Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin’s pre-Broken Social Scene EPs receive a UK release.
Louis Pattison 2010
‘Before they were famous’ recordings are typically something of a mixed bag, their reappearance often more to do with a record company wanting to shake some money out of an old signing that got big and went elsewhere than any sort of artistic merit. One can approach this collection of two early recordings by K.C Accidental – a lo-fi bedroom project by Kevin Drew and Charles Spearin, both soon to become key members of Toronto’s sprawling indie-baroque troupe Broken Social Scene – with rather more confidence, however. For starters, it sees the light of day on Arts & Crafts, the label in which Drew has a stake. Secondly, it does appear to be genuinely long-lost: released on limited editions only within Canada, and out of print for a good five years, this collection does, at least, have genuine rarity on its side.
Both sets stem from fairly humble beginnings. Captured Anthems… collects the project’s earliest recordings, six instrumentals pieced together over a five-day stint. Relatively little of the fulsome, fully orchestrated songcraft you expect from Broken Social Scene is in evidence, and a spirit of try-anything invention and post-rock eclecticism presides. The 12-minute Tired Hands, with its downbeat drums and falling keyboard melodies, is pretty in a generic sort of way, while Something for Chicago recalls Tortoise’s TNT, watery ripples of guitar and languid trumpet occasionally giving way to turbulent, jazzy work-outs. Occasionally, the pair turn up the heat: Nancy and the Girdle Boy is a circling, sustained instrumental rocker swamped in distortion that strikes several triumphant poses over its brief lifespan.
It is the six tracks of Anthems for the Could’ve Bin Pills that are probably of more interest to the Broken Social Scene fans, however. Post-rock experimentation hardens into bigger, fuller arrangements: Residential Love Song is a textured joy, bright banjo and accordion glimpsed behind glassy sheets of shoegaze guitar; meanwhile, the gorgeous Them (Pop Song #3333) adds swooning strings and elegiac piano to breakneck, John McEntire-style drum breaks, plus a shared vocal from Drew and later Broken Social Scene member Emily Haines.
Next to what would come, this is baby steps. But there’s an airiness and invention to these tracks that merits investigation by fans and the curious alike.