Arcade Fire

This week: Arcade Fire. Jim and Greg sit down with members of this anthemic rock band for a candid conversation about how an indie group from Montreal took the music industry by storm.

Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of Arcade Fire
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Music News

iTunes announced that it will be offering cut-rate downloads on several albums in its catalog. The albums, which retail for $5.99 and $6.99, are part of a new series called Next Big Thing. The bargain bin includes albums from up-and-comers like LCD Soundsystem and Peter Bjorn and John. Jim and Greg are happy to see that the giant digital music retailer is waking up. Six bucks is a perfectly legitimate amount to pay for such good albums, and this is a move that’s certain to please consumers, if not record labels.

Also in the news, pop star Avril Lavigne is being called out for a couple instances of plagiarism. First, power pop band The Rubinoos launched a legal case against Avril, claiming that her single Girlfriend was lifted from their 1979 song, I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend. Avril denies this, but the similarities are pretty striking. Then, gossip blogger Perez Hilton pointed out another suspicious similarity. The first 20 seconds of Avril’s I Don’t Have to Try sound nearly identical to electroclasher Peaches’ track I’m the Kinda. Jim and Greg think the evidence is stacking up against Avril, but are quick to point out that all rock music has been cribbed from one source or another.

Next Jim and Greg relay their experiences that at the recent Police reunion show in Chicago. Greg was pretty unimpressed, and says that the show was definitely not worth what people paid. Jim was less harsh, but agrees with Greg that the Police have always been better on album than live.

The Police concluded their tour at Giants Stadium as part of the Live Earth concert. Again, the band didn’t wow our hosts, but it was Kanye West’s performance that was the most strikingly bad. In fact, with the exception of a few performances, most of Live Earth was pretty underwhelming to Jim and Greg. And the world seemed to agree. Ratings were quite poor, especially compared to the success of previous attempts like Live 8. Jim is all for music influencing people to make change, but he didn’t hear anything truly inspirational coming out of this crop of musicians. And Greg found the event to have a great lack of focus, though both hosts are all for Al Gore replacing Bono as music’s new crusader.

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.

Jim

To conclude this week, it’s Jim’s turn to drop a track into the Desert Island Jukebox. Jim becomes a bit nostalgic and recalls fond teenage memories of the thriving music scene of Hoboken, New Jersey, the hometown of classic power-pop outfit, The Bongos. Taken from the seminal album, Drums Along the Hudson, which has just been reissued, the track The Bulrushes connotes a messianic rock and roll coming of age. Jim calls this The Catcher in the Rye of power-pop, and an essential choice in his Desert Island Jukebox.

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