While recording this first album, members of The Arcade Fire experienced an onslaught of family deaths, hence the title. Luckily, the talented quintet's ever-changing styles prevent the album from sounding like a dirge. Hailing from Montreal and led by married couple Win Butler and Rgine Chassagne, The Arcade Fire has quickly become the darling of the just-below-ground media. Much like Modest Mouse and the Decemberists, their music switches from art rock la Talking Heads ("Neighborhoods #2 [Laika]") to slow and sweet trippiness and Gang of Four punk. Butler, who is certainly appealing in his own wavery, imperfect, folksy way, delivers most of the vocals. But I'm pretty much done with wavery, imperfect boy singers. The Arcade Fire should feature more Chassagne, whose luxuriant voice is like soaking in a warm bath. Her featured song, "Haiti," manages to make horrifying political and social strife ("unmarked graves where flowers grow") sound like a seaside vacation. Unsettling, yes, yet completely satisfying.
-- Kara Luger
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I'm so glad to see you back with a new album. I really dig Guero -- it's super fly as only you can pull off. Sure, I know people are saying it doesn't cover new ground, that it's derivitive of your past albums. And I'm not going to lie, that's a bit true. Your first single, "E- Pro," is a feel-good, hand-clapping tune, that taps the goof-hop of Mellow Gold. "Que Onda Guero" is a nod to your East L.A. roots and your delightfully awkward rapping sounds -- like Cibo Matto's Miho Hatori, except that English is her second language. (Maybe "damn goofy" is your first language? Just a thought.) Listen, I know you've been busy getting married and having a baby and everything, but -- don't get mad, now -- it plays almost like a greatest hits record, except the songs have gotten all jumbled. Anyway, I'm just glad you're back and you're making happy CDs again. Stay away from making sad, bastard music for a while. BFF!
-- Love, Kara Luger
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East Infection Rubric Records
Is this for real? That was my first thought upon hearing Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz's broad, Eastern European accent vigorously yammering lyrics in broken, endearing English. It's hard to say what's real, being that Hutz, a Ukrainian immigrant, has a handlebar mustache and a penchant for putting cigarettes out on his chest. The rest of Bordello, a motley sextet of migrs, proves that the soundtrack to the revolution may very well lie in the showcasing of punk-rock accordians. Their latest EP, East Infection, is fun and just brief enough to not get annoying, a gypsy sort of Stooges. "#1 East Infection" gets right to the point, ending with a reiteration of "666666 ...", which can only mean the more sixes you use, the more rocking, right? Steve Albini's production pawprints are all over "Copycat," a rare, dry point of the album. On "Ave. B." Hutz yowls, "Tall little Sally my darling, your panic is so charming/ your celebrity erudition is disarming ... Yura viruchai!" With all this energy, there's isn't much time to care about authenticity.