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This Tuesday! Broken Social Scene go live on YouTube

By Sarah Bardeen

Music Community Manager

On Tuesday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET, Canada’s sprawling indie rock collective Broken Social Scene kicks off their Winter 2011 tour with a live performance at NYC’s Terminal 5 -- and you’ll be able to watch the show as it happens on (brought to you by Lexus).

The group will also be curating the YouTube homepage on Tuesday, with a mix of videos that are as surprising and eclectic as the band itself.

Who are Broken Social Scene? Maybe a better question would be, who aren’t they? Formed as a loose collaborative of Toronto musicians/friends back in 1999, the shifting lineup has looked like a who’s who of indie rock -- with Leslie Feist as perhaps the brightest star in the constellation. (Check out this playlist featuring the band’s other projects.) If you don’t know Broken Social Scene’s music, think Arcade Fire and The Postal Service, with a dash of Sonic Youth.

Multi-instrumentalists and singer-songwriters Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning started the group in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2003 that the group really started to take off with the release of You Forgot It In People. On that album, the group had swollen to 11 members, and the collective crafted a gregarious -- some might say bombastic -- album whose woozy grace seemed perpetually on the verge of falling apart. Fans found it utterly engrossing. The album won a Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, and suddenly Broken Social Scene were the buzz band, garnering accolades from Pitchfork on down.

Broken Social Scene has always been based on a notion of fragility; it’s built into its very name. Some have compared the group to 1970s-era Fleetwood Mac for its, um, complicated interpersonal dynamics -- all of which seems inevitable in a group that (by some counts) includes 31 friends/musicians among its ranks. The band took a hiatus after wrapping up a massive tour in 2005, filling the relative void with a couple of Broken Social Scene Presents albums.

But a creative force this potent couldn’t stay dormant. Broken Social Scene came back together for 2010’s Forgiveness Rock Record, another ambitious collaborative effort that saw early members like Feist, Amy Millan and Emily Haines returning to the fold. It’s a gorgeous piece of work, as evinced by the opening track “World Sick.”

Meanwhile, the obsession with Broken Social Scene and its mythic qualities has grown. Writer and friend of the band Stuart Berman authored an oral history of BSS called This Book Is Broken (see an interview with Berman here) and there is also a feature film, This Movie Is Broken, which juxtaposes live footage of the group with a fictional love story.

As Broken Social Scene continues to evolve, we say if it ain’t Broken, fix it.