Tag Archives: Arcade Fire

Top Eight Thursday: 24 February 2011

1. Arveene & Misk – Love & Lust
2. Toro y Moi – Still Sound
3. Das Racist – Swate
4. Darwin Deez – Bad Day
5. Chromeo – Hot Mess
6. Beastie Boys – Paul Revere
7. Mark Ronson and the Business Intl – The Bike Song
8. Arcade Fire – Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)

Listen here

Instead of listening to the songs I have been assigned to listen to, I spent last night going through a few pages of RCRDLBL, and this Arveene & Misk song was definitely one of my favorite finds. It’s a solid dancefloor banger, and it’s just very immediately catchy.

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My Top 5 Music Videos of 2010

5. Arcade Fire – “We Used To Wait”

This is obviously on my list for its innovation and new level of fan interaction. (If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a collaboration with Google where you can put in your address and the video is customized with Google Maps footage.) Arcade Fire have always been good at crafting messages that are easy to make personal, so this really takes it to another level. Except when I tried to put in my address, I couldn’t see my house, which I was mildly disappointed in because I live very close to Google. (Fun fact: A guy I went to high school with had a summer job on the Google Maps helicopter photography team. That’s how you know you’re really from the Bay Area.)

4. Jay-Z – “On To The Next One”

I had never really spent very much time thinking about Jay-Z before watching this video. The aesthetic is just mind-blowing, stark and elegant, no excess. This has become my favorite song of the year. (I was unsure if it qualifies as a 2010 song, but it does according to my frantic Googling, so I’m going to go with that.)

3. Das Racist – “Who’s That? Brooown!”

This is another interactive one, as there’s also a game version. (I didn’t do very well on it, I’m pretty sure I let the band get eaten by sharks when I tried to play.) Done in an 8-bit animation style, this video isn’t exactly the height of visual refinement, but it still has a lot to offer. There are hoverboards, Kirsten “I’m suing Vampire Weekend for $2 million” Kennis as a villain, some light Sarah Palin mockery, and more!

2. Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun”

Obviously, I love this song. This is just a great combination of aesthetic purity, layers of cultural references, humor, and a reasonably compelling narrative. It actually sort of reminds me of “On To The Next One” with the way space is used. “Giving Up the Gun” got a decent amount of attention for its bizarre collection of cameos, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon, RZA, and Joe Jonas. Even though this year has been such that the Joe Jonas appearance isn’t as funny now as it was when the video debuted in February, these guests add an ever-so-slightly surreal aspect to it.

Also, it’s hard to resist anything that involves people setting stuff on fire with their eyes.

1. Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand”

I have spent the past two-plus months pretty much wanting to live in this video. I mean, why wouldn’t you? This may not be a particularly ambitious promo in terms of telling a story, but you can’t beat that vibe. You could call the cameos gimmicky, but everyone’s legitimately connected somehow, and Kanye and Pharrell are just so undeniably cool that it shouldn’t even be a question. It’s kind of disappointing that this song never really took off in America the way it has in Europe. Its catchiness is out of control. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Alain and Armand.

Grammys 2011: How far can indie artists go?

Thanks to the power of social networking, I had a wee chat with Filter Magazine’s Twitter account this morning regarding the nominations for the 53rd annual Grammy Awards.

@FILTERmagazine: Do any of you care about the Grammy noms that were announced last night? Like, actually care. Genuinely curious here.

@TheWristbands: There were some surprisingly good choices in there. Vampire Weekend, Arcade Fire, Janelle Monáe, etc deserve recognition.

@FILTERmagazine: But does this recognition mean anything anymore? Debatable!

@TheWristbands: At the very least, it shows that some people have better taste than Katy and Bieber. Hope for the future of creative voices!

@FILTERmagazine: except they both also got noms…

@TheWristbands: Which I wish was a joke. Ultimately, the independent minds will still be respected in the future for more than quick $$$.

I’d like to expound on this in more than 140 characters. If you have paid attention to independent rock music at all this year, you know that Vampire Weekend’s Contra and Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs were not only released to significant acclaim, but they debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts. This has been accordingly rewarded with both albums being nominated for Best Alternative Music Album; The Suburbs is also up for Album of the Year. The success of these albums is a triumph for indie music. However, as noted above, they do not represent the whole of the nominees list by any stretch.

If you know me or have read this blog, you know that I primarily listen to indie music. Over the years, my reasoning behind this has evolved from a high school desire to be cool and different to actually qualifying what I like and dislike. I listen to Vampire Weekend and Arcade Fire because I appreciate things that challenge me intellectually and creatively. Katy Perry and Justin Bieber have nothing to offer me in those respects. It is not so much that they are highly commercial as that they do not present anything particularly interesting or thought-provoking. This is why Kanye West, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, was hailed in the indie community long before he collaborated with Bon Iver–he has a strong artistic vision that is very much his own and not manufactured to the specifications of middle America.

It’s no secret that many indie fans love bemoaning the superficialities that saturate the mainstream. It seems unlikely that albums of the same ilk as The Suburbs and Contra will ever compose a significant portion of the top 40. However, the inclusion of artists such as Arcade Fire, Vampire Weekend, Florence + the Machine, and Janelle Monáe shows that not only are creative, intelligent people making music, but that creative, intelligent people are listening to it. And with that, we may some day have a more creative, intelligent culture. (This is unlikely, but we can still hope.)