Golden Shower of Hits

Queer Eyes for the Great White North Sip That Yellow Snow

Those crazy Canadians. They're so gay! As they should be. Really, why wouldn't you be gay if you were Canadian? You've got good music television, socialized medicine, legal marijuana, homosexual marriage, and a government that's not insane. Not to mention a slew of hot up-and-coming indie rock and rap acts to be proud of: Hot Hot Heat, Manitoba, Les Georges Leningrad, the Constantines, the Stills, McEnroe, Buck 65. Man, if I lived in Canada right now, I'd be so gay all the time, nothing would be able to bring me down. Except maybe SARS.

Toronto's Hidden Cameras and Broken Social Scene are two more up-and-comers that have recently taken up residency in my stereo. The former are super gay, the latter not as much. Both are large coed collectives of friends and lovers who make grand, expansive music using a buttload of instruments. And they both have songs about men urinating on other men.

"The golden stone builds the golden road to heaven/Held up by golden streams of ice," lead Hidden Camera Joel Gibb sings joyfully in "Golden Streams," the first track on The Smell of Our Own. A golden shower is as sacred as a baptism on this record, and the body is a temple of God, made to be entered again and again by His Holiness (whoever that may be). Gibb calls his sound "gay church folk music," which pretty much jibes with how I describe it to my friends—"exactly like Belle & Sebastian, except with songs about hardcore fucking." It's as if an entire sonic universe grew out of seed spilled on the bedsheets from that scene in Todd Solondz's Storytelling, where Scooby the teenage stoner is given a blowjob by Stanley the nerd, while B & S's "The State I Am In" plays in the background. There's gorgeous orchestral pop, complete with horns and majestic timpani rolls, interspersed with twee acoustic ditties, all topped off by Gibb's sweet, high tenor, which rivals Stuart Murdoch's in its loveliness. The melodies are so divine you barely notice the references to cum-stained rugs, dirty holes, and hard-ons, unless you look at the lyric sheet. The Hidden Cameras are a sublime union of the pretty and the grimy, the spiritual and the sexual. Their live performances are part revival meeting, part X-rated circus, with scantily clad go-go dancers, graphic video projections, masks, costumes, and a rotating cast of musicians serving as percussionists or a hallelujah chorus. It's basically an orgy, with music-making substituting for sex.

Broken Social Science hide their woodies.
photo: Paula Wilson
Broken Social Science hide their woodies.

Details

Broken Social Scene
You Forgot It in People
Arts & Crafts/Paper Bag

The Hidden Cameras
The Smell of Our Own
Rough Trade

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Broken Social Scene seem much less horny than the Hidden Cameras, but they might just be hiding their woodies under all those layers of feedback. For much of their epic second album, You Forgot It in People, the 10-person band (plus guests) buries its longings deep inside catchy, distorted hooks and soaring refrains (see "Almost Crimes" for my vote for crescendo of the year). Though there are references to "fornication crimes" and overzealous licking (in "Lovers' Spit," which was featured on the Queer as Folk soundtrack), only one song on You Forgot It in People references pornographic acts—"I'm Still Your Fag," a lovelorn piano- and horn-adorned tale concerning hearing about the wife and kids of one's former fuck buddy. "Fag" would fit in perfectly on Smell, right down to the narrator's pledge to drink his man's golden stream. But in the context of the atmospheric soundscapes and shoegazer-y drone-pop that dominate Forgot, it sounds like just another sonic corridor rather than a way of life. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

 
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