Toronto – In an interview published earlier today by esteemed online music journal Pitchfork Media, Kevin Drew of the popular Canadian rock band Broken Social Scene declared that the band was going on hiatus indefinitely after concluding their current tour for their most current LP Forgiveness Rock Record. Arguably one of the most significant bands to emerge in Canada in the past fifteen years, the 67 members of Broken Social Scene have done their part in shaping the landscape in Canadian music for years to come. Alumnus of the band have gone on to great success, especially bands such as Stars, Metric and of course, Feist. The abrupt news of their impending hiatus is sure to bring tears of sadness to many music fans all around.
My own experience with this Toronto band has surprisingly been quite minimal. I only saw Broken Social Scene once. It was 2009, during SXSW of all places. I was walking back to my hotel (the Sheraton..yeah THAT one) and it was about 1:15. As I was approaching Stubbs, I quickly remembered that BSS was playing there. Having never seen the band before, I decided to break my SXSW rule (never see a Canadian/Toronto band in Austin) and check out this act. Forgiveness Rock Record was about to be released later on in the summer and I was lucky enough to hear the track The Sweetest Kill performed then. It was a track I enjoyed. Kevin Drew then introduced some very special guests – Emily Haines and James Shaw to perform Anthem for/of/? a Seventeen Year Old Girl. The crowd went kinda nuts, and I was like “really? is this surprising? Metric is also playing at SXSW, what was the odds of this happening? 1 to 1?” Anyways, the two came out and then performed a beautiful rendition of the track. I then got hungry and went and got a panini, thus ending my first BSS experience.
My second/third BSS experience happened last year during the NXNE charity soccer game, Brendan Canning was on one team and I was on another and I ran into him almost full speed during the game. I kind of expected his seemingly frail body to collapse in a red hairy heap, but it turns out Brendan Canning is a beast on the soccer field so instead, he took the ball away and ran with it. He would later score a goal or two. This year I was in the same soccer game and at the barbecue afterwards, he made me a cheeseburger and I was rather happy about that, even though they used processed cheese instead of the real thing.
There you go, not only were Broken Social Scene important musicians to the industry, they are also people. People with real lives who have to move on, just like you or me. I never saw BSS here because I figured they would always play Toronto, and they would always bring random people on stage to sing songs, and I would always be able to roll my eyes and say ‘that’s so obvious’. Only now, it’s over and I lost my chance. That’s life I guess. The only blessing is that we won’t get to see any more crappy concert films disguised as some weird drama films like the one released last year. For that, I am thankful.
Best of luck to the band in the future, we’ll see you at your eventual reunion.
I first experienced the song If You Leave while watching the early 2000s prime time television drama The OC. In the scene, supposed uber nerdy but secretly cool Seth Cohen had just chosen the uber attractive valley girl Summer Roberts over uniquely hip but slightly less attractive but really only by tv standards Anna. In response, Anna decides (as you do, when rejected in grade 10 by a high school crush) to move back to whence she came from, Pittsburgh (where she is no doubt a 10 whereas she’s probably a 6 or 7 in la). Perhaps exhibiting buyers regret, Seth rushes to the airport (is that possible in LA?) and unsuccessfully attempts to sway Anna Stern into staying. The song, a cover done by Nada Surf, is played in the background as the two friends tearfully say good bye. Naturally, the actress playing Anna Stern was unable to find greener pastures elsewhere (although she had a multi-episode stint on Entourage, before they hired the YTV chick to play E’s love interest), so the good bye was short-lived and she would make some occasional guest appearances here and there over the remaining few seasons. Sad that I knew all this without looking it up.
Of course, this song was originated by English act OMD and was a big hit everywhere due to it’s inclusion in the seminal 80s movie Pretty in Pink. The track features not one but two different types of Ohhs. The longing backing track Ohhhh and also the “Ooooohhh If you leave”. Two different types of Ohs? I say that’s a great moment in Ohs. Also, like I said before, it was in the OC. get it? listen to the song.
Inspirations can come at any time and any place. Sometimes these inspirations lead to great ideas. Most often, they lead to ideas that might seem great at first, but slowly degrades into something else. Welcome to my review of two release of albums from bands that are looking to take the next step in their respective careers.
English band Bombay Bicycle Club has had a rather popular run in England on the strength of their first two albums – Flaws and I Had the Blues But I Shook Them Loose. Both albums took elements from both folk and rock to create a space that sounded both sincere and raw. Their stateside popularity has been surprisingly meager, but I suspect it is because they came into popularity around the same time as two other “club” bands – Tokyo Police Club and Two Door Cinema Club. Perhaps the indie kids just couldn’t handle all these club bands at the same time. Perhaps it was this lack of recognition that forced the UK band to lean more towards the rock side of things with their new album – A Different Kind of Fix. Released on Monday, the bands third album aims to take the band into a more electric guitar based direction which will hopefully direct them into uncharted popularity territory.
While England’s BBC took a more slower approach to success, The Drums just blasted to the top of the indie band du jour pyramid last year with their self titled debut. Drenched in 80s new wave nostalgia, the album charted extremely well and songs such as Let’s Go Surfing and Me and the Moon made it’s way into the hearts of indie music fans everywhere. The bands second album, Portamento is released a mere 14 months after their self titled debut and hopes to build upon the success of the original and further cement the American band’s status as the go to band for mopey guitar songs.
So why review these two albums together, you ask? Well, they were both in my inbox and both looked interesting. Somehow I decided it would be a good idea to put them into one playlist, press shuffle and guess who sang what. It seemed like it would become a nice unbiased review of the material, but it didn’t work out that way.
Here is what notes I had.
Puts on playlist
Song #1: I know this song is by Bombay Bicycle Club, because I accidently took a peek. It could pass for The Drums too I guess, it’s got those gentle 80s retro Cure-esque guitar riffs. It’s pretty catchy and the chorus has a nice melody. I guess this song is called Book of Revelations
Song #2: This song is definitely by Bombay Bicycle Club, the’s pace is too slow. “Put all your worries off” doesn’t sound like something The Drums would sing. This track is actually quite pleasant and some nice synthesizer sequences to it. The coda for this song has a very trimphant feel to it, although I think it would benefit from some strings. What song wouldn’t benefit from strings though? This is definitely a track that can close out a show. All English bands seem to have one song with a rousing ending, I wonder if it’s a part of the manifest.
Guess: Bombay Bicycle Club
Fact: Bombay Bicycle Club – Favorite Day
Song #3: I guess the lead singer from the two bands have different voices, as Jonathan Pierce has a slightly higher pitched voice than the dude from the other band. Musically, this track is a quintessential Drums song, it has that 80′s romanticized guitar riff, personal lyrics (“I’ll never hate you/but you’re hard to love”) about the singers lover or best friend or spurned love. Say what you will about The Drums coping other people’s sounds, they make really catchy pop tracks and this song is one of them.
Guess: The Drums
Fact: The Drums – Hard to Love
Song #4: Song 4 starts on almost the exact drum beat and guitar riff as song 3, so this is probably the Drums. I am starting to think that this dual review is going to go nowhere since I now know the two bands have distinctly different voices. I am guessing this song is called “Please Don’t Leave”. This song also has the whole “repeating some words with increasing frequency” trick that they already used on the last song. Less catchy and more whiny than the last track.
Guess: The Drums – Please Don’t Leave
Fact: The Drums – Please Don’t Leave
Song #5: Definitely Bombay Bicycle Club track. Although when they sing in falsetto, it makes me think it is a Drums track. Actually, I’m not sure anymore. This might be a restrained Jonathan Pierce singing. I’m going to say this is Drums song now, based on the lyrics “You came along..I gave you my home”. This guy should write dialogue for Gilmour Girls or something. The lyrics from this album seem to be quite personal and about two minutes in the track has descended into the same guitar riff that the band used in the previous two songs. I wonder if this is a concept album built around two main riffs. Jonathan Pierce’s “Huuuuh Oh Huuuuh Oh uh-huuuuuuuuuh” is the new Brett Anderson “lalalalala” it seems. He has done it almost every song so far.
Guess: Bombay Bicycle Club, then the Drums
Fact: The Drums – What You Were
Song #6: The Drums once again, based once again on Jonathan’s use of “Huuuuh Oh Huuuuh Oh uh-huuuuuuuuuh” only this time he adds “dolululululu” at the end. Can’t trick me, my friend.
Guess: The Drums – Do lu lu lu lu lu lu
Fact: The Drums – If He Likes It Let Him Do it
Song #7: Definitely a Bombay Bicycle Club song, Jack Steadman’s voice is quite different than Jonathan Pierce’s. This track also does not sound like an 80s love song. I like the usage of strings (although it might be synthesizer based).. The track has a serious confessional rock feel to it, but I can’t really make out what he’s saying, despite the crystal clear vocals. I guess I’m just not good at picking up accents. It’s a nice break from hearing three songs in a row with the same chords though.
Fact: Bombay Bicycle Club – Bad Thing
At this point, I realized that
a) This article is too long
b) This is kind of lame
c) I need to get back to work
So I put an end to it.
Is this a review? I don’t know. What I do know is that The Drums new record is catchy, but relies on the same tricks as the first record and the new Bombay Bicycle Club record ditches the acoustic songs of the previous album, leans towards louder and harder compositions but retains the same essence that made the band a hit in England.
Bombay Bicycle Club – A Different Kind of Fix is in stores now
The Drums – Portamento is in stores September 12
I’ve been listening to the new Rapture album In the Grace of Your Love a lot lately, as you might have read in my previous post. To me, it’s a nice welcome back for the Brooklyn group, who I consider to be one of the quintessential bands from the past decade. For me, the likes of The Rapture, The Strokes, BRMC and Yeah Yeah Yeahs help revive rock and roll in America, which had been dying a slow and painful death in the 90s with acts like Limp Bizkit, Korn and Everlast running wild. They were also a staple at local indie night club, The Dance Cave where the track House of Jealous Lovers would get regular play (always followed by the Raveonette’s Great Love Sound) for those formative adult years of my life (2003-2006). It’s fairly obvious that I have quite a fond history with the band so it came to a complete surprise when I casually mention to a younger indie blogger friend of mine how much I liked the new album and then she had no idea who they were/never heard their songs*.
House of Jealous Lovers?
I was initially shocked. However, I took a step backed and looked at the facts:
a) The Rapture’s first album was released in 2003
b) The Rapture’s second album was released in 2006
c) The Rapture’s third album was released in 2011.
That’s a five year gap between albums. So basically, if you took your average 18-23 year old (the type who goes to Dance Cave), subtract five to eight years, then you realize that most of the hip taste makers of today (according to advertising agencies) would have been mere preteens the last time The Rapture was popular. It’s not unfair to think that they were probably listening to Miley Cyrus or Hilary Duff in those days instead of hip disco-funk indie acts.
I’m not sure what my point is, but it seems entirely weird to me that a band was popular just about five years ago could be potentially unknown an entire generation of cool kids of today. Maybe the point is I’m getting old and should stop over-analyzing random passing conversations made on facebook.
Then again, maybe they weren’t THAT popular.
Here’s House of Jealous Lovers
* parts of this interaction might have been dramatized for greater effect