Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Arcade Fire – Neon Bible

The sophomore album is a true test of a bands merit. This is especially true of bands that have a first album that is both critically acclaimed and well received by the public. All the hype about the first album was boiled down to this band squeezed on the stage of Arlene’s Grocery in New York City. The bombardment of drums, guitars, violins, organs, and god knows what else propelled the spirit of rock, art and passion inside the hearts of the listeners, not the mention their first album, funeral, was near perfect.

That was in 2004, and not a peep came out except for cryptic banners on such websites like pitchforkmedia.com about something called Neon Bible. There was even a phone number to call. The band was slowly preparing the world for second masterpiece.

Neon Bible opens up much differently then funeral’s captivating build up. Black Mirror starts with some sonic pulse and then slams you with dark militant drums and seductivly angry vocals. As the song climaxes Win Butler and Regine Chassagne raise their voice as they count up French. Welcome to Neon Bible.

As the album progresses it builds in and out of darker and softer tempos. Using crescendos to swell the music in a witches melting pot, they brew worldly troubles, personal gripes and a search for something else. Black Wave / Bad Vibrations serves as an simple example of this point when they break off a with a light percussion build and Win slams in with his distressed vocals that shortly after get accented by Regine’s haunting vocals. The album continues into Ocean of Noise that could be the Rebellion (Lies) of this album.

(Antichrist Television Blues) and Windowstill take the most dramatic and forward target at the media and the general culture of America and the world. Parts from (Antichrist Television Blues) tackle the culture we’re surrounded in.

Cause the planes keep crashing always two by two
I don't wanna work in a building downtown
No I don't wanna see when the planes hit the ground

Their ability to tackle sensitive subject matter in a pure human fear musically and lyrically is unparalleled. The song continues telling the story of a God fearing man who’s little girl is going to be a star of television. Win cleverly uses a familiar child’s song to calm the listener with something both familiar and sends the message home in a more disturbing aspect.

So you better just stay close and hold onto me
If my little mocking bird don't sing
Then daddy won't buy her no diamond ring

The song ends with Win yelling “Oh, tell me Lord, Am I the Anti-christ!?” There are some fairly strong messages interweaved into Neon Bible and most of them aren’t pretty.

At the end of the journey they treat you to My Body is a Cage that captivates everything in the desperation of Win’s vocals and the drawn out organ chords. It’s the ultimate expression of beauty and oppressing fear that the entire album represents.

Comparing the album to Funeral doesn’t give it enough justice, this album can stand on it’s own. Mediocrity is unacceptable for bands who are capable of greatness. The Arcade Fire is not a trend, it’s not something that will be going away. These Canadians are original, talented, passionate, smart and are a breath of fresh air in the current music scene.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

get down

!!!Myth Takes

Give the hipsters back their dancing shoes and turn up the bass. !!! is back with a follow up to 2004’s Louden Up Now, and Nic Offer’s creative grooves are stronger then ever.

!!! is a visual image that the band uses as a name. Basically they can be called by repeating any one-syllable sound three times. Chk Chk Chk is most commonly used. Nic Offer was in the Yah Mahs until he wanted to make something more danceable. He created !!! and the recently broken up instrumental group Out Hud. !!! released the single Me and Giuliani Down by the School Yark (A True Story) in 2003 on Touch and Go Records and broke into the indie scene.

The seven dance punkers of !!! continue to do what they do best on Myth Takes. The albums infectious bass lines and break downs will make even the most negative Nancy tap along to the groove. Justin Van Der Volgen is one of the sickest bassists ever and crafts funky bass-lines over the barrage of sound the other members generate. Van Der Volgen and Offer really bring the band to life. Offer’s vocals and pure enjoyment that can be found in his various vocals styles oozes passion and joy. The rest of the bands talent is shown in the breakdowns and transitions the band takes regularly.

The opening title track is an excellent strong one that immediately put me in the mood for the album. You can't ask more for an opening song. Three tracks in comes Must be the Moon that has such a fucking amazing beat it was in my head for a few weeks. The songs humor is awesome too as Offer takes about trying then getting with a girl at a party who was drunk. It's almost sexy and poppy, a nice push. Break in Case of anything has to be the most interesting song on the album because it molds styles and really pushes the band and Offer's vocals in a different direction then normal.

Myth Takes offers some of the best dance punk to come out of the last 10 years. They are not afraid to show their roots in greats like Gang of Four and delve into James Browns legendary funk groove. !!!’s beauty comes from the heart and purity of the music. This isn’t dance music with electronic beats, this is dance music played by musicians.

Recommended if you've enjoyed thier previous works or are looking for something to widen your catologue. My and Guiliani is still thier best work and has yet to be topped on this album, but that's not to say it's not great.