HMV Rec­om­mends th­ese CD sound choices:

NOW Magazine - Best of Toronto - - City Scape -

There’s so much great mu­sic out there it’s some­times tough to know where to start. Whether you’re giv­ing a gift or adding to your own col­lec­tion, HMV Sound Choice takes the guess­work out of ex­plor­ing new sounds. Ev­ery month, we sin­gle out a se­lec­tion of our favourite re­leases for a lit­tle ex­tra at­ten­tion. Th­ese are the best of the best, and we stand be­hind ev­ery sin­gle one.

BRO­KEN SO­CIAL SCENE, Bro­ken So­cial Scene Th­ese are ex­cit­ing times for indie rock: A band with an un­con­ven­tional sound and an army of de­voted blog­gers is now just as likely to land on the charts as their heav­ily-pro­moted ma­jor-la­bel brethren. Toronto’s Bro­ken So­cial Scene are the quin­tes­sen­tial cult band-turned-un­der­ground sen­sa­tion, a 15-per­son strong col­lec­tive with a re­volv­ing-door membership pol­icy and a knack for cre­at­ing oth­er­worldly mu­sic that’s some­how sounds both alien and en­gag­ingly familiar. On their third al­bum, ring­leader Bren­dan Can­ning’s hushed mur­mur is sup­ple­mented by a ver­i­ta­ble who’s-who of Canadian in­de­pen­dent scene lead­ers, in­clud­ing (but in no way limited to) Les­lie Feist, k-os, Met­ric’s Emily Haines and the Dears’ Mur­ray Light­burn. Guest spots aside, Bro­ken So­cialScene is one swirling head­trip of a record, where cere­bral lyrics, lush at­mo­spher­ics and all man­ner of voices, rhythms and sonic tex­tures pull dou­ble-duty, be­dev­il­ing the brain and be­guil­ing the heart. NOT TO BE MISSED IF YOU LIKE: The Ar­cade Fire, Pave­ment.

DEATH CAB FOR CU­TIE, Plans On “March­ing Bands Of Man­hat­tan”, the wist­ful open­ing track of Death Cab For Cu­tie’s bril­liant fifth al­bum, singer/gui­tarist Ben Gibbard per­fectly crys­tal­lizes his band’s ethos in a sin­gle line: “But while you de­bate half-empty or half-full / It slowly rises; your love is gonna drown.” Af­ter nearly a decade fronting indie-rock’s top-ranked buzz band, Gibbard’s grasp of ro­man­tic melan­choly re­mains with­out equal. Some tracks, specif­i­cally “Sum­mer Skin” and first sin­gle “Soul Meets Body”, re­visit the ethe­real, near-tran­scen­dent at­mo­spher­ics that set Death Cab apart from their peers, Plans finds the band re­vis­ing its sonic tem­plate to in­clude stripped-down acous­tic folk (“I Will Fol­low You Into The Dark”) and catchy hook­sat­u­rated pop (“Crooked Teeth”). This in­ti­mate, emo­tion­ally raw set is the best-case sce­nario for DCFC diehards and neo­phytes alike: a world-fa­mous cult favourite. NOT TO BE MISSED IF YOU LIKE: Built To Spill, El­liott Smith. BLACK REBEL MO­TOR­CY­CLE CLUB, Howl On their first two records, feed­back and dis­so­nance were Black Rebel Mo­tor­cy­cle Club’s bread and but­ter. The San Fran­cis­can trio’s brand of harsh, con­fronta­tional rock came cloaked in a thick, black haze of dis­torted gui­tars and amp fuzz, a men­ac­ing murk of dis­so­nance punc­tured by jagged chords, sin­is­ter rhythms and la­con­i­cally sneered vo­cals. In con­trast, BRMC’s lat­est, Howl, is a sharp curve away from the bleak, black­ened Take Them On, On Your Own, with a lean, loose feel that trades in­ner-city grime for an un­ex­pect­edly rustic vibe. “Shuf­fle Your Feet”, a swag­ger­ing, bluesy stom­per, and “Fault Line”, steeped in coun­try gospel, are vin­tage BRMC songs stripped to their barest el­e­ments – but it’s the band’s rau­cous, har­mon­i­cas-and-fid­dles romp through lead sin­gle “Ain’t No Easy Way” that sin­gle-hand­edly tor­pe­does their grim im­age. NOT TO BE MISSED IF YOU LIKE: The Rolling Stones’ Ex­ile On Main Street, Space­men 3.

WOLF PA­RADE, Apolo­gies To The Queen Mary Scor­ing an open­ing slot for an Ar­cade Fire gig is an op­por­tu­nity few indie mu­si­cians can af­ford to pass up. Of course, it’s usu­ally a good idea to ac­tu­ally have a band and some songs first. Such was the bind Wolf Pa­rade’s Spencer Krug found him­self in back in March, 2003. Af­ter agree­ing to open for the hotly-tipped Mon­tréal quin­tet, Krug and Dan Boeck­ner set about writ­ing and record­ing songs in Krug’s apart­ment with lit­tle more than a drum ma­chine and desk­top com­puter speak­ers. Brought to Sub Pop’s at­ten­tion by Mod­est Mouse front­man Isaac Brock, the band’s full-length de­but is primed to make big waves in the bur­geon­ing Mon­tréal indie scene, with stel­lar songs like the ur­gent “Mod­ern World”, and the an­gu­lar “Grounds For Di­vorce” stand­ing shoul­der-to-shoul­der with their peers’ finest work. NOT TO BE MISSED IF YOU LIKE: The Ar­cade Fire, Mod­est Mouse.

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