How’s February going? Good ol’ Frosty February, Toronto’s equivalent of frigid fallout. Long weeks at work with nary a beam of sunlight. How is one supposed to bask? It’s not like there’s even reflected glory on hand, ’cause everyone’s so gorram miserable. Things so far have been pretty mild, which is to say that yesterday everything was covered in a slippery sheet of ice. One wrong step and your ass was glass (fragile, not transparent). Could we have a moment of silence for tailbones across the city?
I wouldn’t say I’ve been wallowing, but I’ve certainly been retreating into die hard creature comforts. Frankly I’m surprised I haven’t yet devoured the Goosebumps omnibus. Instead I’ve been spending late nights working on Magic decks that’ve been sorely missing some TLC. It’s been nice to ratchet down the amount of time planted in front of a computer, even if it’s for another sedentary hobby. What else am I supposed to be doing? The streets are ice!
Musically I’ve also regressed. Nostalgia’s tough to beat when things around you seem cold. Over the past week I’ve delved into Tool’s discography. It’s comforting to know that while I’m not chaffing for a brand new release from the band, I can still have a pretty good time cranking them up. The fervour is gone, the rabid enthusiasm of a teenager has long departed. That being said, it’s been a hell of a while since I last heard “Sober” or “Prison Sex”. It’s pretty fun charting the evolution of the band from the spark of their prog metal roots to the goliath stadium band they became. Plus metal is a real good time when the sky turns dark. I’m plummeted right back to late high school, early university. Moshing is suddenly covered in this shiny veneer, somehow forgetting that the shiny veneer in any mosh is other people’s sweat. It’s a little nudge in my side reminding me that even though I don’t seek it out, when I feel like hearing metal it’s a helluva itch to scratch. I know what you’re all saying, seek it out, right? Maybe I will. Maybe. I. Will.
We both know I won’t. Who do you take me for? George Washington?
I also took a deep dive this morning back into Sublime. Sublime’s an odd one for me. At age 12 you’d probably catch me listening to them for upwards of three hours a day. At age 30 it’s pretty tough to identify with their particular brand of West Coast bro ska culture. In that typical 90s way, the band had zero room for nuance (did the word “problematic” exist back then? Surely that word couldn’t co-exist with the board game Dream Phone). Still, it’s hard for a bunch of the tracks to not resonate, given the deep groves they’ve etched into my brain. Bradley James Nowell had one hell of a sweet voice (apparently he inherited perfect pitch from his mother, but that could just be internet rumblings) and it really shines on Sublime Acoustic: Bradley Nowell & Friends. The recordings are messy, assorted bar performances with background chatter/yelling. His voice, however, shines through. Tracks like “Boss DJ” or “Don’t Push” are reinvigorated, while “Pool Shark” is a whole new beast. Like Cobain, I’m not sure how gracefully Nowell would’ve aged culturally, but I’m hard pressed to not smother those years of listening in fondness. I know that every summer I’ll crank out their self-titled at least once.
Maybe summer will come early this year. Right in the cold, dead heart of Toronto winter.