Sunday, February 21, 2010

Contenders Series #1: Broken Social Scene - "World Sick"

Dowload:  Broken Social Scene - World Sick

I have big plans for this blog, which means I'm continually disappointed because, as you can see, it hasn't been updated in almost a month.  But I think about it all the time.  Whenever I hear a great album, or even a great song, or, really even a great lyric, I think about posting it.

But then, I think ... what would I say?  How many different ways can you say "This is good.  Please listen."  And so I wait, hoping that some blinding insight will strike me down, and I'll be able to blog this revelation to all of you, and it will eventually lead to a book deal.

Which never happens.  Because I never post anything.

So let's stop feeling sorry for ourselves, and start talking about music.

2010 is, already, an incredible year for music.  I have a backlog of about 50 great songs I want to talk about, and I'm going to make an effort to do them one at a time, because this makes it look like I'm posting more, and because it will be easier to see which artists are sending me DMCA takedown notices.

Broken Social Scene is still the definition of indie street credit.  Their May 1 show at the Fillmore sold out in less than a day, despite no one in the real, non-blogging world knowing who they are.  They are a band near and dear to my heart, in that they were ... wait for it ... the first Pitchfork review I ever read.

February 2, 2003 ... the day I crossed over to pretentious taste-making.  I remember where I was, how it felt to read music writing like this, so literate and sincere (and occasionally self-parodying, but still).  I remember how exited I was to learn that there was a band like this out there, a band so good that a jaded internet super-critic had a kind of born-again experience upon pulling their CD out of the pile.

The best part of the review comes at the end:
Rock critic Michael Goldberg recently speculated that what makes music fanatics thirst for the obscure is the desire to discover music that is "uncontaminated by the commerce machine." This, he says, is the reason we cling to the abstract and unmarketable, the outlandish and abrasive. And yet, this is also the guy whose favorite album of last year was the painfully vacuous adult-contempo masterflop by Beth Gibbons & Rustin Man. Granted, not all of us share Goldberg's taste for sub-folk cheddar, but there's something like that record in each of our collections. So, how can there be room for both challenging, forward-thinking music and straight-up accessibility?
Well, we're not total fucking assholes, right? We can kick back with Ekkehard Ehlers or Electric Light Orchestra-- there's inherent greatness in both. But the holy grail for people like us is the record that combines outright experimentation and strong hooks, something that engages us mentally while appealing to the instincts that draw us toward pop immediacy. Some of the best records ever have been ones that put these two seemingly disparate elements together-- and you can go as recent as The Notwist's Neon Golden or as far back as Sgt. Pepper's (and probably farther, if you want). This kind of music shouldn't be hard to come by; it's just that not many artists are able to perfect that balance.
Broken Social Scene have, and even made it seem effortless. I wish I could convey to you just how perfectly this record pulls off that balancing act, how incredibly catchy and hummable these songs are, despite their refusal to resort to pandering or oversimplicity. I wish I could convey how they've made just exactly the kind of pop record that stands the test of time, and how its ill-advised packaging and shudder-inducing bandname seem so infinitesimal after immersing yourself in the music. And I hate to end this saying, "You just have to hear it for yourself." But oh my god, you do. You just really, really do.

Since then ... well, Broken Social Scene has been contaminated by the commerce machine.  The shock of discovery isn't there anymore.  But this new song, "World Sick" ... I've played it eight times already today.  So let's repeat our old friend Ryan Schrieber for the last word:
And I hate to end this saying, "You just have to hear it for yourself." But oh my god, you do. You just really, really do.

Official Site
Hype Machine

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