Here’s a five-album guide to music that I feel is absolutely essential for everybody to listen to at least once. Doesn’t matter if you like rock, pop or rap. These five albums are what I deem to be extremely unique and what I consider to be five of the best rock(ish) albums of the past decade. Give them each a listen and I guarantee that by the end, you’ll know what I mean when I say that these are five albums that each and every person needs to know about.
Arcade Fire - Funeral (2004)
Why: Emotion. People are emotional. The thing is, though, that emotions are usually only evoked when a certain event happens. There is another (less natural, yet more natural in many ways) way to feel emotion. No, you don’t need to chop onions to make you cry, but rather, just listen to some Arcade Fire, particularly their album Funeral. It’s hardcore, it’s sweet, it’s loud, it’s pretty dang beautiful. The absolute clear-cut definition of what indie rock really is.
Beach House - Teen Dream (2010)
Why: There’s all sorts of music for all sorts of situations and predicaments, right? Right. Driving on the freeway, biking downtown, cleaning the apartment, etc. Well, here’s the one that can be listened to anywhere, anytime, whenever, wherever. Beach House’s dreamy anthems are, simply put, instant delights. No matter what you’re up to, they’re a hit. It’s more than that, though. Teen Dream is an album that pretty much hasn’t been done before. It’s relaxing, sexy, motivating and spiritual all in one.
Metric - Old World Underground, Where Are You Now? (2003)
Why: Metric does it all. Whether Emily Haines is screaming her guts out or whispering, she always gets her message across. In their songs you don’t only hear what they’re trying to say through their (mesmerizingly awing) music, you hear it loud and clear through her words. That makes sense though, right? Wrong. Nowadays, it’s definitely hard to find an artist that when you look at their lyrics, you aren’t compelled to think, “Oh, those are the label’s words right there.” Metric music’s has an beautified honesty to it; one that is far too infrequent in today’s music. “Tonight your ghost will ask my ghost: ‘Where is the love?’ Tonight your ghost will ask my ghost: ‘Who put these bodies between us?’”
Owen Pallett - Heartland (2010)
Why: What’s curious about Owen Pallett is his ability to have his music sound delicate and simple on the outside, but upon closer inspection, is gorgeously intricate. Heartland is (according to Pallett) a one-sided dialogue between a farmer named Lewis towards his creator, Owen. Heartland’s songs could be interpreted as symphonic pieces, a soundtrack to a racing video game or even an exercise playlist. No, the album isn’t all over the place, nor is it perfectly docile either. It’s whatever you want it to be.
Sufjan Stevens - Illinois (2005)
The Arcade Fire have been quite busy lately. First there were the secret shows, then playing a hometown festival, while the same weekend they released their latest album The Suburbs. They streamed their New York Madison Square Gardens show live on YouTube, and then played The Daily Show. And Saturday? They headed to Toronto’s Olympic Island to put on a concert.
Unlike other island shows in the past this concert started later in the day, but featured great opening acts nonetheless. Polaris Prize nominees The Sadies opened, followed by Janelle Monae, who really got the show started. Win Butler announced the OutKast powerhouse of a protege, who had the crowd on their feet from beginning to end of her set. The always-stylish Monae appeared on stage with a slick pair of oxfords on her dancing feet and was joined by two masked dancing minions who danced into the crowd and threw balloons. Janelle Monae’s funky dance pop is impossible not to move along to (see Many Moons, Tightrope, or the heart wrenching Cold War). By the end of her set, we were all warmed up and ready for some Arcade Fire!
The lights dimmed, the crowd cheered, and Arcade Fire took to the stage with Ready To Start kicking into what was an energetic, powerful set! Month Of May was filled with vigor and guts, which contrasted to the light on its toes Funeral favourite Neighborhood #2 (Laika) which followed.
From Haiti to Modern Man the set was mostly a mix of The Suburbs and Funeral, with Neon Bible’s Intervention as the only song from the album that made an appearce at Olympic Island. Even the delicate and beautiful Crown Of Love was a lovely little surprise that was snuck in, and even caused some to slow dance! Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), a stand out Suburbs charm, was a highlight as Regines voice soared and the crowd sang along.
Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) and Rebellion (Lies) closed up the set as the audience continued to sing the choral ending ooo-ooo-ooos once the band had left the stage, calling for an encore. Arcade Fire happily agreed, and came back on to play Keep the Car Running. The night was then brought to an end with what else but Wake Up, their signature closing sing-a-long song. Everyone belted their hearts out.
If you have yet to pick up a copy of The Suburbs, what’s taking you so long?! Go give it a listen! Then go see them live! Here are their upcoming Canadian tour dates
MTS Centre Winnipeg, Thu 23rd Sept 2010
Credit Union Centre Saskatoon, Sat 25th Sept 2010
Pengrowth Saddledome Calgary, Sun 26th Sept 2010
Pacific Coliseum Vancouver, Tue 28th Sept 2010
Last night we had Tokyo Police Club hang out in the MuchMusic environment and now we have the band’s first video off their new album Champ. Note the cameos made by Yo Gabba Gabba’s Brobie and a dog named Agnes! Speaking of Champ, you can now hear five songs off the new album, thanks to a sampler streaming at various blogs, like this one, which is also hosting the video.
It feels like forever since we’ve heard new music from Arcade Fire and now that drought has come to an end. The band have put up very, very brief snippets of their new single - both the A-side and B-side. Check ‘em out here.
Japan’s premier stoner metallers Boris have announced a sizeable North American tour including five Canadian dates! Whoa, that’s quite a bit of big muff!
Out of all the indie icons out there Joanna Newsom seems like one of the more reluctant ones to become a cartoon, but the press shy, harp-plucking songstress will appear on The Simpsons. Didn’t see that coming! In a recent interview with the Guardian, she expressed her excitement saying, “Holy shit! I’m a Simpson! I made it! I don’t need a damn Grammy or anything. That’s the sort of magic all this madness is for.” Check out Joanna as a Simpson here.
Mogwai are prepping the release of their new live CD/DVD. The CD is called Special Moves and features 11 tracks, while the DVD is a 45-minute film called Burning that was shot at the band’s sold-out three-night residency at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg in April 2009. Those will be available on August 24th.
Sub Pop has announced details about the debut album from Dum Dum Girls. Titled I Will Be, the LP was produced by Dee Dee herself along with Dee Dee and the legendary Richard Gottehrer (Strangeloves, Voidoids, Blondie, The Go-Gos and, more recently, The Raveonettes) and will be released on March 30, 2010. Oh boy!
Elizabeth Fraser has told the Guardian that despite offers of £1.5 million each, Cocteau Twins will never reunite. The “voice of God,” however, can still be heard on a new single called “Moses.”
Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes told Paste that he “would be fully psyched” to collaborate with Beyonce. This comes after the former Destiny’s Child singer said she’d “love to do something like that” on her next album.
Chunklet has a wicked 40-minute montage of Fugazi on-stage banter to download for free. No band both takes the piss and keeps a crowd in line as good as Fugazi did.
Arcade Fire are indeed hard at work on a new album with Markus Dravs, who engineered their last one, Neon Bible. A member of Mumford and Sons let it slip to BBC 6Music that Dravs has been working on it for six months. Surely they’re close to finishing… surely!
Tags: Arcade Fire, Beyonce, Chunklet, Cocteau Twins, Dee Dee, Dum Dum Girls, Elizabeth Fraser, Fugazi, Guardian, I Will Be, Kevin Barnes, Markus Dravs, Mumford and Sons, Of Montreal, Paste, Richard Gotteher, Sub Pop
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The Flaming Lips have announced that they will release a track-by-track interpretation of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Henry Rollins, Peaches and Wayne Coyne’s nephew Dennis will all contribute.
Jarvis Cocker stepped out for the London premiere of Wes Anderson’s new stop-motion animated flick, Fantastic Mr. Fox, in which Cocker plays a small role. His date for the night? His son Albert, who strikes a remarkable resemblance to his dad.
Former Be Your Own Pet singer Jemina Pearl got a little miffed the other night in Detroit when a fan started heckling her about her old band. Her animal instincts kicked in and then she kicked the snot out of him…
In case you’re looking to get your music fill from every angle, The Independent has compiled a list of the 25 Best Music Websites on the interweb. We were ignored, but there are plenty of other great ones on there.
In case you’re going to see Where The Wild Things Are this weekend, keep in mind that Spike Jonze wrote the whole script while listening to Arcade Fire’s Funeral. Or so he told Ain’t It Cool News.