If it weren’t for our Canadian friends keeping musical creativity alive in this era of rock music dominated by prepubescent-sounding punk bands, I don’t know what a sane person would do. A big shout-out is due to Ontario, home of the Maple Leafs, Labatts and Broken Social Scene (composed of, as Prefix’s Justin Sheppard put it, “half the population of metropolitan Toronto”).
Before releasing the highly anticipated self-titled follow-up to 2002’s You Forgot It in People with Broken Social Scene in October, Jason Collett (one-sixteenth of the group, according to the band’s Web site(LINK: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/bss/)) provided his fellow Canucks with Idols of Exile in June. Riding the wave of a successful tour with Arts & Crafts labelmate Leslie Feist, Collett’s solo sophomore effort comes to us stateside chockfull of rock, country and folk tunes, peppered with cameos from cohorts including Emily Haines, Feist, Brendan Canning, Kevin Drew.
Despite being one of the brainchildren behind Broken Social Scene, Idols of Exile doesn’t reproduce the sound of “Windsurfing Nation” or “Ibi Dreams of Pavement.” Focusing on acoustic songs, Idols of Exile is probably as far away from the Broken Social Scene mold as you can get. Considering the work of Feist, Metric and other offshoots of the extended Arts & Crafts family, though, it should come as no surprise that Collett is aiming for a different genre of music with this LP.
The first two songs, “Fire” and “Hangover Days,” are aided by Amy Millan and Haines, setting up a nice combo of Collett’s lyrics and the swooning sounds of female vocals, and a certain pop feel soon becomes apparent. Songs such as “We All Lose One Another” and “I’ll Bring the Sun” could be released as singles, and tracks such as “Feral Republic,” “Almost Summer” and “These Are the Days” could satisfy enthusiasts of Tom Petty or Wilco. Simplicity works here, and even though the album may not have a clear direction, the array of song topics is catchy enough to make this alt-rock/indie/country/folk experience work. Score another point for Canada and good music.
Jason Collett Web site (streaming audio)