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Honesty Sells: Broken Social Scene

In a world of prefabricated pop wonders it's hard for a band these days to stick to its guns and retain the verve and essence that brought it into being in the first place. Success may come and go, and while there are some who are content in adding to the myriad of mediocrity that is out there, there are still those who are committed to making beautiful and innovative music.

Guided by friendship and the will to make a windmill chord look effortless, a la Pete Townshend, there will always be bands who will defy stagnated musical institutions. It's of little surprise then, that a band like Broken Social Scene can accomplish the latter, and quite effortlessly, I might add. I might also add, that there's no question that they are one of the greatest bands to have come out of the Toronto area in quite a long time.

But, I may be getting too far ahead of myself, seeing as they're more of a collective, than a band. Mind you, I don't know if I'm too comfortable with that particular term, but given their evolution, and the consensus among indie kids and critics alike, it seems appropriate. Consisting of Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew, Charles Spearin, Andrew Whiteman, Justin Peroff, Evan Cranley, James Shaw, Emily Haines, Leslie Feist and John Crossingham, it should become obvious as to why they could be considered a collective, and not just some other "band." As such, their combined musical experiences gained from other projects, such as By Divine Right, hHead, Stars, (to name a few)in addition to strong friendships and a mutual love for innovative music, culminated in the highly successful, You Forgot It in People, released in the fall of 2002.

The origin of Broken Social Scene was humble indeed. Consisting of only Drew and Canning, the two began recording in a darkened basement on an eight-track. The fruits of their labour would produce 2001's Feel Good Lost. Mostly instrumental, the record was ripe with glimmering melodies that would foreshadow even brighter things to come. From the cyclical three minute wonder, "Guilty Cubicles," to the all out dance drone of "Alive in 85," it was obvious from the get go that they were on to something.

By 2002, their numbers had expanded quite significantly and their live shows were also garnering healthy praise. Stage lineups would change nightly, but the focus and energy was always there. It is perhaps this free exchange of ideas and talent that was, and still is, keeping them on top of the game. As a very open approach to songwriting, it's odd that, if anything, they were able to keep it together in the first place, given that large egos are a contributing factor to the demise of a band. But Canning claims that it's the tight friendship among the musicians that keeps them in line. And I guess that's true. It's safe to say that these guys aren't in it for the fame and glory. The ego, as a cardinal rule, can be detrimental to a band's musical content, well, unless we're talking about The Police. But even then, it was probably for the best, given that Sting was just begging to break free from his rock shackles and embrace world beat yodeling.

2002's You Forgot It in People was nothing short of amazing, and this is why I'm looking forward to the tentatively titled, Windsurfing Nation, which is slated for early spring 2005. From what I've gathered and heard, it's no surprise that they've become a tighter unit, musically, and creatively. Their live shows portray a band that isn't afraid to have fun on stage, and the musical content itself never ceases to astound and amaze. "Superconnected," a track off the new offering, apparently floored audiences at a Toronto Island performance over the summer, according to a Pitchfork insider.

Unfortunately, they just wrapped up a tour that concluded a couple of days ago in New York. Thus, the masses will just have to wait until the snow melts before any more windmill chords can be expected from this talented group of lads and ladies. As a final request, I implore you to look these guys up, even if you're only remotely interested in this type of music. And if you are already a fan, then go buy the new record when it comes out in the spring. And for god sakes, if you live in the Toronto area, and they're doing a gig, do yourself a favor and go get yourself a ticket. Broken Social Scene represent everything right about music these days. Their commitments to themselves, and most importantly, their music, should be recognized as a shining example of what young bands should strive for. So tell Sting to sit down and stop yodeling, because there's more to music than selling high end sedans. For musicians, there's an incessant lust to create, which is driven by honesty and friendship. Broken Social Scene encapsulates all of that.


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