Music in Challenging Times

Written by TeenTix Newsroom Writer Joshua Caplan and edited by Teen Editor Olivia Sun

Ska band

In challenging times, many people turn towards the things they love. For me, it’s music. People of all backgrounds can find a safe space in their favorite music. During hard and stressful times, I gravitate towards two types of music in particular: Angry music that takes this world to task, and feel-good music that reminds us of the many and beautiful things in life. Here are some suggestions that span these two types of music, some of which incorporate both styles.

First, let’s start with a song that is less than a week old: “Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” by We Are The Union. Yes, I am an unapologetic ska-punk fan. The band We Are The Union has been a staple of ska-punk for over a decade now. Lyrically, this song is very simple. It discusses the many unfortunate events throughout our lifetimes and eventually culminates in a hopeful call of “We ain’t gonna be treated this way!” This song, while using tried and true progressions and song structures, is the type of melodic punk anthem that can get people on their feet and thinking about social change.

Album cover for "Trans Day of Revenge" by G.L.O.S.S.

Let’s now go back a few years. The (now disbanded) Olympia hardcore band, G.L.O.S.S. was an all-queer band with lyrics written from a trans woman perspective. While punk has been a political genre for all its past, most music in this genre is ironically produced by white, cisgender, heterosexual men. This is not to discredit the many influential and amazing waves of punk music which are not that, including Queercore and Riot Grrrl, but it is the truth. So, it is refreshing to see a band yelling at society with a reason to yell. In their album Trans Day of Revenge, they focus on various societal issues including police brutality, corruption, and trans pride, even when your community makes you ashamed of it. If you have any interest in heavy music filled with anger, I encourage you to give this album a listen.

Next is a lesser-known release: Portland band S.T.R.E.S.S.’ 2019 debut EP, “Starting to Realize Everything Still Stands”. Combining spoken word, RnB, jazz, hip hop, and indie rock, S.T.R.E.S.S. creates a unique, almost intoxicating sound. While some tracks simply focus more on general topics, the most captivating song in the album is the one-minute long spoken-word piece over guitar vignette, “Mat’s Stressed.” The song puts what many of us have experienced lately into words: feeling stuck in our rooms, spending hours scrolling through social media, and perhaps overwhelmed with depression or anxiety. The track also discusses poverty and drug abuse. I highly recommend an escape to the groove-filled, luscious music on this EP.

Album cover of "POST" by Jeff Rosenstock

Finally, we have “POST” by Jeff Rosenstock. At over two years old, this album packs even more of a punch than when it was initially released. Longtime pop-punk savior Jeff Rosenstock brings forty minutes of nonstop, absolutely contagious energy. The album overflows with so many emotions: joy, fear, confusion, loneliness, and love. The topics explored are endless, addressing hate-mongering and the role of the media amid violence and hate, technology paranoia, and the feeling of pure powerlessness. The most impactful thing on this album is the shouted chorus on “Powerlessness” when Jeff shouts “I need you right now! I need you right now!” Lately, I’ve just been wanting to hold on to someone I love, and forget about all the awful things that surround us. That’s what this album feels like: squeezing a loved one so tightly that everything else evaporates.

That is exactly the type of music we need right now.

Lead photo credit: We Are The Union, photo by Eden Kittiver


The TeenTix Newsroom is a group of teen writers led by the Teen Editorial Staff. For each review, Newsroom writers work individually with a teen editor to polish their writing for publication. The Teen Editorial Staff is made up of 6 teens who curate the review portion of the TeenTix blog. More information about the Teen Editorial Staff can be found HERE.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

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