(Editor’s Note: I could not, for the life of me, write anything about Have A Nice Life for this page. It may be because I’m in the band, but anything I wrote seemed so horribly self-serving and idiotic. Rather than commit any acts of literary inanity, I opted to just include an excerpt from this album review by Jared Dillon, from his music blog Last Train To Cool. He is an awesome writer, and he has excellent taste in music. Go read his blog. – d)
As a “music critic” myself I often find myself attempting to publicize records that I feel are cutting edge, provoking, and most of all emotional expressions. In almost every one of my reviews, I reference these ideas. If anyone talks to me about music it is clear to them that I am not one for stoic records. So, when I see fans of a band like Protest the Hero latching on to records that I feel like I have helped bring to the masses it bothers me. In a sense, it makes me want to stop reviewing. Because, it cheapens these records I’ve pined for over for days, weeks, months, years to understand. I was literally counting down the hours today to get home and listen to the record that this review covers, because it is already that special to me. It hurts when people declare something like Kayo Dot unworthy or if someone with a negative persona latches on to a group like Converge, because then I challenge my own conception of those records. In summary of those feelings, I suppose it comes down to the fact that we all must live with our own opinions on things and therefore just be happy that we’ve created such beautiful relationships with the art in our lives. Music criticism then becomes utterly useless and most of what I talk about is inane, but maybe someone will feel these reactions and in turn, go out and find their own, “Deathconsciousness”. Maybe then I can feel like this review proved a point, as music in my eyes isn’t about mass consumption, but rather establishing special relationships with those things that reflect something new, something provoking, something emotional, and most of all something real. As an example, I present Have a Nice Life’s “Deathconsciousness”.
“Deathconsciousness” is probably a perfect record. At the time of this review, I haven’t really had enough time to digest it to declare it that, but I can’t really think of any way for it to be better. The production, the tones, the chord choices, the vocals, the lyrics, the concepts, everything is stunningly brilliant and just laughably remarkable. If needed to provide examples, I could do it for every track. The slow and steady build that is “Bloodhail” tossing its way between a propulsive Joy Division-esque rhythm section and beautiful dual vocals, the drums that kick in and take “The Big Gloom” to a whole different spectrum of gorgeousness than the tracks preceding it even hinted at; there are so many great moments on this record I could talk about them for days. Well, I’m obviously getting ahead of myself. Have a Nice Life “is, was, and always will be Dan and Tim” as their myspace states and “Deathconsciousness” is essentially their five year discography, a dual-disc debut album that deals with a variety of concepts relating to religion, death and theories attached to those two ideas. Intensely personal in delivery, this is a record that is basically a collaboration of ideas ranging from industrial to post-punk to post-rock. A common thread would be Canada’s patron saints of avant-doom Nadja, but even that duo don’t possess the massive love of the melodic that Have a Nice Life demonstrates all over their debut. Tracks like “Hunter” show the group’s massive devotion to their specific style of eighties soundscapes, but also echo with an earnestness that can only be related to the group’s supposed leader Dan Barrett’s punk-laden past, as he formerly did time in the relatively obscure post-hardcore group In Pieces. If anything, Have a Nice Life can be described as the perfect example of the suffix “post” in regards to all of the music that has come out in the indie circuit since 1980. It is taking all of the concepts that have made underground music what it is and strangling them in such a way that it creates something of a reminder of what progression actually means.
So, what does or did “Deathconsciousness” teach me? Is it that records simply can surprise me or that when critical acclaim isn’t applied that I have to clearly generate some to overstuff an average album? Is it that Have a Nice Life is a complete emotional replica of my current situation and that the overwhelming melancholy and despair of the album is part of my inner being? No, I don’t really think there is anything that can be said about this record besides the fact that it is stunningly personal. In turn, it made me want to make this review stunningly personal, and that is what “Deathconsciousness” essentially did: inspire me. This record is draining, it is intelligent, it is an amazing composition, but most of all it is an inspiring, subdued lo-fi masterpiece that almost perfects the idea of home recording. The group of people involved with the production and creation of this record have shown through their music that they have no pretensions and are just trying to share what they’ve done with people that they think will appreciate it. Maybe in a sense, that is what my goal in music criticism is all about: to help similar-minded people find similarly enjoyable things. A simple concept brought to mind by a simple record.
-Jared Dillon, Last Train To Cool
Available From ENEMIES LIST
“Have a Nice Life’s debut is simply amazing. Not only is it an awesome piece of music, it’s an awe-inspiring experience, one that will no doubt haunt you for a long, long time. While far from being perfect and most definitely not for everyone, Deathconsciousness displays an ambition and passion that cannot be taught. Dark, depressing, haunting, and strangely uplifting, if this record does not evoke some sort of emotion from you then I am convinced you have no soul.” – Cody Foss, SputnikMusic
“Have a Nice Life set a rather high bar for what new or little known bands are capable of producing on their own.” – ScenePointBlank
“Ranging from full on drones laced with sparse textures to fuzz filled beauty, it’s a full listening experience that must be heard from start to finish…Deathconsciousness comes as a wonderful surprise for me in 2008, and I am thinking it will be the same for some others out there.” – Built On A Weak Spot
“The hypnotic atmosphere, existential themes and stirring climaxes make Deathconsiousness one of the greatest artistic statements to grace the alternative scene since Radiohead’s Kid A. Take the time to explore this album in its entirety and let the dark drones wash over. If the moon is at the right height in the sky, or the clouds give way to a massive downpour, make sure you have this album on hand.” – The Rock Blogger