SUPERCONDUCTOR (Buy CDs by this artist)
Heavy With Puppy EP (Boner/Tupelo) 1992
Hit Songs for Girls (Boner/Tupelo) 1993
Bastardsong (Boner) 1996
This Vancouver seven-to-nine-piece (four to six guitarists, two bassists, one drummer) has done its part to prove the parental belief that all rock'n'roll is really sonic mayhem. Led by co-vocalists Carl Newman (who also fronts the Bacharach-meets-Beatles quartet Zumpano) and Keith Parry (who doubles on drums), Superconductor mishmashes a love of metal, sugar-pop and Japanese noisecore together into a musical potluck. On the five-song Heavy With Puppy (produced by Numb's Don Gordon), "Satori Part One" and "Bushpilot" demonstrate the band's tightness and melodic leanings, while the noise-scaped instrumentals ("Riffmania" and "Clamhammer") make a strong case for the less-is-more aesthetic.
By the time of Hit Songs for Girls, the band seemed to have found a method to its madness, carving out space for both vocal and instrumental melodies to rise above the din. Standout tracks include the country-meets-Kurt romp "E-Z Bake Oven" (with Kevin Kane of Grapes of Wrath guesting on slide guitar) and the hummable, bracingly boisterous "There Goes Helen," which suggests a Pixiesque mentality at work.
Pulling out all the stops, the hour-long pseudo-rock-opera Bastardsong incorporates harmonica, antique synthesizers, Gilligan's Island soundbites nothing is safe from the band's noodling. From the opening chords of "The Bastard Overture," clean, evenly mixed vocals and surprisingly tight massed guitar work make this an easier listen...to a point. When the electronic experimentation begins a few cuts into this nineteen-track monolith unleashing synth-generated pops and whizzes as well as Newman's primal screams Superconductor banishes melody to clamber through a host of unsettling time and style changes. In the rare moments of calm ("Cloud Prayer," "Mary Ann"), the group comes off as downright Nick Drake-like. For the most part, though, Bastardsong bridges a most unboring bridge to Boredom.[Denise Sheppard]
See also New Pornographers, Zumpano
All contents copyright 2007 Trouser Press LLC