Teen Tastemakers | June 16, 2021
June 21st is World Music Day! Why not celebrate by listening to some new music? Read on for the Teen Tastemakers’ favourite underappreciated music and music-related items:
I don’t listen to a lot of mainstream music, so I am basically an expert in underappreciated music. Here are some of my top recommendations.
How to Socialise & Make Friends by Camp Cope (Available from Idea Exchange): One of my all-time favourites, this album has powerful vocals, innovative and melodic basslines, and fantastically emotional lyrics. Get ready for alt-rock bops that rip out your heartstrings and make you stand up for what you believe in.
Just Kids by Patti Smith (Available from Idea Exchange): This memoir transports you to 1960s New York, and all of the musical explorations of the time. Smith tells the story of her friendship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe with love, stunning prose, and examinations of what it means to be an artist.
Dress Up by the Spook School (Listen on YouTube Music): The debut album from Scottish indie rock band the Spook School, it’s a forceful exploration of coming into your own. There’s humour, heart, and great riffs, and you can hear that the band members are all good friends.
Germfree Adolescents by X-Ray Spex (Listen on YouTube Music): This band deserves recognition for being one of the leaders of the 70s punk scene, and their debut album rules. Lead singer Poly Styrene is a force to be reckoned with, as is their politically conscious lyrics. But what sets them apart is their saxophone player bringing funk and jazz to their songs.
We Are The Best! (Available from Kanopy): This lighthearted film follows three thirteen-year-old girls as they start a punk band in 1980s Sweden. It’s cute, funny, and magical, and I love it dearly.
My choice of underappreciated music is definitely the 1990 album Flood by They Might Be Giants (Listen on YouTube Music). A lot of people might recognize the single ‘Istanbul (Not Constantinople)’, especially after it appeared on the soundtrack of The Umbrella Academy, but every song deserves the same amount of attention.
For starters, there’s the opening track ‘Theme from Flood’, which does what it says on the tin: it’s about thirty seconds of telling you about the album you’re about to hear. ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ is delightful, both lyrically and instrumentally, and the previously mentioned ‘Istanbul’ is relentlessly upbeat and incredibly fun.
Speaking of fun, there’s ‘Particle Man’, chronicling the exploits of the titular Particle Man, as well as Triangle Man, Universe Man, and Person Man. ‘Minimum Wage’ is less than a minute long, with only the words ‘minimum wage’ followed by the sound of a whip, and ‘Letterbox’’s weird, obscure lyrics only add to the album’s charm.
The penultimate song is the self-titled ‘They Might Be Giants’, literally interpreting the band’s name as a discussion of tabloid journalism, and the album ends with ‘Road Movie to Berlin’, about the fall of the Berlin Wall.
This is just a sample of the songs on the album. Flood is weird, fun, and upbeat, with expert instrumentation that only elevates the crazy lyrics. If you’re interested in any of those things, or if you’re looking for a new band to love, then you should definitely check out Flood and They Might Be Giants.
This year, everyone can be a Teen Tastemaker. Join the Virtual Teen Tastemakers program at http://ideaexchange.readsquared.com/. Review books, complete missions, and join us on Zoom to earn points toward some great monthly prizes!