About Me
I'm a Canadian academic and musician living in Scotland. By day, I work as a researcher. By night, I play in a band.

My Work
Live Music Project
PhD Thesis

Selected peer-reviewed articles:
Down beats and rolling stones: the American jazz press decides to cover rock in 1967 (Popular Music History 1:3, 2006)

The rough guide to critics: musicians discuss the role of the music press (Popular Music 25:2, 2006)

Selected conference papers:
Comparing the shaming of jazz and rhythm and blues in music criticism (Experience Music Project 2006)

Was Newport 1969 the Altamont of Jazz? The role of music festivals in shaping the jazz-rock fusion debate (Leeds International Jazz Conference 2006)

Musical projects:
Current band
Maritime Rock Opera Club

m.t.brennan at gmail.com
Great Canadian Music:
CBC Radio 3

Great Canadian Reading:
The Dominion
This Magazine
The Walrus

Great British Music:
BBC Radio 1 Experimental
BBC Radio 6
John Peel (R.I.P.)

Friends With Websites:
Dru Jay
Sylvia Nickerson
Inez Templeton
Inez: the blog
Clark Richards
Tara Wells
Max Liboiron
John Haney
Eva Bartlett
Catherine Brodigan
Adam Behr
Szu-Wei Chen
Pedro Nunes

Musical Friends:
David Myles
Michael John McCarthy
Ben TD
Henry (Peter Mansbridge and the CBCs)
Jo Mango
Jay (Proffessor Undressor)
Jim (Shotgun and Jaybird)
Jon (Rhume)
Matt Johnston
Pat Brennan (The Angelshakes)
Troy Neilson (Brockway Biggs)

By Category:
academiks (4)
aural creativity (16)
books (1)
flicks (8)
inspiration (3)
mad science (4)
media theory (4)
music biz (11)
other (6)
personal (14)
powers that be (8)
travel (4)
visual creativity (9)
words (1)

By Month:
July 2009 (1)
March 2008 (1)
June 2007 (1)
April 2007 (1)
March 2007 (1)
January 2007 (1)
December 2006 (1)
November 2006 (1)
October 2006 (1)
September 2006 (1)
July 2006 (1)
June 2006 (2)
May 2006 (1)
April 2006 (2)
March 2006 (1)
January 2006 (3)
December 2005 (1)
November 2005 (1)
October 2005 (1)
September 2005 (1)
August 2005 (1)
July 2005 (1)
June 2005 (1)
May 2005 (1)
April 2005 (1)
March 2005 (3)
February 2005 (3)
January 2005 (1)
December 2004 (1)
November 2004 (2)
October 2004 (5)
September 2004 (3)
August 2004 (1)
July 2004 (3)
June 2004 (3)
May 2004 (6)
April 2004 (6)
March 2004 (8)
February 2004 (7)
January 2004 (11)
December 2003 (2)

July 01, 2009

Life update

Dear reader,

When my friend Dru made a website for me back in 2003, the idea behind it was for me to have a forum to express ideas about music, a resource page for my academic publications, and a means to keep my Canadian friends and family updated about my life in Scotland.

However, somewhere between 2003 and 2007, the growth of new social networking websites made this page somewhat redundant.

So here's the deal:

If you're looking for information about my academic career, you can find it on my academia.edu page.

If you're looking for information about my band, you can find it on our myspace page.

And if you're a long lost friend, it's not hard to find me on Facebook.

This website is still useful if you're looking for a convenient way to download digital versions of my academic publications. You can find them on the left-hand sidebar of this page.

All the best,


Posted by matt in at 02:43 PM

March 25, 2008

Debut single, graduation, new job

This website has been seriously neglected since I submitted my thesis last June, but here are a few updates in case anyone thought I might have dropped off the face of the earth.

October 2007: My band released our debut single on seven-inch vinyl and digital download. You can purchase either a physical copy or mp3 via our website here.

November 2007: I graduated from the University of Stirling with a PhD in Film and Media Studies.

December 2007: I got a two-year work visa to remain in Scotland.

January - March 2008: I taught popular music part-time at both the University of the West of Scotland and Glasgow University.

March 2008: I accepted a job offer as a research assistant at the University of Edinburgh, and will start work on a project analyzing the live music sector in the UK beginning in April.

Posted by matt in personal at 04:33 PM

June 14, 2007



You may have noticed that my posts have been less frequent in recent months. The reason is that my various projects and side-projects have all been escalating in intensity as of late.

The biggest such project has been completing the PhD thesis, and I'm happy to report that I submitted my final draft for examination on May 21st, after which I headed immediately off to a cottage in the Scottish countryside to record with the band. Then it was back to Glasgow for additional recording in a proper studio before hopping on an airplane to Barcelona for a vacation from both band and thesis! I hope to post some photos of these latter two diversions in the near future.

Posted by matt in academiks at 01:57 PM

April 14, 2007

Super Puny Humans


As I desperately try to finish up the final draft of my thesis, distractions abound at every corner. One of the most pleasant distractions to crop up is an upcoming tour of central Scotland playing in my wee band. We're doing a series of gigs with a great Falkirk band called Y'all Is Fantasy Island and a novelist named Alan Bissett. It's guaranteed to be slightly off the wall, but if you're in the neighbourhood at the beginning of May, it would be great to see you out at a show.

You can read the press release below, or check out the tour website here.

"SUPER PUNY HUMANS! is a 4 date tour featuring three of Glasgow’s most exciting young talents: Y’all is Fantasy Island, ZVG, and the novelist Alan Bissett.

Alan was featured on the recent Ballads of the Book CD, organised by Roddy Woomble from Idlewild, uniting the cream of Scotland’s writing and music talents. The album twinned him with Arab Strap’s Malcolm Middleton for the song ‘The Rebel on His Own Tonight’.

The CD merges Scotland’s vibrant indie and writing scenes, a testament to their ongoing crossover. Irvine Welsh duetted with Primal Scream in 1996. Edwin Morgan appeared on Idlewild’s album The Remote Part. Iain Banks is currently arranging a CD of songs by bands based around his book Espedair Street. Young novelists Rodge Glass and Doug Johnstone moonlight in bands, while, conversely, Aidan Moffat has gone into spoken word.

For the first time in Scotland, however, two young bands are uniting with a writer to go on tour. Super Puny Humans! will see Alan Bissett reading from his novels Boyracers and The Incredible Adam Spark between sets from the acclaimed Y’all is Fantasy Island, and up-and-comers ZVG. A fizzy, trippy night of words and music is assured."

Posted by matt in aural creativity at 12:24 PM

March 08, 2007

Re-branding Bono


Charity doesn't always begin at home. Vanity Fair have invited "pop-humanitarian" Bono to be guest editor of the July issue, to try and "rebrand Africa". Some magazines have been sharing some other facts about Bono:

* In the year since it was founded, his Red campaign (licensed to Gap, Motorola, Apple etc) has raised $18 million - but companies have spent $100 million to market it.

* Bono doesn't invest his own money in Red.

* Apple sells a Special Edition U2 iPod. Its profits are not donated to Red.

* U2 made $389m from the recent Vertigo tour. Its revenue was then funnelled through companies mostly registered in Ireland and structured to minimize taxes.

* U2 moved its music publishing company to the Netherlands from Ireland in June 2006, six months before Ireland ended a tax exemption on musicians' royalty income.

* Richard Murphy, adviser to lobbying group the Tax Justice Network, says "This is somebody who's exceptionally rich taking the opportunity to shift his tax burden to somebody else, but then asking governments around the world to spend that tax take in the way that he would like."


Thanks to pop scholar Nabeel Zuberi for this!

Posted by matt in powers that be at 11:38 PM

January 09, 2007

Hip hop hostilities


I watched James Brown’s “homecoming” funeral service on Boxing Day, and I was struck by the Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson calling on black musicians, particularly rappers, to change the lyrical content of their songs. They’ve done this before, but the difference this time was that they bolstered their opinions with the views of James Brown himself, who had an immeasurable musical influence on rap music, and who in his last conversation with Al Sharpton had apparently expressed the following sentiments.

CNN transcript of Al Sharpton eulogy: [James Brown said] “I want you to keep fighting for justice. But I want you to tell people to love one another. I want you to fight to lift the standards back." He said, "What happened to us that we are now celebrating from being down? What happened we went from saying I'm black and I'm proud to calling each other niggers and ho's and bitches?" He said, "I sung people up and now they're singing people down, and we need to change the music."

This isn’t a new debate, but it made me wonder using Brown’s memorial service as a platform, watched by millions the world over, might provoke a noticeable response from hip-hop artists and the media that covers them. I wonder no longer:

Excerpted from The Guardian: "In the highly competitive and at times violent world of New York hip hop, it is anything but unusual to hear rappers attack each other verbally in forceful terms. But seldom do they go as far as the writer of a new song that calls for fellow rappers to be lynched…. It singles out what the author calls "you fake-ass gangstas" and says "y'all should all get lynched". An accompanying video shows pictures of black men swinging from trees....

The rapper in question is NYOil (pronounced NY oil), a Staten Island-based artist who has posted the song Y'all Should Get Lynched on his MySpace page. The song has been downloaded tens of thousands of times, been highlighted on hip hop radio channels and provoked lively debate among listeners…

His beef is with well-established rappers such as 50 Cent, Jim Jones and Flavor Flav of Public Enemy whom he accuses of spreading irresponsible messages to black youth. Most hip hop lyrics, he believes, glorify selling drugs in the hood, doing time in prison, gang violence and murder for money. They also objectify black women as "hos" (whores) and "bitches". NYOil has also written a song bemoaning black people's use of the n-word in self-description, called "What up my Wigger". In it he argues that by failing to show themselves respect, black people are opening themselves up to the disrespect of others....

Though his use of language may set him apart, NYOil's critique of mainstream hip hop strikes a mood that is steadily intensifying. Fellow New York rapper Nas recently hit No 1 on the Billboard chart with his new album, Hip Hop is Dead, in which he rhymes "Heinous crimes help record sales more than creative lines" and "Everybody sound the same/Commercialised the game"."

Posted by matt in aural creativity at 01:35 PM

December 20, 2006

The loony Zune


As everyone gears up for Christmas, expensive gadgets and gizmos are on parade and making demands that you buy them for loved ones. Among these is the new Zune mp3 player, Microsoft's answer to the iPod and apparently quite a rubbish piece of technology:

Chicago Sun-Times: "Yes, Microsoft's new Zune digital music player is just plain dreadful. I've spent a week setting this thing up and using it, and the overall experience is about as pleasant as having an airbag deploy in your face. "Avoid," is my general message. The Zune is a square wheel, a product that's so absurd and so obviously immune to success that it evokes something akin to a sense of pity.

The setup process stands among the very worst experiences I've ever had with digital music players. The installer app failed, and an hour into the ordeal, I found myself asking my office goldfish, "Has it really come to this? Am I really about to manually create and install a .dll file?" But there it was, right on the Zune's tech support page. Is this really what parents want to be doing at 4 a.m. on Christmas morning?"

Posted by matt in music biz at 11:10 PM

November 15, 2006

Mid-semester update


Hello friends! Just touching base to let you know I'm still alive and well in Glasgow. Still trying to balance the thesis, teaching, and band, but so far all three are still intact. If I manage to keep all three of these balls in the air until the end of the year, it will be the kind of miracle that only Christmas could bring.

For anyone in the Glasgow area, the band will be playing a free show at Brel with the excellent Y'all Is Fantasy Island on Thursday, November 23, as part of the now infamous "Out To Play" nights presented by Say Dirty Records. Maybe I'll see you there. Otherwise, keep it mischievous until we meet...

Posted by matt in aural creativity at 10:22 AM

October 05, 2006

Canadian reggae-funk, new band name, and the Angelshakes


This semester is easily shaping up to be the busiest period of my life so far. I'm a teaching assistant at Stirling University for a class in Film and Music, I'm a lecturer at Glasgow University for an introductory class to Popular Music Studies, and I'm trying to write up my PhD thesis. Sheesh! It never rains but it pours. Fortunately, these are all things that I want to be doing, and I feel like my life is on a busy, but ultimately fulfilling track. A few other neat things are happening as well:

I recently wrote an article on Toronto reggae, funk, and soul for The Dominion. You can read the article here.

I used to have a Glasgow band called The Lost Marbles, but we discovered that when people googled for us all they got were totally unrelated American wedding bands using the same name. So we have officially changed our name and logo to what you see above, which we like, if only because when you google it we're the only band that comes up. We've been playing a good run of shows at Glasgow venues like the 13th Note, the Barfly, and Nice and Sleazy's. We've also got a myspace page with free MP3s.

Finally, my kid brother has also recently made his debut on the myspace scene. His name is Pat Brennan, and he's got a great musical project called The Angelshakes. You can check out his fine music here.

Posted by matt in aural creativity at 05:19 PM | TrackBack (0)