News

Q&A with Broken Social Scene drummer Justin Peroff

Matthew Fernandes
St. Louis Post-Dispatch (MCT)

The rock collective Broken Social Scene is like an extracurricular nerds' music club for past and future Canadian stars.

Culling from acts including Feist, Metric, the Dears and Stars, Broken Social Scene has produced some quality music over four albums — from reverb-soaked orchestrations to horn- and violin-infused pop gems. In doing so, the Toronto band has won two Juno Awards (Canada's Grammys).

Drummer Justin Peroff simply dubs it volcanic rock. We caught up by phone with Peroff recently in his loft apartment as the band enjoyed a rare week off.

What are you up to this week? "Reacquainting myself with my city, enjoying summertime family activities, kicking my feet up with some DVD rentals and, best of all, cooking in my own kitchen."

Who are your drumming influences? "There are too many to name. John McEntire comes to mind. He has played in the Sea and Cake and Tortoise and produced our last record."

How did the band get started? "We were all active in Toronto's music scene and knew of each other. It formed naturally over the years through casual jam sessions at College Street and Queen Street house parties. One day we just became a band. The group spans generations as well. I'm one of the youngest (he's 32), and some are in their early 40s."

How do you organize so many ideas in the studio? "We communicate in the best way we can, and it always involves honesty. If something isn't traveling in the right direction musically for a member, they'll speak up and the band will meet them halfway or start from scratch. You have to be able to look your friend in the eye and share your feelings. Maintaining a democracy is the only way it could and should work."

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

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TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

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The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

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To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

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Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

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