Considering that all their members are accomplished musicians with their own respective projects, when the New Pornographers come together they are referred to as a supergroup. Therefore Carl Newman, lead hero and guitarist, is certain that there is a supervillian group out there waiting to fight them. "I’m assuming their lead singer would be the anti-me. Like he looks similar to Mike Love," Newman said utilizing his quirky Canadian-brand sense of humor; dry, ironic, random but always spot-on funny. "And he would have a low voice. He cannot by any means do the falsetto," he continued. "He has no lisp, he’s incredibly stupid and very, very ugly."
Sitting in the bar of the Bowery Ballroom, Newman reminds me more so of the Clark Kent secret identity than the Superman persona. He is severely self-deprecating, a bit fidgety and incredibly humble about his role in reviving the power-pop scene of today. Along with Neko Case (vocals), Dan Bejar (vocals, guitar), Kurt Dahle (drums), Blaine Thurier (keyboards), and Todd Fancey (bass), the Porns have released two Kryptonically strong albums, Mass Romantic and most recently, Electric Version. Listening to either record, one can’t help but smile one of those insane grins where onlookers are certain that you’ve lost your mind. They are bombastic packages of energetic bliss, tightly giftwrapped into four minutes confections, songs that wouldn’t be out of place playing at a Frankie and Annette beach party. Consistent brilliant pop, superbly and naively full of sunshine, despite lyrics about executions and alcoholism (respectively "Execution Day" and "Slow Descent to Alcoholism").
The first time I saw Newman & Co. spoil the audience was at Brownie’s (RIP) in New York City. It was also the first time they played before a non-Canadian audience so the expectations were low—on both parties behalves. The crowd came to see an un-hyped rock show and the band came to play for a city that knew nothing about them. Needless to say, their fiery performance burnt the eyebrows off of all two hundred people in attendance and left our ears gasping for mercy from being beat to submission with relentless fists of pop hooks. Neko Case’s supremely strong vocal gymnastics slew any heterosexual man within a 30-mile circumference. The tight-knit harmonies played Twister through the speakers, intertwining, balancing and eventually toppling over into orgasmic and joyful melodies.
But the most amazing thing about this live show experience (which is still to this day one of my favorites) is that the Porns replicate it every time I see them. Despite this officially being a side-project, the passion is never compromised and the vibe is always tighter than Britney’s clothing (which, in case you skip People Magazine, is really tight). While many dismissed Mass Romantic as a fluke, magic born out of spontaneity, Electric Version and the many songs they cover ("Action" by Sweet, "Send Me A Postcard" by Shocking Blue, etc) magically prove otherwise. Every song this band touches has a summer-like golden breeze of ecstasy which Newman hopes to produce for years to come. "We have fun doing this and we hope to record another album," Newman said. "Look, it’s inspiring to make something that people like and I hope we can keep on doing it." How selfless and valiant of Newman. Spoken like a true superhero.