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   Friday, March 28, 2003  
Blimey, Canada! If there's anyone who still mostly regards the place as a kind of overgrown Belgium, a vague inert entity sandwiched between the rather more exotic promise of Cameroon and Cape Verde in the atlas index, think on! Not content with comandeering the alt-folk-twang high ground via Radiogram and the Tanyas they're now making a concerted play for alt-rock glory. And we're not talking here about the pop smarts of this month's NME darlings Hot Hot Heat from Vancouver. No, it's to Toronto wherein repose the rambling collective we must call Broken Social Scene. After the Tanyas' Chinatown, this group's latest album is reallyrather's second unconditionally recommended Buy! of '03.
UK label Setanta (Richard Hawley, Hem) have apparently licensed Broken Social Scene's Paper Bag labelmates Stars' new album ('Heart') for release here in the summer. If that record is anywhere near as good as BSS's You forgot it in people this blog will be amazed, not to say stunned. OK, OK, so what's it like this oddly titled thing? Well, what it isn't like might be a shorter exercise. 'Contemporary eclectic'? Each of the album's 11 substantive tracks could almost be by a different band, a natural consequence maybe of being a 10-piece-plus. Though definitely 'Indie' and rocking splendidly in places the overall feel is quite mellow; Rilo Kiley's last album might be some sort of comparison in this respect.
After a brief impressionistic keyboard overture KC accidental kicks in. A stop-start affair swinging between boffo polyrhythmic drums and becalmed clanging guitars, it's perfect consolation for anyone lamenting the imminent demise of The Dismemberment Plan. It's also - aforesaid eclecticism notwithstanding - the most untypical, out-of-joint track in the set. Things really lock in with the subsequent Stars and sons, muted but driving pop with a levitating riff and handclaps-a-gogo. Sounds like something from Wheat's Hope and Adams, with added snap and crackle. Next up is Almost crimes, a head-on collision of The Strokes and Ash with all the slashing, skidding thrills 'n' spills that implies. Sweaty. After which, bathe in the fabulous mellow comedown of Looks like the sun. Acoustic indie with a faintly soulful groove, it casually tops garlanded Brit pretenders like Turin Brakes and again offers sanctuary to Wheat fans who fear that band might be on the cusp of - to resurrect a quaint old expression - selling out [see 14/3].
The mood's sustained with the instrumental Pacific theme which jumps in a bit like Fleetwood Mac's Dreams. Horns, chiming guitars and bass to the fore, it swings along with a mix of Pizzicato Five-style ersatz lounge, The Sea and Cake and Steely Dan circa Aja. Which brings us to...whoa!
Park that car
Drop that phone
Sleep on the floor
Dream about me

Anthems for a seventeen-year-old girl is simple and repetitive. Three lines repeated over and over by the manipulated 'girlie' voice of Emily Haines. It features mainly banjo and strings. It's also as transfixing a slice of pop this listener's come across in some little while.
OK, let's pretend that bands like this could have hits. By reallyrather's reckoning Cause=time would now be the fourth. A tight, propulsive little rocker with great break-out guitar, The Sea and Cake/Archer Prewitt comes to mind again only a bit more muscular, focussed. A snapped-off ending would've been better but hey?! The mostly instrumental Shampoo suicide is initially like the missing dimension from the recent Loose Fur/Wilco records, if only Tweedy & O'Rourke had a funky bone between them. It swells into a kitchen sink wall of sound before giving way to the languid, yearning grandiosity of Lover's spit. That, by the standards of what's gone before, the ambient folk-jazz(?!) groove of I'm still your fag lacks a real melodic payoff is more than made up for by the seductively deft production.
Through it's course, You forgot it in people plays like the rock radio station of this blog's dreams. Support Broken Social Scene. Impress your friends. Buy this record.

And before we leave Canada, self-styled 'solo folk/punk/klezmer accordion-playing singer/songwriter' Geoff Berner - writer of Light enough to travel from the Be Good Tanyas' debut - has a new album. We Shall Not Flag Or Fail, We Shall Go On To The End is out in Canada on the Black Hen label and Berner will be over to open at least one of Billy Bragg's UK shows in May...[feature]

'The music is uniformly astounding...landing at the nexus of melody-drenched pop, Delta blues, Wall of Sound glow, ragtime, Appalachian folk and about a half dozen other styles - Pitchfork savours the new M.Ward album, and they're not alone:
'Ward's music is as steadfastly out of step with modern pop conventions as any artist since the Band's initial offerings seeped out of a Woodstock basement three decades ago...acoustic ballads, Tom Waits-styled Tin Pan Alley blues, and noisy indie-rock turns...Ward exudes the kind of hard-won honesty one doesn't hear much on records more]
'Ward puts a contemporary yet faithful spin on traditional folk, blues and country styles, as well as late-’60s/early-’70s roots-rock. ..there’s something so effortless, so honest about this music ...The kid, for lack of a better word, is a natural.' [more]

Ink 19 catches up with reallyrather's Album of '02 - and they get it right: "It's incredible stuff"

In the works: Rilo Kiley's Blake Sennet is preparing a solo album - The senate(?!) - with Bright Eyes producer/cohort Mike Mogis ... Philadelphia's superfine The Trolleyvox are mastering the long-awaited (hereabouts, at least) follow-up to the joyously rocking pop wonder that was Ephemera for the future...

Nadine slip out another track, 'Poor man's vacation', from the ever-upcoming Strange seasons album. And - despite featuring quite a bit of what can only be called whistling - lo!, 'tis another stone cold belter! C'mon, c'mon guys we need this in time for the summer...

[A don't forget - buy this record]
   posted by SMc at 6:18 AM |