Category Archives: Arcade Fire

Public Humiliation Be Damned: My High School Soundtrack

That’s right. I’ve decided to bare all (okay–some) and put my high school soundtrack online. It’s part of the Owl Mag’s High School Reunion feature, and I’m this week’s victim. My intro is below, but you’ll have to check the site for my tunes.

As I was coming up with this playlist, I realized: I’ll know the lyrics to these songs for the rest of my life. That may only help me with karaoke or Trivial Pursuit: 2000s Edition, but it just goes to show that you can never really escape high school. I spent my adolescence blissfully unaware of my lack of coolness, embracing my status as a music nerd (choir, vocal jazz) and generally enjoying those four years of braces and bad haircuts. I realize now that my small high school was unusual: it wasn’t plagued by cliques, and many of the alleged cool kids were also music nerds. It probably had something to do with our bizarre but quaint hometown; Carmel, smack dab in the middle of the California coast, is home to everything from the Carmel Bach Festival to Clint Eastwood. We grew up with the Monterey Jazz Festival in our backyard, and even as I was listening to OK Go I was also delving into Ella Fitzgerald.

High school awakened my passion for music discovery. Sure, many of those discoveries kind of suck–I’ll admit that I had an embarrassing love of The Killers, and even a brief but awkward Green Day phase. I spent my time making mix CDs for friends and for my coffee shop shifts, filling them with Spoon or Feist or whatever struck me that week. I started collecting concert t-shirts, and taking guitar lessons (those failed miserably). I sang everything from Italian art songs to jazz standards to Motown. They were baby steps, yes–but as I said, you can never really escape high school. I’m glad to have left much of my pre-adult self behind, but I’m even gladder that part of it stuck with me: because, after all, I’m still a music nerd. Just hopefully a little less awkward. (Read more.)

Bridge School Benefit Announces Line-Up: Mumford & Sons, Arcade Fire, and More

The 25th annual Bridge School Benefit in Mountain View (which takes place October 23rd and 24th) has just announced its lineup. As usual, it’s a great selection of big-time bands and artists:

Arcade Fire
Foo Fighters (Day 2)
Beck (Day 1)
Eddie Vedder
Mumford & Sons
Tony Bennett (Day 2)
Los Invisibles featuring Carlos Santana
Jenny Lewis
Diana Krall (Day 1)
Dave Matthews
Neil Young

Coachella Recs

One of these days, I’ll make it to Coachella. The main problem (other than the fact that this year’s tickets sold out like that) is that Cal Day is the same weekend, every year. Cal Day is the main event for incoming freshmen at Berkeley–so all of us club participants try to entice them with our info sessions and obvious coolness.

The only good thing about Cal Day is that they’ve been bringing bands up for the occasion. And not lame bands, either. Last year was Cold War Kids, and this year it’s the Dodos. Not to mention, the Bay Area gets a flood of concerts known fondly as Fauxchella–so I’m not left completely high and dry (we also have The Lonely Island coming to Amoeba Berkeley for Record Store Day).

Nonetheless, if I did have the coveted Coachella tickets, these bands would be on my agenda:

Crystal Castles
Who doesn’t want to see Alice Glass go batshit on stage?

Cut Copy
The Australian synthpop band is actually coming to the Bay Area on Saturday and Sunday, but tickets sold out faster than you can say “shrimp on the barbie”. Their most recent album, Zonoscope, is fantastic from start to finish, and has dominated my iPod since its February release.

The Black Keys
The Grammy-winning blues rockers need neither an introduction nor justification: I’m sure they’re making most people’s Coachella list.

The Drums
The Drums’ lighthearted songs have lodged themselves in my brain for aaaaages now. And even though I’ve been perfectly okay with that, I feel like the only solution would be to see them live. Their brand of catchy pop would be perfect for the Indio heat.

The Morning Benders
I’ve got to support a band from Berkeley–and thankfully, they make it really easy by creating wonderful music. I fell in love with the Yours Truly session above, as well as their cover of Talking Heads’ “Pull Up the Roots”. But obviously all of debut album Big Echo is fantastic.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
I reviewed the music video for their most recent single, “Heart In Your Heartbreak”, for The Owl Mag. It’s totally adorable. I’m also going to try to catch their free in-store at Amoeba SF on Tuesday the 19th.

The Rural Alberta Advantage
Maybe I’ve spent too much time working in a quirky yet upscale retail establishment (Anthropologie), but I know the Rural Alberta Advantage was in my consciousness before I realized who they were. I’m about 99.9% positive that “Don’t Haunt This Place”, from 2009’s Hometowns, made it onto the Anthro radio station, and I would bet a good deal that you’ve heard it somewhere too. But the rest of that album, as well as their March-released sophomore album (Departing), is just as excellent as their most well-known song.

Also: Cold Cave, Cold War Kids, Sleigh Bells, Tame Impala


Animal Collective

Arcade Fire
Double duhhhhhhh. Can you say ‘Grammy Winner’? Also, saw these guys a billion years ago promoting Funeral, and a marching band showed up while a fight broke out on stage. It was awesome.

Freelance Whales
Full disclosure: I’ve never given Freelance Whales the listening time they deserve. The genre-bending New Yorkers get rave reviews from, well, everyone. I’d love to check them out live.

Here We Go Magic
The catchy electro tunes of Here We Go Magic may veer from Luke Temple’s folk beginnings, but it’s great stuff. For us stranded Bay Areanites (Bay Areans just sounds terrible), we have to wait a bit longer–the band is going to be at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco on May 2nd.

Mumford & Sons
This blog could probably be renamed “An Ode to Mumford & Sons”. So obviously they’d be pretty high up on my list of Coachella must-see bands.

The Swell Season
No joke, I would probably buy Coachella tickets JUST for the Swell Season. I fell in love with all things Glen Hansard several years ago, and the Oscar-winning Once is without question my favorite movie. I remember, my first year of college, they were playing somewhere in the Bay for around twenty bucks–but, being an ickle freshman, I didn’t have anyone to go with and didn’t want to trek into the city alone. I still kick myself for missing such a steal. This pair has almost superhuman passion, and I would love to see them live.

The Tallest Man On Earth
The Tallest Man On Earth is the beautiful folk project of Kristian Matsson. I’m in love with his gravelly voice and lovely songs–this Daytrotter version of “I Won’t Be Found” gives me the heebie jeebies, it’s so gorgeous.

Trampled By Turtles
The fast-paced bluegrass/alt-country band Trampled By Turtles would be a blast to see live. Just listen to the instrumentals on “Wait So Long”–these guys have crazy energy.

Also: Bright Eyes, Broken Social Scene, Delta Spirit, Foals, Francis and the Lights, Jenny and Johnny, Thao with the Get Down Stay Down, The New Pornographers, The Radio Dept., Two Door Cinema Club, Yelle


Best Coast
I feel like Coachella is MADE for bands like Best Coast. Hipsters will be drawn to this stage like…well, hipsters to fountains of free PBR.

City and Colour
City and Colour, the solo project of Alexisonfire’s Dallas Green, has generated quite a bit of buzz for his sweetly-sung tunes. I’d love to make a clever Canadian joke, but I can’t think of one at the moment–but let’s just say Coachella may be a better indicator of success than one of those ‘JUNO’ things (which he won in 2006 for Best Alternative Album. And I’m totally kidding, by the way).

Duran Duran
Uh, they’re Duran Duran. ‘Nuff said.

Kanye West
Uh, it’s Kanye. ‘Nuff said.

The above video should actually be all the explanation needed. Especially for everyone at Coachella who might be…under the influence. Of anything.

The National
The National is another one of those bands that I haven’t really given its due. I missed them at 2010’s Treasure Island Music Festival, but I’ll catch them one of these days.

The Presets
Check out this remix. It’s addicting.

Also: Angus and Julia Stone, Ellie Goulding, Jack Beats, Phosphorescent, the Strokes.

Blog Fail

Hello delightful readers,

I have to apologize for the massive blog post shortage over the past few weeks. Besides the ridiculously heavy work load for school, I’m also moving–which means most weekends find me putting baby pictures in boxes and throwing away six year old movie ticket stubs. I’ve now realized that there isn’t a whole lot that separates me from the people on Hoarders.

Anyway, I’m supposed to be reading about freak shows right now (we rhetoric majors have all the fun), but expect increased activity in the next few days.

In the meantime, enjoy this short playlist of study jams du jour.

The Acorn, Restoration (Four Tet Remix) (YouTube)
Anais Mitchell, Wait for Me (feat. Justin Vernon) ( YouTube)
Arcade Fire, Rococo (YouTube)
Beach House, Used To Be (YouTube)
Broadcast 2000, Rouse Your Bones (YouTube)
The Drums, Down By the Water (YouTube)
Johnny Flynn, Churlish May (demo) (YouTube)
Laura Marling, Don’t Ask Me Why (from album #3!) (YouTube)
Left with Pictures, June (YouTube)
Mumford & Sons, Nothing Is Written (YouTube)
Of Montreal, I Feel Ya Strutter (YouTube)
Peggy Sue, Lover Gone (YouTube)
Ra Ra Riot, Keep It Quiet (YouTube)
Stornoway, Watching Birds (YouTube)
Timber Timbre, Demon Host (YouTube
Wild Nothing, Golden Haze (YouTube)

Happy studies and happy listening!

Arcade Fire Knows Where You Live.

Apple taught us that a tech company can launch a music career. Their well-placed song selections have sent Feist and others to semi-superstardom; Mashable calls it “the Apple Effect“. And while promotion is a two-way street, it’s much rarer to find a band launching tech (product placement in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” video notwithstanding).

Uber-hip Canadian rockers Arcade Fire have done exactly that with the release of The Wilderness Downtown, an interactive film supporting the new single off their album The Suburbs. “We Used To Write” provides the background and content cues for Chris Milk’s innovative video project, which uses HTML5 and was designed for Google Chrome. It’s certainly the most compelling endorsement of a web browser–well, ever, and utilizes the popular Google Street View to create an individualized user experience. The nifty effects and touches not only highlight the potential of HTML5, but the seemingly limitless possibilities for future music videos and other experiential music projects. Furthermore, Arcade Fire et al definitely get Internet buzz generation: not only has The Suburbs already been dominating the blogosphere, participants in The Wilderness Downtown can share their personalized films and digital postcards with their friends and networks.

Arcade Fire and their web developer friends are part of the music industry’s rapidly shifting landscape. If a music video doesn’t even have to be (entirely) a video, what’s next? Maybe I should give MTV a little more credit for switching their programming away from actual music. Perhaps they just saw the writing on the wall–or, in this case, computer screen.