Jesse Kinos-Goodin


Jesse Kinos-Goodin is a Toronto-based journalist. He writes about music, travel, pop culture and, of course, Toronto.

500 Words: On the apology as performance art


It’s entirely possible that 2014 will be remembered in the history books (a.k.a. Wikipedia) as the year the words “I’m” and “sorry,” when strung together in a phrase and uttered by a celebrity — musician, actor or politician — was officially stripped of all meaning. Much in the same way that “literally” was transformed toofficially mean “figuratively” through rampant overuse, “I’m sorry” has come to signify no more than a general acceptance that a reprehensible act has occurred, by someone, probably. We’ve reached peak apology, literally. 

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Old Crow Medicine Show on being the recipients of Bob Dylan’s ‘pure genius,’ twice


Ketch Secor has one of the best Bob Dylan stories in the music business.

When he was 17, a friend introduced Secor to an unfinished Dylan outtake called “Rock Me Mamma,” recorded during Dylan’s Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid sessions. Taken by the song, Secor wrote his own lyrics around the chorus and transformed it into “Wagon Wheel.” Sixteen years later, it went gold.

“Wagon Wheel” was included on an early EP from Secor’s group, Old Crow Medicine Show, and again on their sophomore full-length album, O.C.M.S., in 2004, and has since been covered by Darius Rucker, Mumford & Sons and Matt Andersen.

But, as great a story as that is, it keeps getting better.

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Why all pop music is theft


Sixty years ago, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” was released — twice. One white, the other black. One became a well known foundation of rock ’n’ roll, the other, a footnote.

Originally released by Kansas City blues shouter Big Joe Turner in April, 1954, “Shake, Rattle and Roll” reached the number one spot on the R&B charts on June 12. The very same week that Turner’s song peaked, a sanitized “white” version that incorporated elements of country music and stripped the song of most of its sexual innuendos was recorded by Bill Haley & His Comets (it was released in August). While both versions eventually sold over a million copies, only one version is the song everyone knows well, spending a total of 27 weeks on the Top 40 pop chart and peaking at number seven. The other, after topping the R&B chart for three weeks, peaked at number 22 on the pop chart. I’ll leave it to you to guess which version did what.

“Shake, Rattle and Roll” was rock ’n’ roll’s first major hit, ushering in a new music epoch, but more importantly than that, it set the blueprint for the practice of appropriation in popular music that continues to exist today.

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F—ked Up’s Damian Abraham and Mike Haliechuk on growing up, getting personal and finding ‘brotherly love’

Glass Boys, the new album from F—ked Up, is, in the words of singer Damian Abraham, “the most urgent record we’ve made.”

It’s also the hardcore band’s most personal and accessible album to date, which follows up their critically acclaimed 2011 rock opera David Comes to Life and 2008’s Polaris Prize-winning The Chemistry of Common Life.

Glass Boys sees Abraham and guitarist/principal songwriter Mike Haliechuk (who shared lyric-writing duties 50/50 for the first time on the new album) reflecting not just on their life as a band, but life in general, as both an adult and an artist trying to come to terms with the person they’ve become.

In other words, a mid-life crisis album.

“People are getting older and younger at the same time, so it’s almost you get to have two mid-life crises,” says Haliechuk. “You get to have one in your 30s when you’re still a bit of a child, especially our band, some of us are still sort of aimless and some people have families. It’s definitely dealing with that stuff, this existential stuff like, where am I at in my life?”

Abraham and Haliechuk stopped by CBC Music to talk about getting personal, finding brotherly love, Gord Downie and why Glass Boys features four separate drum tracks.

To listen to the entire interview, click here, or read below for a few highlights. 

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May Music Preview

Part of my monthly survey of the amazing new Canadian music coming out each month, I look at 10 albums you’ll want to hear, or at least be aware of, this month.

Starting in the West, we have Victoria folk rockers Current Swell as well as the ominous folk of Calgary’s Reuben and the Dark. From Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, there is the captivating electronic music of throat singer Tanya Tagaq. From Ontario, we have some new electro-pop from Broken Social Scene offshoot Leisure Cruise, Constantines frontman Bry Webb and jazz provocateurs BADBADNOTGOOD. Heading east to Montreal and looking back musically, we have the electro-funk of Chromeo and the golden age jazz-pop of Nikki Yanofsky. And ending in Halifax, garage rock via Cousins.

For more on each artist, including a 10-track sampler, go to CBC Music

1 note May Music chromeo nikki yanofsky badbadnotgood reuben and the dark bry webb current swell

Ray LaMontagne on how honesty, rhythm and Elvis Costello inspired his new album, Supernova

“An acoustic guitar and harmonica, it’s a stereotype, but it certainly doesn’t define me,” says Ray LaMontagne.

The normally press-shy singer, speaking on the phone from his home in Massachusetts, is addressing the contrast of his existing image with Supernova, his new album that is by far the most positive of his career. Full of lyrics largely about love and nostalgia laid over reverb and ethereal psychedelia, it’s a notable style shift from a singer who’s built his career on the image of a tortured troubadour with “booze on my hair, blood on my lips,” as he sang on 2004’s “Jolene.”

“It’s just a romantic image and it’s silly and detrimental,” he says, noting that it couldn’t be further from who he is in real life. “I’m someone who is very concerned with my health. I run five miles every day, I’ve been married for 18 years. I love my routines. I walk around the house being silly and goofy with my kids. I’m not tortured.”

At first, LaMontagne struggled with trying to write a followup to his Grammy Award-winning 2010 album, God Willin’ & the Creek Don’t Rise, and even contemplated quitting music. That was, until the title track came to him and led him down a new path that he describes as one of the most enjoyable albums he’s ever made. “It was actually fun to make,” he says. “It feels to me like a certain creative turning point.”

Below, LaMontagne goes into detail about five things that inspired his new album and sound, including a letter from Elvis Costello, working with the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and following the groove.

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Andrew W.K. on writing/not writing The Party Bible


Andrew W.K. doesn’t give straight answers, until of course he does. Determining the difference between the two is the challenge. Over the course of a 30-minute conversation about his new book, The Party Bible, expected at some point in the future, probably, the “great unwashed rock god” speaks so earnestly about his “party is life” philosophy that it’s hard to tell whether he’s being too serious or not serious at all.  

But what else would you expect from a guy who was once rumoured to be the newcultural ambassador to Bahrain, writes a regular advice column for The Village Voice (sample advice: “You don’t have to like everything about someone in order to love them as a person”), only seems to wear sullied white denim and has made a career off his party-at-all-costs mentality prescribed aptly on his 2001 song, “Party Hard” (which is still his best known work).

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Gene Simmons doesn’t think rap should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He’s wrong


Gene Simmons, the acerbic and outspoken KISS frontman, doesn’t want rap artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he’s not afraid to express it.

In a recent interview with, the 64 year-old singer whose being inducted this year with the original KISS lineup, criticized the Hall for inducting artists who aren’t considered “rock,” singling out rap groups Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five and Run-DMC.

“A long time ago it was diluted. It’s really back room politics, like Boss Tweed. A few people decide what’s in and what’s not and the masses just scratch their heads,” he said. “ You’ve got Grandmaster Flash in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? Run-D.M.C. in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame? You’re killing me! That doesn’t mean those aren’t good artists. But they don’t play guitar. They sample and they talk.”  

Except he’s wrong.

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March Music Preview: 10 albums you need to listen to this month

Every month I listen to as many upcoming albums as possible and pick my 10 favourite to include in the monthly music preview. March’s is pretty amazing, with new albums from Kevin Drew, Tokyo Police Club, Trust, Mounties, Wake Owl, Radio Radio and my fave debut of the year, In Flames from Kandle. 

Check out the full preview here, with playlist. 

1 note music tokyo police club kevin drew mounties wake owl Radio Radio kandle

Behind the ’90s Canadian music explosion

The ’90s were one of the most transformative periods in modern Canadian music. Looking back, it feels like a time capsule, a period of such fervent musical growth across the country, with a distinct sound, look and feel.

Even if you don’t have a sense of nostalgia for Canadian ’90s music, there’s no denying the impact that decade had on generations of musicians to follow.

We’ve always had our singular big artists who find their way into the all-consuming American scene (e.g., Paul Anka, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, Justin Bieber), but the ’90s were different. It wasn’t about one artist, but instead an entire scene across the country that produced more world-renowned superstars than any other era in Canadian music.

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Danger Mouse on the new Broken Bells’ album, After the Disco


Brian Burton, a.k.a. Danger Mouse, is the Dave Grohl of producers. His creative reach spans far and wide, and this year alone he’s working on albums for U2 and the Black Keys, with rumours about his involvement on a new Frank Ocean album, as well as his Grammy Award-winning side project with Cee Lo Green, Gnarls Barkley. Over the last decade, he’s worked with a who’s who roster of talent, including Norah Jones, Jack White, Beck and Damon Albarn.

Then there’s Broken Bells, his other project with Shins frontman James Mercer. The two are releasing the followup to their 2011 self-titled debut with After the Disco, out Feb. 4.

I spoke with Burton over the phone from L.A, where he shared five things you didn’t know about the album, as well as addressing Gnarls Barkley reunion rumours. Check it out here

music broken bells After the Disco

How to brainwash your baby into loving good music


When my daughter was born in October, I wanted what any other parent would for their child. She was going to be smart, strong-willed and successful, and I would teach her to be ambitious and fearless in pursuit of those ambitions. She was also going to have great taste in music, by which of course I mean my taste in music.

In the early stages of my wife’s pregnancy, I came across a study that immediately piqued my interest as someone who listens to and writes about music for a living: You can brainwash your child to appreciate good music.

Well, “brainwash” may be the wrong word here; it’s more like curating music for your very receptive unborn child, but I couldn’t help but imagine a miniature person arguing about the merits of ’90s hip-hop or Stax versus Motown records during recess with her daycare mates. If it was possible, I was going to try it. Here’s how.

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Real white people problems: what’s wrong with the Grammys and pop music

Robin Thicke embodies everything wrong with the Grammy Awards this year, and not for the reason that might immediately come to mind.

Recently, in the murky territory of an out-of-court settlement, the Marvin Gaye family and the team behind Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” concluded one small part of a long and confusing legal battle. At its core, the Gaye family’s claim is one to which most people with ears would agree: “Blurred Lines” is either derived from, or at the very least strongly inspired by, Gaye’s hit song, “Got to Give it Up.” The thing is, for his efforts, Thicke is nominated for both pop vocal of the year and album of the year at this year’s Grammys. Gaye’s song was released in 1977 and topped the Hot 100 and Dance charts, but failed to receive a single nomination.

It’s a microcosm of a much larger issue, in which the Grammys and listening public at large, knowingly or not, marginalize black artists while at the same time celebrating traditionally black music performed by white artists.

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2 notes music Grammys WhitePeopleProblems Macklemore Robin Thicke Marvin Gaye Justin Timberlake Blue Eyed Soul

Jacquie Neville of the Balconies on their new album and her fave 80s anthems

Within the first 10 seconds of listening to Fast Motions, the new album from Toronto’s the Balconies, it’s instantly clear that the leather-clad three-piece prefers what frontwoman Jacquie Neville describes as a “blast-you-in-the-face” brand of classic rock.

With heavy drums and screaming guitars punctuated by Neville’s unmistakable howls, it’s indie rock for lovers of sweaty, shout-out-loud ’80s stadium anthems, inspired by the likes of Queen, Joan Jett, Pat Benatar and Van Halen.

“Over the years, our amps just kept getting louder and louder,” says Neville over the phone from Toronto. “Maybe we were getting more deaf, or maybe it’s because we were playing with some loud bands like Rival Sons and Big Sugar … so the bar was set pretty high and we wanted to just keep pushing it. It was a very natural evolution for us.”

Neville gives me her top 10 inspiring ’80s rock-pop anthems, which you can read here

1 note music The Balconies Fast Motions