Bwog goes downloading, fails to catch Fire

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Arcade Fire’s Neon Bible hit stores on Tuesday.  Bwog Music Critic Bryan Mochizuki looks quizzically at the hype. 

arcadeNME, the UK’s equivalent to Rolling Stone, recently called Neon Bible, Arcade Fire’s new album: “A record that – as much as London Calling or What’s Going On – holds a deep, dark, truthful Black Mirror up to our turbulent times.”

Language like this is usually saved for press releases (ie: “Jet’s new album combines the best parts of Sgt. Peppers, Zeppelin IV, and Oops, I Did It Again!”).  But Arcade Fire has the world’s media outlets actually talking like this.   

Besides having the closest thing possible to a consensus opinion among music writers, The ‘Fire and their Bible are being compared the greatest groups/albums of all time.  See, for example, our own New York Times: the review nods to Springsteen and U2, and in the Times Magazine feature, Clash comparisons run rampant. Coming on the heels of The Strokes, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand, and The Arctic Monkeys, Arcade Fire looks like the most recent resting point in search for the next Great Rock Band. 

There’s no use going into the quality of the album, as hundreds already got there first.  My question is this: can Arcade Fire really measure up to the hype?  To liberally quote the non- neon Bible: “Eat bread, quirky Canadian band, till thou returneth unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for blog-fodder thou art, and unto blog-fodder shalt thou return.”  In other words, while Arcade Fire may be a great rock band, they’ll never reach Great Rock Band status, because they rose on the shoulders of the music blog phenomenon.  Their core fanbase – music bloggers, blog readers, and people who are always looking for new-new music – is inundated with dozens and dozens of new songs and bands each week. 

Being one of those people myself, I know what sort of musical ADHD they’re facing.  Arcade Fire isn’t my favorite band by any stretch, but maybe they would have been back in the CD days of budget restrictions on how much music one could own.  But with blogs?  No dice. 

In grade school my friends and I played a game with a very un-PC name where the point was to tackle the dude carrying the football and then run around with it yourself until you got tackled.  If only five people were playing, it was pretty much just one sixth grader stiff-arming all of us and no one ever tackled him.  If thirty kids were playing, there was never a clear victor.   

Thirty kids = music bloggery.  Listeners are so saturated and given so many options (especially ones that fit the same niche) that it’s impossible for one to remain dominant, especially if they’re only releasing a new album once every two years.  And music blogs are just a microcosm of how things work in this post-Napster, post-iTunes world.  No one commits!  Everyone’s swinging!   

Magic Johnson once famously said, “There will never, ever be another Larry Bird.”  I’m not going to go as far as to say there won’t never, ever be another Clash, but it seems foolish to jump the gun on canonizing Arcade Fire when dominance in our time is so near impossible.

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  1. no it isn't  

    This album is so goddam great. So good. I got an early copy and have been listening to nothing but it for months.

  2. Nice but...  

    This sentence bothers me:
    "But Arcade Fire actually has the world's media outlets actually talking like this."

  3. hmmm  

    you'd think with such saturation and options, bryan would know of anything beyond the most populous of entertainments (comment regards years of mo' reading).

  4. my problem...  

    is the Clash were never that good--they were poor musicians who captured a moment in time and ran with it. I like the Clash, and props to them, but only after three albums the Arcade Fire is already better. Check out the album, it's need to canonize or demonize just go have a smoke and listen to this.

    • hey #5  

      the boy is not saying that the arcade fire are good or bad, just that, unlike the clash, they dont have the option to capture a moment because there are too many people trying to capture the moment that no one of them can prevail, which is at least, if nothing else, an interesting comment, so dont have a problem

  5. this  

    is such a ridiculous review; dear BWOG -- DELETE

  6. rjt  

    I assume from this review that the new album is an audio dissertation on blogging? Otherwise, most of this is pretty worthless.

  7. Mr. Mochizuki...  

    Saw this online and wondered what your opinion would be on it:

    All the commenters are unnecessarily rude, you make some good points in your review.

  8. ...  

    I guess you could criticize it for not being a good review, but, like, when the "review" says, "There's no use going into the quality of the album, as hundreds already got there first," and then explains that the post is a commentary on hype in a music-blogging world, and not an assessment of Neon Bible, that seems kind of besides the point. But why worry about that when you could just talk about how much this sucks as an autobiography?

  9. personally,

    i think the focus of your article is pretty interesting. yet, grammar: all the negatives in the last sentence have me twitching.

  10. the best  

    the arcade fire are THE BEST.

  11. rjt  

    I actually like this guy as a music critic, based on stuff I've read on here in the past. I know that he pointed out (halfway through) that he wasn't actually going to review the album, I just think he should've.

  12. also  

    The list of recent "big things" fucking PALES in comparison to Arcade Fire.
    Arctic Monkeys??

  13. win butler

    guess what?

    3/8/07 -- the day bwog became irrelevant.

    [i really think this whole post should be deleted. it says absolutely nothing about the band or the album.]

    • hey #14  

      you're right, today is the 8th.
      That, however, is the only right thing about your post. don't be a dick, the article never claims to review the band or the album. its something else, which is actually probably more interesting and relevant than a review. get off it

  14. ....  


    • Shhhh  

      Shhh, BWOG has a blackout on the Matt Sanchez story!

      As for the Arcade Fire, hmm, I've heard it and I think people who dig indie will LOVE it but the majority of people won't really care. It certainly is not as good as the albums its being compared to.

    • why bwog?  

      Why is bwog ignoring this? I think there's a nasty way to go about this, namely MSNBC yelling that he's a hypocrite for helping the conservatives pro-military rhetoric, while getting $$$ for sucking cock. But Bwog could be classy about this. Discuss if it's in his past and not part of his current belief system [43 ain't a hypocrite just because of his pre-reborn-self's DUI and blow] or maybe the hypocrisy might be only participating and supporting an institution that (theoretically) looks negatively upon his other activities, but it's something he stomachs for protecting freedom or whatever. Point is, there's no reason to yell 'hypocrisy' because he's culpable for supporting one cause of an institution (FOX/Conservatives) but not another one of their causes.

      Plus, porn is fun.

  15. children, wake up

    it's only going to be the #1 album in the country come next week's billboard.

    though, according to the idiot that wrote this post, everyone that buys the album is some blogger.


  16. CHILL OUT  

    It's just an opinion. There are hundreds of reviews out there. This makes a point about the nature of the whole reviewing enterprise--if you want to disagree, fine, but that doesn't invalidate the entire post.

    • lies, lies.

      the entire post has nothing to do with the arcade fire. rather, it's the inane rant of a bitter ill-informed columbia student highly out of touch with the state of independent music. the post is insulting.

      the killers? come the fuck on.

  17. out of touch maybe

    but I think his point that mainstream music outlets across the board are touting this band as the savior of rock and roll is fairly interesting. Perhaps the parallel he should have emphasized more was that the way the media are reacting: the Arcade Fire = the new Strokes. Ignoring the fact that both bands are somewhat derivative, and don't made any breakthroughs into new genres, their rise is due to a combination of blogs and the "Pitchfork" effect.

    Are the Arcade Fire indie rock or even independent? Not since they signed to Merge really. But that goes the same for all the people that though the Strokes were totally indie despite being signed to RCA (I think) here in the States. More interesting is the fact that the "indie" scene that everyone still thinks of no longer exists and is replaced by this retarded network of bands, hype, and even crappier people trying to find a way to make money off of everyone involved.

  18. ahhh snap.  

    damn man. you are just too cool for the arcade fire.
    i think i should probably re-evaluate my life now.

  19. no mo mo  

    "Being one of those people myself, I know what sort of musical ADHD they're facing. Arcade Fire isn't my favorite band by any stretch, but maybe they would have been back in the CD days of budget restrictions on how much music one could own. But with blogs? No dice. "

    I've never gotten the sense that mo would know menomena from man man, and that was fine by me until he maintained that the holy hip blogs have informed his listening... years of praising such mediocrity as u2 and the arctic monkeys suggest otherwise. if im wrong then i apologize, if not, please quit wasting my precious bwog space and write for Q, noel gallagher needs a new fluffer.

  20. we can reach the sea

    "Are the Arcade Fire indie rock or even independent? Not since they signed to Merge really."

    um. merge is an independent label.

  21. sorry

    In my opinion Merge is an independent label in name mostly. The contracts they send out to artists are the standard ones major labels use. They're a large independent label with very little differentiating the way they deal with their bands from the majors.

    I'm not knocking their success, but it's an indie label in the most commodified sense of the word.

  22. ...  

    bwog hates bryan mochizuki. but it could be worse. atleast he's not...matthew fox.

  23. hey #6  

    your comment is ridiculous. this is hardly even a review. BWOG - DELETE!

  24. this post  

    was pretty on-point, especially for mochizuki (backhanded compliment alert). even if you think the arcade fire are the bee's knees, you have to admit that they're not changing the face of music. they're not a groundbreaking band. in 20 years, there may still be arcade fire fans, but nobody who will classify them as All Time Greats.

  25. hey #31-52 (not #34)  

    chill man, let people have their own opinions

  26. hey #53  

    that's fair man, youre entitle to that opinion. I don't mean to oppress!

  27. hey you  

    get offa my cloud

  28. Why?  

    Why does that fucker holding the flowers look like such a freak?

  29. because...

    [2004]that's napoleon dynamite! lol![/2004]

  30. ...  

    You know Bwog is out of control when a music review spawns a 57 comment controversy.

  31. Does anyone think...  

    Arcade Fire aren't that far from being an emo band? They're incredibly self-righteous and whiney. They just managed to PR themselves to hipsters instead of depressed kids in the suburbs. I heard a few songs off this album... indie music is just so boring these days. Violins and cellos, ugh. Am I wrong?

    • Haha  

      No, you are not wrong at all. Indie/hipsters are just older emos. I thought this album was boring. It was polished and sounded alright, but it was fucking identical to every other indie release in the past 5 years. It is funny as fuck to see all these hipsters go apeshit over the fact that someone called their bullshit out on this whole blog hype crap. I think in 20 years the whole indie period of rock will be looked at sort of how we look at the big-hair rock of the 80s...ridiculous, trite and a shame to humanity.

      • lmao!

        what the hell does "indie period of rock" mean? as long as there are independent labels, there will be independent music.

        jesus fuck, dude. go close your door and resume the nickelback.

        • Uhh  

          You're pretty out of touch if you think "indie" simply connotates what type of label musicians are signed to. As others have mentioned the "independent" labels have, for the most part, adopted the same business practices as mainstream labels. Same copyrights and intellectual rights, same marketing, adoption of mass distribution, etc. In that time the term "indie" has evolved to refer more to a series of affiliated genres than any type of business model. Usually "indie rock" encompasses rock that is heavily influenced by baroque pop, dance music, post-rock/post-punk, psychedelia and folk. The Indie period of rock simply means the period of rock music history where this type of music was the most popular, beginning in the early 2000s and still going on.

          I dont really like Nickelback but not because they're mainstream or un-hip, they just happen to be a pretty dull band.

  32. umm

    why yes, you're quite wrong.

  33. zuh

    you're wrong. and don't bother replying with a 500-word rant. you're just wrong with this one. drop it.

  34. jesus

    what a pretentious douchebag. who writes this shit?

  35. a thought  

    if the haters hate, let them hate
    if the lovers love, let them love
    but if youre a lover, then dont you hate a hater for hating
    you got me?

  36. offended  

    there are some people commenting on this article that are prejudice motherfuckers. theyre hating on a group for being part of a genre, not for the content of the group's music. think about how you would feel if someone was hating on a man for being part of a particular race? now thats racism. we all know, racism is bad. judge a man by the content of his soul, not the color of his skin; judge a musical group by the content of their music, not the genre in which they are categorized. douches.

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