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click to enlarge Arcade Fire  - Neon Bible  -  -  - Merge  -  - Sounds like: The love child of David Bowie and - Roxy Music -  - Short take: New indie rock scripture -  - When the Montreal scene came seemingly out of - nowhere, the question became whether it was an - anomaly or the truth. Arcade Fire's latest would suggest - it's the latter. This multi-layered sophomore effort takes - the band's thriving spirit and songwriting guile to a new - level. Whereas the mesmerizing "Wake Up" anchored the - band's uneven debut, Funeral, the cathartic - church organ grind of "Intervention" is the latest album's - centerpiece. Perhaps the album is political, social or - iconoclastic. Who knows? Who cares? Where the true - marrow is found on Neon Bible is with singer - Win Butler, whose Johnny Cash-channeled-through- - Bruce Springsteen vocals on "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" - and "Antichrist Television Blues" will haunt you for years - to come.  John Benson
  • Arcade Fire

    Neon Bible

    Merge

    Sounds like: The love child of David Bowie and Roxy Music

    Short take: New indie rock scripture

    When the Montreal scene came seemingly out of nowhere, the question became whether it was an anomaly or the truth. Arcade Fire's latest would suggest it's the latter. This multi-layered sophomore effort takes the band's thriving spirit and songwriting guile to a new level. Whereas the mesmerizing "Wake Up" anchored the band's uneven debut, Funeral, the cathartic church organ grind of "Intervention" is the latest album's centerpiece. Perhaps the album is political, social or iconoclastic. Who knows? Who cares? Where the true marrow is found on Neon Bible is with singer Win Butler, whose Johnny Cash-channeled-through- Bruce Springsteen vocals on "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" and "Antichrist Television Blues" will haunt you for years to come. John Benson

click to enlarge Smoke or Fire   - This Sinking Ship  -  -  - Fat Wreck Chords  -  - Sounds like: What's playing over the sound - system at Hot Topic -  - Short take: New record, same as the old record -  - Well, it sure sounds like a Fat Wreck album: heavy riffs, - tight 'n speedy drumming and shouty-yet-harmonious - vocals. Mind you, that comment's not meant to be - entirely disparaging  unlike many bands with similar - styles, this Richmond, Va., quartet actually has its shit - together, at least somewhat. Smoke or Fire's sophomore - effort, This Sinking Ship, features a new - drummer, Dave Atchinson (from crust-punk group From - Ashes Rise), and more lyrics about drunken nights, - constant touring and broken relationships. The boys - have the punk-rock grumpiness down pat, but too much - of it sounds the same. Hey, Smoke or Fire: Call me when - you branch out a bit.  Kara Luger
  • Smoke or Fire

    This Sinking Ship

    Fat Wreck Chords

    Sounds like: What's playing over the sound system at Hot Topic

    Short take: New record, same as the old record

    Well, it sure sounds like a Fat Wreck album: heavy riffs, tight 'n speedy drumming and shouty-yet-harmonious vocals. Mind you, that comment's not meant to be entirely disparaging unlike many bands with similar styles, this Richmond, Va., quartet actually has its shit together, at least somewhat. Smoke or Fire's sophomore effort, This Sinking Ship, features a new drummer, Dave Atchinson (from crust-punk group From Ashes Rise), and more lyrics about drunken nights, constant touring and broken relationships. The boys have the punk-rock grumpiness down pat, but too much of it sounds the same. Hey, Smoke or Fire: Call me when you branch out a bit. Kara Luger

click to enlarge The Eternals  - Heavy International  -  -  - Aesthetics  -  - Sounds like: If Lee "Scratch" Perry delved into a - magic bag of world music -  - Short take: Some won't get it. But, man, if you - do ... -  - It's time to adjust your headsets: The Eternals are not - going to make this easy for you. Though every song is - doused in dub grooves, along the way the listener may - find funk, dance, hip-hop and jazz influences, tribal - rhythms and Middle Eastern and Asian meanderings. The - result is a multi-faceted dance-off, from the complex - stylings of tracks like "Beware the Swordbat" and - "Scorpion" to the laid-back smoothness of the title track - and "Crime." Though singer Damon Locks' lyrics are still - concerned with urban dystopia  his is a world of - revolution and gamma rays  he has begun to play - heavily with discordant, distorted vocal effects, a - welcome change from his talk-slash-bark heard on past - albums.  Kara Luger
  • The Eternals

    Heavy International

    Aesthetics

    Sounds like: If Lee "Scratch" Perry delved into a magic bag of world music

    Short take: Some won't get it. But, man, if you do ...

    It's time to adjust your headsets: The Eternals are not going to make this easy for you. Though every song is doused in dub grooves, along the way the listener may find funk, dance, hip-hop and jazz influences, tribal rhythms and Middle Eastern and Asian meanderings. The result is a multi-faceted dance-off, from the complex stylings of tracks like "Beware the Swordbat" and "Scorpion" to the laid-back smoothness of the title track and "Crime." Though singer Damon Locks' lyrics are still concerned with urban dystopia his is a world of revolution and gamma rays he has begun to play heavily with discordant, distorted vocal effects, a welcome change from his talk-slash-bark heard on past albums. Kara Luger

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