Born to Ruin Brendan McCarney

Born to Ruin Brendan McCarney
Photo Courtesy of Wildlife
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You may not have heard of the band Wildlife before, but chances are you've heard their music on the likes of alternative rock radio and advertisements like Corona's 2013 campaign "Live Mas Fina." Their brand of emotionally exuberant indie rock is the kind best suited for the rush hour commute, filled with youthful exuberance and power chord hooks that strike through the heart of the common denominator. But while some bands, as their hero Bruce Springsteen sang, are born to run, others are just born to ruin.

Documentary filmmaker Brendan McCarney's Born to Ruin catches up with the band in the midst of recording the dreaded "second album," but this is more than just your average sophomore slump.

Turning his lens towards the native Toronto quintet, McCarney (who previously profiled fellow Canadians Young Rival and the Meligrove Band) finds the act travelling south of the border to record with famed producers Peter Katis (Frightened Rabbit, the National) and Gus Van Go (Hollerado, the Stills). A dream for some, tensions turn sour as the band is forced to confront their inner egos, personal demons and growing alcohol problems.

Coming off as the Canadian answer to I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, McCarney's average approach to documenting a better than average band results in one of the truer representations of life in the studio seen in recent memory.

That's not to say everything is sunshine and roses for those uninterested in the life of a band in the recording studio. Huge swaths of the film contain scenes of band members sitting around, making incoherent noises, describing how the album should sound and talking about nothing in particular.

To liven up the proceedings, the film focuses a chunk of its efforts towards dissecting the riff between the band's core members and keyboardist Tim Daugulis. An actor and performer known for his roles on Degrassi: the Next Generation and Murdoch Mysteries, it's hard not to see the film's portrayal of his supposed alcoholism as being more than just mere show, as the band seems to carry on in-studio and after the fact with relative ease.

Nevertheless, Born to Ruin is a must-see feature for those looking to step into the studio and take part in the combative and calculated industry known as the Canadian music scene.

(Last Frame Pictures)