HMV Recommends these CD sound choices:
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.