Jesse Kinos-Goodin


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

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

Meet the future of Canadian rap

Are we in another golden era of Canadian hip-hop? After last year, it’s very possible. Not only did favourites Drake and Shad release possibly the best albums of their careers, but Maestro released a comeback after 13 years and the underground was bubbling with new and hyped talent making waves in Canada and around the globe. Oh yeah, plus Classified’s “Inner Ninja” became the best-selling Canadian rap single of all time, so needless to say, tomorrow’s artists have a lot to live up to.

Over at CBC Music, I look at 15 young Canadian rappers and producers from across the country who are up to the task. Meet the future of Canadian rap right here.

rap music canada tasha the amazon wondagurl Rich Kidd tre nyce partynextdoor P Reign Adam Bomb Tona Torey Lanez Mas Ysa Antiheroes Roney Dion Lynch majid jordan Tre Mission

The Coens on capturing the pre-Dylan folk scene of Inside Llewyn Davis

The new movie from Joel and Ethan Coen, Inside Llewyn Davis, is about a solipsistic struggling folk singer with very few redeeming qualities besides his musical talent. Brilliantly played by Oscar Isaac, who sang all his parts live, Llewyn travels between couches and gigs waiting for his break in the Greenwich Village folk scene of the 1960s. 

The actual time frame isn’t set out as precisely in the film, but if you wanted to place the action of Llewyn Davis, it would be somewhere between the beginning of 1960, with the opening of Folk City, a famous folk music haunt, and Bob Dylan’s arrival one year later. Dylan’s presence would transform the quaint folk scene into a music and culture epicentre, but it’s that pre-Dylan period that the Coens wanted to explore more in depth.

It’s a “lost cultural moment in music history,” Ethan says on the phone from New York.

The film was also a chance for the Coens to work with executive music producer T Bone Burnett again, the man behind the bluegrass-heavy, Grammy Award-winning O Brother Where Art Thou? soundtrack, which in turn inspired a new generation of artists to pursue folk, including Mumford & Sons (fittingly, Marcus Mumford sings the voice of Llewyn’s deceased music partner in the film). 

Below, I speak to Joel and Ethan about that pre-Dylan era of music and authenticity, as well as Oscar Isaac, Justin Timberlake and folk legend Dave Van Ronk, who inspired the title character.

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Shad on Jay Z, not getting too Drake and rapping like it’s his last album

Flying Colours, the new album from Shad, begins with one of his most confident and boastful songs to date.

"A lot of cats want to see the best watch. Well if you want to see the best, watch," he raps on "Intro: Lost," a fierce, four-and-a-half-minute song in which the 31-year-old rapper compares himself to Jay Z and, in true Shad fashion, "Redd Foxx mixed with a TED Talk."

"This is real pride in my eyes, it’s not a cocky act," he admits on the same song, setting the tone on Flying Colours, his fourth album and the first since 2010’s TSOL won the Juno for rap recording of the year over Drake’s Thank Me Later. The message was clear: Drake may be Canada’s most successful rapper, but Shad is Canada's rapper (note the Canadian spelling of “colours” in the new album title).

Below, my Q&A with the rapper on referencing Jay Z, not getting too Drake with his feelings and rapping like it’s his last album. 

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James Hetfield and Kirk Hammett on why Metallica will never stop

More than 30 years ago, Metallica released their debut album, Kill ’Em All, and, despite the ebbs and flows of their career, have managed to pull off one of the hardest feats in music — they’ve aged with grace.

There have been missteps along the way for the four-piece thrash metal band, such as 1996’s Load, a venture into alternative territory that alienated hardcore fans; their maligned and heavily publicized battle with Napster and music downloading that seemed to pit the band against its fans; a 2003 “comeback” album, St. Anger, that was criticized for its lack of guitar solos and over reliance on steel-sounding drums; various bitter and/or tragic departures with various bass players; and of course Lulu, a doomed-from-the-beginning collaboration with Lou Reed that Pitchfork described as “exhaustingly tedious.”

But somehow the crests in their waves of popularity have always managed to rise above the lows, such as 2008’s critically acclaimed Death Magnetic, which saw singer James Hetfield, drummer Lars Ulrich, guitarist Kirk Hammett and new bass player Robert Trujillo return to the thrash metal sound Metallica helped to perfect in the ’80s.

“When we first started, I didn’t think it would get this far. There was no thought to any future at all really,” says Hetfield, sitting in a downtown hotel room with Hammett during the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Chvrches’ Iain Cook on finding their sound and coping with instant fame


In the short span of a year, Scottish synth pop trio Chvrches have become not just the next big thing to come out of their home country, but the next big thing, period. Without even a full-length debut to their name, the band consisting of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty have received a list of accolades that reads as a How to Make it Big blueprint: love from taste-making blogs around the world; praised performances at both South by Southwest and North by Northeast; a radio debut onCBC’s Q followed by a TV debut on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon; and remix upon remix upon remix.

Below, I speak with Cook about putting the band together, finding their sound and coping with instant fame.

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2 notes Music Chvrches The Bones of What you Believe

Is this the end of Islands? Nick Thorburn on their new and possibly last album

Any anticipation for the new album from Islands, the L.A. via Montreal indie rock band fronted by Nick Thorburn, becomes entirely bittersweet within the first line.

“I won’t ride another wave and I won’t write another word after today,” Thorburn sings on “Wave Form,” the first song on Ski Mask, the band’s fifth and, from the sounds of it, final album (available Sept. 17).

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