Thursday, March 08, 2007

Rebellion, Lies, Repeat

So, today I went ahead and got the Most Important Album Ever to Be Released or That Ever Will Be. The cultural authorities told me to do it. (This guy too.) But hype aside, I’m pretty excited about it. I liked Funeral as much as the next fashion victim—and it really, really was that good. And the tracks I’ve heard so far from Neon Bible sound like more of the same, but bigger. (I didn’t see the SNL performance; I downloaded some of the audio. Everybody said it was great.) It’s on the headphones right now; I’m getting happy! Funny, I tried to turn on my friend’s radio show the other night and I heard this song that I'm listening to right now, “Keep the Car Running.” I immediately assumed it was some old Springsteen song I hadn’t heard, which would’ve made sense. Then I thought—hey, this is the Arcade Fire! Then I realized I was listening on the wrong night and that it was just some hipster doofus who’d decided to throw that on.

But while I’m on the subject I need to bring up a painful issue that we’re all going to have to face up to and resolve: just what exactly is the name of this band? It’s a problem! Do they have a “the” or not? For a long time it seemed as if they weren’t sure, or didn’t care. On the self-titled album, it said “Arcade Fire” on the front and “The Arcade Fire” on the spine. Funeral, I’m not sure. Writers have seemed to use both versions interchangeably—that NYT writer uses “the,” Frere-Jones at the New Yorker doesn’t. With this album they seem to have definitely dropped “the” across the board. (And Sasha F-J, uber-hipster, would’ve been sure to get it right. Though in the current issue he’s enthusiastically endorsing Fall Out Boy, so anything is possible.)

Anyway, it’s fine. Really. They can call themselves whatever they want. But they can’t pretend it doesn’t matter! Names matter!

Got the new Bloc Party a couple of weeks ago, and I just don't know what to say. Maybe it'll grow on me, but it felt like a pretty big disappointment. Silent Alarm used to get me so excited! There's a select group of albums that are exactly perfect for my usual fifteen-minute super-intense stationary bike workout--naturally, they're the albums that start with the perfect fifteen minutes. Primal Scream's XTRMNTR, Songs For the Deaf by Queens of the Stone Age. And at the absolute top of the list, Silent Alarm. I could listen to those first four songs all day. But apparently, for this new album, the band sat down and decided that what was good about Silent Alarm was...all the other songs. The slow ones. A Weekend In the City wants to be all big-sounding and serious--people have accused them of wanting to be U2, but this isn't even as much fun as a U2 record. I will say that "Hunting for Witches," and "I Still Remember" are almost as good as "Little Thoughts" from Silent Alarm, which was the fifth best song on that album. But that's all I'll say. I'm gonna go listen to "Helicopter" again.

The new Sparklehorse is pretty good. Please don't make me type the title; it's long and stupid. Just click the link. The songs are what you'd expect if you've heard the others: pretty and dusty, with occasional bursts of fuzz. But boy, this album just sounds great--Danger Mouse did the production; it's all rich and warm and crisp. Like a cookie, or something.

I got this Six Parts Seven album today, too. Never heard of them until a few weeks ago, but WOXY plays them a lot. I checked the album out on a listening station, then started downloading stuff. It's real pretty. Hypnotic, soothing instrumental rock stuff--guitars, pianos, whatnot. I need a certain amount of that in my life--and they're from Ohio! Who knew we had our own Mogwai? Though these guys never get scary like Mogwai or Explosions in the Sky, so they may be too soothing for a lot of tastes. But there's a scary viking dude on the cover! They're not tame! (This band has a "the" problem too, I have to add. Though it seems more clear cut: they definitely used to have a "the," and now they definitely don't.)

Links for all! (Right-click or control-click; you know the drill.)
Falling Over Evening -- Six Parts Seven (Gentle. But if that's not good enough...)
Welcome, Ghosts -- Explosions In the Sky ('s something a little rougher. But still pretty.)
Black Mirror -- Arcade Fire (This is nowhere near the best on the album, but it's the free one.)
What Light -- Wilco (And a new Wilco track! Before you can buy it!)

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