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Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Capitalism Moves Quickly
Spent most of Saturday here. Many, many witty remarks to make about hippies as a result. Suffice it to say, we were previously unaware of the need for a "drum co-ordinator." Or the tastiness of a mixed-berry hemp smoothie.

Anyway. Before the final set of the evening, one of the emcees announced the imminent arrival of "the best band in the world." Liss and us exchanged quizzical (or cynical) glances. Surprisngly, neither Sum 41 nor Wide Mouth Mason followed. Instead, said "best band in the world" on this night was Arcade Fire. Of course.

If bands were like baseball or algebra, this BBITW stuff would be easy to prove or disprove. We could run daily standings. There would still be pointless debates and quizzical/cynical glances, but we could at least fall back on some sort of proof. (Save for the statistics, we've lately imagined the last decade pre-Nirvana to be sort of like this. Bands were like teams. Things were, altogether, more fun.) Of course, bands have little to do with algebra. At least any bands anyone actually listens to.

But setting aside our initial cynicism (this should be a vocally announced pre-requisite to almost all human interaction), we should say that if we were to create a BBITW league, Arcade Fire would likely be ahead of all others. By at least a few games. Thanks to several major victories over a tough road schedule and continued success at home.

Now, you will be easily tempted to argue at this point that they aren't that good. And they probably aren't. And yes, it's all very subjective and wrong-headed to try and measure these things, like trying to suss out sincerity (as if anyone of even mild intellect would ever bother with such a silly pursuit).

But really.

If you start with the qualifier that at least some percentage of real people must have heard said BBITW (thus eliminating approximately 7,206 indie-bands-of-the-week) and balance at least some sort of popular and critical consensus against your own rabid fandom in order to at least feign objectivity, you'd probably have about 25-30 bands who could reasonably compete for said title. Many of these would be considered "established" bands. The Arcade Fire would probably be amongst the newer franchises.

Consider then the competition.

U2 is the biggest band in the world (largely an economic measure), but they are several albums removed from reasonably being considered the best. Coldplay are nice. But X&Y v. Funeral is a blowout in favour of the Montrealers. Wilco is coasting after their championship season of 2002. Radiohead had a good run, but it feels like a long time since they were serious contenders.

The White Stripes are the Oakland Athletics. Brilliant in theory and discipline, but not quite there. The Strokes are possibly the Texas Rangers or maybe the Atlanta Braves, depending on how favourably you view said band and said teams. Modest Mouse are a decent club, but they really only have one ace starting pitcher (a southpaw named Jesus de la Floaton). The Flaming Lips would be baseball's equivalent of the Phoenix Suns. We think. Green Day are a powerhouse. But seemingly less a team of destiny than one of happenstance.

There are about a dozen other bands who could be thrown into the race and have at least the potential to put together a great season, but are missing a consistent middle infielder or lefty out of the bullpen (including, but not limited to: the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Foo Fighters, Sleater-Kinney, Queens of the Stone Age, Weezer, Franz Ferdinand, Drive-By Truckers, Death Cab for Cutie, the Shins and, of course, Zwan). And another eight or bands that people would like to believe are worthy of consideration, but ultimately harbour serious shortcomings and would fade in August(including, but not limited to: the New Pornographers, Holy Steady, Spoon and, of course, Oasis).

All things considered, no other band going has quite the same mix that is currently found in the Arcade Fire. They have depth, speed, size, power and momentum. Not to mention the always important "intangibles" (in this case, a cute violinist). Like all great teams in their moment, they seem nearly unbeatable at their peak. By luck or genius, they seem fated for here and now. All culmination and redemption and so forth. At least in hindsight. And, ultimately, if you told us we could pick one band to play one show with the larger fate of the human race at stake, they would be our immediate choice.

They are not quite the '27 Yankees. And may yet prove to be only marginally more important than the '97 Marlins. But. BUT! At this moment they're deserving of their own Wheaties box.

(This is arguably the dumbest attempt we've made at a point. Though the competition in that regard is stiff.)

(Ah, yes. Of course. "What about Broken Social Scene?" Well, we're lately prone to agreeing with Newman. If only about this. Broken are less a band than a lifestyle choice. Or a movement. We haven't quite reconciled how that fits into our BBITW league. As soon as we figure that out, we'll let you know.)

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