cute as a button

The Tofino Mix Tape

by Malcolm Johnson


You may not think you need to be rescued. But truth be told, you do. The summer is upon us, and you need to be rescued from the tasteless and/or overplayed and/or obnoxious and/or utterly inappropriate music that so often assaults the beaches and parking lots of Island summers. And so, three locals of impeccable and wide-ranging musical tastes have kindly provided their recommendations. Along with my own, here are three sets of songs and albums, a Tofino Mix Tape. Go find these gems; rescue yourself and all those within earshot. Ralph and Mark’s Long Beach Surf Shop is a good place to start.

Mark & Ralph
Surf Gurus/Music Store Owners

The Cramps, Songs the Lord Taught Us
“ The Cramps are kinda psychedelic surf punk rock. Just really fun and entertaining. This album has old stuff and studio outtakes, them arguing in the studio and whatnot... a really good album.”

The Immortal Lee County Killers
“ Kinda like garage style punk rock with a blues influence and slide guitar. It’s really raw, intense sorta stuff. For something that’s more juicy, it’s really got its own thing going on.”

Yo La Tengo, Summer Fun
“ Heavy guitar, with long riffs that really carry on. Their songs have really good droney drive to them, and their newer stuff is a little more pop. It’s lighter but it’s good. It’s more upbeat, but still has an integrity to it that really speaks to me.”

Mike Fellows,
Mighty Flashlight
“ Nothing like Jack Johnson, but it’s really organic and he plays acoustic most of the time. Mike Fellows is a really good musician, the way he layers and arranges songs, and a good songwriter. Pretty mellow and laidback. A good summer album.”

Malcolm Johnson
Kayak Guide / Mystery Novelist

Ry Cooder / Manuel Galban Patricia
“ Cuban surf music. Gorgeous. Impossible to listen to this without thinking of those shining orange and silver glassed-off nights at South Chesterman’s and Long Beach.”

At Least That’s What You Said
“ Jeff Tweedy is one of the best writers going right now. This is the first track off their new album A Ghost Is Born. Starts off real pretty and melodic and then goes into this long, burning guitar solo that totally channels Neil Young. Awesome.”

Loretta Lynn, Portland Oregon
“ Loretta Lynn put out the best road trip album of the year. This is a duet with Jack White from the White Stripes, a great old-fashioned rocker about getting drunk and getting busy.”

Kim Mitchell, Patio Lanterns
“ Summer without Kim Mitchell is like no summer at all. This sums it all up, back in high school, drinking vodka and lemonades and trying to score with older Grade 10 girls.”

The Libertines, Up the Bracket
“ What all the indie rock bands wish they sounded like. They’re British, kinda like the Clash and Chuck Berry and the Smiths and the Pistols rolled into one. Tons of energy, tons of catchy riffs and tons of London punk attitude. One of their singers is always in and out of jail.”

Lisa Fletcher
Shelter Server / Socialite

The Roots, Phrenology
“ The Roots are funky stuff. This album’s got really good mixes. Hip hop with a whole lot of soul.”

Beth Orton, Daybreaker
“ She’s got a good way of flowing with her lyrics. There’s another one of her albums called Central Reservation that’s more poppy, but this one’s just really fluid and mellow and soft.”

Wilco, Outta Mind Outta Sight
“ It’s just so, so good. One of those songs you can just put on repeat and listen to over and over. Super fun pop. It makes you want to bounce.”

Sarah Harmer, All Of Our Names
“ Sarah is really quiet, mostly acoustic. I like her. She mostly writes reflections on her own life, stuff that makes sense to me. Good breezy summer music.”

The Beatles, Here Comes The Sun
“ It’s feelgood, nice for waking up to on a sunny day. The Beatles are classic, so you can’t really go wrong.”

Malcolm Johnson is a Tofino-based kayak guide and writer. He can be reached at
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