Monday, September 22, 2008

Week 17: "7/4 (Shoreline)" by Broken Social Scene

I first heard Broken Social Scene at an outdoor musical festival in Lawrence, Kansas in 2006. The experience of seeing them perform live was unlike any I’ve had at any musical performance. Broken Social Scene embodied their name in their performance. At any given time between six and twelve musicians played on stage. During songs band members would enter and exit the stage, trade instruments with one another, or, for example, exchange an electric guitar for a trombone. While the social scene may have been broken, the sound certainly wasn’t. Their music was intricately layered, complex, and varied. At one point the sound might be delicate and soft. At another time, they might rock out full force with six electric guitars and two drum sets.

BSS is probably best-described as a creative musical cooperative. Hailing from Toronto, they have released four albums as an ensemble. Most recently, they have released two additional albums under the heading Broken Social Scene presents… These albums each focus on the song-writing visions of a different member of the band.

“7/4 (Shoreline)” is from BSS’ self-titled fourth album. The fun liner notes for this album go song by song and indicate which of 17 band members appear on each song and then list a series of notes about the song. We are told that Justin, Kevin, Feist, Brendan, Andrew, Jason, Evan, Charlie, Jo-Ann, and David perform “7/4.” The notes for performing the song are as follows:
- Try to Fix the ending
- DON’T Max it out
- turn up Cranley [a reference to Evan Cranley]
- boycott gifts from strangers
- write more songs about Fear
“7/4” is written in a 7/4 time signature and showcases many of the band’s signature traits. The song bounces back and forth between soft and hard, showcases Feist’s impressive vocals, and reaches moments of chaos only to back off and regain composure. You can watch a video of this song here.

Other notable songs off this excellent album include “Fire Eye’d Boy”, “Windsurfing Nation”, “Swimmers”, “Superconnected”, and the climactic final song, “It’s All Gonna Break.”