This Magazine

Progressive politics, ideas & culture

May-June 2011

This45: Luke Champion on music collective Tomboyfriend

Graham F. Scott

Tomboyfriend - Don't go to schoolYou’d be forgiven if Tomboyfriend slipped under your radar the past year. With only one album (2010’s Don’t Go to School) and virtually no touring, the band can still be considered undiscovered territory.

Tomboyfriend is a collective of “nonmusicians” led by Ryan Kamstra who just happen to make some of the most emotionally relevant, lyrically poignant music you’ll find this side of just about anywhere—and that’s rare. It’s unusual to find a band so fully formed, so direct and developed in their songwriting and so absolutely heartbreaking in their delivery.

Think of them as a bittersweet Venn diagram where joy, despair, and hope all connect under an umbrella of sinister punk-rock fairytales—part Jim Carroll and Patti Smith, part Island of Misfit Toys.

Stand out tracks like “Almost Always” and “Lovesickness” have this desperate urgency that enters through the ears and just swells in your chest until you find yourself clutching your heart for no reason at all. They’re songs that make you grin uncontrollably because despite all the despair they are ultimately songs of hope and humanity that bring us increasingly closer to that point of holiness. It’s precious, brave and beautiful and seriously worth the listen.

“Almost Always” by Tomboyfriend

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