Thursday, February 01, 2007

Advanced Buzz

I'm in love with Bloc Party. I make no bones about it. From the first listen of Silent Alarm they had me hook, line, and sinker. They encompass pretty much everything I love about bands who make great music. They are a bunch of guys who got together and formed a band. Friends, yes, but also eclectic bringing all of there influences into the fold. They are great musicians. I've seen them live and was probably one of the best shows I've ever seen. Their music doesn't get old, it's sounds fresh and no one can claim they sound like someone else. This new album due out February 6th is no different.

I've been listening to this album for a few weeks now and with each listen hear something new and great. Make no mistake this is not a repeat of the previous record. This is new creation. A move forward. There are still the catchy hooks, driving guitar riffs, and intense drumming. The drumming seems to move to the forefront of this record. It really drives the album where the lead guitar was more prominent on the previous effort. I have no problem with this because it still sounds awesome.

Kele's lyrics are also in top form on A Weekend in the City. Said to be inspired by everything in city life he explores new vocal techniques that are accomplished with skill and precision. An example of this experimentation comes on "The Prayer." He switches between all octaves of his range from a deep baritone to a tenor falsetto. It also helps that there is a loop of him humming in the background in a chanting monk fashion. This track reminds me of a track of TV on the Radio's Return to Cookie Mountain but more rocky. He sings, "Tonight make me unstoppable / and i will charm, i will slice i will dazzle / i will outshine all."

It's hard to pick standout tracks from a Bloc Party album because they are all crafted as if they could each be singles in their own right. But if I had to choose they'd be (the sure single, and previously heard on tour) "Waiting for the 7.18," "I Still Remember," "Song for Clay," and the aforementioned "The Prayer." Each of these tracks see Bloc Party take their brand of rock to interesting, yet familiar, new places. I tried to listen to this album objectively the first few times through, and feel that I was successful with that. I don't know what various other bloggers have or will say about this effort but it seems to stay true to what Bloc Party fans like and expect from the band. It a great springboard to what is sure to be an amazing touring act in 2007. ~~~

For all intents and purposes I shouldn't have this next album yet either. I was lucky enough to be forwarded a link that leaked the entire new The Arcade Fire album Neon Bible a few days ago. The link has been dead for a while now, and read that many leaked versions were fake. I can tell you that this is definitely not fake.

I spent the first day I had this on my iPod at work listening to it all the way through at least four times. I'm still trying to wrap my head around it compared to their amazing debut. And I think I've finally come to some sort of conclusion after listening to both albums back-to-back.

Funeral had drive and momentum; a coherence that left you excited for the next song and didn't realize time was passing. On Neon Bible there are definately stand out tracks and hooks that scream ARCADE FIRE but there are others that are downright confounding.

The album begins closely where the last left off with "Black Mirror." It's instrumentation, with strings and keys and lush orchestration is all here. "Keep The Car Running" is a very perky tune that seems like The Arcade Fire decided to dip into the Folk pool. The repeating mandolin line adds to this feeling. This song is very catchy and I'm sure will be a fun live song. The title track, "Neon Bible" turns the dial back down and becomes very introspective. Next comes the first single, "Intervention" with its pipe organ intro that declares "The Arcade Fire are back." When you hear this song on the radio and think that all the songs will sound like this you would be sorely mistaken. This song could have been on the debut album. It's grand, beautiful and mixes instruments so well you wish all music was this good. I just don't get "Black Waves/Bad Vibrations." And then comes "Ocean of Noise" that doesn't really become interesting till the tail end when the mariachi horns and strings come are added. "The Well and The Lighthouse" is an epic with a mid-song tempo change that it vintage Arcade Fire. The rest of the tracks are also quite good, but for some reason they just don't go from one to another like they did on the first album. Why is that? I don't know. The most confusing song on the album is the last track titled "My Body Is A Cage." It's weird. Plain and simple. Why would they end the album with this? Either way. Enough people are going to check out this album when it finally gets released in March that there will be enough opinions to go around and lay down a verdict. For now, I'll keep listening and trying to piece together this puzzle. ~~~