Revisited: Teen Angst

A look-back at my emo teen music and letting the feels rush in

We all go through phases. Some are more embarrassing than others, but they all play an equal part in shaping who we are now. To think of these phases musically, as the curation of our own tastes over the years, can be especially defining.

Call it an accidental reminiscence. I was browsing through Spotify last month and came upon a playlist called “Alternative 80’s.” “Waiting Room,” by Fugazi, was playing. Suddenly, after years of repression, I was taken back in time to age 16, when music filled every nook and cranny of my life.

I’d blocked it out for a long time. I moved into a long phase of passivity, listening to whatever random music I happened to stumble onto, including the radio, which in my angst phase was a sin worse than murder.

Then that damn Fugazi song was playing, and it all came back.

Shortly after freshman year started, I found myself involved with something called, “the scene.” Being punk in (near) Washington, D.C. then wasn’t so much about being part of a single genre like when it first started. That was a time which gave way to punk legends like Fugazi, then later, Dave Grohl, and by 2015 it was more of an established subculture of DIY. It was where diverse genres including punk, bedroom pop, lo-fi, alternative rock, hardcore (a subculture of its own), emo, math rock, and many others first came about, and later called home. 

It was hard to remember everything at first. All my favorites who were active during (2015-2017) either broke up or went AWOL in 2019. As soon as I dug deeper, though, every church basement, house show, and sweaty mosh pit came through crystal clear.

Pulling from memory, I could at least remember my very favorites: Forth Wanderers was one of them, who’s first EP Mahogany, 2014 album Tough Love (remember when Lorde tweeted it?!), and later EP Slop was playing for the majority of 2016 and 2017. Probably my favorite band of all time (RIP), Forth Wanderers was formed by three great musicians looking for a lead vocalist. Everything became whole when they came together. 

Remembering that led me to remember my other favorite sing-alongs, like Hop Along‘s 2015 release Painted Shut. If you’re suburban-rural bred like me and in need of some melancholy reminiscence, it will bring out everything heavy in you. Anyone into shows like Shameless and Twin Peaks, or any other general malaise should find this album well. Palehound always had a similar effect on me, led by Ellen Kempner, whose voice and lyrics carry the same strength and attitude as Hop Along’s Frances Quinlan.

Also on repeat was Philly-based band LVL UP. Hardcore fans will be disappointed that this was about as angsty as I got — if you want something edgier check out Cold Foamers, Stove, Downtown Boys, or Spirit of the Beehive, but that’s as deep as I’m taking it. LVL UP songs “Soft Power” or “Angel from Space,” both from their 2014 Hoodwink’d album, had these intense build-ups which did a good job transforming teen angst into pure elation.

Don’t limit LVL UP to your angsty moods though, they’re still the best medicine for any moment. “I Feel Extra-Natural” was my go-to for general sorrow, along with Clique‘s “Lil T,” another fave, with major “oof” lyrics like “I’ve been thinking a lot / all the fights we had / and what they were about / I can’t even remember.” More uplifting is the classic Clique banger “Get By,” sure to be a hit the next time you find yourself among a group of angsty teens or, more likely, angsty nostalgic adults. The real angst party soundtrack, however, would be (RIP) Warehouse‘s 2016 album Super low (can we agree that all the best music comes out of Atlanta?), whose timeless symphonies would also make great exercise companions.

We were all teens once. It may have been angst during the day, but at night it was all sorrow. Don’t lie. There was a lot of heartbreak, mostly from beginnings and endings that never actually played out in real life. We all had the music to help us get through it.

Some tracks made me fall in love, like Soccer Mommy‘s 2015 EPs songs for the recently sad and songs from my bedroom (parts one and two). I can still remember every line, and some still make my heart skip: “I just want you in my life / kissing circles on my thighs / like you do” and “you’ve been spending all your time / living on the backside of my eyes” (both from songs from my bedroom pt. 2). Montrealers can see her perform at the Corona Theatre on March 30.

If Soccer Mommy was my teddy bear back then, Alex G was water. A master guitarist, lyricist and composer, his songs bench heavyweight somewhere between lullaby, emo, and indie folk. Between the years 2011-2019, he was busier than anyone else I listened to, putting out over 24 releases, most of which were full-length albums. As one example out of many, “Thorns” from the 2015 Beach Music release tells a full story in one minute (first verse): “why would I lie / this thing / it haunts me like a shadow / never lets me go / he was cross / I knew how lost / I knew my way / oh, how I played him.”

Me with friends circa 2016.

As I discovered more, I saw every memory attached like a supernatural vision, unearthing old feelings of anger, sadness, grief, and happiness that hadn’t been touched in so long. It was like opening a time machine. Other icons from that time including Furnsss, The Obsessives, Snail Mail, Foozle, SitcomSwings, Tall Friend, Shya, Horse Jumper of Love, and Brittle Brian, all of whom bring back all the car trips, late night diners, Fort Reno sunsets, and concerts that made my teen life worth remembering. Each song is a roll of film, vine artistry, or finsta post, revealing all the beauty I had wanted to forget.

My teen phase wasn’t just an awesome time for music, it was an awesome time in general. It was a time of intense feelings and discovery. What I found was that even if you’re 22 and permanently jaded, your teenage self is still there. Just hit play on that old playlist and you’ll remember who they really were. 

Photos by Nathaniel Salfi of Bleary Eyed

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Music Quickspins

QUICKSPINS: Machine Gun Kelly – Tickets to My Downfall

The middling Midwest rapper has veered into pop punk on his latest LP and the outcome is better than expected.

Machine Gun Kelly spent the better part of the 2010s being written off as another melodramatic, corny, white rapper with a rapid-fire flow and not much else to offer — and that’s because he was. Barring a few charting hits and an admirable, albeit short-lived back and forth with Eminem, his career as a rapper was middling at best. With this latest LP, MGK ditches his mundane, multisyllabic flows and generic beats and dons the sound and aesthetic of early 2000s pop-punk, and mostly succeeds in this new realm.

While Tickets to My Downfall is a reinvention for MGK himself, it doesn’t do anything to reinvent or breathe new life into the genre, and that’s perfectly fine. This album thrives in the moments in which it harvests that feeling of early-aughts nostalgia, which is aided greatly by the inclusion of Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker throughout this project.

In contrast, the album’s biggest shortcomings come when it tries way too hard to modernize and clean up the sound. The ethos of punk music is that it comes straight from the heart, including all of its raw unfiltered ugliness, it’s a pure expression of emotion that should be unadulterated.

The instances of quantized trap hi-hats or obvious vocal correction take away from that and make the music way more poppy and cookie-cutter than it should be. Even if bands like Green Day, Sum 41 and Blink-182 produced a more polished and accessible version of punk, MGK takes it to the point where this project could be labelled pop-pop-punk.

Another area in which this album tries too hard to increase its pop appeal is the features, and it suffers for it. The album has four features across its runtime, all varying from horrible to decent. While Halsey and blackbear both do a decent job on their respective tracks, Trippie Redd and Iann Dior have abysmal features. Both of them are astonishingly out of place on their respective tracks and have absolutely zero chemistry with MGK or the music.

As far as MGK himself goes, he can be very hit-or-miss here, but surprisingly he does mostly hit. Vocally, he’s nothing special, but on the songs where there’s no obvious pitch-correction, the rasp in his voice and the tone of his delivery feel very fitting for this genre.

Barring a couple of moments of real depth (“lonely” and “play this when i’m gone”) this album is pretty shallow and juvenile lyrically, and some lines are outright horrible. While in most other cases this would be a real issue, it’s fine for what this album is trying to accomplish. It’s clear that this album is MGK doing his best Blink-182 impression, and that spirit of silly immaturity really fits the mould.

Another way in which this album attempts to give itself a bit more personality is through its interludes, which feature Pete Davidson and Megan Fox. While there’s nothing inherently bad about these interludes, they have nothing much to offer after the first listen. “banyan tree – interlude” actually features a good snippet in the second half, but it’s a chore to sit through the Megan Fox/MGK conversation that precedes it.

Still, there are some saving graces on here. The album’s opener “title track” starts the album off strong, really capturing the essence of the sound that this album is going for and excelling at it. The most clear-cut moment of Blink-182 worship here is “concert for aliens” and it succeeds in restoring that sound, though it can feel a bit too derivative.

The aforementioned moments of depth, “lonely” and “play this when i’m gone” are both solid, emotional tracks. The latter of the two is the album’s closer and serves as a heartfelt letter to his daughter in the event that he reaches his inevitable downfall. It’s a pretty touching moment that closes the album on a high note.

In the end, Tickets to My Downfall might not bring anything new to the pop-punk genre, but it doesn’t need to. As generic and derivative as a lot of the songs on here can be, they do exactly what they set out to do, and that’s to be mindless, fun, pop-punk tracks.

Barring some admittedly horrible songs, this album is a mostly enjoyable pop-punk release for the majority of its 36-minute runtime. While it doesn’t reinvent the wheel – and MGK definitely isn’t the pop-punk revivalist some outlets are making him out to be – Tickets to My Downfall is a decent, entry-level pop-punk album that’s popularity could help to bring the genre back to the mainstream.


Trial Track: concert for aliens

Rating: 6/10


Caveboy––a DIY punk approach to alt-pop

Montreal band Caveboy is ready to share their debut album with the world

In 2015, Caveboy released their first self-titled EP and quickly began the long journey of growing their audience. From playing in festivals such as SXSW, Osheaga, and Pride Toronto, to supporting some incredible acts like Tash Sultana, Tom Walker and Wintersleep, Caveboy has worked hard to grow their audience while still self-releasing all of their music. It doesn’t look like they’ll be stopping any time soon.

Lana Cooney

Since their first EP, the band has continued to release singles and amass fans thanks to their unique new wave 80s pop sound and chaotically-fun live shows. The all-women trio consists of Michelle Bensimon, lead singer and guitarist, bassist Isabelle Banos and Lana Cooney on drums, with whom I recently had the opportunity to chat about their story and the newly released debut album, Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark.

Cooney, a Concordia alumnus, grew up in a musical home here in Montreal where she gravitated to the drums at the early age of 10. Having a musician for a father meant she had plenty of instruments lying around, which she was always encouraged to mess around with. 

“I was just drawn to the drums,” said Cooney, before diving into her musical journey and the formation of the band. In high school she would go on to be the first female drummer in Lindsay Place high school orchestra, where she started meeting   other musicians and jamming out in her mom’s garage. “And that’s [the garage] where Caveboy got its start too.”

Banos met Cooney on their Cégep orientation day when she spotted the drumsticks sticking out of Cooney’s bag. A few years later, the two friends would go on to invite Bensimon to create the trio that became Caveboy.

Jumping to 2020, Caveboy released their debut album on Jan. 31. It was always a dream of the band’s to produce a full-length album, and they’ve done it. The very relatable album covers themes of being heard, relationships between childhood friends, partners and family.

Isabelle Banos

“There are some ballads, some dance-y ones, and even some psychedelic ones,” is how Cooney describes the album in her 60-second elevator pitch. When asked to pick one song from the album that those new to the band should check out first, she replied “N.Y.P!”

Montreal has and will always be part of Caveboy’s story, with their upcoming official release party on Feb. 8 at the Centre Phi. While the city’s lower cost of living and abundance of small venues has been a great help for getting the band’s feet off the ground, they have their sights set on longer and further tours. It’s a goal of Cooney’s to get on the road as much as they can this year and keep growing. The live performance is equally as important to the band. Adding performance enhancing elements to their live shows has been a focus since the beginning.

Michelle Bensimon

“Stuff like lighting! Not steroids,” said Cooney, with a laugh. From sets, to merch, to social media––they like to be as involved as possible, and every new team member is personally hand-selected, leaving nothing to chance. It’s clear this band is one of the most dedicated ones in the city, and one to keep on your radar this decade. 

Night in the Park, Kiss in the Dark is out now, and it’s not an album you want to miss out on.


Photos by Cecilia Piga.



Dilly Dally thunder into Montreal

A riff-laden show for those looking to cast off what’s keeping them down

Devotees of heaviness, Dilly Dally, opened their latest North American tour at Bar Le Ritz on March 18, with support from Montreal’s buoyant garage-rockers NOBRO.

Dilly Dally named their 2018 album Heaven because they say it feels like something they would have made if they all died, equating the feeling to the pressure and touring workload that came with the success of their 2015 debut, Sore.

The music on Sore fused punk with alt-rock and had more of a sneering delivery than Heaven, which is more meditative and formed around the tempos and rhythms of doom metal rather than punk.

They began with the opening track from Heaven, “I Feel Free,” which they released as the lead single last summer to announce the band’s return. The title, according to singer and guitarist Katie Monks, refers to the band’s desire to move on from any petty grievances they developed while touring for Sore.

That song feels simultaneously more restrained and more emotionally intense than what can be found on Sore, but as Le Devoir pointed out in its review of the album, it also kind of sounds like Coldplay.

What the music press fixates on most with Dilly Dally is Monks’s vocals, which jump between raspy whispers and throaty screams. It is the kind of singing that leaves you wondering how much tea they must drink to be able to do it on a regular basis.

And Monks’s singing is a large part of what gives Dilly Dally their unique identity. The music itself is skillfully crafted but sometimes feels like it adheres too conventionally to what influences it.

On the other hand, the song “Doom,” unsurprisingly one of the heaviest songs on the album, is enjoyable precisely because it proceeds over a fairly typical metal riff that nonetheless touches some primordial part of you.

If the song structures sometimes feel a little commonplace, then other elements join the vocals to create an intensity and personality that elevate Dilly Dally well above their peers.

This alchemy came through in crushing renditions of “Sober Motel,” “Marijuana” and “Sorry Ur Mad.” The setlist was skewed toward their newest release, but made sure to touch on highlights from Sore like “Desire” and “Purple Rage,” the latter of which came with a cover of Drake’s “Know Yourself” as a lead-in, something they’ve been doing since their 2015 shows.

A smart move was the inclusion of NOBRO as the opener, a band that Dilly Dally had played with before on a tour with U.S. band FIDLAR. All four members play like they are wholly committed to carrying the energy of the performance by themselves.

What they play is strident and fun-loving, in the vein of 70s proto-punkers New York Dolls, and features the kind of catchy, singalong chorus one expects from simple and honest rock and roll. Yet, their music deftly combines various eras of guitar-oriented music, from the hard rock of Thin Lizzy, to the virtuosity of Van Halen. It goes without saying that they never fail to entertain.

Music Quickspins Uncategorized

QUICKSPINS: SWMRS – Berkeley’s On Fire

Oakland pop-punk quartet SWMRS released an album that while sparsely intriguing, never lives up to its exemplary opening track. While the band ventures down interesting roads in terms of production, fusing elements of hip hop and electronic to a pop core, SWMRS fails to flesh out these experimental portions, leaving bland punk at its centre. Listeners will either latch on to these more unique production elements and appreciate the pop sensibilities, or be bored by the vague punk vocals that fall flat. This tape is for those that are willing to sacrifice vocal energy for glimpses of something new in the punk landscape. Either way, check out that title track.


Trial Track: Berkeley’s On Fire

Star Bar:
“Put your pom-poms down you didn’t win shit,
go bail out your guilty ass it’s not your business,” – Cole Becker on “Berkeley’s On Fire”


No Holiday for Green Day

Why Green Day powers through a 30-year career

In terms of 1990s and 2000s punk rock, several names emerge as the giants of the decade. One of those bands was Green Day. The trio of Billie Joe Armstrong, Tré Cool, and Mike Dirnt dominated the 90s and parts of the 2000s, and remain to this day one of the most influential punk bands in existence. Despite this, many in music found that as time wore on, Green Day abandoned their traditional punk style and transitioned into an alt/pop-punk sound. Even with their massive success, Green Day’s change of style comes with the idea that they’ve lost their place, often seen as overrated. This could not be more wrong. Green Day, along with their transition into other genres, remain one of the best groups of the era.

Green Day debuted in 1990 with 39/Smooth, but became known for their second studio album Kerplunk. They rose to prominence with Dookie in 1994, one of the greatest albums of the last 25 years. With the release of 1995’s Insomniac, and 1997’s Nimrod, the band experienced rapid success. However, with 2000’s Warning, the doubts about Green Day’s change of tone started to emerge. In his review of the album, Greg Kot wrote in Rolling Stone that “The problem is, (Armstrong) can’t muster the same excitement for his more mature themes.” When Green Day came into the spotlight after a four year hiatus, and American Idiot was released in 2004, they hit gold with the most successful album in the band’s history.

The problems began to arise after American Idiot and 2009’s 21st Century Breakdown, which again, was both a critical and commercial success. “If it’s a continual surprise that Green Day are the ones to pick up the torch and run with it, that’s part of what makes 21st Century Breakdown so fresh and vital,” wrote Rob Sheffield in Rolling Stone. The band’s release of the critical and commercial failure of the Uno… Dos… Tré! compilation album in 2012, and Armstrong’s drinking sent Green Day into a downward spiral that still plagues the band, to a certain extent. After the fallout of the albums, in an article for Billboard magazine, Jason Lipshutz wrote, “With all three members now in their 40s, however, is this really the version of Green Day we want to return?” For many, this was the resounding thought, as Green Day mostly disappeared until October of 2016. The politically charged, “Revolution Radio,” brought Green Day back into the spotlight.

Despite Green Day’s slip ups, they are still producing good music, and should be revered as one of punk rock/pop music’s greats. Revolution Radio marked a key return to form for the band, and one that signals good things for the group. Green Day has certainly stepped away from their peak content in the early to late 90s, but the band is far from overrated. They are still a voice of the generation that grew up with them and will continue to be a presence in their genre for as long as they continue to make music.

Music Quickspins

Bayside – Vacancy

Bayside – Vacancy (Hopeless, 2016)

The alternative punk band Bayside released their new album, Vacancy, and I couldn’t be happier with it! The lyrical content of their tracks, including “I’ve Been Dead All Day” and “Two Letters” are the highlights of the album. Although they can be dark and gloomy, these tunes tell a story. The lyrics are like poems from a personal journal, a peek inside Bayside’s inner thoughts. Anthony speaks of his emotions and personal circumstances such as getting over a heartbreak. The punk-emo riffs and intense energy of the album are altogether amazing. Vacancy greatly delivered in terms of originality, creativity and awesomeness.

Trial Track: Two Letters



Quickspins + Retroview

Little Chords – Afterlife (Lefse Records; 2012)

When B.C.-based singer-songwriter Jamison is not producing records under his other monikers, Teen Daze and Two Bicycles, he is churning out music as Little Chords, an ‘80s drum-based, lo-fi, indie pop project from Vancouver. His new record Afterlife was released for download on March 20 on Bandcamp.
Chiming guitars, bathed in reverb and delay effects, synths, drum machines and quiet, almost haunting vocals lead the listener through the journey of the record.
It’s a welcome excursion, as some of the songs, such as “Firsts,” seem as if they could come right off the soundtrack of an eighties flick—think The Karate Kid (no, not the one with Jaden Smith). Others, such as “Afterlife,” are quieter introspectives, giving the album balance and contrast.
The record runs just over 36 minutes long and treats listeners to a scenic, pop-psych drive. While it won’t bring back glam rock bands on cassettes, inline skates or Atari games, it will surprise listeners looking for a little something nostalgic.

Trial track: “Afterlife”

Rating: 8.5/10

– A.J. Cordeiro

Mark Stewart – The Politics of Envy (Future Noise Music; 2012)

Mark Stewart has burst back on the scene after a four-year break, with his raw and dangerously sexy album The Politics of Envy. I have a feeling Stewart would spit in my face if he knew what I’m about to say, but here it goes: This album is like TV on the Radio and Nine Inch Nails bonding at a dubstep-fuelled afterparty. Trust me, it’s a good thing. Stewart keeps alive the experimental, industrial, hip-hop sound that he’s been celebrated for since his first band, The Pop Group, split in the early ‘80s. The tunes are moody and rife with anti-“corporate cocksucker” messages and the album features a handful of punk’s and post-punk’s most respected pioneers such as Keith Levene of early Clash fame, Slits bassist Tessa Pollitt and The Raincoats’ Gina Birch. Birch’s deep, robotic voice makes “Stereotype” one of the most haunting pop songs I’ve heard this year.

Trial track: “Want”

Rating: 9.0/10

– Lindsay Briscoe

Tanlines – Mixed Emotions (True Panther Sounds; 2012)

What’s a better way to end the academic year than with something as overtly non-academic as Tanlines?
After years of teasing with endless singles and EPs, Brooklyn duo Jesse Cohen and Eric Emm have finally released their full-length debut album Mixed Emotions. Best described as electro-pop with a tropical flavour, this album is like a piña colada in a test tube: fun and refreshing, but completely synthetic.
At times influenced by Paul Simon’s Graceland, the production has a strong emphasis on dance floor beats and catchy pop melodies, with a heavy reliance on synthesizers and an afropop veneer. Emm’s muffled baritone vocals both accentuate and compliment the artificiality of the soundscape constructed entirely of relentlessly upbeat rhythms and repetitive drum patterns.
Like a coconut-wielding caricature imprisoned in a souvenir shop snowglobe, Mixed Emotions may ultimately be the desperate plea of a man trapped in a kitschy tropical dystopia.

Trial track: “Real Life”

Rating: 7.0/10

– Paul Traunero

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love (Track Records; 1967)

Late legendary musician Jimi Hendrix has never failed to impress with any of his releases. Following the success of his debut album Are You Experienced?, Hendrix was keen on expanding his musical horizons. Axis: Bold as Love, recorded in 1967, combines elements of rock, blues, psychedelic and jazz, creating a beautiful hodgepodge of sound.
Out of the three albums Hendrix recorded, Axis is often the most underrated, largely due to the fact that it was released in between his two most commercially successful albums. With Axis, the late rock ‘n’ roll icon displayed remarkable growth as a tunesmith, asserting his position as a multifaceted and highly-skilled musician.
The album features one of Hendrix’s finest performances on the guitar, as well as his most emotional. “Little Wing,” a two-minute odyssey through sound, showcases his versatility and superior songwriting skills, forging a sound that no other artist could replicate.
All of Hendrix’s albums are definite must-haves for any music enthusiast, but Axis stands out as his most experimental and original record.

Trial track: “Little Wing”

– Gabriel Fernandez


Mixtape: Music to strike to

Does the proposed tuition hike piss you off? Does Charest’s silence unnerve you? Are you worried about the way the government manages funds? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one.
Whether it’s a question of accessibility or where the provincial government’s priorities lie, this is a historic moment for CEGEP and university students in Quebec. Protests and sleep-ins are taking over Montreal’s downtown core. It’s chaos for change; for those who don the red square, this is not a quiet battle. The strive for accessible education is a loud revolution and a long fight. Though the weather is getting warmer, Minister of Education Line Beauchamp should be aware that the students won’t quit until the freeze settles in. So, for those of you who choose to strike, or for anyone who is against the hike, this mixtape is for you.

Listen to the mixtape here!
SIDE A: Hungry for change

1. “Bulls on Parade” – Rage Against the Machine – Evil Empire

2. “The Hand That Feeds” – Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth

3. “Walk” – Pantera – Vulgar Display of Power

4. “Fuck Authority” – Pennywise – Land of the Free?

5. “I Fought the Law (and I Won)” – Dead Kennedys – Single

6. “Brainstew/Jaded” – Green Day – Insomniac

7. “Flagpole Sitta” – Harvey Danger – Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

8. “I Get it” – Chevelle – Vena Sera

9. “Fight the Power” – Public Enemy – Fear of a Black Planet

10. “Bound for the Floor” – Local H – As Good as Dead

SIDE B: Irate and ready to rage

11. “Uprising” – Muse – The Resistance

12. “Seven Nation Army” – The White Stripes – Elephant

13. “Deer Dance” – System of a Down – Toxicity

14. “Down With the Sickness” – Disturbed – The Sickness

15. “Bodies” – Drowning Pool – Sinner

16. “The Kids Aren’t Alright” – The Offspring – Americana

17. “Break Stuff” – Limp Bizkit – Significant Other

18. “Re-Education (Through Labor)” – Rise Against – Appeal to Reason

19. “Man in the Box” – Alice in Chains – Facelift

20. “When Worlds Collide” – Powerman 5000 – Tonight the Stars Revolt!


Mixtape: Post-reading week rhapsody

The first days back to school after any sort of break are always an interesting time. From getting back into getting up at a respectable hour, to reacquainting yourself with that girl who is always correcting the professor under her breath (you know who you are), it can be a trying time. Not to mention the fact that with mid-terms now behind you, it’s pretty much full on exam time when you get back from reading week.
While one could get into hard drug use or religion to cope, there are better, and arguably healthier methods. Since the dawn of rock and roll in the late 1940s and early 1950s, there have been countless songs composed on the subject of school: getting back to school, fraternity life  and hot-rod dissertations. This mixtape pretty much covers all aspects of the school experience. Enjoy.

SIDE A: Hot for teacher
1. “Hot Rod Dissertation” – The Royal Pendletons – Oh Yeah, Baby
2. “No Class” – Motörhead – Overkill
3. “Fraternity, U.S.A.” – The Lady Bugs – Fraternity, U.S.A.
4. “School’s Out” – The Spits – The Spits IV (School’s Out)
5. “Be True to Your School” – The Beach Boys – Little Deuce Coupe
6. “Schools are Prisons” – The Ex Pistols – Deny
7. “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” – The Yardbirds – For Your Love
8. “Barbara” – The Modernettes – Teen City E.P.
9. “School Jerks” – The Veins – School Jerks
10. “Low Grades and High Fever” – Linda Laine & The Sinners – Freddie and the Dreamers and Other Great English Stars

SIDE B: Be cool, stay in school
11. “Scholastic Aptitude” – The Urinals – Negative Capability
12. “Charlie Brown” – The Coasters – Charlie Brown
13. “High School Yum Yum” – The Donnas – The Donnas
14. “School Days” – The Runaways – Waitin’ for the Night
15. “Hot Rod High” – The Hondells – Go Little Honda
16. “High School Nervous Breakdown” – Forgotten Rebels – Boys Will be Boys
17. “Die Schule ist Aus” – Die Sweetles – Die Schule ist Aus
18. “High School Confidential” – Hasil Adkins – Out to Hunch
19. “Teach Your Children” – Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young – Déjà Vu
20. “Rock and Roll High School” – The Ramones – End of the Century

Listen to this week’s mixtape here on


Mark Bragg ignites Your Kiss on stage

Mark Bragg either has a multiple personality disorder, is one heck of a storyteller, or has some serious explaining to do.
The Newfoundlander’s latest ECMA-nominated album, Your Kiss, reveals details concerning a kidnapping, a run from social services and a burning desire for the boss’ daughter.
“It’s straight up fiction,” clarified Bragg, “dark, character-driven, narrative fiction.”
The wacky rocker will bring bizarre, eye-bulging stage antics and every Your Kiss character to L’Escalier on Feb. 24 and 25.
“Before I started playing music, as a person, I was intolerable,” confessed Bragg. “Now that I’ve found a way to channel all that, I’m completely laid back. I get it all out on stage.”
Your Kiss is a collection of short stories, but music is the medium, and each track a different tale. It is energetic, theatrical, and much more than a studio session. It successfully simulates the live stage performance.
The lyrics alone are undeniably dark, but Bragg’s rollicking voice, yowling horns, wailing organ and crashing drums bring a more celebratory than morbid quality. His sound is impossible to generalize. It’s punk, country, rock, jazz, and everything in between.
“I get to know these characters pretty intimately in the process of writing and rewriting, but I get to know them even better when I’m performing with my band or touring,” explained Bragg. “I embody the characters and play it out on stage.”
For Bragg, it’s all about the performance. Your Kiss was over five years in the making, but even after producing and releasing the album, he claims that he only finds true satisfaction in performing.
He’s no newcomer to the Canadian music scene, considering his two previous albums have already sent him on tours across Canada and Europe. Music is his trade, but if he isn’t working on his own material, he’s producing or doing session work for other artists.
Born and bred in Newfoundland, Bragg has the St. John’s music community to thank as the driving force behind his talent.
“The music community here is very supportive, but the bar gets set pretty high now, there are so many great writers and musicians,” said Bragg. “It really challenges you, but it’s friendly competition, we push each other.”
“It’s a culture of storytelling around here. Everywhere you go, whether through music or other mediums,” said Bragg, “I’m just happy to be a part of it.”
Bragg has a knack for musical fiction, and despite admitting that he’s not planning on writing many personal songs, one very truthful tune managed to slip onto his album’s track listing. He is a newlywed, and the ballad he wrote for his wife, “The Fool,” is nestled in between songs about a dirty colourblind pirate and an overweight teenager’s lust.
“It’s challenging, but what we need from the people that we love can be a bit of a guessing game. At the end of it all, when you find out what it is, it seems so simple, and I guess that’s love,” admitted Bragg. “[‘The Fool’] was my way of trying to get to the bottom of it.”

Mark Bragg opens for Guy Pharand on Feb. 24 and headlines on Feb. 25, both at L’Escalier. Doors open at 9 p.m.


Belgian band serves up its ‘best burger’ yet

Belgium is often associated with praline chocolates, waffles, beer and the unassuming cartoon hero recently rejuvenated in 3D, Tintin, closely followed by the Smurfs. Crazy experimental jazz musicians don’t usually come anywhere near the top of the “Best of Belgium” list.
But that’s all about to change when The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, born in Liège about a decade ago, bring their “best burger” attitude to L’Astral during Montréal en Lumière on Feb. 18.
“We just want people to have fun, express themselves, party with us,” explained guitarist and lead vocalist J.J. Thomsin, who goes by the stage name “Boogie Snake.”
Their most recent album, Liquid Love, is somewhere between a dance party, a mosh pit and a jam session and, while it’s sometimes physically confusing—you won’t know whether to dance, jump or just shake erratically—its high energy, hard rocking, experimental sounds will eradicate those doubts and fears as quickly as they came.
The album, which was largely influenced by the band’s time in the United States during 2010-2011, packs punch after punch of loud, homage-paying bluesy goodness into a mere 34 and a half minutes. Songs like “T.E.T.B.B. Eat Sushi,” written about the first time they ate sushi in New York City, and “The Best Burger” aren’t just about the differences in cuisine the band members experienced during their travels, they’re also about an attitude.
“We wrote [“The Best Burger”] after SXSW [Festival] in Austin, Texas,” said Thomsin, laughing. “It was funny. Everywhere we went people had this energy like, ‘we have the best bugers!’ They’ve got the mojo!”
Jon Spencer, who lives in New York City where he produced and mixed the band’s latest LP at NY Hed studio, helped to incorporate that attitude into Liquid Love, adding “cool instruments and ideas,” like the double bass featured on the album.
“It was the best experience we’ve had in a recording studio,” Thomsin added.
But our neighbours to the south aren’t the only ones with mojo. The gusto of Thomsin and his bandmates, Jeremy Alonzi (Dirty Coq, guitar/vocals) and David Dinverno (Devil D’Inferno, drums), comes through in their music and their nicknames.
“When we were kids—when we were 20—we came up with these stage names when we would play because our real names were not very fun, they were too serious,” said Thomsin. “Plus, in blues everyone has a nickname.”
Despite their leaning toward the “experimental” part of their name, T.E.T.B.B. carry the traditions of classic blues throughout their album. With sharp guitar licks, gruff vocals and hilarious anecdotal voice-overs about boners and partying, there’s more mojo in this album than you ever thought was possible.
And it’s that same mojo that’s fuelling their touring fire. They’re spending the majority of this year headlining dates all over Europe, Canada and parts of the U.S. Between jet-setting across the globe, the trio are writing new music for an upcoming self-produced EP along with creating acoustic sets too.
“People want acoustic songs for showcases, but our songs aren’t really made to be acoustic, so we really have to reinvent them,” Thomsin said, adding that touring is when they have the most fun.
“We just want to have fun and maybe the people who were there last year will come back and we’ll make more friends,” Thomsin said. “We want to meet new people, new bands and make new fans so we can come back. We just want to have fun, that’s all.”

The Experimental Tropic Blues Band play during Montréal en Lumière at L’Astral (305 Ste-Catherine St. W.) on Feb. 18.

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