Broken Social Scene are part of a generation of musicians who overhauled the international image of Canadian music.
The group are still asking questions, constantly challenging themselves, continually moving past obstacles placed in their path.
New EP 'Let’s Try The After - Vol 2' will be released on April 12th, the second in a daring new two-part project that finds Broken Social Scene once again in a state of evolution.
“The theme is to continue,” says co-founder Kevin Drew. “Sickness, suicide, uprise, love, death, betrayal, hurt, joy, sex, communication, battles and divisions … Let's just get to their after and start building again. How do we do it within the isolation of self prescribe empty popularity? How does the ego revolt? How does the heart win? Can it? Maybe after we will find out.”
With a flurry of European shows incoming, it looks as though we'll find out soon. Until then, though, here's Brendan Canning with his own list of Canadian classics - the real underground sound, the lineage that leads directly for those first Broken Social Scene records...
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Martha And The Muffins - 'Women Around The World At Work'
I’m not sure if this tune made its way outside of Canada but that didn’t matter to me when because an 11 year old generally doesn’t think like that. I believe it was the first (or one of) album Daniel Lanois would produce. He would of course later go on to U2 and Peter Gabriel fame. But did he ever make a song this good again...?
This tune is the ultimate cruiser with an original pop arrangement like so many tunes did back then. A bit of a distant cousin to 'Only The Lonely' by The Motels. I like the sentiment behind this track and there are some sweet counter melodies, back up vocals and smart guitar melodies. Wonderful stuff.
Reminds me of riding my bike around in Ajax, Ontario, Canada where I grew up which was kind of a desolate place in a lot of ways. This song helped me dream about different things.
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Caribou - 'Can't Do Without You'
It’s been a real treat watching the evolution on this group which is essentially the mastermind of Dan Snaith. The albums keep coming and continue to explore sounds in a most unique and original fashion. Straight out of the gate when they were known as Manitoba to their latest release.
I could’ve picked any number of tunes from this crew but this one from the last album I checked in with, 'Our Love', is a banger. It’s like that proud, oh ya, they’re Canadian moment.
I have some nice memories of playing festivals with them at La Route du Rock in St. Malo or some festival in Croatia circa 2010. Top drawer stuff.
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Caspar Skulls - 'Colour Of The Outside'
My good pal Ben Raynor turned me on to these guys. All the things I love/loved about indie rock are present in this tune. Equal bits of Sonic Youth and Pavement but with their own take. Big chorus that makes you wanna run outside and scream. Or just flail around and be exactly who you want to be.
This music makes me sentimental in a good way, when my first band toured endlessly and Slint's 'Spiderland' or Uncle Tupelo or Rheostatics' 'Whale Music' was often the soundtrack.
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Red Rider - 'Whitehot'
Before Tom Cochrane wrote a song I really dislike called 'Life Is A Highway', which likely bought him a house or a prize horse, he had a band called Red Rider.
It was some of the earliest pop music that was coming at me which made me feel very emotional and vulnerable. Tom and the band nail a special vibe on this jammer. His vocals soar and are so vibey. It’s one of those hairs on the back of your neck songs. Lots of peaks and valleys throughout that make 'Whitehot' such a memorable song.
There were many nights of listening to the radio while I was “doing my homework” and whenever this came on it was full attention and air guitar on the tennis racket.
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Skinny Puppy - 'Assimilate'
Like any self-respecting teenager in the 80s I went through a goth/industrial phase. And who better than Skinny Puppy to wrap those feelings up for you. This was scary and dark music which was the perfect antithesis to Bruce Springsteen, Spandau Ballet and Tiffany. Dave Olgivie from the group produced and mixed a record for my first band hHead which was a terrible idea but what the hell did we know? (Answer: Very Little)
Dave had an incredible appetite for smoking weed and out in Mendocino County in California we made music together which was quite average at best. The best part was hearing the skinny puppy gossip of how they spent their advance money from DefAmerican because Rick Rubin had just signed them. They built a studio in a house in Malibu where they all lived together with their girlfriends. Good idea, right?
Still legends nonetheless and now their albums are worth money on Discogs. Sure wish I held onto a few. Sometimes the lyrics are a bit hilarious but they were a big part of an undeniable movement and the shows could be staggering.
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VoiVod - 'Blower'
Like any self-respecting teenager who grew up in the 80s I went through a very serious metal phase. Still continues. There was a record shop on Queen St East in Toronto which was run by a guy named Brian Taylor. I would come in from the burbs and buy my metal albums from his shop because I would hear a show on the local college station 88.1 CKLN which Brian hosted on Tuesday nights from 11-12 called Aggressive Rock. I NEVER missed this program and would always have my tape recorder ready.
One cold January afternoon I rode the GO train into the city as you do to see the WASP/Metallica/Armoured Saint show at the legendary Concert Hall at 888 Yonge St (a Masonic temple) and of course I had to stop at the Peddler beforehand.
It was that day Brian asked me if I liked Venom and Slayer which of course I did. He then played me VoiVod, a new band from Gonquiere, Quebec and did it blow my fucking mind? Give this tune a listen and I’m sure you can come to a conclusive answer on your own.
Maestro Fresh Wes - 'Let Your Backbone Slide'
I did a year of time killing at a higher learning institute situated near Niagara Falls called Brock University. I did an awful lot of drinking and partying like any self-respecting twenty year-old who is living on residence and away from home for the first time.
I would rage a couple times a week at various clubs in the city of St. Catherine's and this song was my number one jam. The DJs would play a lot of shit music but this tune would always light up my night and you can bet I had some serious fucking moves.
“The key word is synchronism yo, check out my homeboys dance to the rhythm...”
This was the first big rap track to come out of Canada and is still lauded today as an absolute classic. Whenever I hear it I can rhyme to most of it albeit poorly at this point. The dancing in the video is A++ and the song just bursts out of the speakers like machine gun fire.
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Jennifer Castle - 'Truth Is The Freshest Fruit'
Some songs can knock you over with a feather touch. Like, it’s so gentle but grabs you by the throat at the same time. Maybe that’s too Violent an action or summary but I was definitely stopped in my tracks when I put on side one, track one of Castle’s 'Pink City' album.
It was a gift from a dear friend and would likely have never bought if for myself for no reason other than it wasn’t a jazz/funk deep classic. Everything about this song is perfect. Mood, lyrics, arrangement, instrumentation. This song is a gift and will no doubt continue to be referenced as what good songwriting is and how one can approach a song or a feeling and use restraint while at the same time pummel you with passion.
God I need an editor after re-reading this blurb but I’m in the airport lounge and my flight is delayed and my mom is in the hospital so take what you can get.
The Diodes - 'Tired Of Waking Up Tired'
Probably the biggest punk/post-punk song to come out of Toronto from the late 70s. I can’t think of another one anyway. Maybe 'China Boys' by the Payolas - a band featuring none other than Bob Rock... I just love the sentiment and the feeling this song gives you - “Too much time to kill, it’s killing me” - that pretty much sums it up doesn’t it?
I’d like to say they had a bunch of other great tracks but the others were mostly just good. The keyboard part that comes in makes me think it’s not really a “punk song” but rather just a solid tune that captures a moment in Toronto music history. It deserves to be remembered and that’s probably why if you find an original of the recording, it’s goddamn expensive. I salute the Diodes for writing such an epic anthem.
No Means No - 'It’s Catching Up'
This song is fire. The technicality and fury that comes at you from Note one is unparalleled by any hardcore band in my estimation.
I remember hearing the entire 'Wrong' album, from which this is the lead off track, while I was shopping at Reckless Records in Chicago. Broken Social Scene was there making 'Forgiveness Rock Record' with John Mcyntyre at Soma Studios. I often killed time at the record shops but I can’t remember ever staying at a shop only to hear a full album in its entirely.
There has never been nor will there ever be another band like No Means No. So hard-hitting. So smart. So ferocious.
It’s catching up. I’m fucked.
A dead duck. Shit out of luck.
The math and precision... nevermind... just put this song on so loud like it’s the first time you’re ever going to listen to music. If you are not floored and filled with delight, nay, reckless abandon, then you are dead inside.
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