The Go! Team -- everything all at once

Hockey is a very non-linear game; football has discrete plays with small objectives -- moving the ball more than 3.3 yards per down. Baseball is even more controlled -- they count errors! -- with every motion governed by its own discrete moment of play: each pitch, hit, walk, or steal begins and ends with non-action. But hockey ... it's fluid and fast and violent. Errors are the rule, with incomplete passes, and violence is not part of the play, but part of a second tier of unpublished score-keeping.

Broken Social Scene is a Toronto band that channels latin orchestration into a white-as-folk hipster ensemble. BSS is everthing all at once, and where radio's formula is formulaic music, a band whose basic array of instruments are too complex to comprehend in real time -- nevermind all the other parts of music -- provides cool escapism, like being lost in a mosh pit and loving the ebb of sick sweaty bodies.

BSS is so tight at times ... so I'm not sure if you can classify them as polyphonic. Playing by Heart typifies the ensemble film style; at first you meet Jon Stewart, Sean Connery, Anthony Edwards and Angelena Jolie and some other people, then you get everything all at once. And it's satisfying, like cheese inside cake. Someone on wikipedia described or defined polyphonic literature in a similar way, as Ulysses with it's 18 chapters of differing style.

So, the Go Team -- from England in the Emsemble Kingdom -- makes some of the freshest music I've heard in years. Not since Kanye West in 2004 or Hawksley Workman and Sarah Slean in 2001 has music felt so not derrivative. Sometimes, I swear they sample Sesame Street and draw from whatever hip hop was in 1981. It's cool and retro and discordant, but most of all it feels like a polyphonic or ensemble-like wall of music ... everything all at once and not all of it tight. It's discordant and even the musicians' ethnicity looks like the band was assembled for a public school assembly on friendship. The band was actually assembled; it's the product of some guy named Ian Parton, but the lead singer, Ninja, and keyboardest/vocalist/guitarist Kaori Tsuchida, both stand out on stage.

Top picks:
  • the wrath of marcie, for sure, for that layered, ensemble sound, ninja's energy and and Kaori's backing vocals.
  • ladyflash is cool and easy to listen to; it's their only mainstream hit.
  • milk crisis could have the greatest video of the last decade.
  • grip like a vice -- i listened to this for about 5 months on web radio before figuring out it wasn't like Salt 'n Peppa from 1986.