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Oasis – Heathen Chemistry

The Preamble:

I could hear Mike from here, yelling “WTF is Aaron doing writing about Oasis??? He HATES those guys!” So let’s all take a minute and let him get up off the floor and let his heart slow down a bit.

We all good? OK, let’s see what this is all about.

You see, I find CDs for $2 all the time. A lot of them are crap. A lot of the ones I’d want are hacked up beyond even considering buying them. And in my push toward Collection Integrity, where every disc is pristine, even the slightly scratched ones get left behind. But even for passing over a huge percentage of discs, I still find a ton that look brand new and I buy those. Especially on spec, bands I’ve heard of but never heard, etc. I’ve done that for years and I love it. I’ve heard a lot of new music that way! I love getting, for example, 5 new-to-me records for $10. I am SO high maintenance!

And yes, I have long held a very strong dislike of Oasis. To me, they’re obnoxious, incredibly nasal, and I find a lot of their songs bland and boring. I never understood people’s fervour towards this band at all. [ASSUMES CRASH POSITION AS FANS OF THE BAND PREPARE TO FLAME ME].

Meh. To each their own, but this band never did anything that excited me.

So why in hell did I buy one of their CDs? Well, truth to tell, I bought several (someone must’ve ditched their collection, and I can’t blame them). But I thought it would be interesting to revisit my dislike of them, see if it still stands up. Have my tastes changed? Let’s see! And yes, I could maybe have started earlier or on a different record but all I did was grab this one off the top of a pile of To Review discs so here we go with Oasis in 2002.

What I Thought:

So, have I reached a point where I can maybe get to this band? Not really. I knew the song The Hindu Times, but the rest honestly just sort of washed together in my ears. Sure, some of it’s slower, some of it’s faster, instrumentations are different, but it was so middle of the road i didn’t hear anything really jump out at me.

It wasn’t bad (more enjoyable than I’d guessed – and I’d guessed music of a nails-on-a-chalkboard variety), but it surely isn’t what I’d reach for, when I want to listen to music. I think I just missed the boat, on this band. My attention was far and away from them when they were at their peak, and it feels pretty late to be trying to catch up with them now, when it sounds like this to me.

And before you comment that I should have tried some other record, save it for now (thanks) and stay tuned. I got some others of theirs and when I’m feeling like I want to sit through these guys again, I’ll try a different one.

In Sum:

So far, still not working for me at all, but this was only one CD. Points awarded to myself for trying.

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Pollard, Pier, Paul, Oasis, Flatt, Mark, Hotness, iPod, Tributes, Cross and K’NAAN

So yah, it’s been a while. Good to see you.

Robert Pollard – Elephant Jokes

You’d think we’d get tired of this guy’s constant output. After all, how much can one person create and not have it all sound the same? If you said ‘not much,’ then you’ve never really listened to Robert Pollard. This is intelligent jangly weirdo power pop that always hits the sweet spot. It’s varied and creative and fun. This is reason to celebrate! I hope he makes a million more. He probably will.

Ford Pier – Adventurism

Perfect freak-out session of musical insouciance from Mr. Pier. Subtitled “Torture Is The New Anal,” this record offers up so much time signature-twisting awesomeness that first listen doesn’t come close to giving it all to you. Even the cover is upside down (or is it just my copy?). Along for the ride this time are Jason Tait, Michael Philip Wojewoda and Ryan Granville-Martin. And I’d really like to know why Martin Tielli is the man to see about schedules… Well, whatever. Folks, this record is another slice of unabashed, unapologetic brilliance. A snapshot of a rare talent, indeed. Loved it.

Les Paul

R.I.P. Les Paul.

Oasis

Yeah well, down the hatch. Good riddance.

Busted Flatt

First heard Rascal Flatt’s atrocious cover of Tom Cochrane’s ‘Life Is A Highway’ on country radio on my neighbour’s crappy stereo in his garage. I couldn’t believe my ears. So, of course, I went home and looked it up on YouTube. I was blown away by the absolute horror of this version. The life has been sucked right out of it. The vocals are slow, and the twangy good-ol’-boy schtick does not work at all. The backing track is perfunctory New Country to the point of making it faceless and unrecognizable from any of a million other songs on CMT. Holy shit, that was BAD. Bad bad bad bad bad!

Trivia! Carolyn Mark ‘Slithers’

Bet you didn’t know that Carolyn Mark and The New Best Friends are on the soundtrack for the movie Slither. Yep, there they are, doing ‘2 Days Smug And Sober’ from the brilliant Pros And Cons Of Collaboration record. Neat!

Still gotta try making a Bourbon Decay one of these days…

The New Hotness

Part of what’s been keeping me busy around here arrived the other day, in the form of a 40″ television and a surround sound system to go with it. The TV’s alright (as far as TVs go, I’m no expert), but the promise of a big sub with surround speakers sets my skin to tingling. Haven’t got it hooked up yet, but just imagining Metallica cranked in there makes me really happy indeed. Oh baby.

Apple and iPod

So I announced a month ago that I’d awesomely got an iPod for my birthday. To this day, I still don’t have any music on it! I know! The issue seems to be that iTunes only wants me to pull things from my laptop’s hd, when all of my music is stored on my wireless external hd. So it means another step to move it all back to the lappy’s hd and, frankly, there’s not much room there, so it’d require several moves/deletions to get it all on the iPod… and even then that’s only if I can figure out a way to be allowed to add things in chunks. Also, iTunes keeps wanting me to make libraries and playlists and all this other proprietary horseshit I care nothing about – man, I just want to drag folders onto the iPod and be done with it.

James has been a big help, but not having a Mac he’s a bit out of depth in getting workarounds on that OS figured out. I’m thisclose to calling Mac themselves and having them hold my hand through the process. I’m also considering downloading some external freeware that seems to promise it’ll let me do what I want. As it stands right now, iTunes is nothing but a humungous pain in the ass.

Tributes To The Vines and Godsmack

I got these at the dollar store, so you know they’re high quality. And not really remembering any of the actual songs by either band will surely hinder these reviews completely. Released on Tributized Records (haha, that’s classy), both records are fine, I suppose. Glowing, right? Right!

The Vines Tribute has eight cover tunes by bands you’ll surely never hear again and, while they’re passable, well, whatever. The disc improves when you get to Iggy Pop (live), Flamin’ Groovies and Johnny Thunders tracks as the ‘roots of the Vines,’ and then the dude from Cinderella’s new band’s bonus original track. Yes, they went all out on this collection. At least it was only a buck.

As for the Godsmack disc, the Pagan Rock Allstars (oh baby) give us the “essence of Godsmack,” which amounts to an exercise in nu-metal imitation. A couple of other bands whose names you’ll never utter chip in too before we get the ‘roots of Godsmack,’ one track of which kinda rules. It’s a cover of Metallica’s ‘Battery’ by Eric A.K. (of Flotsam and Jetsam, which was Jason Newstead’s band before joining Metallica), Robert Trujillo (haha he plays with them now), Dave Lombardo (SLAYER!!!) and Mike Clark (the producer?). Truly shows you how much that track needs Hetfield’s vocals but the song is so awesome that your Grandma could rock it. Now there’s an image. Anyway, There’s also Venom and Paul Di’Anno and yet another track from the Cinderella dude’s new band yada yada yada. Once through this thing was enough.

Hilarious, and not bad for two bucks. Will I play them again? Probably not.

Black Cross – Art Offensive

I also got this one at the dollar store, and actually it’s pretty awesome. It’s like old school punk, only better produced. Lots of aggression, searing guitars and a driving bottom end. Of course, like all good hardcore-sounding albums – by the end you’re sure you’ve heard the same song 12 times in a row but who the hell cares? At high enough volume, even a couple of these tracks in a row can get your blood pumping and make you indignant as hell without knowing why. Fun.

K’NAAN – Troubadour

I bought this ‘cos it was cheap, and I’d heard good things about it somewhere once, I think. Also, somehow I connected K-OS and K’NAAN in my brain. Maybe it was all the upper case letters. And if ever there was a good reason to buy a record, upper case letters is definitely it. Well, it has a duet with Kirk Hammett on it so I’d want to hear that, at any rate. And Mos Def and Damien Marley too, so why not?

And the disc? The music has great moments, with lots of world and soul influences and cool beats. The vocals, however, leave a lot to be desired. He’s got flow at times but, seriously, he only every raps on one note. Fine, but after two or three tracks it’s incredibly boring. Add to that an Eminem-sounding nasal sarcasm tone in places and it’s, well, derivative. When he hits the more melodic tracks and sings, it’s soft-pedalled and lovey-dovey. Not nearly as vocally interesting as K-OS. Should I even be comparing these two? Um, I dunno. This record has a whole lotta songs that’d make great mix-tape tracks. Don’t think I could listen to the whole thing all the way through again, though. Chacun son gout.

SLCR #136: Oasis (August 30, 2008)

SLCR #136: Oasis (August 30, 2008)

I have had complaint (singular) about not writing enough concert reviews this summer. This is not entirely my fault; it may shock you to learn that the quantity of reviews is proportional to the quantity of shows I attend. And for the most part, there hasn’t been anything that interesting of late. The Regina Folk Festival came and went, and I didn’t bother with it. I walked through the park and caught enough of the Weakerthans’ set to remind me that the Weakerthans in concert sound an awful lot the Weakerthans on CD. I greatly enjoy the Weakerthans, to be fair, but I hadn’t bought a ticket so I couldn’t see the stage. Also, I was there by myself, unless you count my dozens of mosquito friends. And so I went home, with plans to return to the Folk Festival on the following days, but that never happened. I’m kind of sad that I didn’t get a popcorn ball from the kettle corn vendor; aside from that, I don’t really feel like I missed much.

And just the other day, I got to see half an outdoor set by Stars on the University of Regina campus. I only heard about the show that morning when the girl who lives two apartments down from me mentioned it, so though I missed the first half, I was lucky to catch any of it at all. With a few exceptions who stood right out, the crowd was dead, dancing only to get away from the wasps that seemed to be everywhere. The band dedicated a song to Sarah Palin and threw roses into the crowd and sang lovely songs I’d never heard before – I’d never actually listened to any Stars before the show – and all in all, it was quite the enjoyable little half hour.

Then there was Oasis. Mika and I had already tentatively planned a trip to Calgary for Labour Day weekend to visit my grandparents, and then one night, I got bored and checked Pollstar to see who would be playing while we were there. Confession: I don’t really care about Oasis one way or the other. Also, I had never bothered listening to any Ryan Adams, the announced opener. But I knew Mika liked both acts a lot – though I was surprised that she was more excited by Adams than Oasis – and they’d never play here, so what the heck, right? I knew we’d run the risk of making my grandparents think that we were only visiting them for the free lodging – which was nice, don’t get me wrong – but that was a chance I was willing to take.

Personally, I thought our choice of seats served as proof that the concert was no more than a late addition to the plan. The show had gone on sale long before I heard about it, and Ticketmaster offered me only two choices – the very back of the arena, or partially obstructed seats to the side of the stage. I chose the back of the arena. Both options meant warning Mika that I had got us really bad seats – and not in that sitcom way where we show up and SURPRISE! Front row! How terribly grand! No, these were legitimately bad seats. As in, we had a perfect straight-on view of the stage, but there were no rows behind us. Dave had warned me that the shape of the Saddledome meant that the big score clock might obstruct my view, and we’d wind up watching the concert on the big screens. This did not happen because they did not use the big screens. We still had a good view of the stage – ignoring the fact that you couldn’t tell, say, what colour the singers’ shirts were – but the score clock did obscure part of the light show. Sadly, it was the interesting-to-watch part and not the blinding-the-audience part.

We took our seats not long before the show was scheduled to start. Surprisingly, everything started on time. Even more surprising was Matt Costa’s appearance as the unannounced opener. I have very little to say about any of this evening’s music and I am exhausted, so I will say he was pretty good but would have benefited from a much smaller venue. Say, Amigo’s? Ryan Adams and the Cardinals took the stage immediately after – no intermission or anything – and I liked them better. They too would have been a better fit for a smaller venue – maybe a Prairieland or something. Really, hockey arenas are crappy places to see bands. I wouldn’t want to see hockey in a concert hall either.

Actually, that sounds kind of awesome.

Anyway, Ryan Adams. He dedicated a song to some girl who draws graphic novels and claimed he wanted to suck her face off and said she made him feel like he was riding an electric unicorn.

"This is a man who is full of diseases," Mika said. "He also has no sense of humour so he may very well be completely serious."

There was a brief lull between Ryan Adams and Oasis. I killed time by sending Dave text messages inviting him to Calgary to see New Kids on the Block, or relating stories from the weekend, such as when my grandpa heard we were seeing the Gallagher brothers and thought, mistakenly, that we were seeing Gallagher. My grandpa and I are in agreement that the Sledge-o-matic really isn’t funny. I did not ask him about the Honk-a-meter.

I had never heard any Matt Costa or any Ryan Adams before the show. I had, however, heard Oasis. And judging from the greatest hits CD Mika played on the drive to Calgary, I had heard more Oasis than I realized. I’ve never been a fan, and I’m pretty sure the British girl I used to date will hunt me down and kill me if she ever reads this and finds out I actually willingly paid good cash moneys to see them in concert. Aaron has made similar threats, as has Dave. There’s a LOT of Oasis hate among my friends.

Ultimately, I really had no idea what I was getting into with this evening, but as it turns out, Oasis? Not bad at all. I don’t think they’re as great as Mika thinks they are, and I certainly don’t think they’re as great as they think they are, but with that having been said, they put on a really good show. Maybe I was just stoned. It turns out that the very back of the arena is where all the pot smokers hide, and man, the stink. You’d think the people who bought the cheap seats could afford the GOOD pot, but this was clearly not the case. Where were you while we were getting high? Two seats down from YOU, polo shirt guy.

To our left was a guy with his children. Dad was having the time of his life – not because of the show so much as the opportunity to embarrass his 13-year-old daughter in public. He hooted and hollered and clapped off the beat and she looked like she longed for death. I am now an old man, I guess, because I thought this was pretty funny.

The songlist was skewed for people like me, pulling heavily from their collection of hits. If I had been a die-hard fan for years, I might have been disappointed, but I’m not, so hooray! When the band launched into Wonderwall, everyone in the arena started singing along at once. I know we’re all still sick of that song, nearly 15 years later, but being there with 12,000 people loudly singing along, that was one of the cooler moments in my concert-going history. And maybe I’m a jerk, but I like that moment even more after reading this quote from Liam Gallagher on the ever-reliable Wikipedia: "I can’t stand that fucking song. Every time I have to sing it, I want to gag. Problem is ‘Wonderwall’ was a big big tune for us and so you go to America and they’re like, ‘Are you Mr. Wonderwall?,’ and you want to chin someone."

So yes, this is my confession. I saw Oasis, and I’d do it again. I accept your scorn and your punches.
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