Ian doesn’t really suck. I think I knew that before this show but he proved it.
This show was my first time listening to iansucks. They released an album called Don’t Give In to the Bad Feelings at this show. I’ve listened to it pretty regularly since.
I really tried to focus at this show. I’d never seen iansucks play before. I know Ian from Animal Teeth and pretty much suspected that he doesn’t really suck, but y’know, I guess I had to find out.
I learned Ian writes like almost all of the music they play. He writes each part, probably at his home in his room or something, somewhere bad feelings can sneak up on you. I’m pretty impressed by the sheer volume of writing. This album has 14 tracks. I’m so accustomed to 5 song EPs that 14 tracks feels luxurious! He’s released one other album, boring stuff go away, which has 10 tracks too. I liked that when I went to explore his music, there was a bunch.
I’d heard from a couple friends that Ian didn’t really intend on playing shows with this material. I found that interesting, and I get why now. During the show I felt a bit underwhelmed. The tunes were tidy, neatly put together, played well and steady. But they didn’t have tons of dance-groove, or much dynamics going on. They played with emotion, but the sort of slow sad acceptance that feels like enjoying the car ride home alone after a night out. Or that feels like knowing why you’re sad and why you don’t have to be sad but not caring enough to be less sad. Or being okay.
Anyway, my point is this: at first exposure, I was underwhelmed. The music kept my ear but didn’t drag me around the floor or ceiling or anything. I paid close attention, hoping to clear my mind and let the music fill me up (one of my fav pastimes) and just absorb what they sent out.
Their presence was soft and unintrusive. I was delighted to watch Emma perform again. I’m a big Figure fan and I haven’t seen her play in years (goddam) and it was fun to hear her sing again. Her voice suits the mood for iansucks.
I was talking to my friend Alex after and mentioned I felt a bit underwhelmed at the show. Like, I could have gotten distracted if I let myself. I think there’s something to do with being in a big public space when hearing iansucks for the first time that maybe took me out of it a bit. If I saw them at a house show for the first time, I’d be basically mesmerized. Alex said it was sort of suiting that I felt underwhelmed, because the music is about how “meh” things can feel in life, or how “eh” having feelings can be.
I’ve listened to their albums a number of times now. Alone in my room, alone at my desk at school, basically wherever with earbuds in, I am pulled deep into their tunes. The soft, unintrusive presence turns inviting and a bit mystical in quiet. It draws me in more when I’m not supposed to maintain a social presence. I can introvert safely.
They do some weird shit on the album, like the song “Clo”, which is maybe part of another song called “ouds”? Clo has some neat sounds, and slightly offbeat rhythm, and an atmospheric sound that sets it off from the rest of the album. Little experiements like that pique my interest.
I take the message of the album title to heart but when I listen it feels like it’s okay to let it happen for a bit. Something about misery and company? Or just the fact it’s okay to feel, it’s really, really okay to feel. People do it all the time. It might feel dumb and uncomfortable but it’s alright to feel it out. Just don’t stay there forever.
I think my ideal environment for an iansucks show would be a drafty old house in West Broadway with scratched hardwood floors painted over and chipping, sitting in a big old light mint green couch from the early 70’s with 8 or 12 other cool people and a dim yellow light over the drum kit.
My favorite line from the new album: “Everything’s like nothing.” So true. Resonates!
Slow Spirit was my first favourite local band. I saw them at Shine On four years ago and get happy to see them every time since. They’re an interesting fusion of jazz and folk and rock and sometimes prog, and they always show me something different.
It’s been neat watching their growth. Every time I see them, they play their songs a little differently. I listen to their 2014 Spring Mix sometimes and man, they’ve added a lot to their sound.
This evening was no different. They played some of my favourite tunes in a new way, again. They got pretty funky. I think having a jazz education really adds to their composition style. There’s so much room for slight variations, and they use remarkable awareness and control of silence. Breaks in music make my brain spin out a bit. In a good way. They catch me off-guard and make me appreciate the canvas of space-time that sound covers with ecstasy.
I picked up one of their new CDs. I like that buying Slow Spirit tunes, even when they’re often the same song, give me a different experience.
I’ve noticed more funky tones in their tunes recently. there’s more of a jumpiness to the bass, more of a pop or a release at the pluck of each note. It feels like they’re more energetic, too. Watching their lead guitarist really go for it on one song brought my energy right up. They can play fast. They can play slow. They can play sweet and melodic and obtrusive and discordant. And they do all of it with intention, with an almost masterful understanding of what each sound does. The musicianship is up there. I’m into it.
I want Slow Spirit to keep exploring. They make me dance. They make me sing. Natalie’s voice is like a sweet fresh honey at dusk in a field only one farmer ever walks through. Sweet but still with character, with a sense of texture that reminds me of things people can’t say. Of the pouring out of emotion when you realize you’ll be okay, you’ll be happy, and you’ll have people to take you there.