Arcade Fire

2015 Polaris Music Prize Predictions

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polaris

Unlike previous years, this year’s Polaris Music Prize actually seems interesting. For what is generally viewed as a bland music industry circle jerk of an event (where music writers get fed for once), it’s actually somewhat refreshing.

What are the hot topics at hand? Let’s see

1. Viet Cong The Calgary band’s controversial name has finally become a hot topic. The band’s name has slowly been receiving backlash ever since it’s inception, but now with them on the verge of winning Canada’s equivalent of the Mercury Prize, the attention has definitely taken the forefront, generating the type of negative attention that the Polaris Prize probably didn’t want. For a good recap of this issue, read this excellent article here. Rumors are that Viet Cong will reveal a new name at the Polaris. I’ve heard they are deciding between ISIS or Dead Babyfuckers because both those sound pretty cool, according to the band.

2. Polaris Music Prize = Boys Club
The Canadian music industry, like most industries in life, is mostly a boys club. Like any other industry, those boys are mostly unaware that it’s a boys club. As documented here on Canadaland, it is not particularly fun for new comers trying to push the musical boundaries of the Polaris Prize or pointing out it’s a boys club. This article in addition to the annual lack of non CBC endorsed rock acts on the list, adds further fuel to the fire. Does Polaris really represent Canada’s entire swath of music?

In light of these two controversies, the Polaris Prize finds it’s looming Monday gala at the crossroads. Will they pretend everything is happyland, with Steve Jordan and friends congratulating themselves on another year well done or will they actually tackle these items right then and there? My guess is on the former.

Despite the issues at hand, it is a good sign to see that the Canadian music industry is still generating some amazing albums and whether or not the ten nominees are the absolute ten best is irrelevant, they are the ten that are there and we will now predict the winner, using science and sabermetrics.

Braids – Deep in the Iris
Let’s punch in the numbers into our machine to see if they will win.
One sec.
BEep Booo BEEP BEEP BOOP BEEP BOOP BEEP bOOOP
Nope. they will not win.

BadBadNotGood & GhostFace Killah – Sour Soul
These guys put together one of the best shows I saw at SXSW and if the Polaris Prize was going full heel, what better way then to give the Polaris Prize to AN AMERICAN RAPPER who will then take the award back the the US. Then we will have to have Drake beef with Ghostface, only until Drake realizes Ghostface is no one you want to fuck with and he’ll slowly back off while slowly singing “Just Hold On I’m coming home, but not with the Polaris Prize” while Ghostface makes a video where he wraps up $100 Canadian dollar bills with weed and smokes it up.
Chances of winning: Maybe

Jennifer Castle – Pink City
A local favorite, Jennifer Castle will probably not win this one. Just a feeling.

Caribou – Our Love
Nobody has ever won the Polaris Prize twice. Will Caribou be the first? There album was one of my favorites from last year, but the real question is whether or not the jury think Caribou is the band to bestow this prestigious distinction? Will they save that for the next Arcade Fire record instead?
Chances of winning: Strongish

Drake – If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late – They are probably saving the mainstream r&b/hip hop Polaris win for The Weeknd next year, so I doubt this will be his year. Arguably this album is weaker then the previous album, so if he didn’t win for that one, then he surely will not win for this one. I don’t even know what I’m saying because I haven’t heard any Drake album. Still, 3 times the bridesmaid, never the bride, Drake is becoming the Susan Lucci of the Polaris.
Chances of winning: Ask Serena

Tobios Jesso Jr – Goon – I thought this dude was a teenager until I read his wiki page and realized he was 30. My entire story about this now goes out the window. Goon was a very enjoyable album and if Randy Newman ever retired Tobias can easily soundtrack the next ten Pixar movies. That is a huge compliment, by the way. Still, will the guitaratti allow a piano man to win this indie rock award? Doubt it.
Chances of winning: Doubtful

Buffy Sainte-Maria – Power in the Blood
Perhaps if Tanya Tagaq didn’t go on stage last year and decapitated a seal on stage.
Chances of winning: Slim.

The New Pornographers – Brill Bruisers
It seems like the New Pornographers have been around forever, yet they always release great albums. Brill Bruisers was no exception. Has any west coast bands won the Polaris? Maybe it’s time. No one would argue against these guys if they won.
Chances of Winning: High

Viet Cong – Viet Cong
Haha

Alvvays – Alvvays
Alvvays shimmering summer album was one of everyone’s favorites of last year and comes controversy free. Throw in some Rankin family lineage and you have yourself the winner.

Concert Review: Arcade Fire, August 29, Molson Amphitheatre

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arcadefire

Arcade Fire are simply put, awesome live. They have always been awesome live and we should only be so lucky that their ascendant rise to the top of the world has not resulted in diminishing returns form their live shows. In fact, you can argue that Arcade Fire are better live now then they were when we all started falling in love with them over a decade ago.

For one thing, Arcade Fire understand that a live show is an experience. Especially now days, when you are putting in some good coin to see them. To their credit, they do their best to make each show unique. Their request to have people dress up might seem ridiculous, until you go into the pit and you see people all dressed up and ready to dance. Then you think, damn it’s a cool party now. Some of the tricks they employ now might venture into Flaming Lips territory but it all just seems to be a part of a celebratory party that pretty much has this “look at us all, can you believe us indie kids are all here now?” vibe. It’s great.

It goes without saying that the Arcade Fire show last Friday at the Molson Amphitheatre was one long dancefest that fully displayed just how great the Arcade Fire’s discography is. Playing tracks from all four of their albums, the Montreal band never seemed to stop delivering the hits. To their credit, the subtle changes they have made to their sound with each album kept the show fresh. From the party vibe of Here Comes the Night Time and Reflektor to the world conquering Suburbs II to the gut punch tracks of Funeral, the band and the crowd gleefully threw their arms in the air, shuffled their feet and just had an all around great time. Win Butler has become a full engaged and charismatic front man who is now more then ever, willing to engage the crowd in a rock star manner and Regime always seems to be the happiest person on either side of the stage. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

An all conquering Wake Up ended off the set. It’s one of the heavyweights of set closers out there and a perfect way to end off the night.

A quick guide to the NBA season for music fans

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nba

The NBA season starts tonight. For the casual observer, it’s not big news. Here is a little secret though: the NBA is currently blessed with an insane amount of talent. The NBA finals between the Spurs and Heat was easily the best final in all of professional sports in recent memory. It’s a good time to get aboard. For Canadians, it’s even better, as we not only have 2013’s 1st overall pick (Anthony Bennett), we will also have 2014’s 1st overall pick (Andrew Wiggins).

Now as a music blog, the demographic for NBA fan and indie music probably doesn’t cross over too much. Perhaps it should. If you are an indie music fan and want to start to get your basketball, here is a good guide to some teams.

Miami Heat = Arcade Fire

The Miami Heat are the current champions of the world. In fact, they have won twice in a row. Odds are they are probably going to win a third in a row. They are exceptionally good, super famous and have celebrity friends. Still, there are detractors. One of the Heat’s best players, Dwyane Wade (that’s how he spells it) is getting older and his hard nose style of play has resulted in injuries and he might be slowing down, although his ego may not allow it. For all their stardom, they were within 5 seconds of losing to a team with the average age of 43. Are they still the best? Only time will tell.

Similarly, the Arcade Fire are the reigning champions of the world. The Suburbs won every award available and was genuinely beloved. They are also exceptionally good, super famous and as their recent post SNL film suggested, they have celebrity friends. Still, their new record – Reflektor has it’s share of detractors. Regardless of how people treat the album, it is bound to be at the top of every music conversation for the time being, just like the Heat.

Minnesota Timberwolves = CHVRCHES

CHVRCHES is this year’s new and upcoming act that are cute as a button, thanks to lead singer Lauren Mayberry. They are fun to listen to and not something you take very seriously. Minnesota Timberwolves are also young and up and coming thanks to their happy go lucky point guard, Ricky Rubio who loves to throw behind the back or thru the leg passes.

rubiofisher

Also, they aren’t a team you take very seriously, despite housing two franchise level talents in Rubio and Kevin Love (whose uncle is Mike Love).

Golden State Warriors = HAIM

It’s only appropriate that the hottest band going today, HAIM is from the Golden State. The three sisters are on a virtually unstoppable path to super stardom and fame, gaining fans along the way like that ball in the classic PS2 game Katamari Damacy. Their recent debut album, Days are Gone evokes days of yesteryear and has been critically acclaimed. The Golden State Warriors are arguably the hottest thing today after their sizzling playoff performance led by the sharp shooting Stephen Curry. Through in other sexy young talents like Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes and you can see why everyone is jumping on their band wagon. Like Haim, they also have throw back elements, which are mostly shown on their jerseys. However, this year they adopted to go with these weird t-shirt jerseys.

warriors

San Antonio Spurs = Travis

Not new,nor exciting to a rabid young demography, both Travis and the San Antonio Spurs are good and have been around for awhile. Manu Ginobli might have been singing “Why Does it Always Rain on Me?” after his game six and seven performance in last years NBA finals. Still, much like Travis’s most recent album Where You Stand, you have to applaud their consistently good output.

New York Knicks = MGMT

Much like how music fans are not quite sure what is going on with MGMT since the initial excitement about them, New York Knick fans are completely mystified at what will be going this season. Is Carmelo leaving? How long before the fans turn on Andrea Bargnani? How many more tattoo’s will JR Smith get? Will A’mare play 5 or 15 minutes? A complete mystery to everyone involved.

Houston Rockets = Miley Cyris

This one is more so about the Rocket’s newest and biggest acquisition- Dwight Howard. Dwight Howard was once a darling, smiling all the time while swatting away shots and bricking free throws all in the comforts of Orlando. It was all fun and games, much like Miley when she was just Hannah Montana. It all seemed so… innocent. As both these talents grew up, things changed. Dwight didn’t seem so happy anymore and wanted the bright lights and more control over his career. It resulted in a disastrous move to LA and now a chance to redeem himself in Houston. Along the way, many fans were lost. Miley grew up, dropped the Hannah Montana moniker and wanted more control over her career as well. While her move has been the opposite of disastrous (from a monetary point of view), she has probably lost a lot of fans along the way. Despite their rough journeys, each of them appear to have a bright future ahead of them.

Toronto Raptors = Drake?

They are both from Toronto.. Drake is the global ambassador of the Raptors. One is mega successful while the other is a perpetual failure so I don’t know how many more items I can find in common. Drake “started from the bottom”. The Raptors did too, only they have stayed there. It is probably more accurate to compare the Raptors to Little Jimmy, because they seem to be at a disadvantage wherever they are.

Milwaukee Bucks = Foster the People

Good for a very short period of time. The Bucks had their “Fear the Deer” slogan, Foster the People had “Pumped Up Kicks”.

I could go on and on (I can’t) but basically, the NBA season is here, I am excited and I think you should be too.

Panic Manual’s Fearless Predictions for 2013

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Sharon van Etten, SXSW 2011, March 19, 2011 49.jpg

2013 is upon us. The Mayans were wrong, everything is out the window now.

Here are our fearless predictions for 2013.

Reeling with the success he achieved by reforming Nirvana, Paul McCartney decides to reform other bands with diseased members over the course of 2013 including Joy Division, The Grateful Dead and Amy Winehouse.

Things turn real when Simon Cowell casts Fiona Apple and Chan Marshall to replace Britney Spears and Demi Lovato on X Factor

With great success on the seas, Goldenvoice announces: Coachella: The Safari to great fanfare but turns into disaster when the entire festival is held for ransom by militant Kenyan rebels.

Pitchfork stays ahead of the curve by giving the new Arcade Fire + James Murphy collaboration a 9.0 before the group even records a track.

Justin Bieber’s manager Scooter Braun openly complains when Bieber is not nominated for best actor for the Academy Awards for his role in his music videos, saying the Academy “blew it” and that Bieber put in a lot of “hard work” in the videos, which should have equated to a nomination.

Critics are mystified when My Bloody Valentine’s new album forgoes all the guitar effect wizardry in favor of a sitar.

A new trend for band names begins, in which bands just identify themselves as numbers, such as 49850, the upstart chill wave band from Brooklyn. This trend replaces the current trend where bands have band names without vowels (see: MNDR, TRST, SBTRKT)

In order to appeal to a more male demographic, Pink changes her name to Salmon

Lady Gaga dies in a horrific accident when she gets attacked and eaten alive by a flock of Eagles after taking the stage in the Philippines while wearing her meat costume. People are surprised that no one went to help her as this happened.

Carly Rae Jepsen wins the 2013 Polaris Music Prize, to which she replies “what’s that?”

It is uncovered that Beyonce and Solange have a totally awkward and uncool older sister named Brenda, thereby shattering the worldwide belief that the Knowles are the coolest people ever

Frank Ocean’s ability to push the limits is severely tested as he releases an album about bestiality

Twitter explodes when the Postal Service play a secret set at SXSW in celebration of the ten year anniversary of Give Up. I am there, people get jealous.

Sharon Van Etten will come on stage during Nick Cave’s concert in Toronto, and they will sing Where The Wild Roses Grow together, making me very happy.

Happy New Year