Rock and Roll

Album Review: Roger Waters “Is This The Life We Really Want”

Roger Waters latest album “Is This Life We Really Want” is like seeing an old friend that you haven’t encountered in over 40 years. Everything about it seems familiar enough but something deep is hidden and you patently wait to find out what it is.

When we were young” is the first track of the album and it delivers  hypnotic waves of Roger waters eerie voice as he echoed through my speakers delivering a mantra-like chant with frightening reverb and multiple voices that begins to layer heavily as it progresses. focusing on what he is trying to say, you become more tuned to the ambient noise. A ticking clock begins ticking faster and faster in the background, increasing up the tone of anxiety. The anger of his voice sets the mood of the album almost immediately as the a faint sound of an airplane is flying in the distance.

As the clock keeps ticking faster and faster, it fades into a seamless transition into the second track of the album “Déjà Vu“.

The acoustic guitar begins to play a familiar rhythm, the simplistic strums will remind you of their  1979 hit “Mother” that debuted on “The Wall” album. The sweet swoops of the string quartet adds a soothing lullaby to his soft, aging vocals. The simplistic piano chords scaling upwards as his vocals raise higher and higher as he let out his signature scream. A sudden crash of shattering glass and ruin is highlighted as he sings “If I were a drone“. The overall theme I believe he was aiming at was the after effects of war and devastation. The title is very fitting, the entire song is a faded memory of the wall single “Mother” with the political themes of “The Wall” album

The third track “The Last Refugee” switches over almost immediately, The title opens to a static broadcast of a variety of news anchors reporting in. Similar to Roger waters single “The Final Cut” and a small hint of “Fletcher Memorial” as the drums play a steady beat and the complimentary piano helps paint the atmosphere. Roger Waters sorrow vocals is accompanied with haunting synth piano as soft sounds of seagulls and crashing waves fade out.

The fourth track “Picture that” is a rage filed roller coaster where he ask the listeners to picture a variety of scenarios over and over, describing a world of fear and intolerance to outsiders.

The fifth track “Broken Bones” begins with simplistic acoustic guitar strumming with single melodies being picked in between each strum. It seems almost uplifting at first until the haunting sounds of the E-Minor chord is struck and the saddening sound of slide guitar is added to his soft low vocals as he lets out an exhausting lyrics “who gives a shit anyways” until the drums kick in and Roger Waters scream at the top of his lungs “How could we abandon thee” This tracks main focus is how we should have looked back at all these wars and political leaders who steered a country into war and instead of learning from our mistakes, we repeat them over and over. The final verse of the song is a powerful statement “we will not listen to, your bullshit and lies”

The sixth track ” Is This The Life We Really Want” is opened with a static voice clip of Donald Trump talking to CNN about chaos, as soon as the clip is over, Rogers waters delivers his depiction of the latest political election with obvious evidence as he sang “Every time a nincompoop becomes president” this track is a clear depiction of the current state of fear and chaos in the United States . Fear is the main theme in this track, A song filled with haunting string instruments and random protest in the background. As the song progresses, Roger Waters lists a series of events throughout the song such as “Every time a journalist rots in jail” or “every time a student is run over by a tank” He began to paint a depressing picture as the listener slowly realizes that we as the public, have caused all of this, all these events he list has actually happened over the course of time and continues to happen because we refuse to see the error of our ways. He answered his own question as he sang “Is this the life we really want, it surely must be so, for this is a democracy and what we all say goes

The seventh song “Bird In A Gale” is a continuation of the sixth track and features a strong presence of synth wave, the type of music you would hear in a 80’s horror movie. Once again the static of random news anchors are present during the wide opening of the song. Although the song only has 11 stanzas, the song is 5 minutes of synth wave music and recurring background noise of news anchors, chiming bells, reverse guitar, a News anchor repeating  “A Happy New Year” as well as “on the first of January” with random lyrics of Roger waters repeating the last verse of the song. A confusing tone to say the least as the ambient noise is suddenly stopped by the incoming sound of a missile hitting the ground, followed by applauded cheering.

The Eighth song is titled “The Most Beautiful Girl” Roger Waters tells the love story of a young woman, whose life was diminished to nothing more than a causality by a committee of men in an underground bunker who decided to use a nuclear bomb during a war escapade, a simple song with a strong message.

The ninth track entitled “Smell The Roses” is Roger waters anti-war message.  As a society, we should all stop and smell the roses and realize that war is destroying all the beauty around us. as the song progresses, the listener is no longer smelling the pleasantries of roses but the decaying smell of war and death.

the 10th,11th and 12th tracks entitled “Wait for her” ” Oceans apart” and “Part of me Died” is a continuous song split into 3 tracks. The first track is a simple pairing of a grand piano and  acoustic guitar with hints of strong distorted guitar leads and crashing waves of cymbal drums and a mellow tone of synth piano all accompanied by Roger waters soft and mellow raspy voice.

Oceans Apart” bridges the previous track into the final track “Part of me died“.

The 3 tracks when listen to in consecutive order, tells a grand story of a man who is clinically depressed by the evilness of life and he begins to provided a list of his own fears and doubts in life. By the end of  “Part Of Me Died” he meets this girl and she becomes is everything he will always need to get through this hatred filled life because he would rather die in her arms then die in a lifetime of regret and constant state of fear. The three-part song is a perfect ending to a perfect album. 10/10

I can safety make the assumption that “Is This The Life We Really Want” is his depiction of the current political status in the united states and the destruction that follows with war. This album fits his anti-war and political stances almost to perfectly. “Is This The Life We Really Want” is a flooded memory of Roger Waters when he was in his prime and almost feels like an encore performance to Pink Floyd 1979  album “The Wall“.

I cannot express enough how much I loved this album. I would not expect anything less from a true rock legend. If you’re a Pink Floyd or a Roger Waters fan, this is a must have and If you are not a fan, I encourage you to listen to the album and truly focus on the story he is trying to convey. This album is not a variety of music trying to fill an empty space. It’s an album tell the story of Roger Waters depiction of politics, war, greed, death and destruction.

Thank you

Regards

The Modern Typewriter

Lucas Durelle

Advertisements

Miramichi Spotlight Featuring Aftersurf 

During my last interview with local musician Dillon Ryan, He mentioned a band named Aftersurf. I got in contact with the bands front man Riley H and set up a meeting to discuss their music and their passion.

I decided to bring my long time best friend Mackenzie Morris along with me to enjoy the show, Mackenzie Morris being an independent guitar player himself, he truly was excited.

Aftersurf wanted to meet at their studio and after circling around a couple of times, I finally found the location.  I was immediately greeted by the front man Riley H.

Riley H. stood on the deck and waved me into the studio where I was greeted by the rest of the band.

They all took turns introducing themselves. Riley H started his music career by learning to play the drums.Being the front man of Aftersurf, He takes the role of lead vocals and rhythm guitar.

R.H “I played drums from the time I was 10 and still do, for other bands. I only seriously started playing guitar 3 or 4 years ago.

As I made it around the room with the introductions and shook the hands of the band members.  I was then introduced to the backup and harmony singer Jill H. Riley described her singing as being very fluid, and being able to sing in any genre and any style comfortably.

J.H – “I’ve been singing since I was young, Ive never sang in public until I was 15.

The hardest thing to find when forming a band is the bass player. Luckily, Aftersurf landed one hell of a bass player, Robbie O. When I asked him how long he’s been playing bass and why he chose bass over guitar, Robbie had a perfect answer.

R.O – “I’ve been playing bass for 18 years, I actually play guitar but its much easier to get in a band if you play bass.”

The room shared a laugh at the joke Robbie made and then I was introduced to the drummer, Joey S. A carpenter by trade, but a roaring drummer by night,  I asked how long he has been playing, and I was shocked to find out the answer.

J.S – “Two months!” I don’t know what happened but it worked. I’ve always had interest in the drums, music in general actually”

R.H – “He learned to play drums in one night” 

Riley smirked over to his drummer as they nodded to each other in appreciation. Once the formalities of introductions were over, the band picked up their instruments and showed me their set list.

The first song of their set was entitled “You Wanted Too”.  As Riley H strummed his first chord, it had echoed the entire room. The drums carried a very solid beat that kept you tapping your foot, and the groovy rhythm of the bass flowed throughout the song, complimenting the harmonic melodies of Riley H. and Jill H.as they sang in union, never missing the pitch. It truly was groovy in the sense of an outer world experience.

When the song ended my accomplice Mackenzie Morris and I clapped and let them know they have a solid sound

Immediately after the first song ended. They kicked into a much faster and heavier style of song entitled “Gimme A Shot in the Arm”. A hard rocking beat that features Joey S. heavy drums and a solid bass lead by Robbie O. that simply compliments each other’s sound. Before the chorus, Both Riley H. and Jill H. have a slow melodic vocal moment that weaves you into a trance then jumps back into a hard-hitting chorus.

The band practices two to three times a week and have only been together for over 5 weeks and I must say, it is amazing how far these four talented individuals came together as a group and focused all their energy and passion into their album.

The album by Aftersurf is a group collaboration by the four members is a ten track album and it is entitled Solipsism. Puzzled, I asked what the significance of that title.

R.H- “Your gonna have to Wikipedia that one”

Once again we shared a laugh and in fact, I did Wikipedia that term and I don’t believe I am the right person to explain it. So if your intrigued to its meaning, I’m going to have to quote Riley H. on that matter. Your just gonna have to Wikipedia that one.

When I asked the band what song they were gonna play next, Riley H. gave a smirk and approached the Microphone.

R.H- Joe? what’s the name of the next one?

J.S – “Tell me what you want me too”

Riley H let out a laugh and corrected the title.

R.H – “Tell Me When You Want Me Too”

J.S – “Ah f**k!, I’m just filling in”

The group is a very fun-loving, having a good time band with constant jokes and quick one liners, They simply seem to pour out a positive energy.  Throughout the night the constant sound of laughter carried on through the studio.

Immediately after the joke, The guitar lead into the song entitled “Tell Me When You Want Me Too” The guitar and bass played back and forth in complimentary harmony and follows with the high pitches and soft harmonies of the vocals of Riley H. and Jill H. the song ends with Joey S. rattling the cymbals.

The way music is made is almost always influential by other bands or songs that are being heard. I decided to ask the members of Aftersurf what their biggest influence was.

R.H – “Currently I’m listen to a couple different bands, my music is very fluid but right now I’m listening to King gizard and the lizard wizard.”

J.H – “I don’t know, I truly listen to absolutely everything from the Beatles to what’s playing on the radio today”

R.O – “For me, Its guns and roses for sure, biggest influences for sure”

J.S – ” The Beatles for sure and Queen, I like a lot of music”

Even though the band has only been playing together for over 5 weeks, The professionalism in their music is very united, working like a well oil machine. They can’t really define their music by genre at the moment but it has been spoken of.

J.H – “I find it very groovy”

I suggested and found their sound could be compared to psychedelic rock while Mackenzie Morris compared their sound to old school Beck. They all agreed.

R.H – “I try to make every song the feeling you get when your watching space jam and the space jam song comes on. gets you pumped” “we’re more interested in creating original art, the four people who are here, they want to create original art with me, that’s what we want to do.”

A topic I brought up in my last spotlight article was how difficult it can be for the artist to deal with the pressures of putting yourself out there and receiving any criticism.

R.H – “I think when you create original art, you always have a little bit of self doubt and I think when we are in this room, we are in our own world and it’s interesting when we go to other places like Moncton, we bring a little of our world to the audience and see their reaction. The four of us understand the nod and the wink of playing live.”

As they played their third song from their set list entitled “To Be True”  I watched the band jam in harmony from the steady beat of the drums keeping time, to the harmonic vocals of Riley H and Jill H.

Throughout the night, The band keep calling their recent song ” The One” while they all agreed that it was the highlight song of the set list entitled “Enterview” Joey S. and Robbie O. we’re very excited to show this track and I now understand why, it truly is, A great song.

I can only describe the second last song on their set list as perfection, as the guitar starts off strong and the bass running behind following the lead with a single note at first when a sudden quiet lull happens and you hear the drums being kicked into a powerful boom. The little melodies played by Riley H as he jumps back and forth between the microphone and his drummer. The strong lead of the bass powerfully being strummed by Robbie O. and the kick ass sound of the drums being kicked in by Joey S. is all accompanied by the energetic voice of Riley H as he screams out a loud “HEY!” It brings an energy to a crowd.

When the song ended, the band, my accomplice Mackenzie Morris and myself cheered in union as a sudden strike of energy lit up the room, it was simply a rocking experience.

As the night came to an end, they played their final track on the set list and the title was “Enterlude”. I can only describe the sound as a very fluid, jazzy, melodic tune that sort of makes you at peace with yourself.

As we departed for the night, I was asked to sign the diamond-shaped mural, A tradition amongst the band for all other artist who have visited the studio. It was a one of a kind experience to hang out with Aftersurf for a few hours and gain insight into their music.

Make sure to check them out live for yourself. Aftersurf will be playing at Creative Grounds Café on April 21st 2017 then again at Plan B In Moncton on April 26th 2017 and their final show for the month of April being at The Well Pub on April  29th 2017.

I would like to thank AfterSurf once again for the opportunity for this interview and for allowing Mac Morris and I to be apart of your musical experience.

As Always.

Regards.

The Modern Typewriter.

Lucas Durelle.

Miramichi Spotlight Featuring Dillon Ryan

Recently I sat down with local musician Dillon Ryan and had a conversation about his upcoming projects and his passion for music.

  When I first pulled up to his residence, I noticed Dillon was standing on his porch, wearing a blue and black plaid shirt with a jacket slung over his shoulders. I pulled my car next to him and as he hopped in, he handed me a copy of his album.

“Can you listen to it when I’m not in the car, I still can’t listen to myself on my own album”

  We both shared a laugh and I agreed to listen to the album after the interview was done.

  We then proceeded to the nearest coffee shop to get our fix of caffeine and baked goods. we decided to drive downtown to the waterfront, parked the car and began the recorded conversation.

“My first album was a 5 piece EP that came out in 2014 titled Charlotte Street Haze, I recorded it on Charlotte Street in Fredericton”

Dillon Ryan left Miramichi, NB for Fredericton, NB for a few years to gain some experience in a bigger city and to experience a different atmosphere.

“I find that travelling and getting a sense of a city and getting into the mindset, can really inspire a creative mind because when I listen to my first record, I think that sounds like something that would come out of Fredericton”

 While Dillon Ryan and I spoke, he mentioned his upcoming project that he is currently working on in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

“I’m currently working on a new album up in Halifax and it really resonates with the Halifax music scene, It’s sorta like the culture and the environment and your surroundings sort of defines the production of your music.”

  After Dillon mentioned that he is currently working on a new album in Halifax, Nova Scotia, I was curious as to whom he was working with.

“I’m currently working with a producer in Halifax named John Mullane. He plays in a very popular east coast band named In-Flight Safety and I’m a real big fan of his work and we have been working together, sort of bonding.

The old expression “creative minds think alike” comes into play when creative people get to work with each other and achieve a common goal creatively in a positive environment. 

It’s really exciting playing with a creative mind that’s on the same page as you but you both have slightly different influences”

  Over the last 10 or 12 years, Dillon Ryan has been no stranger to a variety of instruments. He performs comfortably and professionally between guitar, drums and keyboard. All of which fueled his passion and creativity through the starting years of his music career.

“I’m sure certain people see me as a drummer from other bands but primarily I prefer guitar. I never see myself as a guitarist or a drummer, I like to see myself as a musician. I like to write whatever compliments the song I am working on”. 

Dillon Ryan stated that his favorite guitar has to be his Rickenbacker 330 and he referenced that his influences for that specific guitar would be Johnny Marr, Roger Mcguinn and John Squire who all used the same guitar during some of their recordings.

“I find I use a lot more guitars that are associated with complimentary and modest guitar playing. I like making melodic guitar parts that compliments the context of the song.”

Dillon Ryan had mention Johnny Marr several times during our interview and he was lucky enough to do the one thing that all of us have only dreamed about. Dillon Ryan met his idol Johnny Marr.

“I met him after a concert in Toronto and he’s really been an inspiration on me, not just musically but how to conduct yourself on stage and just overall personality wise. A lot of musicians develop this massive ego but when I met him, he couldn’t be a nicer guy”. 

Many times you will notice in the media that some artist believe they came to stardom naturally, that they did it all on their own without the help of fans or anyone else. Most people know that a musician without its fans support, may never fly higher with their career as an artist.

“The reason people grow in this industry is the fraternity of  people who make it grow and the people that are buying records. The people that are going to the show and if you can’t be grateful for the people that made you what you are, then that’s kind of fucked up”.

Whether you are just starting out as a musician or you are a seasoned pro, every musician dreams of landing their first gig.

The first time performing on stage as the hot lights shine down on you and the silence covers the room as they anticipate your show, the first moment when you strike that E chord and nod off to your drummer is the most thrilling moment a musician can experience.

“When your first starting out, trying to get your name out there, your messaging anywhere you could possibly play and there’s some places that are not interested in what you play and there is places that’s like”, “yeah we will book you in for this date”  But now, certainly in New Brunswick, there’s a good handful of places that know what I do, respect what I do and they just keep me in the rotation of things. I don’t take that for granted what so ever.  

To have such an established feeling in the province of New Brunswick, I asked if he is interested in performing outside our province.

“When my new record comes out, I’m actually doing some dates in Nova Scotia, Pei, and Quebec. 

The city of Miramichi has always been very proud of its heritage and its local artist and with the dominating music genre being Country, Folk and Blues. I asked Dillon if he found it difficult to resonate his style of music with the community.

“You know, I would never be the kind of artist who tailors my music or my set list to what city I’m playing in. I’ve played everywhere in Miramichi and I know which places are responsive for what I do and play at”.    

“I try and write music that’s different but also accessible to people. I love pop melodies like the Beatles but I also like this music that’s a bit more other worldly, so it’s my natural instinct to unify those two things and make it a bit more like abstract pop”.

Dillon Ryan mentioned that David Bowie was a very big influence in his early career and is still a constant to this day.

David Bowie passed away on January 10, 2016 after a 18 month battle with cancer. The world was shocked and sad to see not only a brilliant musician pass away but an icon too musicians everywhere.

“I woke up early that morning and I had opened up my phone and it said four new messages and I had different friends telling me about it, It was a very profound moment”. 

“I was very emotional about it”. 

After the passing of one of Dillon Ryan’s biggest influences, he recorded a tribute song with local artist James McClafferty. The song of choice was David Bowie popular hit of 1983 “Let’s Dance”

Musicians will often take the opportunity to strike at a subject they don’t agree with and use their music as a platform to publicly announce it and for Dillon Ryan’s new album, he has included a special track that does just that.

Our conversation moved onto a small local media station and how he perceives it and he felt inspired to write the track entitled “In The lies Between” I asked him what the significance of that track was and he stated.

“In the lies between is a play on words for in the lines between. it’s about small town journalism and how coming from a small town, we should be very communal and out to help each other but iinstead this local media is more about adding comedic value to people’s imperfections.

Dillon Ryan went on to express his disinterest in that particular news outlet even though he was not personally targeted  in any article that was published, He did state that he personally knew people and heard of people who were publicly humiliated.

“It’s a small town outlet for bullying because someone can do such a small crime and the administration of that site will go on someone’s Facebook, find the most unflattering photo of them and add a comedic headline.  They take pride in publicly humiliating the people of this city. That’s faux journalism.”

  After a couple of sips of coffee, we steered our conversation back on track to the topic of music. Dillon Ryan mentioned that he was nominated for an award and even though he did not win, he found it was a nice feeling.

“You take award type things for what they are, it’s nice but some of my favorite bands never got any type of award. It’s just a committee of thirty people who give their opinion, it’s not the end all of be all.”

  Often times most creative people are scared of public opinion and are afraid of negative criticism.

  When you finally muster the courage  to show the world your work whether you’re writing poetry, an article, a song or creating the next Mona Lisa painting. You are opening up a part of you and showing the world your passion, which can leave you vulnerable and open to criticism. Fortunately as every artist knows, the creation of your passion is for yourself and yourself only and if other people like what you created, well that’s a bonus.

“In the start, you’re a bit more precious and bit more insecure and when someone says you got a really good voice but you got to work on your confidence, your first instinct is to tell them to fuck off but that’s still your audience and if they didn’t think you had any promise, they would have said anything to you in the first place.”

“There’s certain people I trust their opinion but i have to understand that there’s certain people that have different taste but no I never get offended at someone criticism because at the end of the day,  you can’t force someone to like something.” 

  I asked Dillon Ryan if he had any words of encouragement for fresh artist who are just starting out, who are too scared to jump into the deep end of the proverbial pool.

 He sat in silence as he contemplated the idea, his eye’s shifted to the floor, he took a sip of his coffee and let out a quick sigh.

“I don’t know, you have to accept that; it’s for yourself first, then I don’t think there’s anything to be ultimately scared of, whether your successful or unsuccessful in this business is inconsequential”. 

“As long as your successful and true to yourself, that’s more important”.

 “I think that if you’re expecting anything as far as validation from others, your expecting to much”. 

  We finished the interview with a drive home and just talking as two old friends who haven’t seen each other in a very long time.

  I met Dillon Ryan over 10 years ago when we were just starting out as frustrated teenagers who were pissed at the world, not knowing where the road of life will take us.

  We talked about our passions and reminisced of old times. As I drove over the countless potholes on the road, We talked about the one great thing about living in a small town, it’s the community and how it supports its own people.

“I think that coming from a smaller city, makes you a little naive and makes you dream a bit bigger”.

 “I think if I grew up in a much bigger city like Moncton or Halifax, I wouldn’t have as much hope for my dreams because coming from a small town city, it’s easy to dig out what you want to the people of your city”. 

“I feel if I tried to do what I’m doing now in a bigger city, I would have been lost in the shuffle”. 

  As I pulled into Dillon Ryan residence, I thanked him for his time and he told me to give his album a listen and I did just that.

 I cracked the seal. Opened the cover and played the album.

  As I drove away, The sound of the first track “out of touch” echoed throughout the car. I was pleased.

  Thank you.

  Regards.

  The Modern Typewriter.

  Lucas Durelle.