Results for Arcade Fire

interviews

Arcade Fire

This week Jim and Greg are joined by Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of indie rock giants Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire, critically acclaimed for their debut album Funeral, are known for their rich, anthemic sound and diverse instrumentation. Neon Bible, their latest release featuring a military choir, Hungarian orchestra, pipe organ and a hurdy gurdy among other instruments, has been an overwhelming commercial success. Régine retraces her relationship with husband, Win Butler. They became musical collaborators after Win saw Regine playing medieval music in Montreal, and eventually the band became headliners for such major festivals as Coachella and Lollapalooza. After seeing Arcade Fire perform at a number of venues, both Jim and Greg agree that their live show is something truly special.

Jim and Greg discuss the band's music-making process. Win and Régine elaborate on the primacy of beat and rhythm to the Arcade Fire aesthetic. Just as their rhythms could be perceived as classic rock and roll, Régine confers with Win about the multicolored sound they strive to create with different instruments and orchestration. Jim and Greg discuss the meaning behind the religious themes and allusions in Neon Bible with Win and Régine; Win articulates the moral ambiguity of evangelism as a source of influence and inspiration for writing the album.

Go to episode 85

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire has had quite a trajectory. First they were a group of anthemic art rockers from Montreal. Then they released Funeral, a successful first effort on Merge Records, followed by Neon Bible, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Chart. They were invited to open for U2 and their latest release The Suburbs won the top prize at last year's Grammy Awards. Jim and Greg spoke to Régine Chassagne and Will Butler a couple of years ago, and now we've managed to fit all seven musicians into our studio for a memorable live performance. They also talk to Will and bandmate Richard Parry about the“shock and awe”of winning a Grammy, performing during the Wrigley Field seventh inning stretch and why folks still wonder, "Who the F is Arcade Fire?"

Go to episode 290

Spoon

One of Jim and Greg's favorite albums of the year so far comes from the indie rock band Spoon. Despite the odd title, they fell for the combination of minimal art pop with Phil Spector-like arrangements and orchestrations. This is the band's sixth album, and the fourth they've made with indie label Merge (also home to another indie success story — Arcade Fire). Jim and Greg start by asking lead singer and songwriter Britt Daniel about the approach to this album. He explains that the band was definitely inspired by Motown groups like The Supremes — something that may come as a surprise to fans who are used to a sparser sound.

One of the people responsible for the“Spoon sound”is producer Mike McCarthy. But, the band also worked with Jon Brion on a couple of songs. Other surprising influences: Queen and AC/DC. Songs like "We Will Rock You," and "Back in Black," are fairly simple and minimal, but they have that rhythm and that“thing”that draw you in. Listen to Spoon's take on that“thing”in the songs "Don't Make Me a Target," "Rhythm and Soul," and "Don't You Evah."

Go to episode 102

The Besnard Lakes

This week's guests are the members of Canadian indie rock group The Besnard Lakes. The band is one of many up and coming acts to come out of the Montreal rock scene, including recent guests Arcade Fire. Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Steve Raegele, Richard White and Kevin Laing came to town for a tour in support of their second album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Jim and Greg first became fans after seeing the group perform at this year's SXSW Festival.

Husband and wife Jace and Olga are the primary songwriters in The Besnard Lakes. The pair met after Jace saw Olga playing bass, and immediately became smitten. The two moved to Montreal in 2003 to start a recording studio, and they didn‘t form The Besnard Lakes until after they put their first record together. Their name comes from Jace and Olga’s favorite spot for R&R: a lake in northern Saskatchewan. But, Jim and Greg wonder if the band has gotten enough vacation time in recent years; there are very dark themes running through the record — devastation, destruction — and Jace explains that he loves writing sad and emotional songs. You can hear three such songs during the course of the interview.

Go to episode 89

James Murphy

In LCD Soundsystem's 2005 debut album, singer/producer James Murphy says he's "Losing His Edge." Well, 2 years after the project disbanded, we wondered if this is the case? Murphy has gone from punk and dance clubs…to Broadway? He's composed original music for the Broadway revival of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal. But if you're going to lose your edge, this isn't a bad way to do it…the play stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, is produced by Scott Rudin and is directed by Mike Nichols. James talks about working with such luminaries and shares a tidbit on the forthcoming Arcade Fire release.

Go to episode 414
specials

When Jim and Greg Were Wrong

Music fans tell Jim and Greg they are wrong all the time, but the critics are not too big to admit it themselves. This week they come clean with some of their critical errors. Here are Greg's self-confessed mistakes:

Go to episode 139

A Merge Records Retrospective

This economy has not been easy on independent labels, as Jim and Greg reported a couple of weeks ago regarding Touch and Go here in Chicago. So, it's that much more significant to hear of an indie label going strong for 20 years. This week Jim and Greg talk to the founders of one such label — Merge Records in North Carolina. In 1989, Superchunk members Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance founded Merge as a way to release their music and that of their friends. Twenty years later, it's still growing and has launched such bands as Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, She & Him, and Arcade Fire, who gave the label its first Billboard hit.

Go to episode 173
reviews
Nikki NackNikki Nack available on iTunes

tUnE-yArDs Nikki Nack

Merrill Garbus, the creative force behind tUnE-yArDs, is back from Haiti with adventurous new rhythms and a whole lot to talk about. The result is her third album, Nikki Nack. Expectations for this release were high for Jim and Greg, who lauded 2011's W H O K I L L, and were wowed by the band's live performance on Sound Opinions. But Garbus has outdone herself on Nikki Nack. Greg loves the unconventional Haitian percussion tapping underneath as Garbus 's voice, an instrument in its own right, explores deep, dark themes with a soaring“ecstasy.”Jim agrees, only taking issue with the cannibalistic interlude, "Why Do We Dine on the Tots?," a quirky skit adapted from Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal" that lets Garbus showcase her puppeteer training. Otherwise, Jim admires the empathy for women and the poor that comes through in these experimental pop songs, and thinks that Garbus got more out of her Haitian visit than Arcade Fire did. Both critics will Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 441
The SuburbsThe Suburbs available on iTunes

Arcade Fire The Suburbs

In other major indie rock news, Arcade Fire has a new album out called The Suburbs. As Jim and Greg explain, this is a concept record inspired by frontman Win Butler's suburban upbringing. It's ambitious to say the least, but more spacious and atmospheric than the previous two albums according to Greg. If there's one fault, it's that things get a little long-winded toward the end, but Greg gives The Suburbs a Buy It rating. Jim agrees and is happy that Arcade Fire ratcheted down the “Springsteen-ness.” He hears the songs as a hippy's response to urban sprawl taking over the wilderness, but you should form your own interpretation and Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 244
Everything NowEverything Now available on iTunes

Arcade Fire Everything Now

Arcade Fire has risen from indie rock obscurity in Montreal to become a major label, Grammy-winning, arena-level band. But Jim and Greg are not sold on Everything Now, their fifth studio album. While Jim says there has always been intellectual substance and an emotional core behind their big sound, he calls this the most ordinary collection of songs the band has given us. There are some tracks he loves and he appreciates that they are showing a sense of humor. But he finds this album not as ambitious musically – they all sound like imitations of ABBA songs, and not always with success. Greg somes up the album as“meh.”He calls it a second-rate disco record that fails to get him on the dance floor. There are some great pop moments, but not enough musical inspiration. Everything Now is a double-Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 609
Reflektor (Deluxe)Reflektor available on iTunes

Arcade Fire Reflektor

Arcade Fire (arguably the most important indie rock band to crossover into the mainstream since Nirvana) is back with its highly-anticipated fourth release. Coming off the heels of last year's Grammy Award-winning album, The Suburbs, this year's offering, Reflektor, takes another stab at some very big ideas. Greg appreciates the band's continued willingness to take risks, but Reflektor's sprawling sound overextends itself onto a second disc that tips the scales unfavorably away from a Buy It. Jim agrees with Greg that the band only hits the melodic and groovy sweet spot half the time (perhaps thanks to co-producer James Murphy). Additionally, the lyrics aim high as they did on previous releases, but, this time around, are just kind of a bore. Jim and Greg both say Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 415
Majesty ShreddingMajesty Shredding available on iTunes

Superchunk Majesty Shredding

Perhaps no band better symbolizes the indie rock underground than Superchunk. They have been committed to being "indie" both in terms of sound and practice since forming in Chapel Hill in 1989. Two of its members have gone on to run Merge Records, home to Arcade Fire and Spoon. While they never officially broke up, the band hasn't released an album in almost a decade. Majesty Shredding is worth the wait according to Greg. They do pop rock as good as anyone, and Mac McCaughan still sings with the enthusiasm of a kid. Jim agrees, adding that they did lose the plot for a little while. He's happy to hear they have returned to form - simple exuberance - and Superchunk gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 253
lists

SXSW 2015

SXSW2015 For years now Jim and Greg have been making an annual exodus to the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, TX. And while they often have to battle crowds and overblown corporate promotions in order to see new, up-and-coming bands, this year was, thankfully, a little more subdued. But star power was still the draw at the 2015 keynote featuring rapper Snoop Dogg being interviewed by…his manager. Greg preferred the candor of industry veteran and panelist Henry Rollins, while Jim was fascinated to hear a conversation on the new music economy with Win and Will Butler of Arcade Fire and New York Times columnist, Nobel laureate and former Sound Opinions Rock Doctors patient Paul Krugman.

Each year Jim and Greg slowly limp back from SXSW with a list of new artists to watch. Here is the 2015 crop:

Go to episode 487

The Best Albums of 2010

It's the moment all music fans wait for…the end of the year best-of list!

Go to episode 263

The Best Songs of 2007 - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg present their Mixtapes for 2007. Check out the track listing below.

Go to episode 109

Turkey Shoot

It's Turkey time! Let out all your holiday frustrations on some well-deserving musical turkeys. Here are the albums that most let Jim and Greg down in 2013 as part of our Thanksgiving Turkey Shoot:

Go to episode 416

The Best Songs of 2010 - Mixtapes

At the end of each year, Jim and Greg look back and pick out their favorite songs to make you a mixtape. Think of it as a soundtrack for 2010. They both play samples of the mix during the show, but you can stream both compilations in their entirety.

Go to episode 266

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214
rock doctors

Paul Krugman

Now it's time for the Rock Doctors to open the clinic and greet another patient. In the past Drs. Kot and DeRogatis have conducted couples counseling, held a musical intervention, and helped a listener with a music allergy. Today, they are challenged to assist their first-ever Nobel Prize winner. Jim and Greg are joined by Paul Krugman, an economist at Princeton University and regular columnist with the New York Times. Paul was invited on the show after a recent blog entry caught our eye. This self-described“baby boomer”explained his renewed interest in music, especially after discovering Grammy winners Arcade Fire. But in an age where you can access everything all the time, where do you start? Jim and Greg thought they might be able to prescribe some new music to Paul that would fit the criteria provided in his patient history.

Paul explained that he was looking for melodic, joyful music that wasn‘t a mere record label marketing ploy. Jim’s prescription was Wye Oak's 2011 album Civilian, and Greg recommended Hotel Shampoo by Welsh musician Gruff Rhys. During their follow-up appointment, Paul comes out of the gate explaining that he didn‘t like either record. But, he did see the merit of both artists when it came to their live performances, especially Wye Oak. Seems like this baby boomer has actually abandoned the traditional album in favor of live performances on the internet. And while the recorded albums didn’t make the grade, Paul concurs that these two acts supply his demand for capitalist-free art.

Want to schedule your own appointment with the Rock Doctors or nominate someone you think is in need of assistance? Fill out our patient form at soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 313
news

Music News

With the release of Nielsen's SoundScan year-end sales figures for 2013, Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines has officially been crowned the top-selling single of the year with 6.5 million units. Hot on Thicke's heels were Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' Thrift Shop and Imagine Dragons' Radioactive with 6.15 million and 5.5 million respectively. Turning to albums, Justin Timberlake claimed the top spot with 2.43 million copies of The 20/20 Experience sold. Though, Jim and Greg note that the album's numbers happen to be the lowest sales for a #1 record in Nielsen history.

The report also revealed other interesting trends in the music industry. Vinyl record enthusiasts continued to show the love for LPs in 2013 with sales up 33% over the year before. People loved streaming their music, as well, but digital sales were down 6%. This has Jim and Greg wondering: is the stream going to kill the download?

Speaking of death and downloads… Last week, Jim and Greg reported the loss of pioneering country rocker Phil Everly. Apparently they weren‘t the only ones mourning. In the week after Phil’s passing, fans downloaded 18,000 Everly Brothers songs, a whopping 696% increase from the previous week. Dying, it turns out, can be a great career move.

Coachella Music Festival has released its full 2014 lineup. In addition to top headliners Arcade Fire, Muse, and OutKast (who are reuniting for the first time since 2007), the desert super-show will feature Girl Talk, Lana Del Rey, Motörhead, Lorde, plus two bonus reunions: The Replacements and Neutral Milk Hotel.

In other live music news, the NFL has beefed up its plans for the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show. Just in case main act Bruno Mars wasn‘t enough to satisfy America’s burning need for overhyped pop spectacle, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will be joining him onstage. What a combination, Greg laments.

If the Nielsen numbers were any sign, streaming music is here to stay. And now another big player is hoping to break into that (already crowded) market: Beats Music. Spearheaded by Dr. Dre, Trent Reznor, and record exec Jimmy Iovine, the new streaming service aims to offer a more curated listening experience than its competitors. Rather than using algorithms to help users find music, Beats will rely on experts from Pitchfork, Rolling Stone—and your esteemed Sound Opinions hosts! But Jim and Greg wanted to know how the service compensates artists and labels, something for which Spotify and Pandora have taken flak. CEO Ian Rogers explains that because Beats Music won‘t be available for free, the company will pay extra for each song streamed. With the majority of every subscription fee going toward giving rights holders their fair share, Rogers says that what’s good for Beats Music is good for the industry.

Go to episode 425

Music News

The Grammy Awards are usually, let's face it, kind of a snooze, and often a head-scratcher. But this year our hosts are excited about Arcade Fire winning Album of the Year. Most people, Greg included, were certain Eminem would take home the award. It was an upset, and for once, the Grammy voters honored excellence over sales. In fact, indie bands won 45 out of 108 categories, but that isn't reflected in the market. Greg also applauds the Grammys for shedding light on artists like Janelle Monáe and Esperanza Spaulding.

Guitar Hero has played its swan song. Or should we say swan riff? After a huge five year run, Activision has decided to pull the plug on the video game. This signals a decline for the music video game genre, including Rock Band, whose Beatles game didn‘t perform as well as expected. What’s the next trend? Dance!

Go to episode 273

Music News

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Parents Music Resource Center-inspired Senate hearings in 1985. The PMRC, co-founded by Tipper Gore and Susan Baker, was pushing Congress to clamp down on songs with questionable lyrics because it claimed the music was having an adverse effect on America's youth. But there to testify eloquently in defense of free speech was the unlikely trio of Frank Zappa, John Denver, and Dee Snider of Twisted Sister. The PMRC hearings led to the ubiquitous Parental Advisory stickers that many CDs were forced to carry. Some retailers would refuse to stock any CDs that had the labels, which was a major concern in the pre-Internet era when access to music was more restricted. The PMRC even issued a "Filthy Fifteen" list of particularly objectionable songs, including tracks by Prince, Mötley Crüe, and even Cyndi Lauper.

Win Butler, lead singer of Arcade Fire, has spoken out against the poorly managed launch of the Tidal streaming service – despite being one of its celebrity investors. He still defends the concept of offering HD-quality streaming, but blames Tidal's struggles on the major labels insisting on a $20 per month fee, twice the cost of Spotify. But Greg and Jim wonder if Butler should be concerned with cleaning his own house first. Despite being signed to the respected indie Merge, Arcade Fire still has deals with major labels for distribution and promotion.

Go to episode 513

Music News

METZ, Metric, Arcade Fire, Handsome Furs, Feist… it's been quite a decade for Canadian music. Jim and Greg wonder, what's in the water up there? So they talk to Steve Jordan, founder of the Canadian music prize Polaris about this year's crop of nominees and what value, if any, music prizes still have in today's landscape. Jim and Greg are impressed by the diversity of Polaris shortlist artists, and are even more impressed as to how democratic the prize is, especially compared to our own Grammy's.‎

After more than 20 years, The Replacements have finally reunited for a series of RiotFest shows. Fans have been clamoring for a Replacements reunion since the band broke up in 1991. So was it a success? Jim and Greg share their experience at the RiotFest show in Chicago. You can also check out their print reviews here and here.

Go to episode 408

Music News

The Magic Shop, a recording studio in SoHo in New York, will be closing its doors soon after 28 years. The studio was a favorite of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, and more. Jim and Greg have noticed a number of high profile recording studios that have closed in the past decade. To examine what's driving this trend, they speak with Larry Crane, owner of Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland and founder/editor of Tape Op Magazine. Crane argues that the commonly told story that digital recording is killing the industry is a misdirection – home recording has really been around for more than half a century, after all. Issues like gentrification and real estate are playing just as big of a role. While changes are indeed happening acrossthe industry, Crane is optimistic that there's still a place for recording studios of all sizes in the future.

Go to episode 536
world tours

Canada

Justin Bieber

Every once in a while, Jim and Greg embark on the Sound Opinions World Tour and explore the music of another country. This week felt like a fine time to turn to our neighbor to the north and look at the music coming out of Canada today. As their guide, they're joined by music critic Ben Rayner of the the Toronto Star. Ben takes them from Montreal's experimental/electronic scene to the noise-pop of Halifax to the country's growing hip-hop culture. He also explains how the government supports pop music via grants and the "Cancon" regulations requiring broadcasters to air a certain amount of Canadian music. Ben also recommends two up-and-coming Canadian artists: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Acadian folk-rocker Lisa LeBlanc.

Jim and Greg also dig through the Sound Opinions archives and share their favorite performances and interviews from Canadian artists, including a stripped down song from Montreal's Arcade Fire, a conversation with Toronto's Feist from early in her career, and a performance from the Vancouver supergroup The New Pornographers. Plus, they revisit their conversation with the most Canadian of all bands: Rush.

Go to episode 572