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  • Broken Social Scene + The Stills = Eight and a Half

    Fri, 11 Nov 2011 13:16:08

    Broken Social Scene + The Stills = Eight and a Half - It's a new Canadian collab

    Broken Social Scene Photos

    • Broken Social Scene - INDIO, CA - APRIL 16:  Musician Justin Peroff of Broken Social Scene performs during Day 2 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 16, 2011 in Indio, California.
    • Broken Social Scene - TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27: Broken Social Scene at the 2011 Juno Awards at the Air Canada Centre on March 27, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.
    • Broken Social Scene - TORONTO, ON - MARCH 27:  Brendan Canning and Kevin Drew of Broken Social Scene pose on the red carpet at the 2011 Juno Awards at the Air Canada Centre on March 27, 2011 in Toronto, Canada.

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    Canadian collab alert! The trio called eight and a half is upon us, consisting of Broken Social Scene's Justin Peroff and The Stills' Liam O'Neil and Dave Hamelin!

    Eight and a Half combine electronic structures and scintillating keyboards with visceral, harmony-laden vocals into one of the most satisfying debut albums you'll hear in 2012. The album will be released on Arts & Crafts on Feb. 7. Mark the calendar.

    Some background deets + deep history on how Eight and a Half came to be: When Broken Social Scene first emerged out of Toronto 10 years ago, a great deal of the band's success was attributed to the fact that most of its individual members had ties to other bands, or boasted established solo careers. Peroff—the band's drummer since 2000—was not without extracurricular pursuits of his own, but had never released music outside of the BSS banner. By 2009, the urge to explore something new was proving ever more impossible to suppress.

    Hamelin and O'Neil were old friends of Peroff's—Broken Social Scene and The Stills had shared stages as far back as 2003— but they weren't necessarily the most logical choice of collaborators: after all, Peroff was splitting his time between his temporary home in Los Angeles and recording sessions in Chicago for Broken Social Scene's Forgiveness Rock Record, while Hamelin and O'Neil were in the thick of touring for The Stills' 2008 album, Oceans Will Rise, and living in their native Montreal when off the road. However, over the course of several phone calls and emails, the trio realized they all shared a desire to create music that was distinctively different than the big-tent anthems their primary bands were known for—so much so that Peroff was willing to spend much of 2009 hopping back and forth between L.A., Chicago and Montreal to get this new, more electronically focused project off the ground, if only in fits and starts.

    What a difference a year makes—fast forward to the end of 2010 and Peroff was calling Toronto home once again; fortuitously enough, O'Neil and Hamelin had also become fellow residents. O'Neil and Hamelin also suddenly found themselves with a lot of spare time on their hands: following a fall 2010 tour with Kings of Leon, The Stills had unceremoniously disbanded. And so the conditions were in place to elevate Eight and a Half from sideline recording project to a primary concern for those involved. And each member seized the opportunity to reinvent themselves: where Peroff's steady backbeat has always provided the solid foundation atop which Broken Social Scene could freely experiment, with Eight and a Half his drumming is thoroughly deconstructed, as reliant on electronic programming and looped breaks as live performance. O'Neil, traditionally a piano and horn player, focused on coaxing strange sounds and eerie ambience out of synthesizers and samplers. And Hamelin— who attempted a more rootsy, conversational style of singing as The Stills' secondary vocalist—pushed himself to croon in a higher register, and adopt a more confessional, emotionally naked mode of songwriting to better complement the minimal, mechanized productions.

    The result of these efforts has materialized in one hell of a debut album. From the waves of instrumental opener "Times Twenty Nine" into the urgent, melancholic pulse of first single "Scissors," from the snare crackle and organ pressure of "The Turn Around" to the whirling, percussive, keyboard drip-drop mediation of "Two Points Meet," Eight and a Half's self-titled album simply dazzles. It is a record landmarked by endless textures: hums, pings, washes, drones, cascades, sounds skittering, snares banging, the feather-soft gorgeousness of an incredible vocal melody, and more.

    Eight and a Half will be hitting the road in the spring of 2012!

    Are you an indie rocker interested in Eight and a Half? Why not nine? We kid, we kid! We like whole numbers.

    —Amy Sciarretto

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    Tags: Broken Social Scene, The Stills, Kings of Leon

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