arcade fire

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BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (EMI)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2007 Arcade Fire: Neon Bible (EMI)

Yes, after the towering success of their debut album Funeral, you will be reading any number of reviews of this lavishly orchestrated, dramatic follow-up by this big Montreal-based ensemble. Let me be the first to say then that there are as many resonances of Echo and the Bunnymen/Teardrop Explodes here as there are of stadium-shaped...

Various: Dark was the Night (4AD)

Various: Dark was the Night (4AD)

This excellent, diverse but coherent double-disc in the Red Hot series commemorates 20 years since the first Red Hot album and is another in the on-going project to raise funds for HIV and Aids awareness. Overseen by Aaron and Bryce Dessner of The National, this collection naturally has a kind of alt.rock/alt.folk slant to it as they first...

Dappled Cities: Zounds (Inertia/Border)

Dappled Cities: Zounds (Inertia/Border)

This Sydney-formed band don't lack the grand gesture: this album is chock full of wide screen, sweeping, heroically realised pop-rock noise propelled by massive guitars, strings, the kitchen sink etc. They do however lack consistent and tight songs which might have allowed this to have greater impact (in the manner of Empire of the Sun, Pop...

2am Orchestra: Impermanence (DJK)

2am Orchestra: Impermanence (DJK)

You'd be wise to put aside any preconceptions of what this music might sound like if you simply guessed from the band's name (dark, slow, ambient?), because David Kelley who is the mainman here aims (with a lot of help from his friends) to be nothing less than Arcade Fire with hints of mid-period Radiohead. This is dramatic music full...

Malajube: Labyrinthes (Shock)

Malajube: Labyrinthes (Shock)

Elsewhere is certainly not immune to charms of Canada: we have acknowledged Arcade Fire, the collective Broken Social Scene, Patrick Watson, the challenge of vocal contortionist Tagaq and others (as well as watching the Anvil doco with tightening sphincter, hailing the droll TV comedy Corner Gas, and delighting in the landscape and people)....

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

Owen Pallett: Heartland (Domino)

If you didn't already know anything about Canadian Pallett, from just a couple of tracks here you'd pick him for an arranger more than a singer/songwriter. Here he unloads a container of electronics (strings, keyboards, loops) into his lyrically dense songs. This is an album which can be as oppressive as it impressive. Pallett has done...

Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back (EMI)

Peter Gabriel: Scratch My Back (EMI)

An album where an artist covers the material of others is hardly a new concept, but you can guess that Peter Gabriel -- the ever sensitive quality controller, with his first album in eight years -- brings something special to the table. Here he is on songs by those of his generation such as David Bowie (Heroes), Paul Simon (Boy in the...

The Antlers: Hospice (FrenchKiss/Border)

The Antlers: Hospice (FrenchKiss/Border)

This may not sound like everyone's idea of an album to listen to -- it is a 10-track concept piece about caring for someone in a hospice who has been emotionally abusive. But whaddya gonna do? They are dying so you can hardly pay out on them. Here New York's Peter Silberman crafts a song cycle of great depth and sometimes alarmingly beauty,...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Mumford and Sons: Sigh No More (Universal)

This four-piece from London may have a banjo on hand and a similar way with an archaic lyric and alt.folk melody as Fleet Foxes, but here on their debut album with widescreen producer Markus Dravs (Arcade Fire's Neon Bible) they bring some dramatic urgency which kicks them clearly into the alt.rock territory. With songs which have a...

MGMT: Congratulations (Sony)

MGMT: Congratulations (Sony)

Anyone who tuned in for the pop-silly, enthusiastic debut Oracular Spectacular by these guys knew they were smart cookies and going to be around for a while: they seemed the perfect post-modern pop package which drew from all kinds of sources with knowing winks and nods -- and are so knowing and winking this time out that on the cover they say...

The Doves: The Places Between; The Best of the Doves (EMI CD/DVD)

The Doves: The Places Between; The Best of the Doves (EMI CD/DVD)

This alt.rock English outfit -- here wrapping up their first decade with a double CD and DVD set -- are one of those bands which people feel passionately about (one of my sons) or just let go right on by. They were nominated for the Mercury Award for both of their first two albums (Lost Souls in 2000, the even better The Last Broadcast two...

Villagers: Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

Villagers: Becoming a Jackal (Domino)

Engrossing though the clear, strong voice of Conor J O'Brien out of Dublin is -- the chief feature of this quietly gripping album -- it is the insistent, poetic first-person, image-carving narratives which become irritating at times. O'Brien frequently writes songs from that perspective of what I call The Knowledgeable One and he will...

Stornoway: Beachcomber's Windowsill (4AD)

Stornoway: Beachcomber's Windowsill (4AD)

Named for a small town in the Outer Hebrides and affecting a kind of folksy pop, Stornoway from Oxford pull light and slightly satirical styles (We Are The Battery Humans with its references to people born to be free-range but preferring to watch television) together with Anglofolk of the Amazing Blondel-to-Fleet Foxes continuum and literary...

Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian/Rhythmethod)

Damien Jurado: Saint Bartlett (Secretly Canadian/Rhythmethod)

With a lovely, sympathetic production by Richard Swift -- sort of budget-priced Phil Spector -- and melodies which swell with Fifties and Sixties pop-romanticism, this is one of those album (like Swift's) which will be taken to heart with a passion by those who discover it. Previously Jurado out of Seattle came at you from the...

Department of Eagles: Archive 2003 - 2006 (Bella Union)

Department of Eagles: Archive 2003 - 2006 (Bella Union)

Department of Eagles became the vehicle for Daniel Rossen and Fred Nicolaus to get their staccato sonic'n'sample experiments and increasingly dreamy pop into the wider world from their university dorm in New York. Initially they were called Whitey on the Moon, then Dept of Eagles . . . and later Rossen became the mainman in the already...

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

BEST OF ELSEWHERE 2010 Arcade Fire: The Suburbs (Merge)

The first film by many aspiring directors is often a low budget affair about hookers, junkies or/and zombies. Being young they believe there is drama (or at least cool dress-ups) in these worlds -- but as many later realise there is more true human emotion and drama in that most mundane of subjects: life in the suburbs. Behind the curtains...

THE BARGAIN BUY: Radiohead; OK Computer (EMI)

THE BARGAIN BUY: Radiohead; OK Computer (EMI)

Just as Achtung Baby and Zooropa represented a watershed period for U2, so The Bends of '95 and especially OK Computer of two years later marked a turning point in Radiohead's still-young career. On reflection it is hard to believe that on just their second album (The Bends) that a band could make such a daring, sideways career move -- and...

The Coral: Butterfly House (Shock)

The Coral: Butterfly House (Shock)

Sometimes sounding like an odd collision in the studio of early Echo and the Bunnymen and America, Liverpool's the Coral here deliver their big songs (big on melody, choruses, drama and references) with enjoyable passion but never quite approach that frisson they had on their thrilling self-titled debut album of '02. However these...

The Antlers: Burst Apart (French Kiss)

The Antlers: Burst Apart (French Kiss)

The previous album by New York's Antlers -- Hospice, reviewed here -- was so impressive musically and in its conceptual ambition I'm at a loss to know why I didn't include in the Best of Elsewhere 2010 list. More fool me. It wouldn't have been to everyone's taste as I noted, but my final line about singer/guitarist/writer Peter Silberman...

AMMP: From the Back of the Sun (ampp.co.nz)

AMMP: From the Back of the Sun (ampp.co.nz)

You have to admire -- and be something in awe of -- this four-piece from Wellington. They set their controls at "epic: stadium width" and manage to write and deliver material which matches that enormous ambition. Living rooms feel far too small for their industrial strength, well-crafted U2-like sound so it's no surprise their new...

U2, ACHTUNG BABY TURNS 20 (2011): The handbrake turn

U2, ACHTUNG BABY TURNS 20 (2011): The handbrake turn

In Dublin, at the end of the final U2 concert on the Lovetown tour in 1989 -- broadcast to 200 million in a live radio link up -- Bono said they would now “go away and dream it all up again”. From a scrappy post-punk band at the start of the decade they had delivered half a dozen albums which connected them with a global...

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