Radiohead: OK Computer

I remember when my brother brought home a copy of OK Computer by Radiohead. For someone like me, who was basically musically illiterate at the age of 13, I didn’t realize the impact this album would have on the music industry. I can remember bringing it to my technology class (yeah, we used to have those) and listening to it while I worked on my Excel sheets and thinking how futuristic it sounded. Maybe if I had been into Bowie sooner, I would have seen the influence in OK Computer but to me, it sounded new and exciting.

OK Computer became the soundtrack to my high school career. It was hidden in the movies and TV shows that I was watching. It was mentioned on Much Music as maybe the closest thing to a masterpiece in our time. I suppose it had cascading effects in the wake of the departed Kurt Cobain. Listening to the album now as an adult, I can appreciate it more than I did as a teenager. From the poetry in the lyrics to the composition to the arrangement of the music. The production of the album still holds up as one of the better albums that came out of the late ‘90s.

There aren’t many albums that stand out in my memory as impactful as OK Computer. I often wonder what I would have been like had I not fallen into the trap of gross pop music in my mid-teens. I managed to pull out of it by my late teens to take on musical wonders like The Beatles, Pink Floyd, and Led Zeppelin. It’s not as though I didn’t have access to all the classic rock my heart could handle, my father kept all his records while other people were getting rid of their vinyl at the time.

There’s been a resurgence in ‘90s culture in our society. I don’t know if it’s our rocky political climate or just the circular nature of fashion, but I see kids wearing what I wore as a teen coming back into style. I am not surprised that 90s shows like the X-Files are being picked up again and catching people’s attention. It’s of no surprise that OK Computer was a mix of influences of Jazz and Noam Chomsky. Known for his political writings, Chomsky brings attention to details in our society that our governments would rather us not look at.

If you have not had a chance to sit down and listen to OK Computer yet, I suggest that you do so. Not only is the album a piece of musical history but it will live on as a record of artistic integrity in an era of music when sales were more important than the art.


A Chemical Romance

It was early 2011 when I started my love affair with the band “My Chemical Romance’ (MCR). I remember the moment it happened, I was looking up the recent tour dates that another band I enjoyed post, Neon Trees, and they announced they were going on tour with MCR. I was instantly not impressed, these shear amount of times I had been forced to endure “Welcome to the Black Parade” while working at Subway was enough to make me never want to listen to any other song by the band. Furthermore, MCR had a bad reputation for promoting self harm and suicide.

Let me stop you there, right now, I am certain you think that I hate this band. Retrospectively, I was being completely unfair in my judgement of the band and their music. I did my research after the fact and found out that not only were the rumors false but the band actually supported their fans in their struggles by sharing their own stories of dealing with depression and PTSD.

Back to the story, I decided that I wanted to see Neon Trees anyways, so I set out to listen to MCR’s newest music. I wanted to know exactly what I would be getting myself into once I got there. I have been to enough shows to know that the you shouldn’t judge a band by its radio plays.

That’s when I watched the music video for “Na Na Na [Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na]” and the follow up video for “SING”.

There was some kind of magic in those two videos because for the first time, I was really listening to the music and I understood that there was something more interesting going on with it.

After that, I had to listen to the whole Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by My Chemical Romance. Thus began a love affair that would last until the spring of 2013 when the band decided to call it quits on their career. After only getting to see them perform twice and a strange encounter with the leader of the band in a clothing store, I was left wanting more and knowing that I would never again hear my favorite song played live again.

There was a moment during an MCR show when you knew these was something special happening in the room. Something that I had only experienced once before at an Angels and Airwaves show. It was like a hush fell over the crowd as if all the air had been sucked out of the room. Like you were standing in the eye of a hurricane and you knew in the next moment something big was about to happen. MCR played their shows like they were telling you a story about their music and about their lives.

Music has transformative properties to it and when you experience it in a live setting, you walk out of it a different person than when you walked in, if you let it. Between the sound, lights, and performance on the stage and the excitement of the crowd, the whole thing sweeps you up and you get lost in it. It’s highly addictive, maybe even more so than substances. My Chemical Romance had that perfect mix of darkness and light to their stage show, pulling from their entire collected works and experience. No two shows were the same and you never knew which side of the lead man you were going to get that night.

Eventually, I came to love all of MCR’s music and respect the members of the band as individual artists. The front man, Gerard Way, came out with his own work after the band ended, as did the guitarist, Frank Iero. I actually met Frank a couple of years back in Vancouver where he signed my Epiphone Wilshire Phant O-matic.


When I first learned that MCR was calling it quits, I felt like something died inside me. I know that sounds dramatic but I can’t help that’s how I feel. I felt like I was being let down in some way. These men whose music had come to mean so much to me, I felt like they were giving up on something some people only dream of coming to in their lives, even for just a moment. My desire to make music died with that band, my own momentum just came to a dead stop, like a ship without wind in the middle of the ocean. Even though members of MCR have taken steps to make more music on their own, the magic that they had is broken up into pieces.

It took me a really long time to even look at my guitars again. It has only been recently that I was able to process that grief that the break up of MCR inadvertently caused me. I don’t blame the band for their choices for their own mental and emotional health, in fact, I support them %100 all the way in moving on with their lives. I found comfort in that support and moved forward with my own dreams.

~Clara D. Munro

Black Veil Brides Concert & Traveling Solo

I am excited to announce that I booked my travel plans for my upcoming Black Veil Brides concert. This is the first concert that I have been to in three years and the first time I will be going to a concert alone. The thing about concerts is that you’re not really alone, you’re there will all the other people enjoying the show. From what I understand about BVB fans, they are similar to MCR fans… crazy.

As I mentioned in a previous post, The Darkness in Me Sees the Darkness in You, I have been waiting to see Black Veil Brides for a few years now. I have been listing to the playlist below to get myself pumped up for this show. All the tracks are in release date order. Check out that cover of Rebel Yell though, it’s sick!

When I purchased the tickets for Black Veil Brides through the pre-sale, I received a free copy of their new album Vale, which you can listen to from the playlist above.

I feel like every other Black Veil Brides album it hit or miss for me. Keep in mind that my taste in music comes down to personal opinion and not on any kind of scale of music snobbery. I can remember listening to Black Veil Brides back when they were first making significant waves in 2011 and I wasn’t into their sound. Now, a few years later, they have changed their sound and developed more of a story to go along with the message of the band. The newest video “Wake Up” continues the Story of the Wild Ones carried over from Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones. That album was the one that sold the band for me.

They don’t put as much effort into the pageantry as they used to but I think what they are doing is working for them. I didn’t mind the the costumes but I can imagine that takes a lot of work to pull off day in and day out when you are on tour. I think they have a more polished sound in their recordings, I can’t wait to see them live to see how they live up the the recordings.

I am a little apprehensive of their stage performance after the last Vancouver show. A heckler in the crowd must have done something bad to piss off the band and causing the lead singer to jump in after them. Below is the famous video of that event:

Even if something like this happens again, it should still be an enjoyable show. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever been to a metal/punk show that didn’t have its fair share of stage stoppers. Every time I saw Thirty Seconds to Mars, they stop the show and ask people who don’t want to be there to leave. I have to wonder what drives someone to be so disrespectful that they provoke the lead singer to jump off the stage and into the crowd to go after them. Also, have to wonder what level of self control the band has to have to NOT jump in after hecklers. Either way, that’s rock and roll for you.

Traveling in the winter in British Columbia is a bit tricky as the highways are unpredictable and dangerous, I have decided to fly instead of drive because of this. I will be testing out the new inexpensive airline, Flair Airlines. They offer affordable flights by making you pay for extra things like picking you seat, printing off boarding passes, and luggage. Since I don’t care where I sit, check in online, print off my own boarding passes anywhere, and I will only be bringing a backpack with me, my flights will only cost me $154 in total. That’s half the cost of any Air Canada or Westjet flight.

Once in Vancouver, I will be spending a couple of nights with two of my best friends that I have not seen in over a year. I am super excited to see them and spend time with them after being away for so long. I used to see them all the time when I used to travel to see shows in Vancouver. I don’t really know why I stopping going to shows, I think that for the most part, there wasn’t any shows I wanted to see or they were happening during times that I could not travel. However, with these cheaper flights, I may have solved this problem. Now, all I need is for my favorite musicians to tour more.

For the night of the concert, I will be just staying at a hostel on Granville Street called Samesun. They have places all over the country and the USA. Yeah, I have to share a room with others but I am not worried about that since my flight leaves in the morning and I have to be at the airport by no later than 10:30am. I looked at Air B&B and other hotels but for what I need, $40 a night at hostel works best. One might think that I am too old to be traveling like this but I don’t think so. After that red eye flight from Kona to Vancouver, I think I am up for anything.

C. Munro

My First Cassette

I remember it was the Christmas of 1989, my parents got me my very first Sony Walkman and my cousin Joel got me my first tape. It was Alannah Myles self titled album, the one with Black Velvet on it.

Up until that point, I had been only listening to hand me down tapes from my brother and parents for artists like Michael Jackson and the soundtrack for the Raccoons movie.

I listed to this cassette to many times that I have it pretty much memorized now.

My Spotify Featured Playlist

Music has always been a passion of mine. I spends eight hours a day at my job listening to it on the streaming service, Spotify. I pay $10 a month to have access to their whole catalogue of music, which is extensive. I have discovered all sorts of new artists and albums by browsing the play lists and checking out what music my friends are listening to. I recommend this service to anyone who loves music and wants to support the artists rather than pirating music.

Sharing my love of music and discovering new music is one of the topics I want to share with your on this blog. I have set up the Music category so that you can check out my weekly Playlist on Spotify, learn about artists, and maybe find something you would like to your music collection.

This week’s playlist is:



It has been a long time since Jason Mraz’s album YES! has been available on Spotify Canada. I love this album so much. It appeals to the hopeless romantic that’s in me. While I don’t always bring that part of me out, this album reminds me that it’s okay to be open with declarations of love to those you want to share it with. I am not in love right now but this album reminds me of what those feelings are like.


The broken quiet of mourning

The benefits to working in the morning is that my body likes to wake up earlier than it used to. I felt pulled from my bed at 6:30am, which is sleeping in for me now that I normally have to be out of bed by 5am.

I stumbled around getting my dog his morning kibble while my roommate rushed about getting herself out the door. She let me know that she made coffee the way I like it today and she left; there was just enough for me to enjoy one cup.

I sat down and pulled out my computer in order to do a little morning writing. I am only a few days away from getting started on NaNoWriMo and I still don’t have all my planning done.

When I write, I like to listen to music and today it’s Friday and that means that there’s new music for me to enjoy. I was surprised to find a love note from the late Gord Downie waiting for me. I let out a few tears as I put on his solo album “Introduce Yerself“. There was a little video introducing the album that was the trigger for my tears.

Until this moment, I had been filled with a sense of relief that Gord’s pain was over but I had no idea that he had one more musical love note to share with the world after his death on October 17, 2017. Through my listening of this album I have gotten a better sense of his acceptance of his fate and his desire to not want to say goodbye but rather to encourage us all to go out and live our lives in our own way and not mourn for him.

I read a line recently about grief and it was that grief is just deep love that cannot be received. Not in the way that unrequited love cannot be received but that kind of love that holds in your heart and become painful because the recipient cannot heart it. Canada is grieving for its beloved national treasure, Gord Downie; even our prime minister has expressed his grief publicly in the wake of the singer’s death.

Gord didn’t want to say goodbye, he wanted us to see his life through his eyes.  Here’s the full album for you to enjoy on Spotify Canada. Make sure you give yourself time to really listen to his words and enjoy the poetry of them.


The Future of Music

Our economy is constantly changing and the music industry along with it. From my own personal consumer experience and growing up in the age of the internet, I can tell you that I am one of those people who directly contributed to the failure of the music industry. I was one of those people who download massive amounts of music off of services like Limewire and Bittorrent. Even as laws slowly caught up with the changes in technology, I too changed. I went from downloading music to streaming it online. For the most part, I have stopped paying for albums unless I love them.

As I started doing my own research into the music industry, I found that the only real victims were the artists themselves. They essentially had to sell everything they made to their record labels in order to give them the exposure they needed to make it big. Some record labels went as far as a sue the artists under them when their records didn’t perform to their impossible standards in the failing music industry.

A few years back, I used a service called Grooveshark, which did not help the artists in the music industry at all. These days, I have a subscription for Spotify which at least give some royalties to the artist every time you play a song of theirs. I use this streaming service to listen to music and when I find a record that I love, I will go out of my way to buy the vinyl of it, go to concerts, and purchase band merchandise. This is how I show my support of the artist. Fun fact, vinyl record sales outperformed CD sales the last three years in a row.

I am not every fond of the big three record labels. While I understand that they need to make money in order to keep the artists producing music, I cannot abide by their business practices. Have you ever seen a recording contract? They are almost as big as the Canadian criminal code! You need to be a lawyer in order to read them. I have my own limited experience with contracts since I work for Disney but these recording contract make my little paper work look like a parent permission slip for a field trip.

When I was thinking of going into the music industry a few years back, I made sure to get a feel for what I would be getting myself into. I researched all the different methods of recording, songwriting, and production before figuring out that I didn’t have the passion it took to get off my butt. I did record one song that I co-wrote with my roommate. She’s an amazing singer and sings with a choir. I can read, write, and record basic music. We put our two heads together and wrote this song and we recorded it at the local music school with the help of a friend who was studying there. This was about six years ago and I haven’t really done anything with it since that time.

I learned to play the guitar (not well), the bass, and keyboard. I learned the basics of recording on my own personal computer, I can certainly help someone else record a demo if they wanted to. I even brushed up on my music theory from what I learned in grade school and private lessons as a teen. I love music and everything to do with it. Even though I have tremendous stage fright, it’s only the pre-performance that bothers me. While actually performing, I am just fine, exhilarated even. I have made some amazing mistake while performing what should have traumatized me but I can only look back at them and laugh.

I think that the future of music industry will be determined by my generation. We love music and we will continue to want to hear new music. If we want to continue to enjoy new music, we will need to figure out a way to balance between purchasing music and supporting the artists. With changes in the release of digital content, we can buy directly from the artists, we can help them fund their recording process, and we can help them to fund a tour so that we can hear them directly. The record label isn’t as necessary as I used to be but it still has a place. Services like Spotify, Bandcamp, and to a limited degree iTunes/Google Play/Amazon will all have their place in the future of the music industry. I can’t wait till we see exclusive recording deals with digital media moguls like iTunes or Spotify. If Netflix can produce their own exclusive content, than we can certainly see Spotify do that one day. If I were a recording artist, I would go with Spotify and other streaming services over that of one of the big three.

~ Clara

The Darkness in Me Sees the Darkness in You

Be still my little black heart, I saw the two most amazing announcements today. The first was I came across a trailer for American Satan, a film about a band that is trying to make it on the Sunset strip but end up in a Fustian deal in their weakest moment. It stars the lead singer of Black Veil Brides, Andy Biersack (also known as Andy Black). The film comes out on Friday, October 13th and I will go see it, even if I go alone.

The second announcement was that Black Veil Brides are going on tour in the spring and will be in Vancouver in February. I am going to see them, I bought the tickets this morning as soon as they went on pre-sale. This band has been on my list of bands I need to see for four years now. Ever since I listened to the album, “Wretched and Divine: The Story of the Wild Ones”, I have been a fan of this rock band. There is just the right level of darkness and light in their music that I am captivated by it.

Now, I will admit that when I first saw the look of the band, Black Veil Brides, back in 2011(ish), I was a little turned off by the obvious pageantry I saw there. I had heard enough rock metal bands that sucked that I wasn’t about to let the image of the band sell me alone. I eventually broke down and decided that I needed to give them an honest listen. I was floored by the quality I found there. Something similar happened to me when I eventually gave My Chemical Romance a listening to. While I don’t love all of the work that Black Veil Brides have created, I respect them on a much deeper level.

I respect them in the same way I respect artists like Marilyn Manson and Alice Cooper. Speaking of Marilyn Manson, he’s got new work coming out too! What attracts me to artist who dance with the darker side is the honesty of the lyrics. There’s less pop repetitiveness to them and though touch on topics most people are uncomfortable talking about. Everything from fighting personal demons, suicide, death, political oppression, and anger. There’s a reason why youth tend to be attracted to rock and metal music, they are given so little latitude for dealing with their polarizing emotions in an effort to control them better, to keep them from making mistakes that will affect their whole lives. I remember being a teenager all too well.

In my late twenties, I had something of a resurgence of adolescent rebellion come out of me. I cut my hair into a mohawk, I dyed it crazy colors, I got my lip pierced, and I dressed like a punk. I also picked up some bad habits like smoking, drinking whisky, and back talking to my leadership team at work. It was a strange time for me, I was dealing with so much grief in my life that the only place I felt I could go was into my shell and make myself as approachable as I could.

Here’s a picture of me in that glorious rebellion

Now, coming out the other side of that, I still feel that pull towards self destructive behaviours but it’s tempered now. Believe it or not, injuring myself and then finding yoga to help recover, might have actually saved my life. I am still prone to existential crisis on what feels like a monthly basis. It’s been worse the last few months since my break up but I have better ways of dealing with it because of yoga and self reflection.

No one cares what you go through, as much as people say they do. At the end of the day, they really only care about themselves. Learning to be selfish with yourself and giving into what you need in order to deal with your life, is hard for others to understand. I had a friend tell me that my writing in order to deal with my break up made her feel uncomfortable and my first reaction was, “I actually don’t care what you feel, it’s not about you.” Then I got to thinking about what I was writing and decided that maybe there needed to be a different venue for me to write about it. I took it offline and back into my journal because like I said before, no one cares how you feel, not really.

When artists like the band Black Veil Brides produce their music, they are giving up a piece of themselves to be put on display for everyone to see, hear, and feel. If you feel anything come up while listening to their music, than they have accomplished what every musician hopes for, to make a connection with you through their music. Music has been a medium by which people have connected since the first songs were sung around the fires of our ancestors.

It broke my heart a little when my ex told me he didn’t feel any connection to music of any kind. He would listen to music but he would not connect with it. He couldn’t feel anything from it. I often wondered if it was because he himself was emotionally closed off. There was only one time the two years we were together that I saw an emotional reaction from him other than guilt and that was when he told me about a fairly traumatizing experience he and his ex went through.

Music for me, is all about connection. I feel connected to others when I share my love of it. I feel connected when I am in the heat of a mosh pit, trashing around. I get moments of euphoria when I hear the harmony of chords and lyrics come together. This is why I can’t pick a genre of music that I like best because I love it all. I wrote before about listening to country music and how that wasn’t normal for me. This week I am listening to rock and metal. I feel pulled to different music depending on my mood. When I need to calm my angry soul, I need music like that of the Black Veil Brides to remind me that I am not alone in what I am feeling and that it’s okay for me to feel the way I do.