The New Pornographers might just be the band I’ve enjoyed most during my 11-year prairie dog era. I am a sucker for upbeat, jangly pop with great hooks, beautiful harmonies, chuggy guitars and wacky lyrics. The NPs fit the bill and I’ll be forever grateful* to 31 Days Of Music architect Emmet Matheson for introducing me to them a decade or so ago.
The New Pornographers are essentially a Canadian supergroup led by Vancouver’s Carl Newman and given ironclad legitimacy by the incomparable Neko Case (a one-time Vancouverite who’s an honourary Canadian). Newman and Destroyer’s Dan Bejar have been principle songwriters through the group’s history. Rounding out the lineup are Blaine Thurier (keyboards), Kathryn Calder (vocals, piano and awesomeness), John Collins (bass and miscellaneous), Todd Fancey (guitar), and the band’s drummer, Saskatchewan escapee Kurt Dahle (Age Of Electric, Limblifter).
Earlier this year they released Together, their fifth studio album and my favorite since their first. The full lineup visited Saskatoon for a show I had tickets for but couldn’t make and I’ll be sad forever as a result. Though I did get to see the band when they played the Regina Folk Festival in bizarre sub-zero temperatures in 2002.
Here’s the video for “Crash Years”, which I would’ve guessed was making a subtle point or two about economic collapse but the band says it’s about the late George Harrison’s song “You”:
The ruins are wild, the ruins are wild… tonight will be an open mic…”
The group, by the way, are not named after evangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s famous quote but the band is doubtless thrilled by the unintended association. Except maybe when it gets their shows cancelled by dunderheaded, censorious American colleges.
*No cash value.