REVIEW: ARCADE FIRE – THE SUBURBS

FOR DISCORDER MAGAZINE

It’s been three years since Neon Bible was released, the most groundbreaking work from the indie rock outfit Arcade Fire. The album was completely electrifying—with hauntingly beautiful riffs and the screams of frontman Win Butler—Montreal certainly made a name for itself on the international scene.

Arcade Fire’s third full-length The Suburbs is extremely different compared to their past work, but is an excellent new chapter for the group. Based on childhood tales of Win and his brother William (who plays keys) growing up in Houston, the songs on the album sound much like a lovelorn letter to naivety and suburban wonder, with just the right amount of tentative diffidence.
The title track opens up with a piano-heavy riff sounding somewhat inspired by Billy Joel, and sets the tone for a mellowed, completely honeyed Arcade Fire experience. With the exception of “Month of May,” which sounds like something Sonic Youth could have written, the album strays away from anything distorted or sonically experimental. One standout track, “Rococo,” is probably the best thing on the record. It’s got crescendo in all the right places, with Win delicately whispering the song’s title in a way that sends shivers right down the spine. With words like “Let’s go downtown and talk to the modern kids/ They will eat right out of your hand/ Using great big words that they don’t understand,” it’s pretty easy to conjure up this kind of imagery when the lyrical component is so universally understood.

For a group that seems like they’re carrying the weight of the world on their shoulders, this album is seamless and lacks any kind of undeserved pretension. With BBC critic rightfully describing The Suburbs as their OK Computer, this is without a doubt their masterpiece.

Listen to “Rococo” here.

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REVIEW: JDH – ARMS LEGS FEET

FOR DISCORDER MAGAZINE

Mixed at Buena Vista Audio in Langley, BC, an unlikely locale to spawn such a promising work of indie-tronica, JDH’s debut album is downright excellent. With his delicate voice and superb computer-music skills, this album should be categorized in the same vein as heavies the Postal Service, Frou Frou and Vampire Weekend. Taking four years to record, Arms Legs Feet is a paragon of technical execution, meticulous editing and soulful lyricism.

While the album is a collage of covers ranging from Sufjan Stevens to Fugazi, it’s not a creative cop out in the least. “Quiet Noise,” a stripped-down, almost vintage-sounding track, is hypnotic, and chronicles the musician’s plight since he started the project. During the time it took to make Arms Legs Feet, JDH survived cancer, had a baby and broke both wrists after a 12-foot fall. With the soft crooning and slightly honeyed tragedy in his voice, “Quiet Noise” is a perfect summation of this artist’s life events.

JDH doesn’t work in a vacuum either. The tragic passing of drummer Devon Clifford of You Say Party! inspired him to release “Wake/Sleep Prince,” a single released under  Branches, one of his many side projects.

This review would be remiss not to mention that JDH—which stands for Jonny Dylan Hughes—is a pretty badass name sure to garner more attention for his innovative and brass approach to electronic pop music.

Polaris Prize Long List announced

The 2010 Polaris Prize long list was released yesterday, and boy is it tasty. Now in it’s fifth year, the Prize seeks out talented Canadian musicians and awards them a hefty monetary award to cover the recording costs of a new album. I’m no juror, but I’ve got a short list of my own.

1. Caribou, Swim.

What do you get when you combine an IQ of 200 and a genuinely breathtaking sense of whimsy? You get Dan Snaith. Part human calculator, part unrestrained musical darling and full blown crazy.

2. Dan Mangan, Nice, Nice, Very Nice

This album name also aptly describes Mangan’s ass. But seriously. He’s got a gorgeous voice, which can be raw and throaty at just the right times.

3.Plants and Animals, La La Land

I’m a believer that having a 1:2 French:English ratio is great for a band. This trio has grown immensely from their debut Parc Avenue, after mastering the Montreal-summer sound and rediscovering distorted riffs and fuzzy pedals. Plus, the album was released on 4/20.

4. YSPWSD!, XXXX

Despite an incredibly successful year, the tragic death of drummer Devon Clifford recently put this Abbotsford rock outfit in a tough place. Creatively, XXXX has some downright catchy beats, the proper amount of ferocity and a full dose of lyrical sophistication. Bravo.

5. Shad, TSOL

Shad’s come a long way. Witty, well-spoken and thoughtful beyond his years, this hip-hop artist has some serious talent that is finally showing up on the national radar. Respect.

Arcade Fire release two teaser tracks

Arguably one of the most predominantly powerful bands that really got Montréal music out to the rest of the nation, Arcade Fire recently baited fans with two songs from their upcoming The Suburbs. Being released by Merge Records on August 3, this is the rock collective’s third full-length offering.

Hosted by Soundcloud, you can listen to the following track by following the links below:

“Ready to Start” here

“We Used to Wait” here

This band has been making some pretty epic albums so far. In 2008 they won two awards, a Juno for Alternative Album of the Year and the Meteors Best International Album award for Neon Bible.

diskJokke’s “En Fid Tid” -> album review

Norwegian producer Joachim Dyrdahl (AKA diskJokke) has been very busy since his 2008 release Staying In. Now with his latest offering, En Fid Tid, which translates loosely into “a happy time” in his native tongue, Dyrdahl’s mastery of juxtaposition has come into maturity. The album opens on a trippy, contemplative note with “Reset and Begin,” a catchy, thumping tune that features space-like synths and futuristic electronic beats. Another standout track is “Bastard Alliance,” a slick synth piece that bridges musical elements of disco and samba in a seemingly effortless gesture. After studying mathematics for the last eight years, diskJokke’s technical skills can be heard all over the album, from spacey, psychic melodies to disco-inspired anthems, Dyrdahl’s showing a lot of electronic promise.

diskJokke MySpace

Smalltown Supersound website

Kaskade’s “Dynasty” -> album review

The playboy of high-fashion house music is back with his seventh full-length album, Dynasty, and it certainly does say something about his posterity. The Chicago-based producer, whose true name is Ryan Raddon, has pumped out 12 very infectious dance anthems, a few of which are quite good. Featuring the vocal talents of Martina Sobara from Dragonette, the song “Fire In Your New Shoes” adds an entirely retro, almost analog-inspired style of electronic music, not to mention a refreshing Canadian flavour to the mix. With the help of Haley, Kaskade’s go-to vocalist, the song “Don’t Stop Dancing” sounds a lot like “I Remember” from his last offering, but with a heightened appreciation of the female voice. It would be remiss not to mention “Only You,” a collaborative piece with Tiesto and Haley. It’s the heaviest, darkest, most atmospheric piece on the album, breaking out experimental glitches and electronic burps, which is something uncommon in Kaskade and Tiesto’s work. Despite the borderline-unpleasant aesthetic of the bright pink and gold CD packaging, the album is successful in all the ways that count, and particularly for an artist who’s been on the road constantly, Dynasty must have been an ambitious project.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQTedx7l8wg&feature=related]