Friday, September 8, 2017

Interview with 54-40

On September 1st, 2017, I had the exciting opportunity to interview 54-40 drummer Matt Johnson on my radio show, Mediafrenzy Fridays (CHRW 94.9 FM).  We discussed their latest summer tour, new album, historic venues and the group's endurance and longevity as one of Canada's best rock bands.

Listen to the interview on my soundcloud by clicking here.

Be sure to check out their show at the Western Fair, Friday, September 8th, 2017 and visit and to download the new single!

Tracks "Since When" and "Keep on Walking" sandwich the interview, used by permission from the band.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Soundtrack of my Teens

Soundtrack to my Teens 1998-2001
These are the years when I fully embraced classic rock as my life soundtrack. Backstreet Boys and Britney were topping the charts and I just wasn’t having it. I was getting bored with the top 40 and found solace in the nostalgia of the 70s. 'Dazed and Confused' was my favourite movie and I wouldn’t have missed an episode of 'That 70’s show'. Decked out in bellbottoms and platform shoes I had determined that I was born in the wrong generation. Weekends were spent at field parties around dangerously large bonfires at night, or swimming at the quarry during the day. I brought a portable cassette recorder with me if we didn’t have a car onsite and always had mixtapes galore to provide tunes. There was only 2 radio stations in range, a classic rock and a country station, so the mixtapes were sweet commercial free relief. 

A couple contemporary albums made this list, mostly because the songs were the musical score to many days and I remember those moments and the friendships forged through them. Y2K was a bust and so was a lot of the music on the charts. No wonder I immersed myself in the rock n roll of the past.  In no particular order and as my memory holds true:

1. Doors - GH (I first remember listening to The Doors in my friends' basement and we all laughed at Whisky Bar, it became one of our favourites) I knew all the words to the whole album, read any books I could find on the band and even did a school assignment on Jim Morrison. The feminist in me now cringes at my teenage adoration, having learnt what a big prick Jim apparently was.)

2. Steve Miller Band - Greatest Hits 74-78 (I loved Jet Airliner so much I mentioned it my yearbook photo blurb. When leaving High School I thought the lyrics were perfectly describing my small town departure. “Goodbye to all my friends at home. Goodbye to people I've trusted. I’ve got to go out and make my way, I might get rich you know I might get busted.”)

3. Led Zeppelin IV - (The art the poetry, the songs. I loved all Zep albums, but some of my fave tracks were on IV: Black Dog, Rock n Roll, and Misty Mountain Hop [Also mentioned in my yearbook blurb]. So good.)

4. Beatles - Abbey Road (How can I pick one Beatles album? [Note, it was between this and the White Album then, but Revolver is prob my fave now] This was one of many Beatles albums at my house that my parents owned and I played it a lot. Here Comes the Sun is still one of my favourite songs ever. I did eventually visit Abbey Road and get the obligatory fan photo crossing the street. Also, I once did a big class project on John Lennon and still have the Toronto newspaper that my parents saved from the day after he was shot. This album had a big impact on me.)

5. AC/DC - LIVE - (In 2000, a bunch of us rented a taxi van and headed to the Air Canada Centre in Toronto for AC/DCs Stiff Upper Lip tour. I was 16 and it was a big deal to be going with no parental supervision. There was also beer and it was wonderful. They had a HUGE bell for Brian Johnson to swing over the audience with during Hells Bells. Later Angus did a strip tease down to maple leaf boxer shorts, then mooned the audience!)

6. Marcy Playground - ST (OK, now for some contemporary items from the era. This one probably should have gone on my early teens list, but it didn’t make it. I listened to this for a whole summer of 1997, heading into Grade 9. We would put the CD in a portable stereo and listen to it outside on my neighbours lawn, eating popsicles, sneaking cigarettes and playing badminton, haha.)

7. KORN - Follow the Leader (I’m going to chalk this one up to my best friend dating a skater kid and me hanging out with them a bunch. Somehow in the process I started enjoying the music of KORN. The songs were dark, heavy and surprisingly catchy. The artwork was always super cool and my sketchbook was littered with the eerie children and dead doll faces from the album inserts.)

8. Eminem - Marshall Mathers (Another artist the feminist in me shakes my head for liking. He’s so misogynist and violent I cringe when reviewing these songs. But, at the time it was edgy and that’s what the kids were listening to. Shock and awe, right? I remember it was always blaring in my friend’s car when we drove into town, bass booming.)

9. Big Shiny Tunes 4 - (Chili Peppers, Matthew Good, Fatboy Slim, Chemical Bros and even Kid Rock. Those were the songs of the times at the turn of the millennium. I remember it being played on repeat at the campsite during the Havelock Country Jamboree.)


10. Pearl Jam - Last Kiss (My last pick is not a whole album, but a single song. In June 1999, we were in the early days of summer vacation and we got the terrible news that one of our classmates had died in a tragic car accident. At 15/16 we were deeply saddened and shocked, our own inevitable mortality suddenly seemed so real. No longer bound for the beach or to friends graduations, we were instead attending the funeral of a longtime friend who we lost way too soon. This song was on the charts that year and still makes me think of sweet Mary Ann each time I hear it.)

2001 saw me off to the big city of London for college and a whole new world of music at my fingertips. Only then was I finally introduced to bands I should have been listening to for the past 5 years: Stereolab, Sonic Youth, Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Elliott Smith. I had no idea what I was missing.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Soundtrack of my Early Teens

Let’s go back 20 years to 1996-97. When you’re just starting high school, in small town Canada, pre-internet, your musical selections will be limited to the narrow scope of what overpriced CDs were up on the top 20 wall of the Lansdowne Place Mall Music World (if you can get a ride of course), what songs American Top 40 host Casey Kasem spouted on the radio or what Columbia House stamps you can find in flyers, 17 and YM magazines. Those of you born after 1990 probably won’t remember the mail order service that had subscribers select stamps of album covers from sheets of dozens of titles, rip ‘em, lick ‘em and send ‘em in with 1 cent, along with a ridiculous pending financial commitment no teenybopper could follow through on for too long. So, of course we tried that, sneakily splitting an order and not telling our parents what we were up to. Some of my selections, I’m not particularly proud of, few (if any) do I still listen to today, but they are all classics in their own right.

You don’t like it?…Talk to the Hand!

In no particular order:

1. Usher - My Way (One of my picks I remember from Columbia House. So smooth, you make me wanna…)

2. Robyn - Robyn Is Here (Another I ordered from C.H. if I remember correctly, this was 20 years ago after all! Show Me Love was prime 90’s pop that made it on the charts of the US R&B billboard for 44

3. Puff Daddy - No Way Out (Released 4 months after the shooting death of Biggie Smalls, Puff Daddy’s debut release was wrought with emotion and grief. I had been listening to hip hop for a few years, but this album was my first introduction to the concepts/realities of gang violence.)

4. Bush X - Razorblade Suitcase (Bush was called Bush X in Canada due to a copyright issue. While I was a fan of their debut Sixteen Stone, it wasn’t until their 2nd release that I bought a Bush X CD. I even had a poster on my bedroom wall of Gavin Rosedale and band in sepia tone, with a mop dog like the one on Odelay. It’s now considered rare and vintage, <eyeroll>)

5. No Doubt - Tragic Kingdom (OK, so I wasn’t as addicted to this band as a particular friend who will remain nameless [you know who you are], I did listen to this CD on repeat for a good portion of Grade 8 and it represents the sporty/punk/colourful styles of the times.)

6. Matchbox 20 - Yourself or Someone Like You (I wasn’t the most athletic person in my gym class [surprised?], but one of the highlights for me was that during certain activities [badminton, for example] I was allowed to pick the music to blare on the boombox in the gymnasium. I recall playing a lot of different things, but for some reason I remember this one specifically. It was frequent in the rotation.)

7. Our Lady Peace - Clumsy (I listened to this one, a lot. Angry, angsty, whiny, confused…it spoke to me)

8. Big Shiny Tunes 1 & 2 (Both of these comps encapsulate my 13 year old musical self and it is faster to list these compilation than all the albums individually). From BST 1: Marilyn Manson, Fun Loving Criminals, I Mother Earth to name a few and from BST 2: Blur, Prodigy, Semisonic, Third Eye Blind, Smashmouth, Bran Van 3000, Holly McNarland & Sugar Ray all bring me back 20 years in the first 3 seconds the songs start. These alternative rock songs are the notes of my adolescence and I only associate them with that time period.)

9. Romeo & Juliet Soundtrack (I loved this movie: the contemporary spin on the classic love tragedy, the danger, the awesome sets and costumes, the…Leo. What can I say, in 1996 Leo was a heartthrob and this soundtrack was da bomb! Cardigans, Garbage, Radiohead, Butthole Surfers and the beautiful track by Des'ree Kissing You <sob sob> I want to listen to this again right now!)

10. Groundswell - Wave of Popular Feeling (Norwood folks will remember Groundswell, the indie alternative grunge rock darlings of our small town, part of whom went on to form Three Days Grace. I lost my copy of the CD, but I still have the case. If anyone can burn me this CD, I would be extremely grateful. Pre-internet, non-label release, so you can’t find it anywhere. I’m not going to lie, I liked this sound so much more than the direction they went under Chad Kroegers thumb.)

Honourable Mentions (Individual Songs): The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony, Fiona Apple - Criminal, Meredith Brooks - Bitch, plus Tom Petty (anything) - My first major concert was to see Tom Petty at the Molson Amphitheatre when I was 14!  My appreciation for classic rock accelerates as I move on to Grade 10. TBC.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Soundtrack of my Pre-teens

Get ready for a trip down memory lane to the mid 1990s!

These are all cassettes still in my collection (except the #10, my first CD and the Honourable Mention) In 1994 and 1995 there would be dances at the Youth Centre in my small hometown of 1200 people. Many of these cassette tapes would come along, labelled with my name on masking tape to give to the DJs to play. This was my first foray in providing music for the masses. (Not listed in order of importance). I did not have cable, so I would not have seen any of these videos at the time, but I've included them for your listening pleasure!

1. Dance Mix ’94 (Featuring “I Like to Move it Move it” among other embarrassing dance songs this compilation was my 2nd foray into dance music, after ‘Technotronic’ which deserves mention)

2. Dance Mix ’95 (Saturday Night and Macarena were played at every single dance in 1995, always)

3. TLC - CrazySexyCool (Waterfalls was a schoolyard hit. We knew all the words, but not how to talk to boys)

4. Salt n’ Pepa - A Blitz of Salt-N-Pepa Hits: The Hits Remixed (I didn’t know exactly what Shoop meant, but I knew I wanted to, baby! The love of old school hip hop I have today, can be traced back to this tape and I still DJ these songs!)

5. Alanis Morrisette - Jagged Little Pill (A Canadian woman in the mainstream, who is this miracle person!? Let’s sing along and be angsty like her!)

6. Cranberries - No Need to Argue (not a tape for the dances, but one I remember fondly playing in my walkman on long car rides to drown out the chatter of my parents. I love the Cranberries (and my parents) now more than ever.)

7. Presidents of the USA - s/t (The album when I learned bands didn’t have to take themselves seriously and you could write a silly song about anything and make it a hit. “Peaches come from a can, they were put there by a man”)

8. The Offspring - Smash (I bought this at the Music World in Pickering Town Centre mall, brought it back to my aunts house, put it in my 6 year old cousins pink cassette player and blared ‘Bad Habit’, including the swears!)

9. Green Day - Dookie (Rounding out my pre-teens I fondly remember singing Basketcase with all my friends during our Grade 7 grad trip to the Skydome. The Jays lost, but we were leaving public school and on top of the world! I also love that I sell the new Green Day album to 11 year olds today!)

10. Oasis - What’s the Story, Morning Glory (MY FIRST CD. This was kind of a big deal. My family was late in the game getting a CD player. I bought the CD brand new and took it to my neighbour’s sweet 16 birthday party. This was a huge opportunity for me, being only 12, to prove my worth and coolness as a teen, not a dorky kid (which, let's be real I still very much was). Anyways, the CD went over well, the older kids liked it. I was accepted and had plenty of bad influences for years to come. Mission accomplished!)

Honourable mention: Live - Throwing Copper. (I didn’t actual own this CD, but borrowed it from a friend and we all experienced and/or comforted a friend during some heart wrenching meltdown at one point or another at the dances when “Lightening Crashes” came on)