Sunday, September 14, 2014


Arcade Fire woke up to innocence and mortality with the rebellious revelations and neighborhood neuroses of this climactic carnival catharsis.  The group was started by Win Butler and Josh Deu who were both students at Concordia University.  They met music student Régine Chassagne at nearby McGill University, where they would rehearse; and the trio began recording demos.  Butler, Chassagne, and Deu were joined by Tim Kyle, Alan Lavian, Dane Mills, and Brendan Reed and the group recorded their eponymous EP in Maine where Butler's family had recently relocated.  During the sessions, Richard Reed Parry joined the band.  When the EP was finished Deu left to go back to school and Reed and Mills quit the group.  Win's brother William Pierce Butler and Tim Kingsbury were brought into the fold and they began to promote their EP.  The buzz over the EP and their live shows led to a deal with independent Merge Records.  

The sessions for 'Funeral' took place at the Hotel2Tango recording studio in the Mile End district of Montreal, Quebec.  Production, string arrangements, engineering, and recording were handled by Arcade Fire with mastering by Ryan Morey;  recording and engineering by Mark Lawson;  and recording assistance by Thierry Amar.  'Funeral' features Win Butler on vocals, Jaguar and 12 strings electric guitar, acoustic guitar, piano, synthesizer, and bass;   Régine Chassagne on vocals, drums, synthesizer, piano, accordion, xylophone, recorders, and percussion;   Richard Reed Parry on Rickenbacker guitar, synthesizer, organ, piano, accordion, xylophone, percussion, double bass, engineering, and recording;   Tim Kingsbury on bass, Telecaster guitar, and acoustic guitar;   Howard Bilerman on drums, guitar, engineering, and recording; and William Butler on bass, xylophone, synthesizer, and percussion;      with Sarah Neufeld and Owen Pallett on violin and string arrangements;  Michael Olsen on cello;  Pietro Amato on horn;  Anita Fust on harp;  Sophie Trudeau and Jessica Moss on violin on "Wake Up";  Gen Heistek on viola on "Wake Up"; and Arlen Thompson on drums on "Wake Up".    The title of 'Funeral' was a result of the deaths of Chassagne's grandmother and Butler's grandfather during the production of the album.  

Win Butler reveals: "We just came back from my Grand Pop Alvino’s funeral just as we were finishing up the record and he was really a monumental figure for me and Régine, my whole family and everyone.  It was just the whole mixed emotion of celebrating someone and missing them and being around all these people—my family—who I almost never see except for at a funeral or a wedding and relating to people in a really short intense period. Something about the emotional quality of that is what I think was going on in the record and it just made sense...In general, we took the approach that you’re small, seemingly insignificant personal relationships all have some sort of greater importance in other peoples’ lives than your life in the world in general.  A lot of stuff does come down to small relationships...We end up switching around instruments quite a bit and just coincidentally a lot of times we end up writing stuff not playing our first instruments.  Régine plays a lot of drums on the record and she’s only been playing for about eight months. Richard is a bass player and he plays guitar on the record. Tim is basically a guitar player and he plays mostly bass. For whatever reason, there’s a certain kind of energy that we’ve found playing something we’re not intimately familiar with that tends to translate to just a different kind of sound when we all come together and play ... The studio has a very different energy and the goal is totally different...there is no way to just bash around in the studio the same as the live show and have it come energy does a lot to distract people from blemishes! I have never been a fan of bands who sound the same live as in the studio...There isn't much of a risk of us becoming too proficient...we tend to write better when we are playing instruments we are less familiar with...there is a strange energy, that I think is really the original source of the excitement of punk music...I don't know...The songs aren't super dramatic to me, this has been pointed out to me by outsiders, though I guess I can see what they are talking about...The band is changing and trying new things all the time, and we are already experimenting with the opposite kind of energy as is in our live show; stillness and quiet."

Chassagne says:  "Before I met Win four years ago, I had no idea about indie-rock. I started hearing it and I was like 'what is this?' At first, I didn't really like it. From what I heard, I didn't even know what it was. But now I've heard much more from hanging out with these guys, and I really appreciate it. I don't know, it's like I'm the reject. It's okay if you don't like me, because I don't belong; it doesn't matter. I like playing music. It's not like I don't understand what we're doing. I was just surprised, like, 'Oh, what is all this?' I'm sure I'm not the only one. But once you get into a movement, it's like everyone knows about it, and 'of course!' At one time, I was like 'who are these bands?' I don't know, how am I supposed to know?  I'm sure a lot of people don't know. But it's great; I definitely get to know more now ...  It’s all one thing to me.  I heard once that in at least one African language there is only one word for music, dancing and singing. It all means the same. If you sing, of course you’re going to dance and of course you’re going to play something. It’s meant to be done together. In rock `n’ roll there can be a lot of divisions between things: the singer, the songwriter, the arranger, the producer, the choreographer, the stylist. But to me, it all belongs together."

 'Funeral' processed to number one hundred and twenty-three in the US, ninety-six in Germany, eighty in Australia, sixty-one in France, fifty-nine in Belgium, forty-two in the Netherlands, thirty-three in the UK, twenty-seven in Norway, twenty-three in Canada, and sixteen in Ireland.

"Wake Up"   5:39

"Rebellion (Lies)"

"Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)"   4:48

"Neighborhood #2 (Laïka)"   3:33

"Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)"   5:12

bonus tracks:  

"My Buddy" (Alvino Rey Orchestra)   2:35
was actually a track recorded by Win and William Butler's grandfather Alvino Rey (Alvin McBurney) who had died during the production of 'Funeral'.

"Brazil"   Ary Barroso 3:56

full album:

1. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) (0:00)
2. Neighborhood #2 (Laika) (4:42)
3. Une Annee Sans Luminere (8:10)
4. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out) (11:45)
5. Neighborhood #4 (7 Kettles) (16:52)
1. Crown Of Love (21:29)
2. Wake Up (26:05)
3. Haiti (31:35)
4. Rebellion (Lies) (35:30)
5. In The Backseat (40:40)

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