Eating Dandelions in Paris with Street Performers

I’ve taken a couple days off to rent a little house in Paris.  One thing that is noticeable when grabbing a place in this sleepy little town is that the conversations with the house owner really feels like you’ve been transported back in time.  “Oh, you’ll have to go out and see the deer with their fawn at 3 pm when the children all go out as well.  Then there’s Henry the Heron – you can see him from the patio.  You might get a glimpse of the beaver family as well.  They usually come out at around 5 pm.”  I have not said a word and it’s been a 23 min conversation.  Somehow, I feel more at ease and have just had a slice of homemade apple pie without knowing it.

Watched the first two episodes of Rostered On.  It’s a comedy about an electronic retail big box shop in the UK.  The jokes hit a little too close to home.  There was a scene about a man that had the settings on his toaster at the highest settings and complained that his burnt toast was from a faulty toaster.  The next thing that I remember is rocking in a corner with my Future Shop uniform clutched tight to my chest mumbling something about not being able to return a USB flash drive.

Is the World Cup over yet?  Generally, I don’t detest any single nation.  Every four years or so I find myself cheering only against one team – Portugal.  The reason is out of pure entertainment.  The fans are the most over-the-top whiners that I’ve witnessed.

Can’t imagine having the hoarding disorder.  There was a time that Sara and I did have a messy house, but this was caused by sheer laziness and not wanting to hold onto stuff.  There has never been a time that I thought “Oh, maybe this hairnet from the hotel will come in handy in a few years.  We should keep it around the house.  Especially since I’ve never used one in my life.”

The one thing that I don’t miss about living in a small town is knowing everything about everyone.  I don’t need to know what Mrs. Jackson’s two children’s marks were in Math in Grade 8.  I need space in my brain for old hockey trades and the name of the first album by the Beta Band.

How do you get into the street performer profession?  I’m not talking about the guitar players.  I’m referring to the break dancers, jugglers, etc…  Baking out in the sun and juggling fu**ing knives seems like the absolute last thing that I would ever want to do, let alone practice.  You have to spend countless hours becoming an expert in this craft.    The more re-tracing that I do on this profession the more ridiculous that it seems.  What’s the pinnacle – Vegas?  Nobody is looking up the stats on knife jugglers?  Well, one person – me, but nobody else.

An Ice Cream Truck recently came to my work.  As many co-workers ran out with glee to the ice cream truck they were turned away by the man – he was meant to go across the road to another tech company.  Many were sad, and a few confused on why he wouldn’t serve paying customers anyways.  The rest of the day just couldn’t live up to the moment of seeing that beautiful multi-coloured truck pull in and park for just that minute.  This life in tech moment has been brought to you by TWB Coop Brewery.  Where every day is like a Mumford and Sons concert.

Top 3 things that I knew as a child that other children didn’t seem to know/care about

3) Dandelions are not delicious.  There are thousands of these things everywhere.  They don’t even look tasty.  Had one of those yellow petals and it tasted bitter.  Little Georgie would just power through a minimum of 6 or 7 of these a day.  He’d have yellow stains on his pants.  Georgie didn’t have many friends – except the dandelions.

2) Being timed to get things by your parents is a trick.  “I will get this thing for you, but it will cost you a minimum of three chips old man.”

3) Getting dirty sucks.  “Alright man, you can roll around in that puddle if you want Joe.  Seems like a huge mistake to me.  You are going to look like sh** and your Mom is going to light you up when you get home.  Well, there you go.  Remember this conversation when you get home, yup lap it up like a dog as well – real smart Joe.”

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The Beta Band: Underrated and Unknown

With the recent boom of many indie rock bands we must look back upon the bands that were ahead of their time. I am going to review multiple bands that I don’t think get their due in the music industry. This is part one of the underrated and the unknown. The first band is a band from Scotland that has had varied amounts of success. It’s one of those bands that the talent outweighs the sales. The band that I would like to feature today is the Beta Band.

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The Beta Band had a slight moment in the sun when the movie High Fidelity came out. There is a great scene when John Cusack leans over to one of the co-workers in his record shop and says “I will now sell five copies of The Three E.P.’s by The Beta Band.” You then see multiple people in the shop begin to slowly get into the groove of the classic hit “Dry the Rain.” This is the exact moment that I went out searching for this record. I was able to start my journey through the history of the band. At the point that I found out about this, they already had a stellar catalogue.

One thing about the Beta Band is that no two albums sound alike. The 3 EP’s is kind of a mish mash of sounds that has an unbelievable amount of songs that are single worthy. Steve Mason has a calming space voice that is able to cut through the sounds of the songs like butter. While listening to the 3 EP’s you can really hear the three different times that this album was compiled from. “Dog’s Got a Bone” has a soft sound to it, that could thrive in a Scottish pub after work. “Dr. Baker” gives a you a shot of insanity within the sound of a piano. The Beta Band have a certain weirdness to them that will put a smile on your face. Knowing exactly when to apply some pressure, and when to alleviate it. Almost to the point where they are weaving in and out of the best parts of your mind.

It’s extremely impressive on how different the two main albums are. Beautiful acoustics, and feel in the 3 EP’s, and then the calming space sounds of Hot Shots II. It’s almost as though they found multiple sounds that can mimic the sounds of an acoustic guitar. On this album especially, Steve Mason’s voice is able to be an instrument itself. Hot Shots II is produced with such grace. Background vocals that flow with Mason’s, and sounds that are able to match the feel that they would like to produce. It is almost as though that they want to transport you into this extremely particular area of your mind and this is the sound that will allow your brain to make it there.

The movement of this record is extremely important. They know the exact point of the album where they need to tune the guitars back in. “Human Being” is a perfect example of that. A guitar solo near the end of the song is executed perfectly. You can only layer space sounds so long without having people start to tune you out. They pull the chord directly after song, and put a parachute back onto the album to allow the album to land safely back onto the grassy bed of calmness.

It’s very hard to pinpoint the sound that the Beta Band is known for. They don’t sound like anything else that is out currently. The Caribou album “Andorra” is the closest to feel that I can get to Hot Shots II. Throw on “Squares” to really get a feel for this band, and see if they can be a fit for a sunny Sunday afternoon for you. I guarantee that you will be sold. Unfortunately trying to find any albums on vinyl is nearly impossible. I am just hoping that with the driving force that is indie rock; that we can find time for the space sounds of the Beta Band.

The Three EP’s – 9.2/10
Hot Shots II – 9.7/10