Perhaps it was the hockey strike, the loss of the Expos or Quebec's failed attempt to secede from the country. Maybe the South Park movie pissed them off. It couldn't have been that they were tired of being known for Celine Dion and Bryan Adams-they've been tired of that for a good decade.
Whatever it was, Canada (actually, Montreal, to be more specific) is wrangling the title belt of indie rock from Omaha and New York. With articles devoted to the scene in The New York Times, Spin and Rolling Stone, all proclaiming it something akin to the next Seattle, it's curious that backlash hasn't yet swung their way.
Because backlash is right up there with death and taxes in the realm of statistical probability.
The difference here is in the quality of the music. While Seattle bands like Candlebox and The Melvins often only sounded as good as they thought they did, Canucks like The Arcade Fire, The Dears, The Stills and Broken Social Scene are all making prolific and esoteric music. It's stuff that's not intended for Top-40, much less alternative radio. And that's why it's pretty damn exciting and has all the jaded rock critics' KISS Underoos in a bunch.
Whereas the grunge scene crashed and burned under the weight of too much too soon, Montreal doesn't seem poised to explode. The city seems to be adept at offering up some great new music just as we've cooled off from the last batch.
And with that, we give you Wolf Parade-Montreal's big, new export, due to pass through the hipster customs that is The Casbah this week.
Their debut, Apologies to the Queen Mary, is the sound of a band struggling to be a band. All the members were previously in other Montreal groups, and founding guitarist-singer Dan Boeckner only started Wolf Parade with his friend, singer-keyboardist Spencer Krug, after a friend prematurely booked them a gig with The Arcade Fire. It's not like the Buzzcocks playing their initial gig with the Sex Pistols, but it ain't a bad first step.
The addition of three more members may have prompted Boeckner to describe the group as a "weird Marxist collective," but it's he and Krug who are the nucleus of the group, splitting vocal duties on Apologies. Boeckner's voice invokes musical heroes present (Beck) and past (Cobain), while Krug sounds strikingly similar to Modest Mouse's Isaac Brock.
Since Brock produced most of Apologies, more than one comparison between the bands has been made. But whereas Brock's eccentricities often brimmed to the point of Captain Beefheart self-indulgence, Wolf Parade seem poised within the chaos of their own id. Every discordant note seems intentional, if not composed within a moment of weakness.
Apologies seems like it was fine-tuned first, then added onto and deconstructed all over again. In other words, it's a beautiful mess. This separates them not only from their peers, but also from their heroes, who they seem so impassioned to outrun.Wolf Parade plays at The Casbah, Monday, Jan. 2. 619-232-4355