Emily and I were in San Francisco traveling right after I quit DC101 (Jan ’05) but before I started at DOT. Her friend, who was then living in San Fran, Cara, mentioned a new upcoming band called “The Arcade Fire” – She said they were from MontrÃ©al. And my ears perked up. I didn’t really think much of them until later in the year when I picked up their debut LP, Funeral. It was all the rage in the indie rock world of cooler than you. There were a few songs that really spoke to me. But most of it sounded like the same song 11 different times. Granted this was only after 2-3 listens. There was something clearly going on, but I couldn’t quite put my ears around it.
It wasn’t until I saw them perform on SNL in February when it hit me. Holy god, this band is amazing. And namely RÃ©gine Chassagne. I think she’s my new hero. She plays synths, accordion, hurdy-gurdy, xylophone and many other instruments. She also sings many of the songs. I don’t know what about her that moves me, but it’s the sheer simplicity and volume and power in her presence. She doesn’t seem to be faking it nor playing out the motions. She means it and means it to the extreme. Her voice is also quite haunting. At times her voice isn’t perfect. It just exemplifies the intensities one can conjure up during a performance. Regardless of RÃ©gine, the other elements I enjoy are the violin players. Seeing them perform live is great. It’s cool how they (Sarah Neufeld and touring violinist Owen Pallett) sing backup vocals not in to mics on stands in front of them, but in to their instrument mounted mics. That’s punk rock man. There’s something to be said for a band that appears to be having a genuinely awesome time on stage.
Also noteworthy is Sarah Neufeld’s side project called Bell Orchestre. Their record Recording a Tape the Colour of the Light is a must have.
- HaÃ¯ti (Live in Sheffield -1995)
However, a song from their debut LP in 1995. Presumably a song about RÃ©gine’s family. I like how it floats. I like this live version so much more than the studio version. The studio version sounds watered down to me. Emily just walked in while this song was playing (I was testing the encoding) and she said, “I think you are obsessed with this song.”
- Wake Up (Funeral) – The gang vocal chorus is mind blowing. There is a version on YouTube where David Bowie is playing with them and there is a comment suggesting if you don’t cry while listening to this you are not alive. There is some truth to this. The chorus singing just blows my mind away.
- Une Annee Sans Lumiere (Funeral) – It’s just so pretty and the slide guitar reminds me of James.
- Neighborhood #3 – Power Out (Funeral) – I love the xylophone. It speaks to me. The beat is also awesome. Anyone know if it’s a drum machine?
- Rebellion – Lies (Funeral) – The violin section is awesome. And the gang backups are to die for. I want it to be spring, driving with the windows down and listening to this loud.
- In The Backseat (Funeral) – I think RÃ©gine needs to record a solo record – I hope is sounds remotely like this. I will be first in line. Also, Emily has Johnny Depp. I think RÃ©gine is top of my list.
- Keep The Car Running (Neon Bible) – Does anyone feel this sounds like a Bruce Springsteen outtake from The River?
- Intervention (SNL ’07)
From Neon Bible, but the SNL version was what made me really like them. I hate to keep saying it, but RÃ©gine makes this song with the backup vocals towards the end. The studio version has a pipe organ that makes me swoon with envy.
- No Cars Go (Neon Bible) – I really like the EP version too. The tempo is crucial. But this version really flows better at this tempo. The trilly guitars are dreamy. And I love when bassists play up in the high registers.
- Headlights Look Like Diamonds (Arcade Fire EP) – The lofi-ness of this record is what does it for me. And I usually don’t get behind lo-fi records for lo-fi’s sake. So cool how RÃ©gine’s vocals sounds like a Moog towards the end.