Hipster icons Arcade Fire stopped by BBC Radio 1’s “Live Lounge” today to play some tunes and chat about their upcoming album, Everything Now, out July 28. While in studio, they found time to do the most important thing a band can do in these trying times, which is to deliver a rousing rendition of America’s national anthem: Lorde’s “Green Light.”
The band was backed by a youth choir as they delivered the electric song to radio listeners everywhere. They also sang the title track off their forthcoming record, “Everything Now,” which has seen the release of singles “Creature Comfort” and “Signs of Life.”
While in the “Live Lounge,” singer Win Butler also found time to thank “Our Lorde” for “fighting the good fight.” So, clearly, at least someone gets what’s important in life.
If you tune in to the radio broadcast here, you can listen to the “Green Light” cover at 2:25:05, or to “Everything Now” at 2:04:10. Or, if you’d rather just watch some clips, take a look below and rejuvenate your spirits as we power through to the weekend:
For better or for worse, the prevailing attitude at this year’s CMJ Music Marathon seemed to be “excited and stressed, but less excited and stressed than last year.” Maybe it was because this year’s festival was overshadowed by the hefty lawsuit slapped on its parent company, or the fact that SXSW saw fit to announce its initial lineup during the same week. The entire music industry might have just been saving energy to focus on whatever Arcade Fire does next.
The lukewarm build-up inevitably carried over into the buzzband frenzy itself. For example, the UK culture embassy’s Music Is Great initiative is typically reliable, but at this year’s showcase, only rockers Duologue had the kind of spark necessary to grab attention during the marathon. (The lack of diversity on display might be a strong argument for sponsor Ben Sherman to start making womenswear again, too.) That night aside, there were still plenty of acts who could stand out in the whirlwind.
The Darcys – “The River”
It’s been a good year for Toronto artists, and indie rockers the Darcys are helping make that happen. They took on the unenviable task of following Zeus’ powerful set at their shared label Arts and Crafts’ showcase and managed to keep the energy levels high. Packed with sharp harmonies, the quartet’s new album Warring will please people who were underwhelmed by Local Natives’ sophomore effort, but packs a punch that’s distinctly the Darcys’ own.
Hookworms – “Away / Towards”
Indie rock’s psychedelic revival is steadily growing, and Hookworms are part of the trend’s British boom. At the FADER Fort, the band spoke little and let the relentless wall of sound do the talking. Their attention-getting 60s influences get fused with post-punk drive, and the effect is mind-numbing in all the right ways.
Thomas Azier – “Ghostcity”
Born in the Netherlands, based in Berlin, beloved by France: Thomas Azier is distinctly European, but was more than ready to make his American debut. The singer/producer’s songs come wrapped in black velvet and are made for nights that last just a little too long, and latest single “Ghostcity” is no exception. Azier may have regretted the absence of his backing band as he played his first-ever show in the US, but he held up just fine on his own.
Shine 2009 – “Eurozone”
You don’t hear of much coming out of Finland, but that may be about to change thanks to Shine 2009, who spent last week celebrating the release of second album Our Nation. With songs like “Eurozone” and “Suomen Sydän,” the duo is aware of its outside status, but knows it’s best paired with undeniable pop hooks. The band charmed its way through its set at the Cascine showcase, making for a strong midpoint to the festival.
holychild – “Happy With Me”
Synth-pop has no shortage of relatable frontwomen, but holychild’s Liz Niztico is a welcome addition to the fold. Whether she’s crushing hard or subtly subverting gender roles, she sounds like your new BFF. Producer Louie Diller is the other half of the duo, and the two make sunkissed SoCal jams that are prime for partying or just dancing alone in your bedroom.
The music news this week is calculatedly mysterious, one of those Internet-age things bands do to heighten anticipation to a foaming pitch in the weeks before a big release. The reasoning is: in a world awash with information, a perceived lack of same is interesting. So, what don’t we know about Arcade Fire’s forthcoming LP, Reflektor, out on October 29?
Well, the main thing is we don’t know what the songs sound like. Or what they’re called. Or even how many songs there are! What happened is that an Australian DJ said the band’s new single would be available on September 9 at 9 p.m. (Sydney time? I don’t know, I’m so confused), and the label said something else would happen around then, and a fifteen-secondsnippet from the record showed up on Spotify.
That’s not a ton of clues to go on, but I feel it my duty to wildly speculate here: between the occult-looking album art (a design replicated in an earlier street art campaign—how authentic) and the ghostly, shimmering sound sample, plus the motifs of reflection and mirrors, I think we’re looking at a two-disc deep-space prog-rock album with all the extravagant trimmings. It’ll be about an ultra-successful Canadian band that opens a portal to a parallel universe where the letters “c” and “k” are swapped. I can’t wait to pay those Ticketmaster surcharges.
If you didn’t know that synth-pop pioneers Tears For Fears are prepping a 30th-anniversary edition of their essential new wave debut, The Hurting, well, maybe you don’t like the 1980s as much as you always claim to. The box set is a monster—you get the original album, a disc of singles, B-Sides, mixes and rarities, a third disc of BBC sessions and a DVD with live performances. But this isn’t just a trip down memory lane with some grade-A melancholics.
“Having appreciated artists like Kanye West, Katy Perry, Kimbra, Nas, Gary Jules/Michael Andrews, Adam Lambert & Dizzee Rascal covering & sampling our songs over the past years,” the duo wrote, “we agreed that some reciprocal cross-generational love was in order.” To that end, they’ve given us a take on “Ready To Start,” from Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs.
Equal parts vintage canned strings and contemporary breakbeat, TFF make the song all their own—even the lyrics sound like something they’d come up with. As the vocals ratchet higher, they cleave to some distortion, as if Smith and Orzabal are being sucked through the interfaces of their machines. To take a listen, is to take a step outside of time.
The category for Best Original Song is always a bit of a mess. The songs are rarely judged on how they sound; the importance is, of course, how the song fits into the film for which it was written. This year’s nominees are representative of the usual fare. There’s the popular choice (Adele’s "Skyfall," which will likely win, as it should), the new song for the big-budget musical adaptation (the unnecessary "Suddenly" from Les Misérables), and then there are the forgettable tunes (I didn’t even know what Chasing Ice was before today, much less the song from it). It’s a shame, really, because there were plenty of good tracks included in the list of 75 eligible songs. Here are a few that probably will have a longer shelf life than "Pi’s Lullaby."
Karen O – "Strange Love" (from Frankenweenie)
Fiona Apple – "Dull Tool" (from This is 40)
Rick Ross – "100 Black Coffins" (from Django Unchained)
John Legend – "Who Did That To You" (from Django Unchained)
Sunny Levine – "No Other Plans" (from Celeste and Jesse Forever)
Arcade Fire – "Abraham’s Daughter" (from The Hunger Games)
The Bootleggers feat. Emmylou Harris – "Cosmonaut" (from Lawless)
Florence + The Machine – "Breath of Life" (from Snow White and the Huntsman)
Katy Perry – "Wide Awake" (from Katy Perry: Part of Me)
The Black Keys / RZA – "The Baddest Man Alive" (from The Man With the Iron Fists)
The holiday season isn’t over yet, but maybe your winter ennui has already kicked in. That’s okay, it was going to happen eventually. Stay warm with these songs.
Coeur De Pirate – “Comme Des Enfants”
Even non-French speakers can understand the nostalgia that this Montreal chanteuse taps into. I associate this song with sunnier days, but sweet folk-pop fits every season.
Blur – “For Tomorrow”
Santa didn’t bring me the deluxe box set of Parklive, Blur’s triumphant Hyde Park show commemorating the Olympics closing ceremony, but I guess I kind of forgot to ask him for it. Well, Portlandia’s coming back soon to remind us that the dream of the ’90s is still alive.
The Decemberists – “The Engine Driver”
Speaking of Portland…
Arcade Fire – “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)”
When Arcade Fire release new material next year, it will undoubtedly spark a cycle of both over-the-top fawning and overeager backlash that will dominate my internet life for several weeks. But there’s a reason we started liking them in the first place, and here it is.
Belle & Sebastian – “If She Wants Me”
Is there anything more comforting than listening to truckloads of Belle & Sebastian? I thought not.
The Walkmen – “New Year’s Eve”
It’s that time of year, and though this charming piano ditty is far from a party anthem, it’s perfect for taking a minute to look back.
M. Ward – “Radio Campaign”
You may have had She & Him’s Christmas record on heavy rotation lately, but here’s a reminder that M. Ward’s Transistor Radio hits the singer-songwriter sweet spot.
Badly Drawn Boy – “Something To Talk About”
Nicholas Hoult is all grown up and eating brains now, but we’ll never forget his beginnings in About A Boy. It’s a movie that’s held up over time, as has its theme song.
Camera Obscura – “The World Is Full Of Strangers”
The world may be full of strangers, but there are still friendly faces to be found when sailing the melancholic pop seas with Camera Obscura.
Arcade Fire has always sounded funereal to my ears. But people love them and those people will probably be excited to hear the first recording of an unreleased new song, Crucified Again, which the band performed on Thursday night in New York City.
According to Gothamist, Arcade Fire performed at the 25th anniversary party for Partners In Health, which works to provide healthcare for the poor worldwide, and updated their YouTube page with a video the performance the next day. Crucified Again will reportedly be on their forthcoming album.
Still not my cup of tea, but have a listen if they’re your cup of tea.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.
Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs was one of the most drooled-over albums of 2010, even upsetting Kings of Leon and Eminem at the Grammys and inspiring future listicle collections of teenagers demonstrating their cultural blind spots. So, the 2012 POP Montreal Festival seems like as good of a time as any to take another look at the record and its distinctive, faux-reality-depicting album art.
"The Art of The Suburbs," which runs as part of the festival’s Art POP programming from September 21st-23rd at Nomad Industries, will feature the actual set of the album art as well as other opportunities to discuss and engage with the visuals involved. Three core members of the visual team, Album Artwork Designer Caroline Robert, Art Director Vincent Morriset and Photographer Gabriel Jones will bring festivalgoers into their creative process. There will also be beer, apparently.
The Montreal-based group is heavily involved in this year’s festivities in other ways, too, including Win Butler and Régine Chassagne participating in the POP vs. Jock charity basketball game alongside the likes of The Strokes’ Nikolai Fraiture and actor Martin Starr (Freaks & Geeks, Party Down); and Butler will join Talking Head and general music legend/bike enthusiast David Byrne to discuss his new book, How Music Works. POP Montreal also features performances by St. Vincent and David Byrne, DAM-FUNK, Grizzly Bear, Chilly Gonzales, Peaches, Hot Snakes and more and takes place September 19-23.
If you’re on the Internet and reading this post, there’s a very good chance that you’re one of the zillion people who saw The Hunger Games over the weekend. But there are those of you waiting for the crowds to die down before heading to the theaters, those who won’t ever ruin your tastes with such young adult-adapted pablum, those of you who still don’t know the difference between Katniss and catnip, and many other loosely characterized groups who’ve yet to see the movie. Fortunately, there’s something to unite everyone: Arcade Fire’s "Horn of Plenty," one of the songs that the Canadian supergroup recorded for the film’s soundtrack. We previously heard "Abraham’s Daughter" many moons ago, but "Horn of Plenty" is a little different. Recorded for the score rather than the OST, it’s a swelling instrumental track that’s meant to be the national anthem of Panem, the monolithic state that controls everything in The Hunger Games. Listen to it after the click, via Spin.
As Spin’s Marc Hogan writes, "’Anthemic’ is a made-up word that almost every music critic has probably used at least once. It’s a phrase that’s especially appropriate to the Arcade Fire, whose records have a particular orchestral grandeur and chest-stirring earnestness that can make them feel like national anthems for the stalwart independent underground: not Montreal, not Williamsburg, but some vague, free-floating confederation of anti-corporate humanists."
That it does, and "Horn of Plenty" is especially anthemic, perfect for scoring just about any of your mundane daily activities. Try playing it while rushing to do your taxes and note just how goddamn powerful you feel. The Hunger Games is in theaters right now, and the soundtrack is available for purchase at many fine retail establishments.