post brought to you by: dyson
I’ll admit it, I’m not the smartest guy on the block. But at least I know good music when I hear it. I’m about to step into a grey area for me and try to piece together a very complex musical formula analyzing the first 3 albums that bands release.
I have a huge amount of respect for the 3 bands I chose to use as examples and have no intention in harming them during the writing of this post. But this formula, let’s call it the dysonsound formula for the quality of a bands first three albums (DFFTQOABFTA for short) is something I didn’t whip up overnight. It’s taken years of thought that I will never be able to fully explain in words.
But here goes…
Album #1 = Unrestrained awesomeness
Album #2 = Gained some attention from awesomeness of Album #1 but now feel some pressure
Album #3 = Said screw it to the pressure and made a record they felt comfortable to make
That’s it at it’s most basic level. The math that went into this is a little advanced and I apologize that it stretches past the capabilities of WordPress.
The might be probably one my most listened to EP’s of all time. “Pretend Not To Love” should come with a warning on it that “This EP may cause uncontrollable and unstoppable dance parties”. Those 6 songs were put on repeat for hours throughout the day for weeks on end. The songs are tight but everyone is still playing with such an intense force with brilliantly accented synths sprinkled like the fetti on Funfetti cakes. I clearly have a huge love for this EP and if you haven’t heard it, please give it a listen.
After they got much deserved respect from “Pretend Not To Love”, they followed it up with “Ancient Lover” I recognized some of the songs on the record from the many live shows I had seen. They have some fantastic songs on here but everything feels much more restrained than it did on Album #1. The fetti is still there but it’s lost that Fun cake to sit on. And instead of being brightly colored, the fetti is wearing shades of grey.
Let’s take the track “Mallory” for example. This song is incredible live. Verses that would get a corpse to move, epic choruses that would get crowds fist pumping and swaying together like Hands Across America all at the same time. On record, it has a nice smooth production on those epic choruses but they hardly translate to tape how they do in a packed club setting.
I suspect Tigercity will find a good mix of tunes to put on their next album (assuming they make one). I haven’t seen a show in a while but a band can recognize what tunes work and what don’t. If you’re a good group like Tigercity is, they learn from what works and what doesn’t. I have high hopes for what’s to come from them.
What is there to even say about “Funeral”? The emotion and impact that record made on the music scene is far and above any debut I can think of. It changed a genre, it hit you deep in your soul, it merged rock and strings in a manor that has yet to be matched. The thing about “Funeral” was that the Arcade Fire made a record the only way they knew how, and it showed. Each song poured with emotion that represented what was going on in their lives at that time. The sign of a great release.
The pressure to follow up on “Funeral” is something I can’t even imagine walking into the studio with. While “Neon Bible” has some epic songs that give me chills to even write about them, the album doesn’t hold a candle to “Funeral”. The flow wasn’t right, the forced effort to make a HIGHLY anticipated follow up was too great. It wasn’t a flop but definitely doesn’t have the lasting impact that “Funeral” does.
I feel weird even writing about “Suburbs” without having listened to it yet. (I’m waiting for my vinyl to arrive to give it the fully proper listen) But from what I’ve heard about it, Arcade Fire found themselves. They made a record they wanted to and probably learned from “Neon Bible” about how to go about it. They had a pure, analog, vision in mind and sounds like they had the songs and flow to back it up with. From the looks of it, Album #3 was a success.
Via Audio is last because they don’t necessarily hold true to my formula. But the do have a song I want to point out as falling into the pattern I’ve outlined here. “Developing Active People” is the song that Via Audio catches fans with. It’s an amazing song but has gone through some transitions. On their first self titled EP they recorded the version of the song I love and believe they should have stopped there. It was perfect. No need for studio glits and glamor. It had that perfect sound and performance that is nearly impossible to replicate again..
On their second album “Say Something” they recorded it again. It may sound a bit cleaner and polished but it lost the raw bits I loved from the original recording. Now, a true low down indie song has turned into a polished pop tune. Not a terrible thing, but one I have a hard time overcoming. It has most of the original elements there but now they’re all cleaned up and have been thought over too much. Besides that, the rest of the record is great. Especially “Modern Day Saint” which follows “Developing Active People”
“Developing Active People” is not on their third album so my formula loses it’s pace here. Via Audio decided to go a different route and change up their sound a bit. While “Animalore” is a great record, it doesn’t hold the same feeling that initial recording of “Developing Active People” did. So my conclusion is that “Animalore” was the record that Via Audio felt comfortable making. “Developing Active People” happened to be a song I grasped onto and one they had big success with. But they are way more than that. And it shows on Album #3. So they still fit into my formula.
All records I spoke of are available here: