TBT: Who Is Arcade Fire?

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With the Grammys taking place this past weekend, it seems like an appropriate week to take a stroll down memory lane to Grammys past. 

In 2011, Arcade Fire beat out Lady Gaga, Lady Antebellum, Katy Perry, and Eminem for Album of the Year with The Suburbs. They were the first ever indie artist to win this category, and the internet was not thrilled

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For fans of indie music who favor an eclectic/often unconventional sound, Arcade Fire is the greatest thing your ears will ever experience. They’ve been around since 2001, fronted by husband and wife Win Butler and Régine Chassagne. Arcade Fire has it all: bass, piano, drums, cello, French horn, glockenspiel, harp, cello, and many, many more. 

Their four albums–2004’s Funeral, 2007’s Neon Bible, 2010’s The Suburbs, and 2014’s Reflektor–have all received critical acclaim. Their lyrics are lovely and many of their songs feature Chassagne singing in French, which is probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard. On top of all this, Arcade Fire has done social justice work to raise money for Haiti, Chassagne’s country of origin, and recently scored the Spike Jonze movie, Her.

Who the hell is Arcade Fire? Your new favorite band, that’s who. 


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TBT: TURN UP DA SYNTH

I know it’s not Thursday but it’s never too late to throw it back for a super rad musical innovation of the past. On January 31st, 1955, the Radio Corporation of America debuted Victor: the world’s first electronic synthesizer! 

A synthesizer is an electronic instrument that can produce and mimic a wide range of sounds, from a guitar or a person’s voice to a bird chirping to sounds that can’t even be heard in nature. Nowadays, you might associate them with music that sounds like this: 

Or this: 

Electronic duo Daft Punk is well-known for playing around with different digital synthesizers. “Da Funk” is a super catchy example of their signature synth sound.

But wait, there’s more! Electronic and house music definitely don’t have the monopoly on the synthesizer. 

Mmmmm, sounds like the ‘90’s.

In the years since Victor’s introduction, synthesizers have progressed in leaps and bounds to the point where they can now be found in pretty much every genre of music. The quality of sound produced by a synthesizer can be changed by a number of factors–whether it uses analog or digital signals, for one, or how the signals are filtered and processed. Synth sound can be programmed or controlled with the voice. They can also be used to sample music, or take a sound from one song/recording and use it in another, with or without alteration. There is nearly nothing a synth can’t do. The RCA really did us a solid with this one.

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TBT: Belated HB to Baby Spice!!!

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On January 21st, 39 years ago, the universe was blessed with the gift of Emma Bunton–1/5 of the raddest group of girls around. She’s the second Spice from the left in the photo above, precious and pigtailed as ever.  

Emma was the last of the Spice Girls to join the group at just 18 years old after the departure of Michelle Stephenson (who doesn’t get a cool nickname because she wasn’t around long enough). As the youngest, girliest, and generally most adorable of the five, she was dubbed Baby Spice by Top of the Pops magazine in 1996. The rest, as they say, is history. 

If you don’t get down to this song, you’re lying. 

The Spice Girls, formerly known as Touch, released three albums–Spice (1996), Spiceworld (1997),and Forever (2000)–before splitting up in December 2000 to pursue independent careers. Victoria Beckham (aka Posh Spice) probably garnered the most media attention afterwards by marrying British soccer superstar/god among men David Beckham, but I know the burning question on all of your minds: what has Baby Spice been up to since then?

Emma Bunton released three solo albums–the second of which, Free Me, was the most successful–it was praised as being the best of the solo Spice releases for its unique incorporation of Motown/1960’s-era sound. On top of that, she had cameo appearances in two Bollywood movies, started a family, and now hosts a British radio show every Saturday. 

You can also find Baby Spice on Twitter (and on MySpace, in case anyone besides Baby Spice still uses it. I do appreciate her efforts to keep that social media dream alive)–where it is comforting to see that our favorite group of gals still hangs out on the reg. 

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And they’re just as weird as you and me. (from left to right–Baby Spice, Scary Spice (Mel B), and Sporty Spice (Mel C).

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TBT: Mick Jagger and his eternal ‘tude

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This day in music history:48 years ago today, The Rolling Stones took the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show (think old-school Tonight Show) after being warned that the lyrics to their hit, “Let’s Spend The Night Together”, were too suggestive for their teenage viewers (producers insisted on the much more conservative and totally ambiguous “Let’s spend some time together!”). The band relented after much protest on the part of Mick Jagger—who exaggerated the altered line while performing, rolled his eyes for the camera, and still managed to slip in the original line during the final verse.

Sullivan’s adult fan base was outraged.

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“Should be ashamed of yourself putting on such trash as The Rolling Stones. A disappointed viewer, Claude Lopez,” reads a telegram to Ed Sullivan following the show. Tell ‘em, Claude. 

Of course, the performance only strengthened fans’ love for their boys. The Stones made a name for themselves in the US by being edgy and a little aggressive. At the time of their arrival in the states, The Beatles dominated the music scene and were universally beloved for playing by the rules. The concept of a popular rock band pushing the envelope was a relatively new one. It took  a little bit of controversy and a lot of hip-wiggling (sorry, Adam Levine, hard as you try you will never have moves quite like Jagger), but The Rolling Stones eventually won over the hearts of America. Songs like "Gimme Shelter" and "Under My Thumb" distinguish them as a powerful, sometimes almost menacing, unquestionably talented group of musicians, while surprises like "Moonlight Mile" portray real, raw emotion like no one else could.

If you want to listen to more classic rock and don’t know where to start, if you’re interested in the origin of “fangirling”, or if you want someone to blame for the British boy band revolution, The Rolling Stones are the guys for you. They are the kings of bluesy rock-and-roll music, and it doesn’t hurt that young Jagger isn’t horrible to look at. 

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OG heartthrobs.

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Throwback Thursday: Mikky Ekko / HAERTS Show (Ani Joon Review)

Something you may have missed over the break… Rainy Dawg Radio’s Ani Joon is sonically enlightened by Mikky Ekko’s performance in Seattle.

A local performance review (featuring audio and video from the show)!

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Ania Kamkar