The Arcade Fire - Recent 7" vinyl B-sides
On May 5th, Merge Records released the Arcade Fire's "Keep the Car Running" 7" vinyl single here in the US-- which came backed by B-side, "Broken Window". The 7" for the band's second single, "Intervention", was released in the UK on May 21st and comes out here on July 10th. This second single also includes Calexico's cover of Neon Bible tune, "Ocean of Noise". I'm sure most readers of this website are well acquainted with the tunes on the Arcade Fire's excellent sophomore album and the first two singles from it, but I thought there would be more than a few individuals interested in hearing the tunes backing the singles. Accordingly, they are posted in all their streaming glory below.
"Broken Window" is more restrained than we are used to hearing these guys and though the tension ebbs and flows throughout the tune, it never quite reaches the type of catharsis or climax showcased on their best material. The song builds slowly but surely until right around the 3:20 mark, when the tune feels right on the verge of a huge, anthemic crescendo, but then unexpectedly retreats back into "quiet mode". This is fine, but when you're listening to a band capable of producing soaring epics like "Wake Up", it is inevitably a bit disappointing. Afterward, the tension begins building again, but after the initial anticlimactic moment, one never quite expects it to completely turn the corner. This tune is decent (we're talking about Arcade Fire here people), but has a definite B-side feel and is not as fully realized as their album cuts.
Calexico's take on "Oceans of Noise" is quite cool and is exactly the type of B-side treat fans truly appreciate. The band's Martin Wenk and Jacob Valenezuela played the horns on the Arcade Fire's version of the cut, so it makes sense the entire band would eventually cover the track. Live recordings of the tune were posted around the net in early April, but the studio version is (not surprisingly) a superior sounding take on the song. Though Calexico is pretty much completely faithful to the original, the Arcade Fire version is far more dramatic and theatrical than Calexico's understated cover-- precisely what one would expect from these bands. The accents of harp provide an excellent touch and the trumpets are given more room to breathe in the mix than on the original. Hell, after listening to Calexico's version, one might even start to find Arcade Fire's rendition a bit over-the-top. But, alas, their tendency to be highly dramatic is an integral part of the Arcade Fire's charm.
Stream the tunes: