In Record Time

The Remains of Brian Borcherdt
The Remains of Brian Borcherdt
Dependent Music

With The Remains of Brian Borcherdt the former guitarist of Canada’s hippie heart rock band, By Divine Right, Brian Borcherdt has created an intensely emotional and moving record.

Produced at the famed House of Miracles studio by Andy Magoffin, the mastermind behind other breakthrough albums by Canadian indie successes, Royal City, The Constantines and The Hidden Cameras, The Remains of Brian Borcherdt is an incredibly honest celebration of life, love, heartbreak and sorrow.

Borcherdt has put a whole new spin on lonesome, bedroom listening. While the record may begin in your bedroom, it’ll soon take you on a journey, out your front door, through crowded city streets, until you’re at the mouth of an ocean, where you’ll want to just pour your entire heart out—at least that’s what you’ll be feeling under your headphones.

The Remains of Brian Borcherdt reflects the introspective and plaintive songwriting of Hayden, but the sonic energy of Nirvana, while remaining rooted in what should be called post-grunge.

Many of the songs begin simply enough, with little more than the singer and his guitar, but they often build into epic proportions. Before you know it, what began as a solemn acoustic tune has expanded into a vast, multi-layered piece, filled with horns, strings and piano, until it has become big enough to fill an enormous church. This is never more evident than in “1000x,” which begins quietly, but evolves from an impossible crescendo and climaxes with what sounds like Borcherdt screaming from the edge of a cliff into an empty canyon.

Whether Borcherdt’s delicate vocals ache in despair, or exalt in elation, they’re always dripping with earnestness and genuine emotion.

Ultimately, this is a joyful record. As such, it concludes with the stomach butterfly inducing, “Can’t Stop Lovin’ You.” No matter how many times I hear it, I cannot help but be overcome with goose bumps when Borcherdt repeatedly screams the song’s title amidst growing static and distortion that seems to be swallowing the singer whole.

You’ve been forewarned. This isn’t casual, easy listening. This record will make you feel.

You can also catch Brian Borcherdt as he continues his weekly Tuesday night residency at The Elixir all through September.

—Brendan Kennedy

Sea of Faces
Tooth & Nail

Remember on South Park when Cartman formed that Christian rock band and sang songs that lifted directly from pop radio, except that he changed the word "baby" in every song to "Jesus?" Well, with Sea of Faces, Kutless haven't done much better. The problem isn't that they sing about their faith, it's that they do it by rewriting a bunch of 3 Doors Down songs and passing them off as their own.

Lately the Christian market has been bombarded with such copy-cat artists. These bands consider themselves an alternative to impure secular music so that the Christian kids who want to hear some modern rock won't need to worry about being corrupted by the mainstream artists. For Blink-182 the Christians have Relient K, for Eminem there is have KJ-52, for Linkin Park there is 38th Parallel, and so on. Christian music is in need of a saviour, but Kutless is no Christ.

The similarities between Kutless and 3 Doors Down are undeniable, maybe even intentional. They match the voice and structure exactly, but rather than sing "So far down, away from the sun," Kutless sings: "Your body's the bread, your blood is the wine / Because you traded your life for mine."

I don't think it's terrible for a band to borrow material—after all, Coldplay's Chris Martin said that A Rush of Blood to the Head was just a mess of plagiarism—but couldn't these god-rockers have picked a better band to steal from? If they're so set on being unoriginal, couldn't they at least steal from Radiohead or the Chili Peppers or the Clash?

And they can't even be bothered to steal more than one song. They take enough inspiration to write one tune and repeat it 11 times. Aside from some embarrassing moments—like the rap in "Treason"—each song is a carbon copy of the one before it, right down to the runtime. Every song is within 30 seconds of three and a half minutes.

If Kutless want to move into the mainstream they should realize their new audience is going to be one who actually knows the bands that they steal from. Maybe they'll get a few new fans with Sea of Faces, but most people will probably pass this tripe over for the garbage that it is.

Oh, and the boy-bandish pictures in the liner notes are just creepy.

—Jon Marck

Social Code
A Year at the Movies

Social Code's debut album, A Year at the Movies, could be the next big thing in Can-Rock—but don't bet on it, though.

Out of Alberta, Social Code includes vocalist Travis Nesbitt, bassist Logan Jacobs, guitarist Dave Heese—who recently left the band, temporarily replaced by Chris Ruddy—and drummer Ben Schillabeer is a departure from the melodic, wailing vocals which have come to dominate Can-Rock, Nesbitt's gruff voice with angry undertones reflect a departure that is refreshing, if lacklustre.

Somehow Social Code seems to have created a unity among the tracks; there's an intrinsic element binding all of the songs, creating a sense of cohesion. At the same time, each song is unique; instrumental composition and tempo vary, and Nesbitt's voice morphs between a soulful crooning on "I Was Wrong," and the hoarse shouting that runs through "Gone Away."

The album is not without its problems. All of the songs from A Year at the Movies focus on interpersonal relationships and one has to wonder how long a band can ride on songs about angry break-ups and shattered dreams.

While there are indications of more serious issues at hand, including addiction and depression in "Perfect Grave," in general, the album lacks substance. But substance is not always necessary for success. Case in point: Paris Hilton.

Social Code doesn't have a gold record here. What Social Code has is potential. Hopefully they'll recognize this before long and write some new songs about anything other than love-gone-awry.

—Cara Smusiak

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