In the frigid lands of Ontario, there is a band with a New York name that makes better sunny California psych-pop than many bands in the Golden State. Much better. The guitar riffs swirl and soar, the layered vocals drip with the perfect mix of moodiness, and the hooks are as interesting as they are immediate. They’ve been referred to as Canada’s own version of the Shins. But they’re not. They’re Bronx Cheerleader.
Named for Mercury Rev’s “Bronx Cheer” (the “leader” was added hastily after a U.K. band had already snagged the name), Bronx Cheerleader is a pop band with a proggy family history. Frontman Scott Warren and his former band, Pope Factory, were in the midst of a U.S. tour, which included stops at the 2001 CMJ Music Marathon, held in September of that year. On Tuesday, September 11, Warren and company were packing the van to leave for a CMJ showcase. Needless to say, the events of that day not only cancelled that event but also took their toll on the band: Pope Factory played its final show in Nashville a few weeks later.
After a hiatus in rural Eastern Ontario, Warren had an epiphany: Instead of continuing to make quirky prog-pop, his new band would focus on melodicism and laid-back jams. The altered formula worked: Bronx Cheerleader’s debut LP, Tough Guy Clichés, was a hit on college radio, charting before the band had even played a live gig and popping up on lots of “Best Of 2005″ lists. Seven years later, the band released its sophomore effort, Real Punks Don’t Sing About Girls, a record that, while not punk-y at all (aside from a track titled “Ann Coulter”), showcased the band’s strengths: folk instrumentation, simple, effective melodies, glistening production.
Nearly a decade has passed since Warren formed the band, with innumerable changes (musical and otherwise) along the way. Though Bronx Cheerleader has been reclusive for the past few years, that’s about to change with the band’s upcoming North American tour, which will undoubtedly introduce more Yankees to one of Canada’s best-kept secrets.
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