Broken Social Scene: A Community of Rock

The time has come to discover Broken Social Scene. Just know that once you discover the remarkable spacious art-house indie-pop post-rock organic and elegantly complex sound of this breakthrough, forward-thinking super group, all else will fall to the wayside. Broken Social Scene is music. That’s all you need to know.

Now, where to start with this multifaceted band? Their history and genealogy is intricate and interesting, and it’s difficult to weed through the maze of their amazingness. Somewhere in Toronto in 1999 Broken Social Scene formed around Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. And now the adventure begins. As a band, Broken Social Scene is most certainly a super-group, an indie-rock orchestra of prodigious music-makers. Separately, each member is independently and extraordinarily talented, with side projects that are equally phenomenal (and which I will address in time). Together, the band of prodigies is invincible.

In 2001 Justin Peroff, Charles Spearin and Bill Priddle joined Drew and Canning in the making of Broken Social Scene’s first album Feel Good Lost. This largely instrumental debut hit it big with hipsters. The unabashed vocal stylings and over driven guitar riffs meld and layer experiments in beautiful musical vulnerability, revealing the splendor of complexity and order found in chaos. After this endeavor, a few more music-architects from the Toronto indie-scene joined the party. Andrew Whiteman, Jason Collett, Emily Haines and Leslie Feist brought lyrics and vocals to reinforce the band’s live shows. Later contributions were made by James Shaw, Evan Cranley, Josh Crosssingham and Amy Millan. Phew. That’s quite the attendance list. So, in 2002 this community of rock made the acclaimed album You Forgot It In People on the Arts label. This album will rock your socks off, and then some. It is eclectic and experimental, but accessible and hum-able. It will blow your mind how music that is so complex and intricate can worm its way into your head and have you humming all day. Here lies their critical penetration into the commercial world, but not to worry, it has not corrupted them. This album and following tours also featured the supporting musical talents of Jessica Moss, Brodie West, Susannah Brady and Ohad Benchetrit, with help on tour from Gentlemen Reg.

To a captive and faithful audience, a 2003 b-sides album Beehives was released amidst the bustle of tours and other projects.

Fame grew, friends grew, and maybe even talents grew. Broken Social Scene took over many peoples’ worlds. Mine included. In 2005 they released their self-titled album, their third full-length record, with contributions from artists such as k-os, Jason Tait and Murray Lightburn. Inside the album was a wee EP, EP To You And Me which lists David Newfield, a producer of Broken Social Scene’s previous albums, as a band member.

Broken Social Scene albums are the kind of records you can drown in. You can rock around town with them blasting on your iPod and evade your surroundings. Seriously, the music gets into your head and makes you different. Give yourself up to it.
The only thing more amazing than a Broken Social Scene album is a Broken Social Scene show. Their charisma and connection with the audience is dazzling, and the rock that they exude seeps into your soul. I’ve seen many-a BSS show, and each one has been refreshingly different, but always satisfying in the way I hoped it would be. In 2004 I drove down to California with some friends for the Coachella Music Festival (which including bands like Radiohead, Cure, Pixies, Flaming Lips, Death Cab for Cutie, Rapture, Sparta, !!!, The Thrills, Beck, and many others). Broken Social Scene also played, and wouldn’t you know it, but ALL the California kids dug them hardcore. We couldn’t believe it when, during a rockingly superb rendition of ‘Stars and Suns’ the entire mob of concert-goers raised their hands and clapped at the appropriate moment without being prompted. They knew. We Canadian didn’t know that they would know… figuring that Broken Social Scene’s rare and independent style of indie-pop-post-rock had made so far south. But we were wrong. If you know good music, then you know Broken Social Scene. That’s just the way it works.

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