En route to the Canadian border we stopped off to visit a friend of a friend of a friend (or something; I forget now how tenuous the link). “Canada’s great”, she said (if you forgive me paraphrasing). “The only problem was the border guards on the return journey. I was seeing some guy in Ontario, had spent the week with him, only at the border the drawling uniform in the shades, after demanding to know my business on the other side of the Niagara River, asked in all seriousness: And what is wrong with American men?”
I’ve no idea if her story is a true one (although my own brushes with US Immigration have always tended towards the humiliating)… but I was reminded of this long-ago conversation – I know, scratching around memory for a subject manner – when playing the track that follows the words. Gang of Losers, album #3 by Montréal band The Dears, was one of the records given permanent resident status on the car stereo that summer. For an act who flaunt their influences like an exhibitionist let loose on the internet (i.e. a sound 5,000 miles away, over the Atlantic, circa 1997), there’s nonetheless something striking to their sound. Nothing profound or too taxing, perhaps, but definitely a sweeping grandiosity, a missing link on the journey between Gene and Arcade Fire.
No Cities Left, album #2, still receives a regular airing these days – especially when up late, drink numero whatever on the go – but if soaring, swaggering indie music is your thing, even album #5 – this year’s Degeneration Street – isn’t a bad place to start.
(Oh, and to the friend about to endure his own East Coast summer thing: enjoy).
The Dears / Blood