i guess we'll just have to adjust

I meant to get this up much earlier, but Blogger & I were in a fight all day.

Alright folks, it's time for me to test your attention spans. As December is now upon us, I have decided to put together a mix of my favorite tracks of the past year - The Big Ticket's Mix '04 - which I will be posting gradually over the next few weeks, one track a day. Some of the included tracks have been posted here before, and likely all of them have been posted elsewhere, so it's nothing you haven't already heard. And of course, there is so much great material out there that I haven't gotten a chance to hear (or listen to enough of) this year, so this is by no means any kind of definitive anything. It's just a bunch of great tunes that have impacted me over the last year, in an order that seemed to work out alright when I put it together. Okay?

MP3 The Arcade Fire - "Wake Up"
When I first thought about putting together a year-end mix, I knew almost immediately that this Arcade Fire song would be my lead-off track. There are plenty of outstanding songs from the Funeral LP that could be worthy of inclusion, but "Wake Up" was the one that jumped out at me, grabbed my attention, & demanded that I listen more closely to the rest of the record. I've listened to it countless times over the past few months, and it still manages to overpower me & yank at my emotions. And so it begins.

I've got plenty more to say about the Arcade Fire below.

MP3 Tom Waits - "In The Neighborhood"
While this isn't part of the aforementioned mix, it is (or was) Wednesday. so therefore I figured it was time for some more Tom Waits. Originally appearing on 1983's Swordfishtrombones, "In The Neighborhood" seemed like an appropriate song for this post, given the Arcade Fire's four song "Neighborhood" suite that dominates the first half of Funeral, though the town in Waits' ballad seems like a far more bleak place than Win Butler's.

It certainly was a wild Saturday nite @ the 400 Bar, though some chick owes me $7.

Apparently, every Mpls blogger & their sister's boyfriend's old roommate was at the 400 Bar this past Saturday nite to check out the big indie buzz band of the moment, Montreal's The Arcade Fire. And yeah, I was there too, along my pal JRDN & Jim from How Was The Show. And while I featured the band in a somewhat lackluster recent post, I had to write a few more words about them after finally catching their live performance, (which you can download via flac torrent; big thanks to More Cowbell for the link etc).

The positive word-of-mouth surrounding the Arcade Fire, and notably their live acumen, has already been written about incessantly around the blogosphere (so I'm not shedding new light on anything here). But with the band rolling into Mpls for the first time, the obvious question presents itself: do they live up to the hype? If we're talking about the songcraft of Win Butler & Co., I'd already been converted. The band's debut album Funeral has grown slowly but surely on me since its September release, to the point where it's getting hard to take it out of my cd player & will almost certainly be around the top of my "best of" list at the end of the year.

Funeral is a snapshot of suburban kids & their playful imaginations, and the Arcade Fire's live show allows you entrance to that realm of youthful playfulness & exuberance. Despite having seven people on a cramped stage (after soundchecking in front of an audience), the band still manages to stomp around & make a ruckus, slamming tambourines into the wall, smashing cracked cymbals, banging on each other's helmets (yes, helmets). At one point during "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)", Win's brother Will leaps into the crowd & then climbs back up on stage, getting all up in Win's face as if he was trying to annoy his bro during his favorite tv show. Later, he & Win's wife, Regine Chassagne, will chase each other around the stage, with Will throwing a plastic toy cow in her direction. And this is a rock show?

Still, with all these shannanigans going on, the group's sound is enormous, with all seven belting out melodies & switching instruments. It feels beyond mere indie rock, leaning more toward the orchestral. Regine & Richard Reed Parry take turns on the accordion, and later Parry whips out the upright bass. Will turns his attention to the xylophone (when he's not busy drumming on the end of the synth), while Sarah Neufeld has been lovely on the violin all nite long. The songs gather & swell, Win's intense vocals complimented by Regine's more adorable & tender vocal turns. The crowd joins in, clapping hands & singing out with joy, and as things seem to be spinning out of control, the wheels somehow stay on the wagon.

In the words of Kramer: "unbridled enthusiasm." That's the Arcade Fire.
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Blogger solace @ 12/02/2004 05:51:00 PM:

great write up

we were pretty lucky that Will was there, he's not on tour w/ them i guess, as he's still in school in Chicago, but considering it was a weekend, and how close it was, we got him. he wasn't at any of the east coast shows, just 6 people there.    

Blogger mr gilbert @ 12/02/2004 07:10:00 PM:

thanks for the tip. i noticed that will was absent from that online cbc feature, so i guess that makes sense. i wonder how old will is...    

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