Sorti de derrière les fagots, un petit inédit de Wolf Parade qui traîne depuis bientôt 6 mois, mais dont je ne me lasse pas. La patte psychédelique et la voix de Spencer Krug, les rugissements de guitare de Dan Boeckner, un final à tiroirs. Revenez vite les gars, vous me manquez déjà.
NDPaul : J’avais fixé une règle arbitraire et stupide à Nicole pour ce top canadien. “Pas d’Arcade Fire, j’en ai déjà parlé. “
Finalement, je suis très heureux qu’elle ne m’ait pas écouté.
The original rules forbade me to do this, but I’m doing it anyway, I’m sorry Paul. God knows this tour de force is near or on top of everyone’s list, sometimes twice, but for good fucking reason. Initially, it was the epitome of what the blogosphere likes to call “a grower” (I too shuddered at “Month of May” at first, speculating that the end had finally come for everyone’s favourite indie-but-not-really supergroup). My reaction was tepid – The Suburbs was merely okay, even – dare I say it – forgettable. I think releasing those two “teaser” tracks was a mistake, not only because one of them was the worst ever, but it is the ensemble of this album that is required to fully understand and appreciate its magnitude, truth and gravitas. The latter came slowly, but when it hit me at the live show, (during Rococo, isn’t that weird?) I was converted. Something clicked and, I understood, finally, what all the great big fuss was about. (Wake Up brought me to tears, but that’s another story.)
I can almost hear you out there: enough gushing, get to the content. I hate to do this again, but truly, everything has been said. I promise that I have original thoughts sometimes (such as: I feel like/hope that one day my ne’er-to-exist children or perhaps grandchildren will ask what it was like “back then”, and all I will have to do is play this album and they will know and understand everything. After all, each and every word is Win’s advice to the kids, us kids, in all our naive wisdom). ANYWAY kudos plz to the world-famous Winestock Brothers (Grant and Brett, respectively) for setting down my exact thoughts on The Suburbs, the greatest album 2010 year has known:
Arcade Fire have always had something to say about civic planning. In retrospect, it seems like it was only a matter of time before all the neighbourhoods connected by tunnels on Funeral were realized as an even grander rendering of suburbia. Win Butler is no longer simply digging tunnels from window to window, but driving home to Houston on an underground highway. The idea of tunnels remain, and indeed that same sense of intimate subterranean life proliferates the album, but it all suddenly seems so much bigger. No longer do Butler’s visions apply to local neighbourhoods and the dirt dug tunnels running underneath neatly kept backyards but rather interstates dug under entire expanses of the continent, delivering us home from one North American suburb to another. It is the suburbs understood in a way that only a generation that didn’t invent them can: as a circuit board where the currents of energy run out of sight and the act of lighting up the generic grids of the surface world is achieved only as a result of the electricity that is carried in the wires (tunnels) beneath them.
It took me a long time to really like this album. I’d never loved Funeral or Neon Bible as much as other people seemed to and I was convinced in my own mind that this album would be no different. After being, essentially, force fed the album a few times by Sam, I became aware that the Arcade Fire were voicing something that only seems on a cursory listening like it has been said a million times before but in all actuality has very rarely been said at all: the suburbs are horrible, but ours- we may not have made them, but they did, to a large degree, make us. There is nothing “ironic” on this album and that fact alone is what makes it so ambitious and vital. Win Butler has said that the album is “neither a love letter to, or an indictment of, the suburbs” yet there is something very close to love here none-the-less. It may not be a love letter or a romance novel, but The Suburbs at its heart is about not despising something that we have been trained our entire ironic and facetious liberal youth lives to despise. We have been taught to despise it without considering our own personal relationship with it enough, or at least not well enough. And like any good love story, that process encompasses the sadness and hate that is sometimes inseparable from the largest and most important relationships we form during our growing up.
The idea makes me also think about the fact that only a Canadian group could have insight like this. In many ways, growing up in Canada is like growing up in the United States massive suburban expanse and I’m moved to remember fellow Canadian supergroup Rush in this moment who thirty years ago envisioned the suburbs as “Sprawling on the fringes of the city/In geometric order/An insulated border/In between the bright lights/And the far unlit unknown.” Win and William Butler also lived a great deal of their youth in Houston, and I think this has only helped develop their insight into the relationship of the city, to the suburbs, to the entire hulking United States to Canada itself. In the end The Suburbs is made up of the same stuff as Rush’s Subdivisions and the concluding line of that song: “a memory of lighted streets on quiet nights…”
In March of this year I was having a conversation with some total stranger and we were talking about all the things you talk about with someone you don’t know. When I told him I grew up in Richmond Hill he went off on some misguided rant about how much he hates it despite the fact that he had only ever driven through it. I was offended – yes, there is nothing to do there, everything looks the same, it’s an awful place – but that’s still somebody’s home, that’s still where someone grew up. It was the first time I realized my relationship to the suburbs was a lot more complex than the blind hatred I had awarded it. And then a few months later Arcade Fire released this amazing album that awarded that feeling all the rich complexity and variance it deserved. I realized that what I wanted to say to that stranger back in March was that all he sees are the kids and the buses longing to be free and the wasted hours before we knew where to go and what to do. But he doesn’t realize that those were the wasted hours we made new, and turned into a life that we can live.
5. Postdata – s/t
There is so much to love about early Wintersleep – the phenomenal drumming, enigmatic/poetic lyrics, jarring melodies and epic “buildup” songs like Nerves Normal, Breath Normal and Migration. but the one aspect that stands out for me has always been paul murphy’s incomparable voice, arguably most beautiful at its most sincere (i.e., the “quieter” songs). I’ve attended more of their shows than I can count, waiting eagerly to hear Listen [Listen, Listen] or the even rarer People Talk just to bask in that shy, whispering honesty.
I associate Wintersleep with my very first forays into the world of indie music. I remember seeing them live for the first time at the now defunct Underground in downtown Hamilton, in 2005 – I was so taken by murphy’s soulful vocals and poetic lyrics, especially the way he managed to get the entire crowd to sing along to “migration” as if in a trance… the intimacy of that show (the only light came from these wicker bears twined with twinkling christmas lights) was captivating, and ever since i’ve been victim to this unshakeable weakness for strong, deep male vocals (cf. The National, Jens Lekman, The Constantines, etc etc…)
Sadly, like many an independent band gone mainstream, Wintersleep simply ain’t what they used to be (I should probably save that whole deal for another article…) thankfully, Paul Murphy’s new side project Postdata shines like a glimmer of hope that essence of wintersleep is still alive, stripped bare and articulated with stunning clarity. Murphy’s Postdata alter-ego has found the words and the confidence to create songs that are equally disarming, having shrugged off the endless layers of heavy sound so integral to Wintersleep‘s “epicness”. Now, it’s just Paul and his guitar (okay, and his brother…) and the result couldn’t be more pleasing to fans of that pre-mainstream band we once thought dead and gone.
4. Caribou – Swim
Everyone knows that Dan Snaith(a.k.a. Manitoba, a.k.a. Caribou) is a genius in most regards and this album is yet another testament to that fact. Swim is onomatopoeic, it flows and belongs underwater or at least came from the depths. The whole thing feels just like the word sounds, it sounds as it feels to have the waves wash over you sometimes gently, sometimes forcibly, always with reassuring constancy and almost calculated rhythm. I think Jamelia or especially Found Out would be perfect to listen to while scuba diving, if you could do that. Odessa is probably the soundtrack to being chased by an angry mob of merpeople. Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… (and see the live show, so that you can know precisely what it means to lose yourself to a beat).
3. Owen Pallett – Heartland
It is common knowledge that Owen Pallett is a genius as well, albeit heaps more fanciful than his fellow Southern Ontarian. A long-lost friend wrote a fantastic description of this masterwork, far better than anything I could ever devise, so with a tip of my hat to Katie Jensen over at Music Between Friends, here comes some blatant plagiarism:
If I could live inside music, I would live inside the music of Owen Pallett. It’s well-known that he creates conceptual, almost fairy-tale-like album concepts, each song contributing a little piece to the album story arc. Heartland tells the tale of a young farmer named Lewis, an angry man who is controlled by an omnipotent narrator named Owen. All of the songs represent the dialogue between Lewis and Owen, exploring the relationship between common man and deity. I can listen to this album straight through, on repeat, for days. It would be safe to say that Heatland is not only my favourite album released in 2010 – it’s one of my favourite albums of all time. If I had to choose favourite tracks, I’d recommend Keep The Dog Quiet, Midnight Directives, Lewis Takes Action, and Lewis Takes Off His Shirt.
2. Basia Bulat – Heart of My Own
For me, Basia Bulat‘s music elicits the same sort of reaction that Owen’s does for Katie. I want to live inside her songs; more like tales that spin stories halfway between fairytale and folklore, as recounted by a somewhat woeful yet remarkably strong young woman of days gone by. Great strength that makes its presence known through Basia’s powerful voice can be drawn from this album. At times it feels like reading an old diary, or listening to the wistful songs of a country maid going about her chores. A whole storybook land can be imagined, coloured with decidedly pastoral imagery and warm, folksy hymns that would not be out of place at some kind of lantern-lit village dance or quiet campfire session under the wild stars. Most of the songs are sorrowful but at the same time overflowing with love and fortitude, a strange and fascinating mix of emotions that leave the listener deeply affected and enchanted.
Must-listen tracks include The Shore, reminiscent of a mariner’s lament you would hear in Bretagne, except heartwrenching and feminine, Gold Rush, another woe-ridden lament to the idea of prospect and fool’s gold, and Heart of My Own, probably my favourite for burrowing inside my thoughts so very expertly, and for the thumping percussion that sounds just like a passionate, steadfast heartbeat.
Honourable mention: Born Ruffians – Say It
“What to say” about Say It? It’s fun, bouncy and reminds me of summer, beer and those silly fake Wayfarers in different, obnoxious neon colours. Born Ruffians are those friends from res in first year that are sometimes silly, sometimes snarky but always up for a fucking good time. Crank this album in the car, save it for a sunny day or when you have to clean your room. Listen to What to Say and Sole Brother.
Super duper runner up - Broken Social Scene – Forgiveness Rock Record
Honestly, it wasn’t as good as their self-titled. Sexy, intriguing, and beguiling, perhaps, but not rousing and cathartic and multifaceted like its predecessor. This album was actually like a can of pop to me. Fizzy and refreshing at first, but very quickly falling flat and losing its taste. That’s it, that’s all I have to say, really. Okay, except: Sentimental X’s is a flash of brilliance, like the natural conclusion of or sequel to Anthems for a Seventeen Years-Old Girl, all grown up. I like recurring themes in discographies. The National does that a lot. See, I already forgot about Broken Social Scene! That’s why they don’t make the top five this time around.
Bonne nouvelle, Evening Hymns prépare un successeur à l’excellent Spirit Guides (paru en 2009). Pour l’enregistrement de Spectral Dusk, le groupe s’est retranché dans une cabane de l’Ontario (à la Bon Iver ?) et raconte l’aventure sur son tumblr. Espérons juste qu’il ne passe pas leur temps nu dans les bois par ce temps.
(via Crystal Frontier)