Tag Archives: Arcade Fire

ATMIG Blends Authentic Sound With Make Believe Childlike Wonder In Song Trip

23 May

ATMIG impresses with their vaudeville like vibe within their song titled Trip. Blending the right amount of visual elements within the music video, and strong, poignant lyrics setting up a story-like wonderment make everything work together harmoniously. ATMIG sounds very similar in sound to the raw Mountain Goats and the old school acoustic jams. A unique fact about the group includes being the first non-label release under Third Man’s vinyl pressing plant in Detroit. By combining the themes of reality, dreams, and childlike wonder, ATMIG successfully keeps listeners engaged wanting more music to be created from them sooner, rather than later.

For more listening:

The Top 10 Songs of 2013 – Preview

5 Dec

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Rejoice! The Music Court is bringing back the end-of-the-year Top 10 song list. Hooray. It’s the highlight of any holiday season! Ok … maybe it’s just some reading fodder that you can scoff at when you binge on holiday leftovers. For the rest of December, the Music Court will feature our list of the top 10 songs of 2013.

Check out the full-song in-review of The Top 10 Songs of 2010 and The Top 10 Songs of 2011 by clicking on those links, or click on the subcategories on the right-hand side of this page to view individual posts. There is no 2012 list (sorry!)

First, some logistics prior to previewing the list. In order to be considered for this list, the song must have been released in 2013. Yes, this seems obvious. But when I say 2013, I mean that the song may have been released as a single in 2013, or if it was not released as a single, it must have appeared on an album released in 2013. Often songs are released on albums the year prior to when the song is released as a single. This simply provides us with more options.

This list is clearly subjective. It is completely biased to the taste of those at the Music Court. That being said, you can certainly berate us for getting everything wrong. That’s the fun part of these lists. Comment on rankings you disagree with. Give us your top 10! We want to hear from you. Also, please understand that I (Matt) am not the biggest rap/hip-hop fan. Thus, the list is skewed towards pop/folk/rock (my beloved genres). There is a rap song on the list, though. I promise.

So … what songs almost made it on to the list but couldn’t quite supplant any of the top 10 songs? Here is the list leading up to the top 10:

19. “A Song about Love” by Jake Bugg

18. “Afterlife” by Arcade Fire

17. “Southern United States” by Leif Vollebekk

16. “Winter Road” by Bill Callahan

15. “New” by Paul McCartney

14. “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke

13. “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk

12. “365 Days” by ZZ Ward

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But, how? “Get Lucky” and “Blurred Lines” were arguably the two most popular songs in 2013. They should most certainly appear on the top 10 list. You must have something against Pharrell Williams, who is featured in both songs. Credit to Pharrell, by the way. What an amazing year! In June he became the 12th musician in history to hold the #1 and #2 spot on the Billboard Top 100 at the same time … and for two COMPLETELY different songs. Incredible. But, while both songs fall close to the top 10, I do not just go by mainstream success. Both songs are as infectious as chocolate-covered pretzels, but, to me, the top 10 songs all have more enlightened qualities.

And … just missing the top 10. The #11 song of 2013:

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Know the lyric? It is “Demons” by Imagine Dragons, which many of you know because of it was overplayed on mostly all rock stations since it was released as an official single in October of this year. The lyric of the song is powerful; a clear depiction of a protagonist with pernicious flaws. It is somewhat hidden behind the crashing melodies and dramatic harmonies, but the music is just so good. Imagine Dragons certainly knows how to intertwine a catchy melody with hard rock sentiments. It’s a great song. Can you imagine the excellent stuff on the top 10 list?

Be Tuned in on Monday, Dec. 9 for the #10 song on the list! 

Nostalgia

25 Oct

Music is very effective at conjuring up memories; however some songs go further and deliberately evoke nostalgia. It is a powerful emotion than only becomes stronger the older you grow.

An obvious classic is Don McLean’s American Pie. It doesn’t just hark back to better times but a specific day – The Day the Music Died when Buddy Holly and several other musicians were killed in a plane crash. Parts of the song are autobiographical, recounting how he heard about their deaths while delivering newspapers. Writing the song helped McLean come to terms with his grief. From the first line (“A long, long time ago… I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…”), the song is drenched in painful longing for things that have passed. Coincidentally (or not), it has become one of the most played funeral songs. Feel free to spend eight and a half minutes remembering what a great song it is.

Summer of 69 by Bryan Adams is another obvious choice. It may not have the lyrical depth of American Pie, but instead hits the listener with an emotional one-two about a summer of discovering music and adolescent romance. If you’ve ever had a childhood sweetheart, it will be hard not to picture them while listening to this song.

In a record all about looking back on growing up, Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs hits the nail right on the head. It begins with a childhood tale and then proceeds to hammer it home. Win Butler admits every time he thinks he has ‘moved past’ feelings for his childhood home, they catch him again. As if that wasn’t enough, the band worked with Google to create an interactive music video that makes it even more personal, meshing ‘We Used to Wait’ with photos of your childhood home. You can find it here. Prepare the tissues if you watch it.

Gaslight Anthem also trades heavily in nostalgia. All of their songs are told in past tense, telling stories of lost loves and better times. The whole of American Slang could be on this list. One that hits especially hard is their early song Navesink Banks. In it, the narrator walks down by the decaying New Jersey shipyards near his childhood home and says wishfully, “Ah Maria, if you’d have known me then…” In reply, Maria just says, ‘Listen baby, I know you know.’ It’s a powerful moment that says there’s a place for nostalgia, but you have to live in the moment.

Hip hop hasn’t been as quick to embrace nostalgia is it’s a younger genre. Nas’s Memory Lane is noted for its realistic depiction of life in the projects. In the first verse, Nas waxes lyrical about the good parts of growing up, yet after the chorus he is suddenly consumed by memories of lives that had been lost to drugs, prison and street fights. There are no rose tinted memories. His memory lane is gritty and unforgiving, yet he finds himself reminiscing about it anyway.

The Suburbs – Arcade Fire

26 Jul

It was announced this week that Arcade Fire have completed work on their forth albums. Details are sadly short on the ground, but it will be the follow-up to The Suburbs, one of the most critically-acclaimed and sadly forgotten albums of the last few years.

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Whereas their classic 2004 album Funeral was a bombastic ode to childhood, the Suburbs saw the band looking back at their own adolescence through the prism of the places where members Win and Will Butler grew up, the suburbs of Texas. The first few songs capture the uncertainty and boredom of being a teenager in a world ruled by adults, while still managing to create a radio hit in Ready to Start. There’s a heavy sense of nostalgia weighing down on them, a childhood that’s been irreversibly lost.

From there, the album skips on a couple of years. The children – friends, siblings, lovers? – of the early chapters have grown up and are returning home after ‘the markets crashed’ in 2008. The only thing worse than yearning for your youth is having your illusions about it shattered, but that’s what happens. The climax as the album is a two part song called Sprawl. The first one is a mournful, barely musical dirge in which the protagonist attempts to find his old home in the dark and fails, while in the second Win Butler’s wife Régine Chassagne gets to display her vocal talents in an ABBA-inspired track about the daily 9-5 grinding you down. The contrast beautifully sums up the album’s complex and mature themes.

There are a dozen more things I could rave about, from the constant threat of an apocalyptic war that hangs over the early tracks, the clever symbolism of light and darkness throughout or the way it manages to make big statements without ever coming off as pretentious. After the emotionally barren music that we are so often offered nowadays, an album that asks so many personal questions about you comes as a shock.

Full disclosure – it may not be the genre-defining masterpiece I imagine it to be. It may just be the tales of leaving your childhood home struck a chord with me at a time when I was beginning university, leaving a permanent imprint, but that’s exactly what good music should do. It should say the things you can’t and explain the world to you.

The Misfits

14 Oct

I’d like to pay homage to some bands that I haven’t quite gotten to talk about, not because of any faults with these bands, but because they each bring something different to the table.  Whether it be through interesting instrumentation, unique song structure or unique influences, I couldn’t quite fit the following bands into any other category. Here goes nothing.

They may have recently garnered a Grammy for Album of the Year and yet it’s still not the Arcade Fire’s best album.  Don’t get me wrong, the winning album is good, but it gets away from their baroque roots in favor a more modern rock sound.  “Neon Bible” and “Funeral” both sound like complete orchestras as many of the band members play multiple instruments, accentuated as band members switch up what they play during songs (compared to the new album which is more guitar heavy).  The varied instrumentation and the influences of multiple styles of music makes Arcade Fire more than a band that keeps churning out similar sounding albums, but a group of musicians that creates many different cool sounds.

Beirut also features a full band but centers really on a single particular influence not normally heard.  I mean, who listens to Eastern European folk music (like polka) and decides they want to start a band with it?  If you didn’t get the hint, that’s what the members of Beirut did, fusing Eastern European folk music with indie pop sensibilities, highlighting such a global span with songs in other languages, notably French.  Like  Arcade Fire, Beirut does not rely upon the guitar and instead mixes up instrumentation to create music corresponding to their influences.

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