Broken Social Scene
By Liz Frith
CULPRITS: Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Sam Goldberg, Jason Collett, David Newfeld, Leslie Feist, Emily Haines, James Shaw, Evan Cranley, Amy Millan, Ohad Benchetrit, Martin Davis Kinack, Jo-ann Goldsmith, Bill Priddle, Torquil Campbell, Lisa Lobsinger, Julie Penner, Jason Tait, Elizabeth Powell
ALBUMS: Feel Good Lost (2001); You Forgot It in People (2002); Bee Hives (2003); Broken Social Scene (2005); Broken Social Scene Presents Kevin Drew – Spirit If… (2007); Broken Social Scene Presents Brendan Canning – Something for All of Us… (2008)
HOW: It’s a bold statement, but Broken Social Scene (BSS) — plus a handful of other Canadian bands — are collectively to blame for my intense preoccupation with music. My music blog, the blisslist, would not exist if You Forgot It In People wasn’t recorded & released. It’s embarrassing to type this out, but I wasn’t music-minded until a few years ago. I frequented concerts from time to time and had a few band favorites, but music wasn’t something I thought about on a daily basis. It wasn’t the creative, intellectual and analytical endeavor it is now. You Forgot It In People was a bit of a soft revolution for me, and I inadvertently discovered it after spending an evening clicking through the underclothes of iTunes after getting my first ipod. I remember exploring a user’s posted iMix library, listening to “Lover’s Spit,” “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl,” and “Stars and Sons” and thinking oh my god. My heart was set aflame that night, my lungs jarred breathless. I had to hear everything by this band.
WHY: I’m fascinated with how collaborative the Canadian indie scene is — Broken Social Scene is respect, imagination & benevolence formed into a communal music collective. BSS’s contributors change slightly with each record (a few notable members include Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw from Metric, Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell from Stars, Lizzie Powell from Land of Talk, and Leslie Feist), but the band’s core members remain Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Upon my initial discovery of You Forgot It In People, I delved further into their existing catalogue and quickly fell in love with their impassioned, bombastic soundscapes. Sometimes guitar-driven, anthemic, and richly orchestrated, sometimes atmospheric and poppy, their music defies the doldrums of our day.
SONGS: Broken Social Scene has a very distinctive, diverse body of work. I’m not going to lie, putting this playlist together felt like an insurmountable task in the beginning. I spent the first couple hours in thinky despair, filtering out many lovely songs for the sake of varied listener immersion–all while being mindful of the paltry 80-minute CD space. After much toying, I think I got it right. The Broken Social Scene / 80 Minutes for Life project has been an interesting endeavor, and I am very happy with this list. Each song — each little parcel of gorgeous musicianship — has its place. Kicking things off with “7/4 (Shoreline)” — their most popular tune — and concluding with the impassioned near-10 minute rock masterpiece, “It’s All Gonna Break,” this playlist offers a well-balanced introduction into Broken Social Scene’s work. Tracks 1-3 are blood-running, upbeat tunes that feature BSS’s trademark element of seemingly free-form jam improvisation. Tracks 4-9 are more subdued, more romantic — they always reduce me to a series of sighs. Tracks 10 & 11 are controversial inclusions — see my explanation in the “What’s Missing” section. Tracks 12-14 round out the playlist with the beloved eccentricity that BSS is known for, and the final anthem, “It’s All Gonna Break,” stuns us with the very tender lyric, “The sound of your heart is a god I can trust.” Tied with “Lover’s Spit,” it’s probably the best song they’ve ever written.
WHAT’S MISSING: If you like what you hear, definitely turn your ears toward “Cause=Time” and “Fire Eye’d Boy” — it was heart-wrenching to remove those songs from the line-up, but I didn’t want to playlist to be too focused on their self-titled 2005 album. I also spent time ruminating over whether or not to include tracks from Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning’s albums, Spirit If… and Something For All of Us. The albums were released with “Broken Social Scene presents” in the titles, but these two works are very much the creative visions of Kevin and Brendan, respectively. With that said, I wanted to include a track from each album, since they fit within the BSS aesthetic quite nicely. I definitely encourage everyone to check out Spirit If… and Something For All of Us — many critics argue that these albums are stunning achievements (yep, they are) and better than anything BSS have produced as a collective (which is a testament to how fantastic these works are). You decide, friends!
Liz Frith is author of theblisslist.org. A Stanford University editor & production manager by day, she is known to manically giggle while abusing grammar rules during off-hours. Very tall (some say a fraction zoo animal), Liz loves hiking up medium-sized mountains & mounds, eating ice cream flavored with bourbon, and reading from The New Yorker every single coffee-fueled morning.
~ by Patrick Gosnell on September 17, 2009.