Posts Tagged ‘Will Butler’

Arcade Fire's <i>The Suburbs</i> Remains A Sprawling Indie Rock Classic

On Arcade Fire’s greatest album (to date), the band creates something of an alternate universe where the suburbs are literally a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Win Butler and pals spotlight their uncanny ability to slip into the sights, sounds and feelings of childhood, melding memories (both happy and unhappy) into a greater portrait of comfort and rebellion in the outer environs. The theme unifies a diverse palette of relentlessly exciting rock ’n’ roll, from the punky “Month of May” to the synth-pop stunner “Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains).” On the latter, Regine Chassagne belts the eternal credo of tortured teenage artists: “I need the darkness, someone please cut the lights.”

“It has left me restless and endlessly frustrated, thinking about this, about a place that isn’t necessarily just a place but is also a state of mind.”
That’s how Eric Eidelstein begins his personal yet overarching look at Arcade Fire’s monumental 2010 album The Suburbs. The indie rock outfit is responsible for a handful of impeccable releases—from their sweeping 2004 debut Funeral to 2013’s daring Reflektor—but none triggers the imagination quite like The Suburbs, named one of the best albums of the 2010s. That restlessness Eidelstein describes in his 33 1/3 book is what makes The Suburbs such an inescapable and timeless classic. No matter how much bigger the urban/rural divide gets, people will always get stuck places—whether metaphorical or physical. And they’ll always find reasons to be restless.

The Suburbs, their third studio album, turns 10 this Sunday, August. 2nd, and in the years since its release, Arcade Fire have found themselves both at the forefront of the critical conversation and general rock music discourse. For most of the last 20 years, it seemed like they could do no wrong. They released four rock-solid albums, and then, in 2017, they dropped a dud (critically, at least). Even though this writer (and this writer) has found certain aspects of it to be redeemable, Everything Now was panned by everyone from Pitchfork to SPIN (who went so far to say it was a “deeply cynical, joyless album”). The Suburbs has endured throughout these conversations, perhaps because it cleanly offers social criticism and satire without cynicism. Everything Now attempts grand critique of culture in the same way The Suburbs does, but only the latter really pulls it off. Arcade Fire take more chances on this ambitious concept album, but the payoff is enormous.

Anyone who has lived somewhere small will understand what The Suburbs is getting at. For frontman Win Butler and his brother Will, this album was inspired by their upbringing in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb outside Houston. I grew up in a small sweaty town in Alabama, not some cookie-cutter community lingering in the shadow of Chicago or Orlando or New York, but I still understand American mundanity and what it feels like to be trapped. This Arcade Fire album approaches that feeling more than just a sketch of a certain kind of place. “The Suburbs” could be anywhere. As Eidlestein also wrote, “I want you to think of the suburbs, whatever they may mean for you.” And as Win himself said, the album is “Neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs – it’s a letter from the suburbs.” The Suburbs continues to outlast other concept albums from this time period because it can be about anywhere.  There are certain moments on The Suburbs that capture that aforementioned restlessness. Some sound more like freedom. And others seem to reflect American culture on a larger scale. One does all three, and it’s therefore the high point of the album. Régine Chassagne takes the spotlight on the massive, disco-inspired second “Sprawl”—“Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)”—and, like a great coming-of-age film, it somehow encapsulates everything about growing up, chasing dreams and the ache so many of us felt when we imagined a life somewhere beyond our seemingly small worlds. “These days, my life, I feel it has no purpose / But late at night the feelings swim to the surface,” Chassagne sings. “’Cause on the suburbs the city lights shine / They’re calling at me, come and find your kind.” It’s an invitation to make good on those dreams and aches.

Arcade Fire are fond of creating a specific atmosphere or universe with each record—even if that landscape is one already familiar to us. Other key tracks include “The Suburbs” itself, which introduces us to the metaphorical ‘Burbs where the next hour of music will take place. “The Suburbs,” which attempts to tear down some of the utopian-like notions about suburban communities, is the project’s thesis statement, one that addresses themes like uniformity and toxicity in Western culture that they had only touched on in previous albums. The next song, “Ready to Start,” is a fast forward to fresh beginnings, the sparkling “Rococo” observes bored trendy teens and “Month of May” describes the wild feelings that come around when the world finally starts to thaw out every year. Lyrically, it’s a picturesque and vivid record from start to finish, but The Suburbs is also just a really good indie rock album. “Modern Man” is a bouncy rock jam, “Half Light I” swells with experimental strings and “Deep Blue” sinks into a cool, dark escape from the miles and miles of concrete. The synths, guitars and drums on The Suburbs make it a delight to behold even if you’re ignoring the lyrics, which are—let me be clear—still of the utmost importance.

What it did: Stripped the sound back to something altogether more immediate – from the jaunty title track to the raw punk power of ‘Month Of May’ – and touched on the fear of growing up. Poor old Win – it comes to us all.
Fun fact: The album was inspired by a letter Win received from a childhood friend back home in Houston, Texas.

 

Arcade Fire

  • Will Butler
  • Win Butler
  • Régine Chassagne
  • Jeremy Gara
  • Tim Kingsbury
  • Sarah Neufeld
  • Richard Reed Parry

Will Butler has been a member of the band Arcade Fire for over 10 years. This is his first release under his own name. in the five years since Will Butler released his debut album, policy, he’s toured the world both solo and as a member of Arcade Fire, released the Friday Night Live album, recorded and released Arcade Fire’s international #1 album everything now, earned his master’s degree in public policy from Harvard, hosted a series of touring town halls on local issues (police contracts, prison reform, municipal paid sick leave, voting rights), and spent time raising his three children.

He also found the time and inspiration to write and record a new album, “Generations”. “my first record, Policy, was a book of short stories,” Butler says. “Generations” is more of a novel despairing, funny, a little bit epic… a big chunk of this record is asking: what’s my place in American history? what’s my place in America’s present? both in general as a participant, as we all are, in the shit that’s going down but, also extremely particularly: me as Will Butler, rich person, white person, mormon, yankee, parent, musician of some sort, I guess. what do I do? what can I do? the record asks that question over and over, even if it’s not much for answers.” while the songs on Generations contain their fair share of dread and regret, there is ultimately a lightness that shines through Butler’s music. that brightness is at its most intense when he and his solo band Miles Francis, Sara Dobbs, and Julie and Jenny Shore perform on stage. their electricity is palpable throughout Generations, with the bulk of the new songs having been worked out live. wild synth production gnarly bass synths with live drums and anthemic backing vocals as on first single “Surrender” are punctuated by intimate, direct moments.

Butler’s voice cracking on “Fine” as he conjures his ancestors, and “promised,” a meditation on friendship, how lives are built together, and how and why they drift apart. generations was recorded and produced by Butler in the basement of his home in Brooklyn. tracking finished in March 2020, as New York closed down for the pandemic. half the record was mixed in Montreal by longtime Arcade Fire engineer Mark Lawson, the other half by Brooklyn-based producer Shiftee (who is, incidentally, bandmate Julie Shore’s husband and Will’s brother-in-law). generations opens a dialogue with the world. it posits answers and deals with those answers being refuted. ultimately, it navigates the conversation as a way to find the truth… or at least a way forward.

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In the five years since releasing his debut album Policy, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler has toured the world solo and with his band following their international #1 album Everything Now. He’s also earned a master’s degree from Harvard, raised three kids and written – quite frankly – a brilliant sophomore solo album. If Policy was a book of short stories, Generations is a despairing, funny and epic novel.

The Band:
Will Butler: singing, synths, piano, guitar, bass guitar, percussion, drum machines, snare, claps
Miles Francis: drums, drum machines, percussion, synths, acoustic guitar, singing, claps
Sara Dobbs: pre-production, singing, claps
Julie Shore: synths, piano, electric guitar, singing, claps
Jenny Shore: synths, singing, claps
Stuart Bogie: clarinet, tenor sax
Matt Bauder: bass clarinet, tenor sax, alto sax, baritone sax

Releases September 25th, 2020

Will Butler has officially released the tracks he recorded earlier this year for the UK’s Guardian newspaper. Will’s debut album Policy plus these five songs—each of which was inspired by a story published in the Guardian, then written and recorded that same day—comprise Policy Deluxe, now available at iTunes, Google Play, andSpotify.

Will Butler is about to tour . Also, don’t miss video of the Will Butler band’s lively performances of “Anna” and “Witness” on Late Night with Seth Meyers. 

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Will Butler, the keyboard player and jack-of-all-instruments for Arcade Fire, has been playing smaller stages lately and liking it. Arcade Fire plays sheds and festivals — led by his brother, singer Win Butler — but he’s been playing 150-seat clubs as a solo artist who’s just released his debut album,“Policy”.

After receiving an Oscar nomination for his collaboration with Owen Pallett for the soundtrack to Spike Jonze’s film Her, Butler decided to make the record he’d been dreaming of. Butler is always in motion in this World Cafe session.

Will Butler.

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Californian born Will Butler the multi instrumentalist from the band Arcade Fire and younger brother of their frontman Win releases his debut solo album, recorded at the legendary Electric Lady Studios in New York. its full of bluesy stomping garage sounds, augumented with brass, shooting synths driving rhythms and psych tinged epic balladry.

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Already known as a core member of Arcade Fire, Will Butler reveals a deep reserve of feeling and nuance on his debut solo album, due in early March on Merge Records. “Policy” is a burnished gem that shares musical DNA with not only his main band, but also the Violent Femmes, Television, and Arthur Russell. The press materials describe it simply as “American music.” Butler’s elastic voice, which at times recalls that of his older brother, Win (Arcade Fire’s frontman), oscillates between world-weary croon and punk sneer. William Pierce Butler is an American multi-instrumentalist and composer who is best known as a core member of the indie rock band Arcade Fire. William plays synthesizer, bass, guitar and percussion.