toronto music books

The top 5 books about the Toronto music scene

The top 5 books about the Toronto music scene are perfect for a long weekend. Whether you're at the cottage or hitting the beach, you probably need some good reading material. I know, I know - you just can't put down that purple-soaked Bieber bible, but in case you blaze to the end of it, here are the best alternative Toronto music books you can check out.

Treat Me Like Dirt: An Oral History Of Punk In Toronto And Beyond 1977-1981 | Liz Worth / 2010
We'll call this the Please Kill Me (1996) of the Toronto punk scene. It's a 384-page, brutally honest, interview-filled excavation into the beginnings of punk in Toronto and is required reading for anyone who considers her-/himself an expert on Toronto music. Written by Exclaim's Liz Worth and edited by Gary Pig Gold, it documents the history of bands like the Viletones, Simply Saucer, The Diodes, and B-Girls. And if that wasn't enough, the lauded Alan Cross says this: "If you want to know where Canadian alt-rock came from, you need to read this." So maybe pick up a book sometime, sucker. It's been known to come through BMV, but I wouldn't always count on it.

The Deadly Snakes: Real Rock and Roll Tonight | J. B. Staniforth / 2012
At 104 pages, this book won't weigh your bag down as you lug it full of heavy (of course, non-) alcoholic bottles to the beach. In fact, it'll give you something to feel smart about as you kill a couple more brain cells via heat and booze. One in a series of short, digestible books on various independent bands in the Canadian music scene (also on NoMeansNo and The Dears), it gives you a glimpse into The Deadly Snakes' history and the Toronto independent music scene of the mid-nineties.

Rewind: Toronto's Jungle Scene in the Late 90s | Dayv Matt / 2013
A photo-heavy piece (over 200 originals) that documents Toronto's full-blown position as a Jungle and Drum & Bass mecca in the late 1990s, Rewind was written by Torontonian Dayv Matt who was photographing the scene at the time. Our own Jesse Ship interviewed Matt a few months back, and the book itself is published as a PDF document available for download on the book's website. Grab this one if you want a little trip down memory -- for you old folks who might actually have been there.

Making the Scene: Yorkville and Hip Toronto in the 1960s | Stuart Henderson / 2011
Getting vintage history - that's right, there was culture before punk - of the Toronto music and art scene is pretty key to understanding the development of what is now known as yuppie-land: Yorkville. Though it's always been hip, 1960s Yorkville had an edge that brought in folksingers like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and defined the youth of an era. Edging close to 400 pages, you'll find a lot of history in Making the Scene worth knowing - though, since it's adapted from a PhD dissertation, some parts of it might be a bit heavier going than others.

1978 | Daniel Jones / 2012
If nonfiction isn't your thing, and you'd rather take a stroll through a very well-researched (and experienced) imaginative world, well, this is your time to shine. Though probably only if you like punk. This book's about "the long-vanished Toronto where a broke teen punk could buy a beer with a two-dollar bill." If that sounds appealing, you might want to pair this book with a cold beer, the hot sun, and hit a run-down old dive bar later that night - seeing as you'll be in the mood for a mosh after this.


Not exactly a book, but a three-hour-long epic centred on the birth of Toronto's punk scene is the perfect excuse - ahem, I mean music documentary - to keep you in the cool, air-conditioned indoor spaces during the sweat-fests we like to call summer weather. Created by Colin Brunton and Kire Paputt, The Last Pogo Jumps Again: A Biased & Incomplete History Of Toronto Punk Rock Circa September 24 1976 To December 1 1978 (2010) is a brilliant love song to Toronto, alternately hilarious and heartbreaking. Best 3 hours and 20 minutes you could spend with our city.

Photo from the blogTO flickr pool by Pam Lau.

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