Great artists tend to be pretty sensitive. I mean, the novelist Claire Messud had a similar reaction during a pretty friendly interview earlier this year, since she felt she was being treated like a “woman writer” rather than just a writer. And just think about *every single moment* of Don’t Look Back.
Because what the world needs now is another washed-up alt rocker copyright troll, like I need a hole in my head.
The lyrics to Arcade Fire songs often allude or echo the lyrics of other songs on the album in weirdly poetic ways. For example: compare “Ocean of Noise” & the rising sea metaphore in “Windowpane.” For example: all the driving imagery in the Suburbs, or how getting pulled over by the police in “Sprawl I” echoes running away from the police in “Sprawl II.” If anything, Arcade Fire lyrics are kind of underrated, partially because they seem pretty lame when heard out of the album’s context.
#1 is exactly right. The rest: whaaaaa???
I’ve been listening to the Afghan Whigs since the 90s, and this album in particular is one of the few from the era that I still continue to enjoy. It belongs in the special canon of records like Yeezus that perfectly capture the very worst of the male psyche, that weird pride-injured combination of arrogance and neediness.
This was a shocking album to hear in the 7th grade. At the time, I didn’t really know what to make of it, other than that it was telling me the world was way more weird and horrible than I had imagined. Now, I tend to think of the album as being about a guy trying to get his moral bearings, but failing. To me, these lyrics from “Radio Friendly Unit Shifter” are at the heart of the whole thing:
Hate, hate your enemies
Save, save your friends
Find, find your place
Speak, speak the truth
These are good values. He’s trying to convince himself to follow them. But he can’t. He basically just keeps on collapsing into being a self-hating mess (“What is wrong with me?”). What do we get out of it? Whatever we get out of any tragedy, I guess. And unlike Yeezus, there’s no “Bound 2″ to wink and take the edge off at the end.
I’m not much of a Drive-By Truckers fan, but I loved Brighter Than Creation’s Dark. It has to be one of the most underrated albums I know. So yeah, that album will “win over prospective converts,” as you say — or at least it won over me.
Ok, on second listen, the album is making more sense. If you’re looking for an emotional context, I think it’s the feeling of just kind of feeling world weary and not being able to connect to the things you used to love and wanting to get that back. At least that’s a clear theme in the lyrics, and I think that’s what’s going on behind the restless combination of kinda-depressing soft-disco and weird left-turn moves in the music. For a comparison, maybe think of stuff like 808 & Heartbreak or Kaputt. It’s Daft Punk’s dark-night-of-the-soul record.
Naturally, the marketing campaign for this wasn’t, “hey everybody, get excited, and get ready to dance, because Daft Punk is coming back, with an all new album ABOUT DEPRESSION.”
It’d make more sense to give them the benefit of the doubt if Human After All and the Tron soundtrack weren’t also disappointing.
Human, all too human.
Um, yes, this is amazing. And now I feel even dumber for being one of those people who whined “but this isn’t [insert sacred cow here]” back in 2008.
Can’t stop listening to this. I think this mixtape is going to end up being one of my favorite albums this year.
Speaking of Leo, I sort of wish I could hear an XX’s cover of “I Will Always Love You.” Or maybe not.
I LOVE THAT ALBUM! So glad apparently someone else remembers it.
I love Who’s Next and like Quadrophenia. But Tommy is a mess. “Pinball Wizard” is apparently glued together out of spare riffs — the strummy bits during the verses and the power chords during the chorus sound like they belong to different songs. “I’m Free” is supposed to be some hippie Jesus thing that now just sounds ridiculous like the rest of the hippie Jesus subgenre. “See Me, Feel Me” has a monotonous opening and an equally monotonous chorus repeating the ridiculous idea that anyone would want to follow this guy. And so on. I understand that it’s supposed to be half-joke, half-fantastic, but the fantastic part is pretty pedestrian, and the joke part just falls flat.
I agree it’s worth questioning the profit = worth model when it comes to indie music and many other things where the market fails in one way or another. Here, the failure is in the music market — i.e., people being able to steal music easily, and maybe also prices not reflecting positive externalities to the public (e.g., popular stuff being influenced by indie stuff, goodwill to America from music-loving foreigners, etc.). We used to try to fix those market failures with the indirect subsidy that is copyright law, but obviously that doesn’t work so well anymore, so the question is what subsidy replaces it.
Maybe the answer to the narrow problem here (i.e., making overseas record mailing affordable) is to have a targeted mail subsidy for American cultural works that are mailed abroad by not-so-profitable folks? Sort of like a Fulbright Scholarship, but for records? You’d have to work a bit to get the statutory language right, but doing that seems doable. With this approach, we’d be subsidizing the things we like (indie music going overseas) rather than spending money doing less socially beneficial stuff like helping companies that advertise through the mail.
According to the USPS, even before factoring in that unfair accounting rule enacted in 2006, it hasn’t made a profit for fiscal years 2009-2011, and isn’t likely to make an annual profit anytime soon unless some serious changes are made (besides changing that unfair accounting rule). See slide 3 of this business plan: http://about.usps.com/news/national-releases/2012/pr12_0217profitability.pdf. According to this business plan, it’s going to be operating at loss (regardless of the accounting rule) unless it raises prices (among other things). See slide 13 under “Revenue Management” — in particular, see the part where it says “Targeted price increases — Historically inelastic single-piece First-Class Mail.” That means the postal service wants to raise prices on shipments of stuff like records regardless of the unfair accounting rule enacted in 2006.
But you’re right, USPS has been doing better than I thought.
Wait, didn’t we invent the internet? Am I missing something here?
Yes, I know some people prefer records. But if people are willing and able to spend the extra money to buy records in the first place, they’re probably also willing and able to pay for a little extra postage. This De Broux fellow is quoted here saying that “[m]y customers are foreign, not rich,” but it’s immaterial whether they’re rich — the material issue here is whether the foreign customers who have been buying records in the past are willing and able to pay for extra postage to continue buying those records. That appears likely given that they’ll already pay a premium for records.
As for the USPS, I love welfare and don’t mind the higher taxes, but isn’t it just ridiculous to keep pumping money into the dying snail mail business model as a form of indirect, ineffective welfare? If we feel sorry for the postal workers, we should just give them the business along with the monopoly on delivering mail that USPS currently has — that way, they’ll get some sort of payout in the form of stock, and we won’t have to keep on throwing good money at bad.
I’m just happy he put Clouds Taste Metallic at #1. Not sure I even agree with that, but it’s an album that deserves having *someone* say it’s the best.
I’m guessing Ryan had to change his mind about “Discovery” — there’s no way that “Discovery” could have gotten to #3 on any P4k list without the tacit approval of the head guy. I take it there’s some sort of voting process in making these lists, but somewhere in the process things can get massaged or vetoed. In any event, the point is: don’t take lists/reviews too seriously (duh).
Daft Punk’s “Discovery” is really a case in point. The site’s founder pans it in the most uncharitable way possible when it comes out, but then at the other end of the decade it’s like #3 of the site’s best-of-the-00s list. P4K on “Discovery”: “It’s HORRIBLE! No, uh, wait, I mean it’s THE BEST EVER!” There’s no substitute for independent judgment.
That’s EXACTLY what it sounds like — and it’s also why I love Centipede Hz.
I think this list basically does what a year-end list should do: be a victory lap for the obviously great songs (“Pyramids,” “House That Heaven Built,” etc.), but also make you take a second listen to songs that you enjoyed but didn’t necessarily consider great (“Oblivion,” “Climax,” etc.), possibly because those songs didn’t come in “greatness” packaging.
Everyone voted for only 6 guys (I mean the top 6), so Stereogum had to select the bottom four by random lottery.
Stereogum voters = 95% straight men + 4.7% gay men + 11 straight women, and one lesbian (made-up numbers, but probably still accurate!)