Arcade Fire | First Impressions of The Suburbs

The Montreal, Quebec, Canada based band Arcade Fire is set to release their third full length album called The Suburbs. Arcade Fire was one of those bands that came out of Montreal during the middle of the 00s but unlike most of their geographical contemporaries, Arcade Fire managed to tap into a wider fan base. It’s hard to call them an “indie” band any more since they are signed to a record and are known here and abroad. Their sound can only be classified in vulgar generalization like baroque pop, new wave (or my personal favorite alterative rock… what sort of rock music does fall under the alterative category in one way or another?).  Arcade Fire style is quite eclectic and in The Suburbs seems to be growing ever more so.   
The first two albums of Arcade Fire, Funeral (2004) and Neon Bible (2007) were both met with critical praise and were adored by fans, spawning a whole movement of Deadhead like followers.  Though the two albums have very different tones they do have one thing in common which is they are expressed with a level of intensity and emotional energy that other bands only hope to achieve.  In fact the energy require to pull off a live performance of the band’s firs two album may have come into play when penning their new album The Suburbs. The Suburbs has a much more mature tone than the previous two albums, taking on some characteristics more akin to Bruce Springsteen at some points (Modern Man) while at others experiments with synth rhythm backed numbers (Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)) that boarder on nostalgic which cause piercing brightly coloured flashes of The Human League music videos.

The most distinctive aspect of The Suburbs in contrast with Funeral and Neon Bible is the lyrical perspective, it seems to have shifted away from a more youthful ideology to more practical concerns, the road, the growing generational divide, seeing friends begin to take on “adult” role and trying to look the part. The underlined idea that seems to permeate The Suburbs are the worries that come with the post university/pre suburban life realization that you’re going to become just another suite that will live and die splitting time between the city and the suburbs.  This idea is driven home with the track Suburban War.   Top tracks on The Suburbs are, Ready To Start, Modern Man, Rococo, Suburban War and Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).

Track List For The Suburbs Due Out August 2nd 2010.
1. The Suburbs
2. Ready to Start
3. Modern Man
4. Rococo
5. Empty Room
6. City with No Children
7.  Half Light I
8.  Half Light II (No Celebration)
9.  Suburban War
10. Month of May
11. Wasted Hours
12. Deep Blue
13. We Used to Wait
14.  Sprawl I (Flatland)
15. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
16. The Suburbs (Continued)


Ra Ra Riot | Boy EP

Ra Ra Riot has recently released a three track EP entitled Boy. If you don’t know about Ra Ra Riot, it is a New York based band and is expected to release their second full length album The Orchard later this year after releasing The Rhumb Line back in 08’. The band’s lyrics, sung by Wes Miles, speak volumes and are accompanied very naturally by violin and cello. Their debut album The Rhumb Line is populated with tracks executed with ease though the skill involved in performing them may be greater than the seeming simplicity that each song may let on. The Boy EP may only have three tracks but gives us a glimpse of what’s to come. The highlight of the EP is Keep It Quiet (Bear), which is set to the background crackling of a fire and an accordion put to Miles vocal contribution. Very simply, very beautiful.    


Arcade Fire’s North American Tour 2010: Ottawa Bluesfest

Arcade Fire is a Montreal musical group who are best know for their emotive catalogue of songs. They recently performed a show from their 2010 North American Tour and we have a break down of that performance at the Ottawa Bluesfest.

Outdoor concert series like Ottawa Ontario’s Bluesfest can be a lot of fun though it does take a bit of a sit in order to find yourself at a respectable proximity to the main stage. Luckily, there is almost always a bit of light entertainment that erupts within an eagerly waiting crowd. Case in point, you end up being located in an arms length of a threesome of very short men smoking the mightiest of spliffs. After one of the three proceeded to explain his technique for smoking, that one must take a large drag then allow the smoke to refill the mouth only to inhale again quickly, which he then demonstrated for his friends and general on lookers.
And as the time ticked closer to the start of the concert and the gentle haze of sweetly sour smoke settled over the mass of people front and center for the show a sense of collective anticipation started to rise. You can hear small patches of people trying to make a vain attempt to insight the traditionally stoic concert going crowds of Ottawa into some kind of visceral act of expression with small radiations of Arcade Fire’s Wake Up. Instead all that is heard is the muffled chatter of the crowd accompanied by a familiar distant melody. 
As for the show itself, the aesthetics of Arcade Fire’s Live Show were relatively subdued. The majority of the band wore red stained clothes splattered on like the group had just come from a slaughter or a feverish session of apartment painting.  The lighting for the show was the standard rock collection usually seen at any professionally designed performance. The back drop for the show was a stage wide photo of intersecting elevated highways shot on an upward pointing angle.  In front of the highway photo was a large display which would project real time and other more random images of the band and stage shaded and coloured in a fashion fitting each song.
What really stood out were the new songs, Rococo, Month of May and others.  These new additions that will be available to buy at the beginning of August were peppered throughout the bands Bluesfest performance. The new songs did not seem to have the same resonance as those from Funeral or Neon Bible albums among even this very Arcade Fire friendly crowd.  In part because most of the people in the crowed had never heard the new songs and the band didn’t seem to have these new additions to their repertoire down to a science yet. Though they did play the single off of their up coming album The Suburbs (of the same name) it had little affect on the crowd. However, when the band preformed another song off of The Suburbs album called Rococo, the crowed ignited. This previously unheard song, Rococo, has all of the elements that made Arcade Fire such a well loved band, a visceral energy that strikes at the heart and a refrain that is subtly subversive towards a certain organized religion.  The best part of the show was hearing the track Wake Up performed live for the first time. Being able to sing along to that now iconic tonal interlude… how sweet it was.  The performance may have only gone on for an hour and a half including the obligatory encore.

But that wasn’t the last the Ottawa crowd saw of the band.
After the show had ended and the streets of Lebreton Flats were filling with people making their ways home, a group of very young boys could be heard playing some classic rock songs on their quarter sized electrics. This very brave performance must have reached the ears of the members of Arcade Fire because there were Win Butler, RĂ©gine Chassagne and company singing backup for the tiny rockers. Quite a sight to see, still in their performing attire and tired from their show, the band managed to come out and support some aspiring musicians;  a memorable sight.   

Indie Blog Shot Associate: Evan Robinson


Bombay Bicycle Club | A Review of Flaws

Bombay Bicycle Club is an indie folk rock band… wait make that club, which hails from Crouch End, London. The band is comprised of four members lead by singer Jack Steadman and they have only recently come out with their second album entitled Flaws. They Beat out The XX, The Big Pink, La Roux, The Olivers and Mumford and Sons at the 2010 (National Musical Express) NME Awards for Best New Band.   Some of these bands are heavy hitters, to win against bands’ with serious talent like The Big Pink at their disposal says something about Bombay Bicycle Club. 

About Flaws: The new album flows gently at a steady pacing. Delicate guitar portions accompanied by lead singer Steadman’s unwavering voice, creates an atmosphere akin to what you might hear on an M. Ward album.  It’s the simplicity of the whole thing that thing that makes it refreshing and bright, possibly a component to their taking the title to Best New Band at the NME awards this year. If you were to compare Bombay Bicycle Club to The XX (one of the other bands in the riding for the same NME award) you would most likely start off by saying how different their tones are, one very dark the other very warm light.   


Radical Face | Touch The Sky EP

Radical Face is one of the many associated acts of musician Ben Cooper, a Florida native whose latest recording Touch The Sky EP is an exceptional bit of easy listening.   You might like this EP if you are into breezy guitar riffs and songs with portions of rhythm provided but clapping hands that lead into harmonic choruses… which is exactly how the EP starts off with the track Welcome Home.  The album proceeds from that height and does not disappoint.  Ben Cooper has released one full length album under the Radical Face band name called Junkyard Chandelier which went mostly unnoticed by most.  Radical Face’s Touch The Sky EP is filled with wonderful moments that will no doubt never be heard by more than a handful of people unless one of the tracks ends up on an automotive or Apple commercial.   


Boy & Bear | A Review of With Emperor Antarctica EP (2010)

The Australian band Boy & Bear's history only stretches back to 2009, yet you might not be able to tell after listening to their debut EP With Emperor Antarctica. It’s easily among the best EPs released this year delivering strong harmonies set to a sometimes whimsical/sometimes hypnotizing indie folk musical backdrop. All of the songs on With Emperor Antarctica are distinctly well crafted, with catchy melodies and memorable lyrics. If this EP is any indication a full length Boy & Bear LP should be a thing of great anticipated.

Note: If you are looking for any comparable musical contemporaries to Boy & Bear just listen to Seattle’s Fleet Foxes. They are very similar to Boy & Bear only Fleet Foxes are much darker and boarder on sublime.