Tuesday, June 7th, 2011
Lights Go Up
Fucked Up comes alive
Daniel BoudTo say that it has been an improbable year and a half since Fucked Up’s second album The Chemistry Of Common Life won the 2009 Polaris Music Prize would be a bit of an understatement. Beyond the long odds of a hardcore record by a band whose name is deemed unprintable by many media outlets earning the title of “best Canadian album” of the 2008-09 season, you have the band’s frontman – a big, bearded fellow with a penchant for stripping down to his shorts and smashing things on his head – becoming host of the resurrected Wedge on MuchMusic and de facto musical ambassador for Toronto across the country and abroad and the recent announcement that they’d be playing the Air Canada Centre as support for Foo Fighters. All pretty impressive accomplishments for a band whose genre of choice is by definition pretty underground and not really a common route to mainstream success.
Which makes it even more remarkable that rather than plateauing, Fucked Up may well be just getting started. Their new record David Comes To Life, out today, is one of the most-anticipated Canadian releases of the year and manages to not only meet those expectations, but exceed them. It’s billed as a concept album/rock opera and while I haven’t perused the lyrics enough confirm or deny its success in that department, I can report that whatever it’s about, David is an uplifting and invigorating pop record.
From the unrelentingly churning arena-sized riffs – maybe the ACC appearance isn’t so odd – to the backing vocals from Cults’ Madeline Follin and Jennifer Castle, David veritably bursts with melody and while Damian Abraham’s bellows still provide the most direct line to their hardcore roots, even he’s more intelligible and melodic than on past efforts. At eighteen tracks and 78 minutes, it’s still a lot to take in in a single sitting – I advise getting the vinyl for the respites that flipping sides/changing discs will allow – but any resulting exhaustion is matched by equal or greater exhilaration. I had to take peoples’ word for it that Chemistry was a great record – it didn’t quite connect with me – but with David Comes To Life, I will happily be the one spreading the word.
The Toronto Star, The AV Club, Consequence Of Sound, Spinner, Exclaim, The Globe & Mail, MTV and Pitchfork have feature pieces on Fucked Up while Toronto Standard puts Abraham in conversation with one of the other most recognizable faces in the Toronto music scene, Broken Social Scene frontman Kevin Drew.
Fucked Up play two shows at NXNE on June 16, a free 8PM show at Yonge-Dundas Square and a 1AM nightcap at Wrongbar. The aforementioned Foo Fighters/ACC show is set for August 9.
Radio Free Canuckistan profiles Weeping Tile, who are headlining the release party for Have Not Been The Same at Lee’s Palace on Friday night. The National Post and Exclaim talk to Ian Jack and Michael Barclay, two of the authors on the tome about the ’90s Can-rock scene.
Best New Bands and The Montreal Gazette have interviews with Little Scream’ Laurel Sprengelmeyer, and if you missed it before, she backs up Sharon Van Etten at The AV Club Undercover on a cover of Fine Young Cannibals’ “She Drives Me Crazy”. Little Scream have augmented their June 14 date at The Mod Club opening for The Antlers by scheduling a free in-store at Soundscapes down the street the previous night, June 13, at 7PM.
Vancouver’s Japandroids are back, in person if not on record. There’s still no official word on a follow-up to 2009’s Post-Nothing beyond the fact that it’s out in 2012, but the fact that they’ve slated an extensive North American tour at least is evidence the duo are still, like, doing stuff. The Toronto stop is September 22 at Sneaky Dee’s and if you think that they’re probably too big for a venue that size… you’re probably right. Get a ticket for $12 when they go on sale Friday and make sure your insurance is paid up immediately afterwards.