Broken Social Scene (Band)

This is one of my favorite bands of this millennium. It’s an eclectic jumble of art and indie rock. The singer Feist came from this group.

People say, don’t you like any current bands? Yes, and here’s an example.

The composition of this group is very fluid. The core is Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. Others like Leslie Feist move in and out of the group. Most of the group members play in other bands or have side gigs.

Their self titled album released in 2005 was the first album of theirs I heard, courtesy of a public radio station KCUR.

Reminiscent of Modest Mouse and The Flaming Lips, the songs are menageries of sounds, often chaotic and noisy.  Sometimes sweet and delicate (“Pitter Patter Goes My Heart”).  There are no rules with this band, no limitations or patterns to repeat.  Using a variety of instruments and musicians, each song is a separate soundscape and mystery.

Then I heard You Forgot it in People and Bee Hives, the odd bits collection. “Just Look at the Sun.” “Pacific Theme” could be a Burt Bacharach B-side, haunting and breezy instrumental. “Time” is a musical stew.  You Forgot it in People sounds like a work in progress.  At times, with the voices of Leslie Feist and Emily Haines, they sound like the Cocteau Twins with the dreamy and lilting vocal work.

Broken Social Scene won the 2006 Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year. Nearly every song bristles with something unique. “Our Faces Split the Coast in Half” jangly, horn-driven infectious melody. “idi Dreams of Pavement” rousing. “Swimmers” and “Hotels.”  This is an album of hooks and melodies.  A good album to sample if you decide to follow this band.

Forgiveness Rock Record released in 2010 is a harder rocking album.  Where the earlier albums had a brash but quiet and sometimes spacey sound, this set of songs is denser and the sound more powerful.  The beefier production takes away some of the innocence of the earlier work.  I like it but it’s a more grown-up sound.

It is not unusual for the band to take long breaks, the record and tour when they feel like it. Drew and Canning have each released solo albums and helped other group members with their projects.

Finally, after a few years off, Hug of Thunder was released. Well-crafted and better recording quality than their earlier records, some of these songs might seem like a hodgepodge of sound fragments and half-cooked ideas, but there is method to their madness. Where as in the early days they could milk a rift without turning it into a real song, here they go all the way. “Skyline” echoes with layered vocals and acoustic guitar. “Stay Happy” could be an updated Cocteau Twins song. “Halfway House” is big and ringing, with a nice melody and dazzling vocal work.  “Towers and Masons” sounds like the Broken Social Scene of old with a slightly updated layered sound.  “Victim Lover” has a swirling sound, like a 1960’s confection. “Mouth Guard of the Apocalypse” is the closing track, not quite an epic but a grand production.


It is easy to underestimate this band, to dismiss them as just quirky and undisciplined musically, instead of giving their recipe time to fully rise and slowly infect your pallet.

Here’s a sample.

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