Thursday, August 26, 2010

Album Review: Arcade Fire-The Suburbs

Sometimes you worry about whether a band will deliver on their early promise. So many bands show great potential on their first album and create amazing art, only to completely collapse during the production of their second album. And it's a rare few bands who succeed in producing more than one great album.

So it is with great joy that I tell you that Arcade Fire have succeeded in producing another great album. The Suburbs plays like a big sprawling housing development. It explores a lot of territory over a long time (16 tracks over an hour) and looks so good while doing it.

A friend of mine pointed out that he liked Arcade Fire's continuity in their albums. They produce works that have an excellent sense of cohesiveness. All the songs fit together in ways that create a musical flow from one end to the other, and the songs often link into each other in ways that serve to enhance each song.

But The Suburbs doesn't just work as an album. It's full of songs which are great in their own right. Title track "The Suburbs" explores some more modest emotional ground that the band hasn't really delved into too deeply, "Month of May" shows us what Arcade Fire could be if they threw down their violins and became a straight ahead rock band, and my personal favourite "Empty Room" explodes right from the beginning with a string riff that sounds like it's about to explode.

This is normally the part of the review where I say what I don't like about the album, but I think this is a solid effort and doesn't really have any specific weak points. This is a good candidate for one of my favourite albums of the year.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

You're my Favourite?

I don't like the way people use words sometimes. For example, people use the word like way too often in North American english. This isn't a big problem as it's only an annoyance, and doesn't lead to any kind of serious communication errors. What I'd like to talk to you about today is hyperbole gone terrible wrong.

For those of you who are confused, hyperbole refers to a gross exaggeration, usually for the purpose of emphasis. For example I could say that I work a billion hours a week and you would know that I was exaggerating because there aren't a billion hours in a week and there's no way I could work that much. But from what I've said you now understand that I feel like I work a lot more than anyone should. This is ok because these types of hyperboles are easy to identify (try playing spot the hyperbole with your friends sometime and you'll see how easy it is to identify in most cases).

The problem comes in when we start producing ambiguous hyperbole. This means that your hyperbole isn't easy to identify or could be interpreted as a truthful statement. Consider the following exchange between Jane, a beautiful young lass, and Margaret who desperately wants to be best friends with Jane.

Jane: Margaret can I borrow a pencil?
Margaret: Sure, here you go.
Jane: Thanks Margaret, you're my favourite!

Now this puts Margaret in a bit of an awkward spot. True, she did just provide Jane with a valuable service, but has her looseness with pencils really gained her number one status in Jane's friend list? Most people would say no but for Margaret, she desperately wants to believe the answer is yes.

Ridiculous examples aside, I have a big problem with this. While girls are the most common culprits both genders are guilty (you have no idea how many people have told me I am their favourite because I've given them a muffin). It's like they're looking for excuses to tell people that they are their favourite and it demeans the concept of being someone's favourite and confuses the hell out of some people.

And really, why is it necessary? Why can't we just say "thank you" or "I appreciate your gesture"? Why are we going out of the way to try and make people feel more special than we actually think they are. Why don't we just cut all the crap and say what we feel instead of making stuff up? In fact I'm going to start right now. Thanks for reading reader. You're not my favourite but you're ok.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Best Birthday Present of All

I'm a solitary guy. I spend a lot of time by myself, doing solo-type activities. I feel awkward in social situations and I don't always know how to set up friend dates so the opportunity for me to interact with people is less frequent than I would like.

This was slightly different today though. Today was my birthday. This means that I was greeted, called, and messaged on facebook by a great many people. It was very nice. It was a day full of nice social contact. I also got to respond to a lot of these people and discuss each other's lives and what we've been up to and how life is. It was very nice to get all of these updates.

So I have decided that the best birthday present from today was the conversations and exchanges I had with people. Thank you for all being a part of it.