Members shared with other bands
The band has an open-door touring policy.
By JOHN BENSON
Canada rocks again with bands such as Arcade Fire and Stars garnering critical praise, but it's arguably Broken Social Scene that has acted as the bellwether.
The band's latest effort, 2005's self-titled album, is an indie rock triumph, featuring the trippy "Major Label Debut," the guitar-fueled "Fire Eye'd Boy" and the frenetic "Windsurfing Nation."
The lynchpin to the entire CD is the engaging "7/4 (Shoreline)," which breezes along at Fleetwood Mac-in-its-prime pace, while singers Kevin Drew and Leslie Feist duet over a crushing crescendo.
Composed of an ever-changing lineup, often numbering in double digits, the Toronto-based rock act is an incestuous unit with its members involved with half a dozen other bands.
As of last count, that list includes Do Make Say Think, Apostle of Hustle, Feist, Metric, Stars and Raising the Fawn with Jason Collett and Amy Millan pursuing solo careers.
While such shared creativity among the hipster indie scene was naturally a cool gravitational point for the band early in its career, founder Brendan Canning, calling from Toronto, said the coordinating of schedules and other group projects has become cumbersome.
With this in mind, things are about to change for Broken Social Scene, which is scheduled to perform Wednesday at Mr. Small's Theatre in Pittsburgh and Nov. 10 at the House of Blues in Cleveland. Do Make Say Think is opening.
"Because there are so many different bands involved in the one band, we want to at least know that at the core, Broken Social Scene is seen as more of a priority than the other bands because ultimately, we're the band that put everybody on the map," Canning said.
"I don't want to be as bold as saying that but we've helped everyone and taken all of these support groups along the way."
He added, "They've helped us in turn but at this point, I think we need to lock down something a little bit more solid for ourselves so there's not as much guessing anymore."
Canning's honesty is mostly a product of Broken Social Scene's open-door touring policy, where members seemingly come and go as they wish, often leaving the core group scrambling to maintain a viable concert lineup.
He's careful to point out this edict of sorts isn't an ultimatum as much as it is a call for loyalty.
"Everyone has their bands, and it would be silly for me to say, 'You can't do your other groups,'" Canning said. "Whether it's Stars or Do Make Say Think or Feist, etc., there's lots of good music being made."
The bassist is hopeful to add the next Broken Social Scene album, which could be out some time next year, onto that list of good music being made.
New material is already getting stage time, including the midtempo, Motown horn-sounding "Jimmy and the Photo Call," which the band has been playing for years, and the early '90s-esque "Where is Your Heart."
Integral in the making of the next album is the personnel, which Canning stressed at this point is up in the air. However, the bassist has an idea for future creative direction.
"I sort of look at the way Wilco really revamped what they were doing from 'Summerteeth' and went on to make the record after that," Canning said.
"He [Jeff Tweedy] really tore apart the band and came up with something that was quite a dramatic move from where it started. So I just want to see this band do something challenging, and whoever wants to come along for that is welcome."
He added, "We're now at the seven-year mark. So four releases later, I think it's a good time just to take a slight pause and see what all of this means to everyone."