February 4th, 2009 5:33 pm | by MARK STOCK Music | Posted In: Columns, Columns

Broken Social Scene: Assembling the Wreckage

broken social sceneCanadians multiply. Hence Broken Social Scene, the Great White North's contemporary answer to the Traveling Wilburys or the New Pornographers. The Jesuit High School of music, BSS have recruited talent a'plenty, creating a snowballing monster of blessed individuals that combine to create something much greater. Some have gone off on side projects of their own design whlie others have committed themselves fully to the Broken cause.

Orchestrating a BSS tour (which, coincidentally, hits the Wonder Ballroom tonight) is akin to packing for vacation at Kevin McCallister's place: Full of pandemonium, head counts and accidental leave-behinds. Luckily, they've a bench with Blazers-like depth. Such a cast, in fact, they're now issuing a pseudo series titled "BSS Presents," featuring various members of the heaping collective.

Understanding them completely is futile, but it's worth a shot.

The Cast:

Kevin Drew: Jump-started the whole operation with Canning in the late '90s. His new eponymous solo effort ("Spirit If..."), born in 2007, offers his familiar rattled vocals with the explosiveness and brass melodies of BSS, minus all the theatrics.

Brendan Canning: AKA The Champ, this guy's also on a personal music quest, albeit a rawer and more fluctuating one. Scratchy guitar in the fore, jumpy drums in the background, his personal work is—although equally prone to ballad buildup—stormier.

Charles Spearin: Plays a leading role in BSS' sprawling case and involved with Canning in sprawling side act, Valley of the Giants. The multi-instrumentalist founded Do Make Say Think and now fronts his own obscure free-jazz venture, The Happiness Project.

Leslie Feist: Never heard of her.

Emily Haines: Angst-ridden empress of Metric and better still as a soloist under the Soft Skeleton banner. Much more than the whispery confession behind hit "Dr. Blind," Haines is an artist on the ivories and susceptible to Fionna Apple-like fits, only darker, more classical and haunting.

Amy Millan: Busy as can be, embarking on a solo adventure too. The folky female throat of BSS and leader of mega group Stars. Millan's own band hails to her feathery singing, with simpler tendencies and a bluegrass feel.

Torquil Campbell: English-raised vocalist, songwriter of Stars and one half of Memphis, the warm and whimsical duo responsible for tracks like "Incredibly Drunk on Whiskey." Campbell pens wise lyrics and can often be found in the recording studio with BSS.

Andrew Whiteman: BSS core member and creator of their signature, spastic guitar work. Known for wowing audiences at live shows, forcing people to admit, "I should really know who that guy is."

Jason Collett: Singer-songwriter whose solo work is Canada's answer to Wilco. Not as involved with the supergroup as he was in the beginning, Collett has kept his hands full with four solo releases and the occasional guitar riff for BSS.

Justin Peroff: The man behind BSS' silky percussion. A Toronto DJ on the side, Peroff makes good BSS tracks great. A fine example is "Shampoo Suicide."

Evan Cranley: BSS and Stars bassist, the mustache-touting Cranley is no stranger to the trumpet. Often masked beneath BSS' enormity, yet nailing their musical foundation into place like a skilled carpenter.

Bill Priddle: Commander of the Priddle Concern and big contributor to BSS' best record, You Forgot It In People. At it for decades now, Priddle is perhaps the least interested in celebrity, turning out smooth country-coated rock in small, personalized batches.

J. Mascis: Dinosaur Jr. frontman apt to share a stage with friend Kevin Drew to create the adorable, cover-loving "Broken Mascis Scene."

The Most Serene Republic: A partially related outfit with members occasionally taking the stage with BSS on tour.

Broken Social Scene plays the Wonder Ballroom tonight, and it's sold the fuck out. Art is by Casey and it's really abstract.

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