Tag Archives: Arts and Crafts

New Broken Social Scene video: Vanity Pail Kids

Video: Broken Social Scene – “Vanity Pail Kids”

Broken Social Scene – Vanity Pail Kids (Official Video)

Let me pitch this concept to you: We open with a toilet in a recording studio scatting (get it?) and beat boxing, but his/her baghead record producer just isn’t feeling it.  They decide to take a break and go to the bar where a gang of other bagheads are dancing and drinking the night away. Our hero, the toilet, spies a sink from across the room and is lovestruck. They dream of explosions and a weird Kabuki princess, who tries the toilet on for size before he/she sets off for the desert to meet some wise urinals who tell him/her to chill and just accept the poo/pee humans have to offer. Our hero, the toilet, then hitches a ride with the urinals’ man-about-town, Bud, back to the city, but not before Bud takes a piss in our hero, the toilet. By the end, we’re back in the studio with baghead producer really digging on our hero, the toilet’s improved scat (get it?) performance.

Produced by Joe Chiccarelli with Nyles Spencer and mixed by Shawn Everett, Hug Of Thunder is out now on Arts & Crafts. Buy the physical album or the digital album.

Broken Social Scene: web, twitter, amazon, apple, spotify, wiki.

Tour dates after the jump.

Continue reading New Broken Social Scene video: Vanity Pail Kids

Broken Social Scene – Bee Hives

Broken Social SceneBee Hives (Arts & Crafts)

What becomes of a band after arriving, seemingly out of nowhere, with one of the most touching, ambitious, and jaw-dropping albums of the decade? Do they quit while they’re ahead? Do they try to re-create magic and fail horribly in the process? Do they forge ahead and emerge victorious, creating an opus that causes infinite sunshine and children running through the streets? No. They… release a b-sides album?

Kevin Drew, one of Broken Social Scene’s two core members, claimed at one point that the idea of a b-sides album “didn’t sit well with us,” yet through different circumstances the band wound up recording songs in small bunches and found a similar nature running through them all. These songs eventually became Bee Hives.

The nine tracks range in origin from as early as pre-You Forgot It in People to the second half of last year, and they serve as a map of where Broken Social Scene has been through two albums. Mostly instrumental, Bee Hives isn’t comprised of songs as much as sounds like the band’s first release, the organic bedroom electronic Feel Good Lost. The atmosphere, however, is almost entirely influenced by Forgot, layering guitars and waves of static over pounding drums in millennial, sun-kissed arrangements. Drew and Brendan Canning, with their endless list of collaborators, find a way to push the boundaries of what can be considered “pop” even further on Bee Hives; the result is something that is familiar with Dntel and Manitoba’s latest releases, but still sounds only like Broken Social Scene.

“Marketfresh,” from the “Cause=Time” single, is the only sign of Canning’s breathy vocals. It rolls over the horizon like a fog, only breaking long enough for Canning to rebut, “I could have meant it if you let me / I’m frozen.” It’s Bee Hives‘ shining moment, including the self-proclaimed “lo-fi anthem” “Backyards,” which features labelmate Emily Haines (of Stars) on vocals; this track bears resemblance to Forgot‘s “Anthems for a Seventeen-Year Old Girl.” Whereas “Anthems” picks up steam over the course of the song’s duration, “Backyards” flies out of the gate and never looks back.

Bee Hives ends with an alternate version of Forgot‘s “Lover’s Spit” taken from a UK radio session. This version, sadly, doesn’t live up to the album version; this can largely be attributed not to the lack of Canning’s Buckley-esque strains. Otherwise, the song remains true to the album cut, its steady drumming and enveloping piano lead giving way under a graceful string arrangement at climax.

So really, the only fault to be found with Bee Hives is its lack of identity. Its continuity in atmosphere and mood certainly lends itself to that of a proper follow-up, but this isn’t the last we’ve heard from Broken Social Scene. Their latest release shines, but Bee Hives is just a pause at a stop sign; by all indications Drew and Canning are prepared to take the challenge of following up You Forgot it in People head on. I, for one, cannot wait.

Valley of the Giants – Valley of the Giants

Valley of the GiantsValley of the Giants (Arts and Crafts)

Nothing can be more intimidating then the epic instrumental album. Most people, with no lyrics to sing along to, write these albums off as “background music”—for good reason, sometimes; these albums can be hard to get into. Most of the time, the reward these albums present for the effort it takes to listen to them is miniscule.

Valley of the Giants, however, looked like they could do it right. The band has an all-star lineup—members of A Silver Mt. Zion, Godspeed! You Black Emperor, and Broken Social Scene are found here, and their debut album is being released on Arts and Crafts; a label that was formed for the sole purpose of releasing Broken Social Scene’s You Forgot it in People but has evolved into one of the most impressive labels currently flying under the radar. Unfortunately, Valley of the Giants, the band’s self-titled debut, doesn’t live up to the expectations its members’ other projects might encourage.

The band claims the inspiration for their debut came from a viewing of the Michael Crighton film Westworld and the songs certainly support that. The band chooses to turn towards the Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns for their sound—long-playing songs that blend heavily-reverbed Mexican tremolo guitars with strong country roots. The band, as expected, adds a sophisticated touch to the style. The problem is that the songs don’t go anywhere. They stroll casually, eyes pointed to the ground, and when you’re expecting the song to finally show itself to you, you realize that’s all you’re going to get.

Valley of the Giants is big on atmosphere, to the point that it forgets what’s made its members other projects so successful. The album’s sprawling sound aims high, but falters in the hot San Lucas sun.

Stars – Heart

StarsHeart (Arts and Crafts)

Shall I even tell you that this album bleeds lovelorn youth and defines emotional saturation, or have you figured that out by now? The Canadian group Stars are another one of seemingly endless bands currently devoted to reminding us that amore still has its rightful place in music. Luckily, for those of us willing to accept music that’s blatantly cardial, Heart offers an album of solid pop and lush overtones.

Like American Analog Set has discovered the “bombast” knob on the mixer, Stars maintain a steady formula through Heart—soothing vocals (either male or female, preferably both), pulsing bass, orchestral swoons, swirling keyboards and warm drum loops. The songs are a wash of blues and purples; atmospheres that appeal to the most tolerant of us, the elitist crowd. But what’s more, like The Postal Service, Stars also manage a record that binds us musically to our most bitter rivals—the “pretty” people, the ones that go out every night and dance without worrying how stupid they look, the people who get laid on a regular basis and own pre-bleached jeans. It may not be a universal cure of cancer, but the social effect this subgenre has had in finding common ground between two radically different subcultures is an interesting side note.

Throw any barbs you want, in the end, Stars will absorb them and shoot them back with all the delicacy of a Bath and Body Works lilac-scented candle. Just give in and accept the fact that whether you like it or not, Canada has done it again—another great band in their arsenal against American music. Kill ’em with kindness, I suppose.

Stream Stars songs online at New Music Canada.

Broken Social Scene – You Forgot It In People

Broken Social SceneYou Forgot It In People (Arts & Crafts)

What do Manitoba, Grandaddy, Stephen Malkmus, The White Stripes, Prefuse 73, Ted Leo and the New Pornographers have in common? They’ve all released albums in 2003 that represent an outstanding ability to write, perform, and record music. What else do they have in common?

None of their great ’03 releases even come close to You Forgot It In People.

Broken Social Scene, a blender full of Canada’s finest bands (Do Make Say Think, Treble Charger, etc.), have arrived—very quietly at first—with the album of the year. This beautiful mess of genres that all come together for thirteen tracks of jaw-dropping wonder was released in obscurity and now finds itself immersed in hype. There is a good reason why, too. If you look through some of the criteria that make a good album a great album, you’ll find You Forgot It In People does pretty well for itself:

• Transcending genres. Broken Social Scene pay homage to a wide array of admirable artists: Jeff Buckley (“Lover’s Spit”), Death Cab for Cutie (“Almost Crimes”), Spoon (“Stars and Sons”), Donovan (“I’m Still Your Fag”), and The Ladybug Transistor (“Pacific Theme”).

• Production. David Newfeld manages to rope in the ten different members of Broken Social Scene (and their guests) and keep everything from becoming a mess. There are sounds everywhere, but the production is so big and colorful that you hardly notice how many people play on one song.

• Repeatability. You Forgot it in People is enjoyable at first listen, impresses at the second, and starts to stagger you at the third. After listening to this album for a while (days on end, occasionally), it never tires. And with all of the aforementioned music being played at once, there is something revealed with each listen.

Each piece of each song, each performance, is tiny. But it’s the sum of all the parts, all of the guitars being layered and vocal tracks and other sounds that add up to the big finish.

I’ve been trying to think of a way to describe this album. You Forgot It In People is the sound the sun would make in a room of mirrors while its rays perpetually bounce back and forth. But the best description of this album is the first thing that runs through my mind when I think about it:

“My God, what a fuckin’ album.”