Photo by David Greenwald
Elliott Smith – “Between the Bars” (live, 12.01.01): mp3
This recording, taken from one of Smith’s last shows before plunging into self-imposed exile/recording sessions/drug binging, is perhaps the most emotional, heart-crushing version of an already desperately sad song. If “authenticity” matters to you, this is as good as it gets.
The Arcade Fire – “Black Mirror”: mp3
A lot is going to be said about the Arcade Fire over the next few weeks. Months, really. But so far, much of it’s wrong — Neon Bible is an album about grandeur and ambition, to be sure, but those qualities only define part of the album. While the instruments (that organ? sheesh) are gaudy and the lyrics (uniformly bad) strain to carry the weight of the world instead of the heaviness of personal afflictions, as Funeral so brilliantly did, what’s noteworthy about the new album is the economy of songwriting. “Black Mirror” and its follow-up tracks sound like classic rockers, built on simple chord changes and predictable, enjoyable pop structures. Ironically, the band has no trouble churning out an album filled with universally appealing songs; it’s the appealing-to-the-universe subject matter that ultimately serves as its weakness.
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The Rob Gordon Shuffle is a weekly Sunday rundown of fascinating songs without particular regard to genre or timeliness. It is absolutely not a top five. To read further installments (or check out more new and upcoming albums), click below.