Broken Social Scene, an indie rock army based out of Toronto, are in my opinion the greatest Canadian indie band of all time. Formed around core members Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning in 1999, they have set the gold standard of quality musicianship, live performance, and independent music advocacy. With up to 19 touring members, many notable Canadian musicians have have joined ranks as collaborators in studio and on stage, including the likes of Emily Hanes of Stars, Leslie Feist, Isaac Brock of Modest Mouse, members of Do Make Say Think, and many more.
I had the fortune of seeing them play prior to their indefinite hiatus announced earlier this year. It was a comically crowded hubbub of 12 or so musician crammed onto the stage, bumping into each other, switching instruments, and tripping over cords… but it’s obvious they wouldn’t have it any other way. Everyone was smiling ear to ear, joining in for vocal sections, and delivering one of the most amusing and entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. Contagious excitement emanates from their energetic performances, with tangible mutual respect for each musician’s contributions, and an overwhelming sense of connectedness and appreciation with the audience. Surely much of the crowd joined me in my desire to push to the front, jump on stage and grab the nearest tambourine. I’m sure Broken Social Scene wouldn’t mind. With impromptu guitar solos, extended jam sessions, massive percussion, string and horn orchestrations, and fist pumping gang vocals, they really are the genre-defining monument of indie rock.
In addition to his musical creativity, Kevin Drew is also co-owner of “Arts & Crafts”, regarded as one of the most important of all Canadian record labels. With a keen ear for talent, Drew has signed artists such as Feist and Stars, whom along with Broken Social Scene have garnished massive critical acclaim and commercial success, winning a whole whack of Juno Awards, a Polaris Music Prize, and platinum album certification many times over. With this grassroots role, Drew continues to have a profoundly positive impact on the popularization and financial backing of what remains a thriving subculture of Canadian music. No doubt, without the works of Drew, Canning, Feist, Hanes, and the throng of other proficient collaborators, Canadian art culture would not be what it is today.
To date, Broken Social Scene have released 4 LPs, 4 EPs, A B-Side album, and 5 original film scores. Soooo a lot. I love all their tunes, but pictured above are two of the best indie albums of all time, their iconic 2001 debut “Feel Good Lost”, a largely instrumental / post-rock movement, and their amazing rock explosion, 2002’s “You Forgot It In People”. Although on hiatus, Broken Social Scene members continue to create in other avenues, with side projects, solo works, and contributions to film scores and sound tracks. I suspect we haven’t seen the end of them just yet. Update: It’s taken me this long to clue in to the fact that Kevin Drew’s newest solo album “Darlings” is a kick-ass rock record well-worth your 43 minutes (features members of BSS, Do Make Say Think and Feist – try “You In Your Were”).
Favourite track: Cause = Time (https://youtu.be/igRo7CvttTs)… Just a small sample of the herd.