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Bran Van 3000 – Glee

branSometimes Canadian pop music is virtually indistinguishable from the flavour made in the U.S., while at other times it seems like it could just as easily be the latest sound emanating from Poland’s hit parade. Bran Van 3000, a Montréal-based (and largely anglophone, thank you) musical collective whose 1997 debut album Glee has already gone gold up north, fluctuates between those two sensibilities. Led by filmmaker/video director James Di Salvio, Bran Van 3000 have just the combination of innocence and contrivance, knowing indulgence and dumb charm to make the U.S. release of Glee into a very hip (relatively speaking) afterschool special.

The key selling point here is light-hearted eclecticism, and there’s plenty of it: Bran Van have their way with hip-hop and reggae, metal, pop, and soul, and –perhaps most self-consciously–country as well as techno (try the drum & bass/country song “Willard,” or the trip hop & western “Supermodel”).

While Glee nods to ’80s artists as predictably disparate as Quiet Riot and The The, its most interesting reference points draw from more recent history. “Couch Surfer,” an ode to being a penniless moocher, and “Drinking in L.A.,” about wasting time in southern California, take us back to the glorious slackerific days of “I’m a loser baby…,” complete with white rapping and a sampler/live instrument concoction. In at least one way, Glee is truly a work of prescience: It’s undoubtedly the first recorded document of the inevitable Early ’90s revival.

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