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1. The Us Kids Know EP

Most of us didn’t come across this EP until after the release of Arcade Fire’s ridiculously well-received debut album Funeral, but the kids in Canada knew about it, and because of them Merge Records found out about it, leading to the record deal that brought a little known band out of obscurity. Even the band’s record release party for the EP was fraught with meaning. During the show at Montreal’s famous Casa del Popolo, lead singer Win Butler and former band member Brendan Reed broke into an argument during the encore which resulted in Reed and another former band member Dane Mills quitting the band. Win’s brother Will and bassist Tim Kingsbury joined the group to help the band promote the album leading to the line-up we now know (and love). The EP also provided the blueprint for Arcade Fire’s future sound and (in my humble opinion) a superior version of “No Cars Go.”

Src: 2003 © Arcade Fire via YouTube


2. Funeral(s)

While recording their debut album Funeral, lead singer Régine Chassagne lost her grandmother, the Butler brothers’ grandfather passed and multi-instrumentalist Richard Reed Parry’s aunt died all within the span of a year. While the album does at times maintain an elegiac tone, they make magic happen by flipping emotional overload into cathartic release, a trick that led to songs from the album being featured on the BBC and the morbidly fitting HBO show Six Feet Under. Thanks to the album’s near universal critical acclaim, Arcade Fire performed with David Bowie and U2, stormed the festival circuit and got nominated for two Grammys®.

Src: 2005 © Arcade Fire via YouTube


3. Arcade Fire Wins Grammy® for Album of the Year

Arcade Fire’s third studio album The Suburbs released in August 2010 is a homage to the big, sprawling guitar rock records of yesteryear, a concept album that Win Butler told NME Magazine “is neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it's a letter from the suburbs." Even though it was the kind of album that wins Grammys®, and even though Arcade Fire had long since shed the mantle of indie rock underdogs with music featured during the Super Bowl and campaign dates with President Barack Obama, it was still a tipping point where a weird underdog band from Montreal crashed the mainstream.

Src: 2011 © Arcade Fire via YouTube


4. Arcade Fire in Here Comes the Night Time

Almost three years after The Suburbs was released, weird chalk grids began appearing in cities across the world with the title of Arcade Fire’s new album Reflektor etched inside. Following a trip to Chassagne’s parents’ homeland of Haiti, the band began incorporating Haitian festival music into their sound. The album itself is at times hypnotic but the half-hour post-SNL special called Arcade Fire in Here Comes the Night Time is an unusual spectacle of the band’s Id on full display. That it appears on their own TV special with cameo appearances by Bono, Ben Stiller, Zach Galifianakis and Aziz Ansari and the full consent of the National Broadcasting Network seems to signal that the mainstream has gone indie.

Src: 2013 © Arcade Fire via YouTube



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