Hi! I'm Brennan, a student, writer and music lover from Halifax. This is my blog.

I write for Weird Canada and PORTALS

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Email me at brennanm21 at gmail dot com

I wrote a cover story about one of my favourite local bands 

What a way to cap off my internship: I wrote a story about Old and Weird and their great new album What I Saw and it is on the cover of this week’s edition of The Coast! 

Note to self:

This is not a music blog. This is not an obligation. You are not here to impress anybody. 

This is a journal, a place to enthuse and a place to be critical, a place to write because I feel pulled to do so, a means of connection. This is an honest way of documenting things—my thoughts, my feelings, my life!—that may otherwise be lost. 

The Space Between: On touring as a non-musician 

I really enjoyed  this essay by Chris Lee, taken from the most recent issue of The Media. Here’s a quote that stuck out to me: 

I don’t identify as a musician, music writer, or show-booker—not because I don’t care about those roles or haven’t occasionally tried them on, but mainly because I don’t consider them the primary markers of my reality”

As someone who wears a handful of hats—I love to write (about lots of things, including music), I love to read what others have written, I love to go to shows and sometimes I try to organize them too, etc.—but still has trouble identifying as something indicative of any of those things, this resonates with me. 

My favourite albums of the 2010s (so far)

Because list-making is fun, because Pitchfork is doing it, because Josh did it and his list was great. Here we go! 

  1. Destroyer - Kaputt (2011)
  2. Atlas Sound - Parallax (2011)
  3. The New Pornographers - Together (2010) 
  4. Beach House - Bloom (2012)
  5. Braids - Flourish // Perish (2013)
  6. Arcade Fire - The Suburbs (2010) 
  7. Julianna Barwick - Nepenthe (2013) 
  8. Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest (2010) 
  9. Kathryn Calder - Bright and Vivid (2011) 
  10. Braids - Native Speaker (2011)
  11. Cousins - The Palm at the End of the Mind (2012) 
  12. St. Vincent - Strange Mercy (2011) 
  13. Angel Olsen - Burn Your Fire For No Witness (2014)
  14. William Tyler - Impossible Truth (2013)
  15. Nap Eyes - Whine of the Mystic (2014) 
  16. Purity Ring - Shrines (2012)
  17. Cousins - The Halls of Wickwire (2014)
  18. Tim Hecker - Ravedeath, 1972 (2011) 
  19. Sharon Van Etten - Tramp (2012) 
  20. Arcade Fire - Reflektor (2013)

Anonymous asked: the way portals calls their album reviews "reflections" is so fucking pretentious it's so sad


Three things:

  • 1. I’m not in charge of that.
  • 2. It could just be a semantic distinction for you.
  • 3. The point of our “reflections” isn’t to make a qualitative judgment about the music because, as I understand it, there’s sort of a philosophical problem with the ‘power’ granted (by readers? by nobody?) to actually ‘rate’ music in the way that reviews typically happen these days. All that a critic can legitimately say with respect to music on a PURELY qualitative basis is “I like this” or “I don’t like this” based on a set of predisposed tastes that, frankly, aren’t very interesting to anyone who doesn’t share those tastes. In academic fields, nobody writes about literature, for instance, by saying “I like this” or the reverse. They analyze the work for themes and tone, consider the broader context in which the author was working, et cetera. We do this with music at Portals, but we also bring in a personal element that’s absent from both academic writing and traditional music reviewing. We’re analyzing the music and reflect about ourselves. If you think what we’re doing is just writing reviews, you should think about what a ‘review’ really is, or you should read our work more deliberately. 

Nailed it. 

are you queer and not a cis male? do you like to write about music?


if your answer to both of these questions is “yes,” then i have a super-secret writing project for you! please reply/message me or send me an email!

(via microphoneheartbeats)

Roadtrip audio essentials

  • The New Pornographers’ Mass Romantic and Twin Cinema
  • Destroyer’s Kaputt.
  • Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs (especially for evening drives, its progression matches the setting of the sun quite well). 
  • The latest episode of This American Life.
  • This American Life’s "Notes on Camp," just in case (I never tire of hearing it).
  • New episodes of 99% Invisible, Love + Radio and Kreative Kontrol
  • Alvvays’ self-titled album 

These are the podcasts and albums that will be soundtracking my five-hour drive to the belly of rural New Brunswick this weekend. I’ll be unplugging from the internet for a few days, spending some time with my family and (hopefully) getting a bit of writing done. I’ll see you all on Monday! 


We reflect on Alvvays’ self-titled debut album.

I fear that writing too much about exactly why I love this album so much will risk ruining the sense of discovery for someone else, so I will simply leave you with this: there is no relief, no emotional progression or escape on this record. Just thirty-three minutes of (sub)urban ennui, romantic dissatisfaction and stunning, knotty lyrics set against a ridiculously catchy backdrop of guitar-pop. Musically, these songs are perfect fodder for highway driving and rolled windows; lyrically, they inhabit darker, lonelier rooms. This is the sound of receiving a bouquet of flowers to eventually pick petals and end up with “he loves me not,” the sound of being surrounded by a group of loved ones and yet feeling completely alone. For me, this is the sound of summer: fun, sad, too good to be true.”

This album is so good you guys.  

TOPS - “Way to be Loved”

Choice quotes from Alvvays’ self-titled debut

It’s my favourite album this summer: nine simple, imperfect tableaux of ambivalent love set against some of the best guitar music I’ve heard all year. Irresistible, catchy and endlessly quotable, like Taylor Swift’s best moments shifted just slightly out of focus.

  • "Is it a good time / or is it highly inappropriate?" 
  • "If I should fall / act as though it never happened" 
  • "You’ve expressed explicitly / your contempt for matrimony" 
  • "So honey, take me by the hand and we can sign some papers / forget the invitations, floral arrangements and breadmakers" 
  • "Too late to go out / too young to stay in" 
  • "If I’d known you couldn’t swim / we would never have gone in"
  • "The sun so hot I saw his skin through his t shirt / the grass so tall we knew we wouldn’t be found" 
  • "Forget all the party police / we can find comfort in debauchery" 
  • "When every day’s a hurricane / you know there’s something wrong"
  • "We wrote our names on the overpass / in hope they’d last forever"
  • "We never get it on the first try / so what, who cares?"
  • "How can I lose control / when you’re driving from the backseat?"
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