In case you haven’t heard, Broken Social Scene(BSS) is working on new material! That news and the hot-off-the-presses solo release by co-founder Brendan Canning means it’s time to once again recount and re-listen to the legend that is the Broken Social Scenecollective. But in this musical family, it’s about the parts that make up the machine. Nearly every band member has its own long musical resume, and what a better time to run down that list of the reasons that make Broken Social Scene so special. Here are the 10 best Broken Social Scene-related projects.
10. Charles Spearin
Broken Social Scene’s founding member is one interesting dude. Case in point, his only solo offering The Happiness Project. It’s an album of music made from cutting, splicing and affecting the everyday conversations people have with each other and the day-to-day sounds in their lives. Pretty cool, eh? Wait until you hear it.
This fleshed-out crew represents the most synthesized pole on the BSS musical spectrum. Initially formed by BSS vocalists/instrumentalists Emily Haines and James Shaw, the band has slowly turned from a poppy synth project to an epic studio band of supremely electronic proportions. A bit too mainstream for most BSS lifers, sure, but a group started by the singer responsible for Broken Social Scene masterpiece “Anthems For A Seventeen-Year-Old Girl” will still be better than most.
Fronted by BSS backing vocalist/instrumentalist and Stars co-lead vocalist Torquil Campbell, the quirky duo with the name of a quirky town is a real sleeper to even the most devout of the BSS lineage. Starting with the supremely underrated debut I Dreamed We Fell Apart and continuing on for two more great records after that, the band balances bobbing pop rock with dreamy songwriting experimentation like few others.
7. Jason Collett
Broken Social Scene’s resident Bob Dylan, and not just because he sings just like him, Collett has been the most prolific in his solo career than any other member. Highlighted by his career-best midpoint album Here’s To Being Here, the BSS guitarist has a way as easy as a sunset is on the eyes and true songwriters touch very devoid in today’s musical landscape.
6. Apostle of Hustle
BSS’s lead guitarist was always bound to have a side project that mostly highlighted his special power in the group. But Apostle of Hustle takes that jagged guitar jamming and takes it into another space riding on the back of the special spirit of creativity seemingly inherent in Broken Social Scene’s members. On albums like National Anthem Of Nowhere and Eats Darkness, Andrew Whiteman (interestingly, the longtime boyfriend of the now legendary Leslie Feist) pulls it off swimmingly.
5. Brendan Canning
He might not be the McCartney to BSS founder Kevin Drew’s Lennon, but he’s certainly akin to the oddball George Harrison. Canning’s brand-spankin’ new release Home Wrecking Years further defines his solo output as, well, indefinable. The man goes from rockin’ on his new one to the wiry hippie strumming on the aptly titled gem “You Gots 2 Chill” and it’s all good, always, in his kitschy kingdom.
4. Kevin Drew
The leader of the pack is this man right here. A co-founder, sure, but Kevin Drew is a part of Broken Social Scene like the engine is a part of a car. Equal parts wistful and whimsical, the creative genius has helmed the four practically perfect BSS records as lead vocalist, multi-instrumentalist as well as on the side putting out the second best pair of band-related solo records of the whole crew (thank you very much, Leslie Feist). He’s at his best on 2014 release Darlings when he’s not crafting infinite beauty under the Broke Social Scene moniker.
It’s a marriage made in a vocalist’s heaven, as the aforementioned Campbell (of Memphis) and BSS singer Amy Millan are co-leads of this pure pop-rock outfit. Beginning with debut Nightsongs, carrying on with their next Heart (which includes one of the best unknown rock songs ever in “Elevator Love Letter”) and following that by perfecting their emotionally driven cinematic rock on Set Yourself On Fire, Stars is a band some might even consider on par with BSS.
2. Do Make Say Think
Broken Social Scene
rocks, rolls, jams and sings out loud. Do Make Say Think is all that, but without the singing. Truth be told this crew, led by a Buddhist musical monk of sorts in the aforementioned Spearin, does sing about once an album, but they mostly live in the instrumental world. They are the BSS that needs no words. All touring members of the parent band, Do Make Say Think really shines when they break into their own little instrumental world. They’ve perfected post-rock prettiness over the course of six LPs, shining brightest on the interestingly titled You, You’re A History In Rust. The music is so intricate and pointed, weaving long strange tales of jazz-like soundscapes, that their catalog sounds like a life cycle.
The unquestioned leading woman from the Broken Social Scene cadre, Leslie—or, very simply, Feist—is the only person in BSS worthy of one-name-level-fame. And rightfully so. One out of the band’s trio of monster female vocalists, Feist also has four solo albums under her own imprint. She’s innovative, exciting and exacting all at the same time, all the time. Sound like a certain band?