BRKN LOVE – Selftitled

By Samuel Stevens

Release Date: February 14, 2020

Genre: Rock, Hard Rock

Label: Spinefarm Records

The Los Angeles based rock band, BRKN LOVE, fronted by the twenty one year old, Toronto vocalist and guitarist, Justin Benlolo, have released their self titled debut eleven track effort, BRKN LOVE. Justin’s music career began shortly after he dropped out of high school at sixteen years of age with the encouragement of his friends and family and flew to New York City. Over the years of honing his craft in music while in NYC, he eventually went on to move to Los Angeles and form what is now, BRKN LOVE.

“All I could ever focus on was being on stage, screaming into a microphone, and playing my guitar in a rock and roll band for the world to hear,” says vocalist Justin Benlolo. 

BRKN LOVE’s debut album was produced by Joel Hamilton (Highly Suspect and Pretty Lights), which is a full circle type of occurrence for Justin and his band. BRKN LOVE was formed out of the emergence of bands in the likes of, Royal Blood and Highly Suspect, to name a few. These said bands were what inspired Justin to go forward with this project. Justin draws influence from other acts as well from, Led Zeppelin to Soundgarden as well, which can be heard throughout the band’s eleven tracks.

The album was recorded entirely live to tape to capture the band’s pure essence that flows within their sound and in their relatable and emotional lyrics. The band formed just last year in early 2019 and while still being relatively new to the music scene, the band have taken the United States by storm with a handful of tours and festival appearances under their belt.

Justin Benlolo and BRKN LOVE, tackle the lyrical subjects of love and loss on their debut self titled record. Perfect subject matter for an album released on Valentine’s Day. Throughout the eleven tracks on the album, Justin Benlolo speaks on his experience of love and loss of loss in various forms in friendships, significant others, and so forth. Despite the theme of love/loss, the entire album’s track list is full of upbeat, fast rock anthems, with a drizzle of a couple of slower rock ballads, that are all in their own ways, very well emotionally driven by Justin Benlolo’s lyrics.

The album opens up right out of the gate with the rock anthem, “I Can’t Lie,” a song about a friend who stabbed Justin in the back for no reason whatsoever. It sets the tone for the remaining ten tracks. The immediate second that Justin plays his first note on guitar and those vocal harmonies hit, a rush of electricity hit me. You can feel the true genuine, raw power of the song as if you’re in the room with the band as they were performing it live to tape. Effectively getting the true feel of the album as it was intended it, with no editing to the tracks in any shape or form.

“Shot Down,” has one of the most massive sounding guitar riffs on the entire album with Justin belting out the lyrics on top of it all. However this track is full of sexual innuendos, but take the track as you will. As Justin states, “It can be interpreted as a massive disaster song;” “My heart doesn’t bleed for you / I’m a dire wolf, gonna see it through / How long till your legs give out / Gonna be hard times, there will be no doubt.”

On the track, “Papercuts,” Justin’s falsetto shines bright throughout while tackling the topic of returning to a former lover, when you know it’s better not to; “You’re just a drug I love to take / You make me sick, I love the taste / Another wound I can’t keep shut / Another one, another papercut.”

The self titled album comes to a climax with the track, “In Your Hands.” The track is “an ode to life, that we’re going to ride the universe’s wave without worrying,” says vocalist, Justin Benlolo. Notably the song features one of the most remarkable vocal performances on the eleven tracks from vocalist, Justin Benlolo.

In conclusion, BRKN LOVE has a little something for every rock fan. Some catchy rock anthems throughout the album, a slight amount of slower rock ballads mixed between, quite the amount of tracks with a faster tempo, and most importantly, the guitars on the album remain consistently heavy for the duration of the album.

“The name represents who I am,” Justin leaves off. “You can honestly be a hopeless romantic and play tough music. Most of the lyrics deal with love and loss. That’s the vibe. You can share your feelings and still rock your face off at the end of the day. It’s what I’m going to do.”


Check out more from BRKN LOVE:

https://www.facebook.com/BRKNLOVEMUSIC/

https://twitter.com/BRKNLOVEMUSIC

https://www.instagram.com/brknlovemusic/

5E

By Matthew Harrison

When I go visit my Grandma

Prairie fields turn to deep green forests

While paved roads give way to gravel paths

• • •

Life out here is different

Where every living piece plays a role in something greater

And at night the coyotes cry at the moon

• • •

When my Grandma laughs, she glows

And when she tells a story her eyes paint half the picture

While Wrestlemania plays in the background

• • •

I once bought a Ray Price record from a thrift store

I went home and had the record on before my shoes came off

The music took me back through time to the days of Shorty Bear

• • •

My life was salvaged by her love

Her voice along could stop those running tears

She is the greatest star in my life’s sky

What One Can Expect to Find in the Work of Charles Darwin

By Matthew Harrison (@MattHurrison)

Most who read Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species for the first time will attest to their previous knowledge of the book having been based in pop-culture. What these references lead readers to expect are complicated diatribes about the impossibility of God coupled with chapters about humans being bipedal pieces of the animal kingdom. What is found instead is a modest and enthusiastic book that asks tough questions about what had previously been accepted about the development of species. This piece will dissect the aforementioned suppositions held by myself and others before reading Darwin as well as some of what a first time reader can expect to find.

It came as something of a surprise to me that Darwin makes no argument one way or the other regarding the existence of a Creator. At no point does he venture into disputes of religiosity as his focus never wavers beyond aspects of biology and geology that can be proven or disproven using data acquired through field observation and experimentation. Darwin’s research does not dispute the existence of God but instead that an omniscient Being created each species of bird, dog, or otherwise in their present form. It was by following the patterns of variation and descent Darwin was able to prove his theory, one which leaves theoretical wiggle room for the existence of a God to account for the origin of existence rather than the origin of each particular species. 

Another ignorant assumption made about Darwin is the depth to which he explains human beings place within his theories. There is a notable absence of direct human connections throughout, however it is continually explained that these theories -natural selection, variation, “survival of the fittest”- apply to all biological beings. The same examples of variation that apply to pigeons and dogs can also be found in roses and heads of cabbage. It is made clear that no biological being is exempt from these rules of nature. The fact that human beings are included in this equation is only ever inferred rather than explicitly stated.

The nearest Darwin’s theories are made applicable to human beings comes in chapter three, Struggle For Existence. Much of this chapter emphasizes the necessity of balance among life forms in an ecosystem. Simply put, if a species continually and rapidly reproduces with a comparatively and increasingly low mortality rate, all other beings will suffer due to the abundance of a single species. This particular idea lead me to the consideration of whether Darwin, having seen this equation prove itself in nature, foresaw the present day human population crisis and the effects of such a crisis on the global environment. While he does refer to our own capability of running these same roads of population increase, he only vaguely mentions it one day becoming problematic. He writes that “even slow breeding man has doubled [in population] in twenty-five years, and at this rate, in a few thousand years, there would literally not be standing room for his progeny,” a statement in which his vast exaggeration of the point seems to minimize the legitimacy of what was to occur in a more realistic time frame from whence he wrote. This emphasises the pattern in Darwin’s work of never binding humanity and the natural world together, but rather momentarily presenting the pieces side by side and allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.

Finally, what few will expect to find is much of the scientific research in this behemoth text can be clearly understood from the layman’s perspective. To many, scientific studies are impossible to grasp due to esoteric vocabulary pertaining to already unfathomable concepts. Contrary to this, Darwin’s acquisition of evidence, as well as the explanations of the importance of what he found, is written in clear terms.

Among his experiments, Darwin left seeds to float in salt water to test how long they retained the ability to grow after having been sent adrift to another patch of land. He also picked seeds out of bird poop to run a similar test of life’s vigour after having studied the time it takes for a bird to produce excrement and cast seeds elsewhere of their origin. All of this was done to make sense of how plants can possibly cross lakes or oceans. Darwin measured the limitations of life’s potency after finding potential avenues of distribution from what he observed to be occurring in nature. Experiments such as these not only answer what was otherwise impossible to answer, they are logical steps toward comprehensible conclusions. This is clearly presented scientific data that can be understood by any literate person.

In conclusion, the truly most surprising part about Darwin’s work is the passion he creates in the reader. This book is unexpectedly engaging and works to awaken a silent introspective curiosity about human beings and our connection to the natural world. Charles Darwin was not only ahead of his times scientifically, but he was also the ideal voice to have written this vastly important book. Over 160 years have past, yet the fervor he wrote with remains alive.

SUSTO Stories Tour

In December of 2018, writer Matt Harrison travelled down to Chicago where he met up with Justin Osborne of SUSTO. Along with backup singer Jordan Igoe and band tour manager Van ‘The Good’ Robinson, the group travelled together for two weeks, crossing through Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, Georgia, and more. Matt came back to Winnipeg and wrote a six pieces about his time on the road which were published to a South Carolina publication called Extra Chill. In addition to the original six pieces are a few other pieces that were written while Harrison was out on the road with SUSTO.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Other pieces from The Road:

Aimlessly Wandering Through Chicago

Another Day on the Road

Ever Since I Lost My Mind Album Review