Reflektor by Arcade Fire is the New Music Pick of the Week

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There is a bargain store very near where I live that I just love going to. It is one of those places that scours the universe for store closings and buy-out deals and they buy huge quantities of the randomness stuff and then resale it to the public at a mark-up.  They sell a little bit of everything - from clothes to furniture to toys and electronics.  But you never know what they are going to have on any given day.  Everything is marked down and the longer the items stay on the shelves the cheaper they get.

They also typically have a large selection of DVDs and CDs.  The music, like everything else is completely random with no rhyme nor reason as to what they will have at any given time.  Strangely they do seem to always carry quite a lot of mid-90s alternative rock which is actually quite up my alley.  I almost always come home with something.

The other day I grabbed Soul Asylum's Grave Dancer's Union album.  Today, on the way to some sushi, I was playing it and my wife and I were reminiscing about it.  We talked about that great "Runaway Train" video with the shots of all those real live missing children, and Dave Pirner's crazy hair.  We both realize that while we seemed to know most of the songs on it, that we had never actually owned the album.  

My sister had the cassette tape, but for whatever reason I never bought it.  Or any other Soul Asylum album.  I have very strong memories of being in the record store on numerous occasion looking at their old albums, but never actually buying one.  

That concept really takes me back.  These days I very rarely go to a record shop (I'm not even sure there is one within a hundred miles of me) and in fact I generally don't buy CDs anymore (the regular, recent exception being these bargain hunts at this one particular store.)  MP3 downloads have long since taken over my life. But I very fondly remember going into a shop, spending hours digging through the bins trying to decide which album I could afford to take home.  

While I still very much love my MP3s and am able to argue vehemently about their awesomeness, there really was something special about that process of having to choose which album you could buy at that particular time.  

I am reminded of this now every week as I look through the new releases.  Oh sure these days I can download all the albums I want, but as I scroll through the virtual bins I seek all these artists whose names I knew way back then, but was unable to afford their records at the time.  Back then I'd read magazines like Spin and Alternative Press.  I'd watch 120 Minutes on MTV or catch the local alternative show on the radio.  I'd hear various band names bantered about and make mental notes that I should listen to them.  But unless they happened to appear on those shows, I'd never actually hear them.  Which made me less inclined to throw good money at them.  Still, after all these years I remember those names, I have this strange desire to listen to them for once.

As I write these weekly columns I see many of those names, and some new ones that have reached my brain cells but not my ear lobes.  Its a strange thing then writing this column.  A part of me wants to point to those artists and talk about them - to hype them up to prove I know who they are and appreciate them.  Another part of me realizes that since I really know nothing about them I should just stay quiet.

This week is filled with a lot of those artist.  Names that I know simply because I've read about them or have friends who dig them, but who I have not ever actually listened to.  Some of those I'll be talking about.  Some I won't be mentioning at all.  I'll let you guess who those are.

Which brings us to Arcade Fire.  I have actually heard these guys, I'm quite positive, but they didn't leave any real lasting impression.  It was likely one of those times when I grabbed one of their albums, let it play in the background but didn't give it much attention and it never managed to grab me.  But I have heard a lot of buzz and I do have a lot of friends who dig it.  I know this because Amazon now tells me so.  Under this new album, Reflektor, Amazon now lists all my Facebook friends who have liked Arcade Fire.  That's super creepy, but helpful I guess.

Anyways this band that many people love have a new album, and I'm making it my Pick of the Week.  Sure you could argue that its just a week weak and I'd not pick this one if there was anything else I knew out right now.  That's true enough, but I like to think this is my way of harkening back to the days when you went to the record shop and took a chance on a band.  Hoping to strike something awesome.

Also out this week that looks interesting:

The Flood and the Mercy - Ed Kowalczyk: I wouldn't say I was a huge fan of Live but I did know their music and owned at least one album.  Haven't thought about them in years though.  This knew one from their lead singer features Peter Buck on guitars and a guest vocal performance by Rachel Yamagata.

Dig This - Southern Culture on the Skids:  This is a band I know by name only.  My wife likes them, or rather she did before we got married.  I'm quite sure she saw them live at some point, but she seems to have lost their flavor as there aren't any of their albums in our house and she never talks about them.

Humble Pie - Performance: Rockin' the Fillmore - The Complete Performance:  Yet another band whose name I know and who I surely ought to be familiar with, but I'm not.  In fact I'm just now realizing Peter Frampton was in the band.  Regardless of me this is a big four disk set that expands the 1971 double live album and now features the entire May 28-29 1971 performances.

Christmas Songs - Bad Religion:  I hate to sound like a broken record but once again here's a band I know only by name.  I used to know a guy in high school who loved Bad Religion, and in college there was this girl...but they never managed to play any for me.  The thought of them doing Christmas songs makes me kind of happy though.