QUICK SPINS: Arcade Fire, The Charlie Watts Riots
By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 30, 2013 3:40PM
Superstars release an album that's splitting opinions, and a band of unknowns creates music that in a better world would make them superstars.
Everybody is all up in arms over what the new Arcade Fire album Reflektor is not. It's not really a dance record despite production duties being handled by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. It's also not stocked with epic anthems suitable for scoring Spike Jonze movie trailers.
What Reflektor reveals, though, is a band in transition. It's the sort of thing U2 went through with Zooropa—and remember that album largely stymied critics and the general public when it came out—and in the end Reflektor will probably see Arcade Fire situated as a new regular in the stadium circuit as their choices get ever more safe from here. When Reflektor works it's in fits and starts and the good stuff is mostly on the first disc of this double album.
The most important thing to remember while listening to the album, or viewing any of the band's wild promotional antics of the last few weeks, is that whatever your opinion of their music it is their music. A few years ago we were walking down Damen Avenue and spotted some hilarious hipsters trying to look like Win Butler and Régine Chassagne and we were making fun, literally saying, "Look at this douchebag with the Win Butler haircut" until they passed us and we realized it actually was Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. The lesson to take from this is that this is a band who is no different onstage than off and we believe they are staying true to their convictions and inner voice. So enjoy Reflektor for what it is and not bemoan what it isn't, because when it works it can be transcendent.
Also, any band that can get David Bowie to guest on not one but two tracks deserves to be given some slack, right?
We still read an astonishing number of blogs trying to uncover music that might not get your attention because their publicist is pals with an editor at Stereogum or buys a Pitchfork writer in Williamsburg drinks on a regular basis. So that's how we stumbled across The Charlie Watts Riots, a little combo from upstate New York far from the hustle and bustle of the city. A Break In The Weather is an album crackling with power-pop that never misses its mark. And the sad thing is these guys will never be as huge as their sound. They're not hip. They're not young. They have a better chance of breaking big in Canada than the States due to their location. But they should be the kind of band that garners the sort of adulation Cheap Trick attracted when they pounded out similar tunes in the late '70s.
So despite all that, we implore you to give the band a listen because we think there's a good chance you'll fall for them. And while they may never be superstars they deserve to be heard by as many ears as possible.