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ISSUE 118 VOL 5 PUBLISHED 10/15/2004

Under the Radar: Albums to Watch

By Peter Farrell
Executive Editor

Friday, October 15, 2004

Arcade Fire - Funeral (Merge)

The downbeat title of Canada's finest new indie-rock sensation is misleading. Funeral, the debut album from Arcade Fire, is not the morbid affair one would expect. Instead, it is a savage celebration of the ragged beauty of life. Led by the husband-wife team of Win Butler and Regina Chassagna, the album was written in light of the passing of close family members and friends. Propelled by that naked honesty, Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) opens the album with a symphonic swirl of piano, strings, and distorted guitar. The first of four Neighborhood movements, Tunnels serves as the launching pad for a series of songs which examine the intricacies of the human experience.

- By Peter Farrell

Interpol - Antics (Matador)

Antics, Interpol's follow up to 2002's highly acclaimed Turn On the Bright Lights, avoids the sophomore slump by doing exactly what a sophomore album is supposed to do: show growth without laying waste to a sound which was so successful the first time around. At its finest, Antics maintains TOTBL's demonic trance-rock grooves while placing a greater emphasis on melody and atmosphere. Standout tracks include Next Exit, which employs a moody organ build-up before exploding into a haze of reverb and guitar, and Slow Hands, the album's initial single. Propelled by terse drumming and stuttering guitar riffs, Slow Hands features a simple, effective chorus laced with some surprising arena rock abandon. Strong, consistent and stirring, Antics reaffirms Interpol's position as one of rock music's most compelling bands.

Q and Not U - Power (Dischord)

Q and Not U has always been one or two steps away from Fugazi. They began as a band promising to push the boundaries of the already too stream-lined punk-rock scene of East Coast America, but have ended up transgressing to a point of almost early-disco revivalism. This doesn't come as a suprise due to indie-dance-rock being totally 'in' right now, but on the group's most recent effort, Power, it seems like they've stumbled, or gracefully boogied, upon the perfect dance formula.

Their earlier sound still lingers, but only just, and has been replaced by a case of synth-pop fever; the cure being copious amounts of moog-use and smooth bass lines that reflect a new-found R&B influence that manifests itself through falsetto vocals that allude to heavy listening of early thriller-esque Michael Jackson and Prince.

- By Ian Anderson

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