The Tunes lives. The problem with life is that it gets in the way of the things that matter. Like discovering and sharing new and important songs. It's easy to let homework, work work, and other things crowd out one's priorities. But as I said before...The Tunes lives, and I'll make no other apologies, onto music. There are 2 bands I want to mention today. Both are awesome. Have you ever felt the need to be "pumped up"? I know you're thinking, "Rage Against the Machine, Duh." and I really can't disagree with that, but let's broaden our horizons. In fact, let's get out of our country all together and fly across the Atlantic to the UK. We Were Promised Jetpacks and Archie Bronson Outfit are 2 bands that have never failed to kick me into shape when I needed it. Lifting weights? I prescribe Quiet Little Voices (WWPJ) or Blood Heat (ABO). Fighting something? Thunder and Lightning (WWPJ) or The Wheels Roll On (ABO). The singer of each band yells atonally in a manner that just fits for any kind of stressful situation. Jetpacks hail from Scotland and Archie is very obviously very british. And while the former does maintain a rhythmic and clean sound with interludes of calm and even hints of vocal melody in many songs. Bronson does not. Every song on the album Fur is pounding, distorted, and grindingly great. If you're asking "Cale, I only have one set of ears and time is money which should I listen to?" then I'll respond with a stare of disbelief, then I'd humor you and say this..."Ok Gordon Gekko, WWJP had come a long way since their battle of the bands roots in 2003 where they first got their start. Symphonic intros and outros and soothing breaks in their pounding sound do wonders at making the aggressive riffs more aggressive by comparison. You won't feel angry when you listen to them, you'll feel inspired and powerful. Meanwhile, if you need to dredge through a task you need the Outfit. Their sound isn't pretty and they have stayed true to the underproduced garage sound they have been known for since the beginning. Neither is better or worse in my opinion, so make time for both" Wall Street can wait.
A couple posts ago I blogged about the song Skinny Love, and that song in particular has opened a new door to a the sub-sub-genre of Surfer Indy Rock. Although that sounds overly niche-y, who doesn't want to imagine themselves laying on a beach with some chill tunes riding on the salty breeze overhead? Everyone. I mean No one. Everyone has a beach, breeze, tunes, fantasy. Now the bands I've listened to aren't all necessarily of the Jack Johnson soothing-melody type. For example, Sufer Blood, a Florida band whose songs are about as calm as it's album cover: A huge shark leaping out of the water with tooth-ed mouth agape. Titles like Swim and Fast Jabroni evoke tropical images of tearing up waves rather than seaside coconut drinks. S.I. Rock runs the gamut of intensity from lazy to pounding, but the song Lost Coastline from Okkervil River runs the entire course within it's 5:31 second lifespan. Ahhh...I love this song. Actually, I'm going to stop blogging to listen to it right now.
A musically inclined friend once told me that when an album tells a story, it's called a concept album. Songs relate to each other and characters are mentioned multiple times. Even the music is intended to show passing of time and emotions. It's not something bands do, or should for that matter, on their debut albums but this is Arcade Fire's 3rd and It feels right at home. Now a couple personal notes that affect my review, consider this a disclaimer. I rarely listen to entire albums. I usually find myself craving variety about 3 songs in. And 2nd, I have a longstanding aversion to the suburbs. TS by AF may have changed my mind on the first note, and reinforced my 2nd. The album itself is very varied (avoid that word combo in the future). The album opens with a light-hearted intro, the title track, that seems to paint suburb life very well. It introduces us to 2 characters. The narrator and his friend. I'm reminded of Heroin Bob and Steve-O from SLC Punk in a few respects (anarchy not being one of them). They are obviously kids grown up with privilege hoping to run counter to it. The friend being the leader and the singer following. The tone shifts dramatically with Ready To Start, track 2, and the tension of someone trying to be different is palpable. It's stark contrasts like the dissonance between tracks 1 & 2 that made this album exciting to listen to from beginning to end. The body of the album details the youthful rebellion of the characters and the tunes chronicling it are solid. A gear shift happens again at Suburban War. The friend seems to abandon his counter-culture clash and conform. The narrator sings of searching for him, with literally or for the old attitude I'm not sure but this is my 2nd favorite track. It's the one that made me buy the album. Now, my favorite song is not about the 2 familiar characters. In fact after Suburban War the album seems to take a less concept approach. My favorite song, the one I can put on repeat and listen to all day is The Sprawl pt. 2. With female vocals it's a haunting tribute to the battle against the clock-punching repetitive existence. The singer's voice reminds of some of the powerful female rockers of days gone by like Heart and Blondie. If you like neither make your own comparison. But love or hate the suburbs there's something for you in the album of the same name by Arcade Fire.