The last great in­die rock col­lec­tive

The New Pornog­ra­phers in town with new al­bum

Richmond Hill Post - - Music - By Ron John­son

De­spite the grow­ing fame of the band’s high-pro­file mem­bers, some­how the New Pornog­ra­phers have man­aged to keep it to­gether long enough to put out a string of gor­geous pop al­bums that stretches nearly 15 years. And their lat­est ef­fort, Brill Bruis­ers, re­leased Aug. 26, is, as ex­pected, noth­ing short of bril­liant.

The New Pornog­ra­phers could be the last re­main­ing in­die rock col­lec­tive that harkens back to the early 2000s hey­day when they and other groups, such as Bro­ken So­cial Scene, man­aged to cor­ral some se­ri­ously talented mu­si­cians with their own thriv­ing pro­jects into an in­die su­pergroup of sorts for oc­ca­sional touches of mu­si­cal bril­liance.

The band in­cludes Carl New­man, who per­forms un­der the name A. C. New­man for his solo pro­jects and was also a mem­ber of bands Zumpano and Su­per­con­duc­tor; Dan Be­jar (De­stroyer and Swan Lake); John Collins (De­stroyer and the Eva­po­ra­tors); Kurt Dahle (Lim­blifter and Age of Elec­tric); and solo performers Neko Case and Kathryn Calder along with Blaine Thurier.

The New Pornog­ra­phers’ mu­sic tends to be shinier and hap­pier than ma­te­rial done by mem­bers out­side the band, and Brill Bruis­ers is no dif­fer­ent.

“For my solo stuff I con­sciously try to make that a more solemn af­fair,” says Carl New­man, the band’s prin­ci­ple song­writer and one of many vo­cal­ists. “I ab­so­lutely did not want it to be low-key. We wanted it to be a lot big­ger, brighter. We didn’t want any lowkey bal­lads.”

In­stead, as the al­bum ti­tle Brill Bruis­ers sug­gests (re­call­ing the home to Amer­i­can pop­u­lar mu­sic, the Brill Build­ing in New York City), the band pounds out bril­liant pop gems with breath­tak­ing ease com­bin­ing the tech­ni­cal ho­cus-po­cus of to­day with the pop sen­si­bil­i­ties of the ’80s.

“We were look­ing for a very spe­cific feel,” New­man ex­plains. “We just didn’t know what that feel was, but we knew when we heard it.”

The al­bum was pro­duced by New­man and Collins at Lit­tle Blue in Woodstock, N.Y., near New­man’s home.

Since the band formed back in 2000, New­man has held the reins as the song­writer in the band with Dan Be­jar con­tribut­ing three ad­di­tional songs per al­bum on the band’s six record­ings. Both New­man and Be­jar, along with Case and Calder, han­dle the vo­cal du­ties.

The band’s de­but, Mass Ro­man­tic, gar­nered sig­nif­i­cant crit­i­cal ac­claim. In 2007, Blender mag­a­zine ranked it as the 24th best in­die al­bum of all time.

Mak­ing the New Pornog­ra­phers work has never been easy, New­man says, and al­though the ca­reers of his fel­low band­mates have grown ex­po­nen­tially, most no­tably Case, Calder and Be­jar, things are still pretty much at the same level of dif­fi­culty. And that’s OK.

“Neko be­ing the ob­vi­ous case: back when we started out she wasn’t as pop­u­lar, so she had to tour more,” he says. “Now, it’s just a dif­fer­ent rea­son that she is harder to nail down. It’s always been dif­fi­cult to get us to­gether, and I’m always amazed that we do it. I’ve just sort of ac­cepted it; it’s the na­ture of our band.”

The New Pornog­ra­phers will be in Toronto twice this month for a per­for­mance to an in­dus­try-heavy crowd on Sept. 8, as part of the in­vite-only Fes­ti­val Mu­sic House dur­ing TIFF, as well as a slot at the mas­sive Riot Fest (Sept. 6 and 7) fea­tur­ing head­liner the Cure, among many oth­ers.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to www.thenew pornog­ra­phers.com.

The New Pornog­ra­phers some­how man­age to keep putting out stun­ning pop al­bums

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