Mar 15 Reviews / Surprises

The Arcade Fire got a lot of discussion last week, even though I hadn't reviewed it yet. Feel free to trash me if you think my review is wrong.

I have to mention that two of my reviews this week were big surprises. I thought I would enjoy the Amon Tobin a lot more than I did (based on my enjoyment of his past work) and I didn't think I would care for the Hebden/Reid that much given their past two albums together (but they changed things up nicely and won me over a bit). Any big surprises (good or bad) for you this year?

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Elwin
It's such a good year for music already
Panda Bear
new
new Modest Mouse
new Arcade Fire
new Patrick Wolf
new Andrew Bird
new Do Make Say Think
new Berg Sans Nipple

Each one of those albums has satisfied me deeply!

Jonathan Perry
I'm liking the majority of Neon Bible a lot, but there are certain tracks I just have to skip, which was not true of Funeral.

Sadly one of these is Intervention...to me this song is so melodramatic sounding as to be silly. I can't take it seriously with him wailing about soldiers over all that pipe organ. Also, I find the sounds on Keep the Car Running annoying, and the melody on (AntiChrist Television Blues) really annoying.

But then, I LOVE everything else on the album...so 8/11 is still pretty damn good. Overall I'm happy with where the band is going. It's always good to see a band you like survive their second record intact.

andreas
the new gruff rhys album "candylion" turned out to be a nice suprise, some really catchy and playful stuff.

Elwin
Hey Sebastien, when I saw DMST in 2004, Berg Sans Nipple was touring with them.
They where great live!
So much sound with just 2 people!
It was a wonder to behold :D
great stuff

sebastien
Albums in heavy rotation this year:
Milenasong - Seven sisters (Monika enterprise) restrained music, but so beautiful and moving ! A real surprise for me
Bracken - We know about the need (Anticon), not such a surprise, cause i am a Hood fan
Berg sans nipple - Along the quai (Team love), no other bands sounds like them, imagine DMST ( that i like a lot) going in a tropical area, swapping their guitar for rhodes and marimba...
Bexar bexar - Tropism (own records), the best thing i heard since ages in the field of manipulated guitars
Deerhoof - Friend opportunity (KRS), fun, energy, excentircity, etc...

and i have to admit i expect a lot from forthcoming Panda bear, Blonde redhead, Epic45, Thee more shallows, Arca, DNTEL, Cocorosie, Stars of the lid, Bill Callahan...

Elwin Rijken
Actually Neon Bible ís better than Funural... (ok start throwing tomatoes now) :P :D

Elwin
wow, opinions differ..
But this album.. almost one hour and 14 songs, going from 3:00 min songs to 8:30 min ones. There's so much going on.. I found it to be very divers!
Listen to the violins and banjos on 'Parting of the Sensory' and the lush melodies of 'Florida' the powerhouse drumming on 'Invisible'
The energy is spread throughout perfectly.
Wow.. It really got me hooked.
And I own all the old MM albums too, so I'm already spoiled, but this one seemed very fresh to me!
It's still opinions though, every one has like , just like everyone has an ... ;) (yes Clint, we thank you very much)

Andy
Hmm. I actually find that Modest Mouse incredibly boring, especially when you look at the diversity in their earlier albums But that's just me.

Elwin
Wow... I just got BLOWN AWAY by the new Modest Mouse album.. the new direction (started since Good News) really pays off now!

Massive!
One of the years best alongside Neon Bible and You, You Are A History in Rust

Michael
Ive listened to Neon Bible a few times today, and i'll say again it gets better with evry listen. There's still some tracks im not too mad on, but 8.5 now seems like a fair assessment to me

Elwin
"For those who would have rated the AC lower, I would ask for the names of some indie rock bands (that is, creating somewhat-similar music) that are creating music that's as lush and expansive as Arcade Fire right now? DMST doesn't count because they're mostly instrumental. "

Hey Aaron, you're right about that, but I was counting DMST in. And love that album to the heart.
But I love AF too, they're both giants.
AF is one of my favourite newer bands too, I already own the T-shirt ;P and I surely anticipate their next albums!
But DMST , you got me into, and I've listened to them since &Yet&Yet.
That's a deep love affair.
So what the hell am I mumbling about.
Ow owyeah, you're right about Arcade Fire being one of the best Indie Rock bands out there right now!
(now I'm going to check out the new Modest Mouse album...)

almostcool
I agree with you on the overindulgent production aesthetics. I think this is one of the things that really burned me out on the Flaming Lips. Sure, they sound cool and all, but somewhat along the way I just sorta lost interest in their songs.

I should have used a different word than "expansive" below, as I was more talking about how the Arcade Fire have pulled together so many styles on their newest release. I know that there are those who would argue against it, but I think they're actually still pretty adventurous in terms of the styles and sounds they incorporate.

Oh, and feel free to rant if you want. It's all good.

shane
Frankly, I'm kind of tired of the whole "expansive", "lush", "dramatic" aesthetics. I mean with endless recording tracks available to anyone with a powerful computer it seems that this approach has become the "sound" of 00's! Godspeed kind of started it out and Sigur Ros took it to such a ridiculous level that it really made a parody of themselves. It's become such a cliche at this point. Arcade Fire definitely indulges in this MO as well but at least they write pretty good songs (sometimes) to warrant the excess.
Personally, I'm more interested in what an artist can do with very little and take a sparse arrangement and make the most emotional impact with it.
But that's just me ranting.

Michael
Just re-read your review of "Funeral". Would you say you prefer "Neon Bible" or would you have rated "Funeral" higher than 8.25 in hindsight?

Michael
Some valid points there about Neon Bible. You're right there aren't many bands that are making music as expansive as Arcade Fire.

But I think you could say A Silver Mt Zion, Efterklang, A Hawk and a Hacksaw and even Sigur Ros are up there.

The new Efterklang stuff sounds fantastic by the way.

Neon Bible, though, is growing on me with every listen. Having seen them live last week I would agree they are one of the best bands on the planet right now

almostcool
You're probably correct that it's pointless in that any discussion isn't going to change the mind of anyone about a particular band, but I thought it might make for some interesting discussion nonetheless.

shane
pointless

almostcool
Oh, and I will defend my review of the Arcade Fire. I really do think that they're one of the best indie bands out there. Just because they ended up at #2 on the Billboard charts the opening week that their album came out doesn't make them bad (they share the honor with The Shins album that came out earlier this year).

For those who would have rated the AC lower, I would ask for the names of some indie rock bands (that is, creating somewhat-similar music) that are creating music that's as lush and expansive as Arcade Fire right now? DMST doesn't count because they're mostly instrumental.

almostcool
I've heard a couple songs of the new Of Montreal and for some reason they didn't click with me. It seemed a little too over-theatrical or something for me. Maybe I should give the whole thing a listen from start to finish, though.

I haven't heard the new album from The Marcia Blaine School For Girls, either. I will keep an eye out for it, though.

It seems like there's just an absolute crap-load of stuff hitting starting about two weeks ago and going clear on through May. If even a portion of it turns out to be good, 2007 is going to be a heck of a year for new music.

Ronnie
hey aaron!
i've been blown away by the new of montreal album... it's bursting with ideas. i think you'd really like it (if you don't already).

i've also really enjoyed the album by 'the marcia blaine school for girls', part of which is the village orchestra.
do you have plans to review either of these?

cheers!

Elwin Rijken
one more comment though, I really really love the new DMST album, I would personally rate it higher than the new AF album (which I still find excellent)
new DMST: 8.5
new Arcade Fire: 8.0
but who cares about my ratings anyhow, Aaron's doing all the work! :D
Great job, keep going strong!

marshall
yeah the new battles is insane, will be seeing them with lightning bolt in a few weeks

Will
CocoRosie was a pleasant surprise, my God it's good!

Michael
What I have heard from Battles was quite surprising, but in a good way

larry
JM, nothing personal (or maybe it is).

David
Surprises for me: Explosions In The Sky. I hoped they'd do something different. They didn't which was a surprise and as a result the record is hopelessly bland.

JM
The Arcade Fire album is great and well worth the high rating. There is so much detail in the album and it is well above 'top notch' Top 40. There are recycled ideas in every album you listen, too. Just a fact. At least there is a lot of energy and emotion in Neon Bible which is more then I can say for quite a bit of music these days.

John V
Definately way more credit than deserved to the new Arcade Fire. I would say 6.5 - 7.5 range. Its opener is trash! I dont know, I just think its a decent album with streaks of brilliance thrown throughout.

larry
Grizzly Bear is pretty good, but hugely overrated in my opinion. Arcade Fire is top-notch Top 40 but not much more than that. Aaron, I think you may be getting conservative in your music listening habits these days. hehe.

Michael
What I have heard of the new Thee More Shallows sounds brilliant. And they are now signed to the ultra cool Anticon, you should check out SJ Esau too on that label

Elwin
Hey Aaron, well I think 'Neon Bible' is brilliant!
I love scopy dramatic stuff, really Barok! Hehe, for me it's a logical follow up, maybe not surprising but very very well crafted.
As long as they keep throwing this energy at me, I'm not getting tired of their music at ll.

Alex
Well.... It's last year's album, but I really didn't think much of Grizzly Bear, until I listened to it a couple of months ago and simply was blown away.
As for disappointments, I will say that the upcoming Thee More Shallows is really good, but can't hold a candle to the brilliant More Deep Cuts.
Another highlight album this year is the new Do Make. Definitely a great album, but pretty much par for them.

I still don't know if I will be listening to the new Arcade Fire. Funeral, much like BSS's You Forgot it in People, burned a bright but brief flame with me until I quickly got sick of it.

gungdin
Yeah, Springsteen, Bowie, Echo & the Bunnymen...lot's of recycled ideas. Couple of nice moments though I'd give it more like a 6 or a 7.

Michael
I agree for the most part, Neon Bible is pretty good, although i don't think i would give it as high a mark as 8.5.

You are not the only person to remark on the springsteen comparisons either

Chris
Two surprises off the top of my head:

1) That the Apostle of Hustle album just isn't doing anything for me.

2) The Radical Face album is such a huge step up from his other Electric President project.