Ordinary Love Gets No Extraordinary Response From Fans

November 25, 2013

It’s been a few years since there’s been any new U2 material worth talking about. With the release of the music video for the band’s new single “Ordinary Love,” some fans seem to feel that there still isn’t.

On November 21st, U2 released the first full look at any new material since 2009′s No Line on the Horizon. The music video features the lyrics to the song. It’s a tasteful, simple medium for the song, which was recently featured in the trailer for the upcoming film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic about the famous anti-apartheid president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela.

Unfortunately, it just doesn’t have the same catch and quality that fans have come to expect. The hook, while catchy, doesn’t strike most listeners in that magical way that they might expect, and most of the lyrics are predictable, and even juvenile. It’s almost difficult to say, but it’s a little bit of let down amidst all the hype and excitement over the soon-to-be album.

OrdinaryloveIt’s a little disappointing to hear U2 write on such a positive topic and fall short like this. The song feels like it has a lot of potential, but it doesn’t quite flesh out. It’s a lukewarm kind of sensation. Not terrible, but not great either.

Some fans feel uneasy about the upcoming album, said to be coming in April of 2014, given the taste they have already had of U2′s recent music. It’s not the best we could have hoped for, but it may be important to remember that this song isn’t for the album. It is what it is: a sample piece for a movie trailer. If this were a single direct from the upcoming album, that would be something for fans to get scared about, but it’s not. And with U2 still hard at work finishing up their album, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to say they saved most of their heart and soul for the big project at hand.

New U2 Album To Drop In 2014

November 15, 2013

While the band has talked about their upcoming album at various lengths over the past year or so, the boys in U2 have been unwilling to make any official statement about a release date. In an interview with The Sun back in January of this year, Bono went so far to say that it might take ten years for the next U2 album to be available, so long as it was done right.

Until now, that is.

Recording-U2The project is finally nearing its completion. U2 have been working with Danger Mouse at Electric Lady Land Studios on their most recent venture. Reports say that the band hopes to announce their newest addition to their discography during the Super Bowl, via commercial. Rumored names for the album include 10 Reasons To Exist and Songs Of The Ascent.

Producer Daniel Lenois commented on sound of the yet unreleased album. “it sounded amazing, very, very big and powerful-sounding. Some of it was adventurous. There were shades of ‘Achtung Baby.”

This is so far the best news that fans of U2 can hope for, considering that the band’s original public hope was for the album to be ready by the end of 2013. It’s not an official release statement, but fans at least can now look forward to knowing exactly what to expect and when to expect it.

It’s good news for everyone, and fans everywhere can now release a well-deserved sigh of relief.

Paul McGuinness To Leave Management Of U2 As Live Nation Buyout Looms

November 13, 2013

After over 30 years acting as manager for U2, Paul McGuinness is stepping down from his role with the band. Gus Oseary, who has managed Madonna’s career since 2005, is set to take over his role with the band.

After such a long period as the band’s manager, this move has shocked many.

This action by McGuinness is taken in preparation for the buyout of Principle Management Limited by Live Nation Entertainment. Should the negotiations go through, Live Nation will pay upwards of $30 million for Principle Management, as well as Oseary’s Maverick. This move will place both U2 and Madonna under the management of one of the largest concert companies in the world.

Though McGuinness will be stepping down as manager, he will still remain involved, switching his position to chairman of Principle Management, though what role he will play is still unclear at this time.

McGuinness has gone on record, saying, “It could be seen as slightly poor etiquette for a manager to consider retiring before his artist has split, quit or died, but U2 have never subscribed to the rock ’n’ roll code of conduct. As I approach the musically relevant age of 64 I have resolved to take a less hands-on role as the band embark on the next cycle of their extraordinary career.

PaulMcGuinness“I am delighted that Live Nation, who with Arthur Fogel have been our long term touring partners, have joined us in creating this powerful new force in artist management. I have long regarded Guy Oseary as the best manager of his generation, and there is no one else I would have considered to take over the day-to-day running of our business.”

McGuinness, having worked so closely with the band, has long been considered the fifth member of U2, and his absence may be felt in the near future as the band prepares to release their upcoming album next year. The buyout by Live Nation surely signals a new chapter for U2 and the many bands that have had their management turned over to the entertainment giant. Many bands have chosen to join with Live Nation as record sales fall, banking their income on merchandise and concert sales instead.

What this means for the bands future is unclear at the moment. As the buyout approaches, more information will come to light.

Arcade Fire Brings The Heat And Tops The Charts With Reflektor

November 11, 2013

Despite conquering the top 200 charts across the board, Arcade Fire’s Reflektor has some fans divided. Die-hards and otherwise issue praises and criticisms of the band’s latest venture, their first album since The Suburbs in 2010. The band’s hipster-friendly tunes haven’t quite disappeared into another form of Arcade Fire, but rather expanded into a broader sound, and their strong points are highlighted by moments of exploration. Where there was synchronicity throughout their previous albums that kept them in a safer zone, as in Funeral, Reflektor offers a more haphazard, freewheeling feel, in structure and musicality.

In all, this different, more expansive, genre-spanning Arcade Fire is something worth listening to.

Beginning with the album’s title track, “Reflektor” starts the album with something a little unusual. Slow-walkable disco beats introduce the tune while Win Butler spins lyrics about love and personal distance. The band’s lyricism is really exemplified early on, with Butler singing lines such as “Alone in the darkness, darkness of white / We fell in love, alone on a stage / In the reflective age.” David Bowie backs up Butler’s vocals and sings in the second bridge of the song. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of Bowie’s influence in the song, and it works wonderfully to the band’s benefit. It’s a little dark and moody, but very contemplative.

The beat-centered vibe of the album continues in the second track, “We Exist,” spinning into “Flashbulb Eyes.” There are elements of the experimental vibe of the Flaming Lips, filled with psychedelic bleeps, and whooshing, crashing waves of static while guitar and horns fill the empty spaces between.

The album takes another turn with “Here Comes the Night Time,” filled with piano, slow-paced drums and tinkling guitars. The content is heavy with religion and imagery of heaven. It’s not quite an indictment of organized religion, but perhaps more of a look into it that involves a roll of the eyes.

Track number five, “Normal Person,” begins a heavier, rock-centered portion of the album. Honky-tonk piano plays in the background while Butler sings, flying headlong into White Stripes-esque guitar riffs. It’s unusual to hear from the typically super chill Arcade Fire, but it’s refreshing in its intensity and bounce.

arcade-fire

The underlying vibe of the album materializes in full in “Joan of Arc.” It’s full of speed and drive, opening with fast drums and vocals, slowing into a foot-tapping mix of smooth rock. Like the album’s title track, it has a little bit of David Bowie flair, but it’s not overstated. Butler’s smoky vocals drift in and out, never fully wrenching the spotlight away from the combined sound of the song. Arcade Fire co-founder and wife to Butler, Regine Cassagne sings backups and a full verse in all French. The combination of sounds in the song is phenomenal. It’s a little dark, funky, and a great high point in the middle of the album.

The album continues with the dark, orchestral “Here Comes the Night Time II,” going into “Awful Sound (Oh Eurydice).” Synth-pop gives way to weeping synthesizer, abandoning all but a little background acoustic guitar. It’s part one in a story about two lovers straight out of Greek mythology. The second part, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus),” ups the beat and adds some bounce, while still relying heavily on synthesizer and drums. The intensity of the song dreamily fades out and drifts off as Butler and Cassagne sing their lovers’ lament.

The album begins to drift off slowly. Where it came roaring in like a lion, it’s leaves like a lamb. “Afterlife” surprisingly does not deal with religion but rather with questions of dying love. The pop of the album breathes its last here. Of all the songs on the album, it’s the most traditionally and purely Arcade Fire. Simple drum beats and guitars fill the space while Butler and Cassagne sing off of one another. It’s an appropriate almost-end to the album.

The album fades out slowly with “Sypersymmetry,” a rising and falling instrumental that more or less just leads the album out. It’s a weak end for such a solidly strong album, but it doesn’t overshadow any of the goodness of the whole thing, and it goes largely unnoticed in the scope of everything else.

Reflektor as a whole is an incredible listen. Alone, there are few individual songs that stand out in a definitive way, but together the songs make a listening experience that itself stands out among other albums this year as well as among past Arcade Fire albums. Bowie-esque sways and enough bounce to fuel any hipster house party make Reflektor an album that can definitely hold its own. – Jordan B. Frye, Assistant Editor @JordanBFrye