A new studio album from Arcade Fire and several special edition reissues are definitely worth celebrating this week.
Title: WE (Columbia Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Arcade Fire, Radiohead, U2
Tell me more: On the heels of the band's mesmerizing last-minute appearance at Weekend #1 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival last month, Arcade Fire has released their sixth full-length studio album WE. Divided into two disparate sides ("I" and "WE"), the seven-track album conjures up the exhilarating spirit of the band's most ambitious albums (2007's Neon Bible and 2010's The Suburbs) while moving the Canadian heroes into the future via a terrific 40-minute ride. The impacts of the extended COVID-19 lockdown affected most of the world including Arcade Fire whose Win Butler and Régine Chassagne (the husband and wife duo at the center of the band) wrote much of the music sans their bandmates. Lyrically, WE touches on alienation, technology overload, survival, romance and parenthood. Such lofty ambition wouldn't matter if the songs didn't have the melodic sweep and overarching power heard across the disc; fortunately WE delivers in spades. The anthemic "Age of Anxiety I," burgeoning "Age of Anxiety II (Rabbit Hole)," "The Lightning I, II," majestic "Unconditional I (Lookout Kid)," Neo-electronica "Unconditional II (Race and Religion)" featuring Peter Gabriel on backing vocals and acoustic-flavored album closer "WE" are among the powerful originals on Arcade Fire's marvelous return. Information: ArcadeFire.com.
Title: Really Really Happy (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: The Muffs, The Pandoras, Pixies
Tell me more: Nearly 18 years after its original release, an expanded and essential edition of The Muffs' 2004 album Really Really Happy will be released May 13 through Omnivore Recordings. The original album's highlights include the catchy opener "Freak Out," yearning "A Little Luxury," tuneful "Something Inside," hard-hitting "And I Go Pow," heartfelt "How I Pass The Time," the introspective closer "The Story of Me" and a parade of other great songs. The lineup of 22 bonus tracks includes 16 of Kim Shattuck's original demos for the album along with the previously unissued "My Imagination," "Just The Beginning" and "I Hate Gym." The fusion of tight melodic punk rock, melody-anchored songcraft and strong production make for a fantastic listen across the double-CD title. In addition to Shattuck (vocals, guitar, harmonica), the Muffs' lineup includes Ronnie Barnett (bass, toy piano) and Roy McDonald (drums, percussion). Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.
Title: Moving Pictures 40th Anniversary Deluxe (Mercury Records)
You might like if you enjoy: Rush, Triumph, progressive rock
Tell me more: Rush's best-known album, 1981's Moving Pictures, has been reissued in several first-rate configurations. Moving Pictures 40th Anniversary Deluxe edition reviewed here is a 3-disc version featuring the 2015 remaster of the original album (available on audio CD for the first time) and the complete, unreleased Toronto concert from March 25, 1981. Also included is a booklet with new illustrations by Hugh Syme, plus liner notes by Kim Thayil, Les Claypool, Taylor Hawkins, Bill Kelliher and Neil Sanderson. It's clear that disc 1 features stellar versions of many of the rock trio's most beloved originals ("Tom Sawyer," "Red Barchetta," "YYZ," "Limelight"), and the aforementioned concert features a terrific track listing sure to please fans of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart. The audio quality of the historic concert in the band's hometown of Toronto includes outstanding sounding versions of classics such as "Freewill," "Limelight," "The Trees," "YYZ," "Xanadu" and "Closer To The Heart." Information: Rush.com.
Title: A Point Of View (Omnivore Recordings)
You might like if you enjoy: Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett
Tell me more: One of 1967's most legendary albums is finally available via a remastered and expanded version sure to please fans of jazz and '60s recordings. Bobby Cole's A Point Of View exceeds its legendary status thanks to the late artist's incredible talents as singer, songwriter and pianist as well as contributions from Grammy-winning producer Cheryl Pawelski and remastering from Michael Graves. Currently available on audio CD and digital, a double-LP version is slated for Fall 2022. The lovely "But It's Spring" is soaked in melancholy, Cole's vocal strengths showcased in each distinctive note of his delivery. The inspired jazzy gems that are revisited on the collection include the fleet "Heat," affecting ballad "You Could Hear a Pin Drop," soaring "A Perfect Day," evocative "Elegy For Eve" and reflective "I'm Growing Old." There a number of previously-unissued bonus tracks to discover too; the rollicking "Checkerboard Life," mournful "How The Lonely Spend Their Time," haunting "I Never Saw The Shadows," stirring "When She Was In Love With Me" and romantic "The Midnight Flower" shed abundant light on Cole's virtuosity. Information: OmnivoreRecordings.com.