Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

The New Pornographers present ‘Brill Bruisers’ at the Calvin Theatre


The New Pornographers is a melting pot of brilliant, creative and distracted minds. Eleven musicians identify as members of the Canadian indie rock supergroup, with many of them involved in outside projects ranging from music to film and animation.

On Wednesday, five of those members will be stopping at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton as part of the group’s tour promoting the New Pornographers’ newest album, “Brill Bruisers.”

The album marks the band’s first release since “Together,” in 2010. “Brill Bruisers,” released Aug. 26, was four years in the making and showcases a bright collection of pop-powered songs and a sound unlike any other in independent rock. Carl Newman, the band’s founding father, stated that he wanted his album to be “shinier and faster” than the band’s previous efforts, and with “Brill Bruisers,” Newman and the rest of the group gave us just that.

NPR Music calls the band “virtually peerless in the world of power-pop and indie-rock,” and dubbed its newest album a collection of “unimpeachable pop gems.” That power-pop sound has always been precisely what Newman has attempted to achieve with The New Pornographers.

“Brill Bruisers” continues the band’s evolution toward a more upbeat, if not superficial, sound. Newman hesitated to assign a single meaning to the name of the band’s latest album as he prefers leaving it open for interpretation to anything from the famous Brill Building in New York City, where the band debuted the album, to an abbreviated form of “brilliant.”

“The whole idea of being a brilliant bruiser – isn’t that what everybody ultimately strives for, or what a person needs to succeed in this world?,” Newman said on, “To be really intelligent and really strong at the same time? It just seemed to match this group of songs somehow.”

With so many members involved in different creative endeavors, it is hard to get them all on one tour. A few of the Pornographers’ founding members will be at Sunday’s show including Destroyer’s Dan Bejar. However, vocalist Neko Case will not be part of the tour. Instead, Kathryn Calder, also a member of Immaculate Machine, will be taking her place.

The return of bassist and producer John Collins also helped reinvigorate the band in its new album, according to Newman, and will be joining the band on tour. Kurt Dahle, the Pornographers’ drummer of 15 years, recently left the band and will not be performing with them at the Calvin Theater.

Operators, a side project of Wolf Parade’s Dan Boeckner, will be opening for The New Pornographers on Sunday. Operators released their debut EP, aptly titled “EP1,” in August.

Newman started The New Pornographers in 1996 after the releasing “Goin’ Through Changes” as part of his other project, Zumpano. After a slow start, The New Pornographers released “Mass Romantic” in 2000. The album was a hit in the indie rock community, with Blender Magazine placing it at No. 24 on its list of “Best Indie Albums of All Time.”

Over the next decade, the group created music intermittently, releasing “Electric Version” in 2003, “Twin Cinema” in 2005 and “Challenges” in 2007. Its 2010 album, “Together,” sailed in on a wave of success, featuring collaborations with St. Vincent, Will Sheff of Okkervil River and Beirut’s Zach Condon. Every album since “Electric Version” was released through the band’s current label, Matador Records.

The New Pornographers will be playing in Northampton on Wednesday after several stops in Canada and one in Ithaca, New York. The show starts at 8 p.m. Wednesday at the Calvin Theatre. Tickets are available on the Iron Horse’s website for $28.50.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at [email protected].

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