALLICE - YGG HUUR "Weirdly, I was not into this album on my first listen. I gave it another shot a few months later and loved it. Must have been binging on DARKTHRONE that first time or something."

27) APHEX TWIN - SOUNDCLOUD "RICHARD D JAMES uploads a massive amount of demos spanning his entire career for free and basically makes Christmas a 365-day affair for LEIGH C NEWTON."

28) FUCK THE FACTS - DESIRE WILL ROT "The lyrical content of the song THE PATH OF MOST RESISTANCE sums up everything I love about this band (it's a song about opening bands being snappy about getting their shitty shit offstage)."

29) HENRY BLACKER - SUMMER TOMBS "A very strange version of heavy rock, indeed. These guys sound like music is sort of a faraway concept for them. That's a compliment, I think."

30) BLOOD INCANTATION - INTERDIMENSIONAL EXTINCTION "Normally, death metal (especially the kind where the bassist goes 'Hey, I know! FRETLESS!') can take a flying fuck at a rolling dick-nut but, I dunno, this just does it for some reason."



Wow, an even 30! I didn't mean for that to happen. How nice and round. I usually have a "TOP-40 type songs that are actually decent if not amazing" type list to finish off but, ever since we got satellite radio in the car (unhumble-brag), that stuff is totally off my radar in lieu of DIO, SABBATH, PRIEST, MAIDEN and the 5 other bands they play on OZZY'S BONEYARD (that's some Sirius XM humour right there). All I got for that aforementioned list is:


Not exactly the mainstream, more like an example of songs I really, really liked from albums I really didn't think were any good.

Oh, also, that CAN'T FEEL MY FACE song can fuck itself forever in Hell. Happy New Year!