Dark Was The Night

Hey Snow White by The New Pornographers

The New Pornographers are a Canadian power pop super-group – the members were drawn together from other projects. Notable alumni include leader A.C. Newman, previously of Zumpano, alt-country vocalist Neko Case, and Dan Bejar, who records as Destroyer. The group have been releasing dense, intelligent pop music for almost twenty years, with sophisticated chord progressions and pretty harmonies.

Dan Bejar's only sometimes a member of The New Pornographers, and his songs are often more cryptic and winding than Newman's efforts. He didn't play on the group's recording of his song 'Hey Snow White' – so even though he's sometimes a member of the band, this song is effectively a Destroyer cover. Compared to most of Bejar's writing for the New Pornographers, it's very straightforward, a lovely, infectious slice of power pop.

There are New Pornographer's songs that I like more than 'Hey Snow White', but I wanted to draw attention to it because it's a good song tucked away on a compilation. Dark Was the Night is a 2009 album raising money for the Red Hot Organization, which raises money and awareness for HIV/AIDS. The double album is filled with otherwise unavailable and often excellent music from Indie luminaries like Arcade Fire, Spoon, Sufjan Stevens, and Yo La Tengo, and it's worth tracking down.

19 Comments

  1. I’m glad you spotlighted this band. Another band I’ve heard of about which I know nothing. I’d heard of Neko Case, had no idea where she came from, who she played with. I’m not a big indie guy so a lot of these bands miss my gaze. I like this song but I’d have to hear more to know if I’d be into them.

    • In the 21st century, Indie is a pretty big catch all for music that’s on smaller labels. They’re an accessible guitar band that has lots of antecedents in the 1960s and 1970s. I really like 2005’s Twin Cinema; give ‘These Are The Fables’ or ‘The Bones of an Idol’ a listen. I kind of like how they make the lyrics meaningless, so it’s all about the music.

  2. Love these guys but definitely not one of their best. I like Dan Bejar a lot when he is writing for New Pornos but could never get into his work as Destroyer. Oh and yes, Dark was the night is a great compilation.

  3. Just saw these dudes live with Spoon on Wednesday. Amazing show. They manage to transfer their album sound so well to the main stage and played a really consistent set.

  4. Brilliant band, though I’ve lost touch with them (need to catch-up on the last few releases). I’m not aware of the compilation, but looking it up it looks pretty swell!

  5. I was a huge fan of the first three records, particularly “Twin Cinema”. Then I remember buying “Challengers” on release date and being hugely disappointed. I haven’t listened to anything since. Do you think their recent records are worth investigating?

    • I think I like them all, but I need to spend more time with them. I only had the first three until recently – I’d steered clear of Challengers because of bad reviews. One album I do like is A.C. Newman’s The Slow Wonder – it’s from a similar time to Twin Cinema, which was always my favourite.

    • I think the only NZ band in the 1001 is Crowded House’s Woodface, which is half Australian anyway. I’ve covered Joni Mitchell, The Band, and Neil Young in full pages, and Sloan, The New Pornographers, and Arcade Fire will all get their own pages sometime.

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