You know, this year I’ve been trying to follow a weekly posting schedule just so I can keep this blog updated and also give me something to do. Lately I’ve been slipping in that particular regard. That’s the thing about those Blast From The Past posts — they take a really long time to write. Also, I’ve had one sister graduate from college (yay Kerry!) and we had to move both of them back home. And then there’s that whole “job hunting” thing… yes, still. Oh, and I’ve been volunteering with the local MLS team, the Philadelphia Union, for their home games.
But enough about me. Here are my picks for this week… after this new Arcade Fire song.
And also this new Arcade Fire song.
And also after the jump, just like always.
I am not a Gleek. Hell, if I didn’t follow pop culture, I wouldn’t even know what that word means. It sounds like a monster from The Legend of Zelda. It’s actually a self-appointed nickname among diehard Glee fans.
Now, I’m not about to go on some kind of rhetorical rampage all about how much the show sucks. I’ve never seen a single second of it, so it’s not like I’m qualified to judge its particular merits and flaws and whatnot. I am perfectly content to let its audience have their fun, even though I look at it and see what appears to be some kind of bastard lovechild of High School Musical and American Idol.
I mean, I remember browsing around in an FYE at the mall once and hearing someone not named Steve Perry – I could tell because the singer was female – singing “Don’t Stop Believin’” in an over-processed voice over what sounded like your garden variety karaoke machine backing track. I couldn’t think of any Disney stars who’d ever sung it. Nor could I name any recent Idol contestants who’d performed it. And then as I passed the soundtrack section it dawned on me… this was someone from the cast of Glee.
Yeah, that’s right. I own a Nickelback album.
It’s been resting comfortably in one of my CD towers in my bedroom, mostly untouched, for nearly a decade. I got it when I was 15, right in the thick of my nu-metal/pop-punk/post-grunge phase. In fact, I asked for it for my birthday that year. My birthday is September 27. The year was 2001. Silver Side Up, fresh off the radio success of the band’s breakout single “How You Remind Me,” had just come out a few weeks earlier, on September 11. (I think we all remember what else happened that day.)
You know what else I wanted for that birthday? Come Clean, the first album from Fred Durst protégés Puddle Of Mudd. Ah, to be 15 and so easily charmed by songs called “She Fucking Hates Me.”
About a year ago Bloc Party released their third studio album Intimacy as an online download for ten bucks. The download featured ten songs (“Talons” was added for the CD release, along with a bunch of bonus tracks), and since iTunes was still charging 99 cents a song at the time it seemed fair enough. (Plus, like I said, they’re one of my favorite bands.) In the months leading up to the online release of the new album, they’d put out a couple of heavily electronic singles. First there was “Flux,” which is a straight-up synth-driven dance song, and then there was “Mercury,” which turned out to be the lead single from Intimacy.
While “Mercury” took some time to get used to (as opposed to the instantly catchy “Flux,” which I think should have been the lead single instead), I found myself wondering if Bloc Party was about to release their Kid A — that is, an album where an established rock band suddenly shifts gears and explores electronica. Their change in sound between Silent Alarm and A Weekend In The City, while perhaps not the most popular of decisions, at the very least showed that they were a band who were willing to try new things and didn’t want to make the same album twice. So when the download became available, I snatched it up and decided to give it a listen.
Three minutes later, I found myself hoping I hadn’t made a big mistake. I had been greeted with a song so violently chaotic, so disorienting and confusing, that perhaps it makes sense that it was named for the Greek god of war. And no, I don’t mean this guy…
Bloc Party’s “Ares” is just another example of what happens… When Bad Songs Happen To Good Bands.