Podcasts | Political Beats

Episode 3: Arcade Fire

Scot and Jeff talk to Tim Miller, former Jeb! Bush 2016 communications director and co-founder of AmericaRising, about Arcade Fire.
Introducing the Band
Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD), with guest Tim Miller, former Jeb! Bush 2016 communications director, co-founder of @AmericaRising, Partner at Definers Public Affairs, cheerful practitioner of the political dark arts. Follow him on Twitter at @Timodc.
Tim's Musical Pick
Arcade Fire. How did he get into them? Tim and Jeff relive their musical young adulthoods. Tim talks about finding Arcade Fire after his Widespread Panic phase, plunging into '00s indie-rock scene. Jeff recounts his quasi-LCD Soundsystem "Losing My Edge" tale of watching them bomb HARD in Washington, DC as an unknown opening act in the pre-Funeral era.
KEY TRACKS: "Wake Up" (Funeral, 2004)
Funeral: a Debut Album That still Ranks with the Greatest of All Time
The gang discusses why this is a hip indie album that still resonates: songwriting, thematics, instrumentation -- a record made by young, inexperienced men and women that somehow sounds like the culmination of a long career, not the beginning of one. The purity of Win Butler & Regine Chassagne's lyrical conceits, the maturity of the band's song constructions, arrangements, and production . . . an album that seemingly landed on earth as if from another, better universe.
KEY TRACKS: "Rebellion (Lies)" (Funeral, 2004); "Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)" (Funeral, 2004); "Crown Of Love" (Funeral, 2004); "Neighborhood #2 (Laika)" (Funeral, 2004); "In The Backseat" (Funeral, 2004)
Neon Bible: the Sophomore Act
Jeff, pre-show, was a veritable seven nation army in converting Tim to the underrated greatness and variety of Arcade Fire's followup to Funeral. Scot singles out "Intervention" as a truly fantastic song, Tim cites to "The Well And The Lighthouse," Jeff loves it all but particularly insists that the entire planet recognize the low-key tension of "Neon Bible" (the title track) and sweeping grandeur of "No Cars Go."
KEY TRACKS: "Intervention" (Neon Bible, 2007); "The Well And The Lighthouse" (Neon Bible, 2007); "Neon Bible" (Neon Bible, 2007); "Black Wave/Bad Vibrations" (Neon Bible, 2007); "No Cars Go" (Neon Bible, 2007); "Windowsill" (Neon Bible, 2007)
The Suburbs: Where Subtext Becomes Explicit Text
Scot. Tim and Jeff violently disagree about the merits of Arcade Fire's "Album Of The Year" Grammy-winning 2010 record. Scot and Tim rank it among their favorites. Jeff thinks a full third of it should have been pruned away and labels at least one song "pure garbage." All agree, however, that one song in particular pointed the way towards a bright future for the band.
KEY TRACKS: "The Suburbs" (The Suburbs, 2010); "Ready To Start" (The Suburbs, 2010); "Rococo" (The Suburbs, 2010); "Modern Man" (The Suburbs, 2010); "Half Light II (No Celebration)" (The Suburbs, 2010); "We Used To Wait" (The Suburbs, 2010); "Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)" (The Suburbs, 2010)
Arcade Fire Throws a Curveball: Reflektor and the Move Toward Dance
Jeff thinks it's overstuffed like Suburbs, but agrees with Tim nevertheless that it marked a profoundly exciting move by AF, sidestepping a potential rut by moving into a fearless groove-oriented future. Scot talks about how the title track is a relentless earworm. Tim speculates on the influence of LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy as a producer. Scot and Tim think "Porno" should have been cut from the record but they are oh-so-tragically wrong in Jeff's opinion. Everyone loves "Afterlife" while Jeff discourses on the esoteric philosophical discourse underpinning the title track and the immensely moving Eurydice/Orpheus suite. Please listen to this record.
KEY TRACKS: "Reflektor" (Reflektor, 2013); "Here Comes The Night Time" (Reflektor, 2013); "It's Never Over (Hey Orpheus)" (Reflektor, 2013); "Porno" (Reflektor, 2013); "Afterlife" (Reflektor, 2013); "Supersymmetry" (Reflektor, 2013)
The New Album: Everything Now
Controversy abounds in 2017! Tim is not a fan at all, but Jeff loves it aside from "Chemistry." Scot suggests that AF has lost that deep sincerity that set them apart earlier in their career, but Jeff cites to the heartbreak of "We Don't Deserve Love."
KEY TRACKS: "Everything Now" (Everything Now, 2017); "Creature Comfort" (Everything Now, 2017); "Put Your Money On Me" (Everything Now, 2017); "We Don't Deserve Love" (Everything Now, 2017)
Finale: Two Albums and Five Songs
Tim, Scot and Jeff each name their two key albums and five key songs from Arcade Fire.
You can subscribe to Political Beats on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and TuneIn. You can also download this episode here.

Most Popular

U.S.

Fire the FBI Chief

American government is supposed to look and sound like George Washington. What it actually looks and sounds like is Henry Hill from Goodfellas: bad suit, hand out, intoning the eternal mantra: “F*** you, pay me.” American government mostly works by interposition, standing between us, the free people at ... Read More
Film & TV

Black Panther’s Circle of Hype

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) first infantilizes its audience, then banalizes it, and, finally, controls it through marketing. This commercial strategy, geared toward adolescents of all ages, resembles the Democratic party’s political manipulation of black Americans, targeting that audience through its ... Read More