Since playing separate, underbooked shows in Lawrence within the past few years, each of these bands has gone on to become an indie megadarling, worshipped by kids and loved by critics. Hailing from the buzz oven known as Montreal, Quebec, Arcade Fire went volcanic overnight with its 2004 release, Funeral, a passionate, driving record of catchy odes to childhood longing on which the band sounded (and looked) like a dapper lot of 19th-century church musicians led by a fiery-eyed preacherman. On this year's follow-up hit, Neon Bible, frontman Win Butler and congregation make even more like Cotton Mather and the E Street Band, wailing songs more urgent, soaring and indebted to the Boss (the one above and the one from New Jersey) than anything on Funeral. The results are either bleak or uplifting, depending on how long it's been since your last confession. Live, Arcade Fire is known for its jubilant, crowd-inclusive shows in which band members trade instruments and put on a ruckus.
"All My Friends" by LCD Soundsystem, from Sound of Silver (Capitol):
Meanwhile, LCD Soundsystem lead singer and mastermind James Murphy is at work reinventing live-band dance music. Head of the remix-propagating, hipster-seducing DFA Records, Murphy has married James Brown's balls and Damon Albarn's yelping-conductor persona within a doughy, average-schmo frame, making for a bandleader who's unassuming yet surprisingly impressive — like that one dude who gets up and rocks a Prince song at Monday-night karaoke. LCD's first release was a self-titled 2005 double LP that spawned the modern electronic-rock classics "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" and "Losing My Edge," in which Murphy, playing the part of an aging DJ, satirizes his own would-be disciples: I'm losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets/And borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered '80s. On LCD's 2007 release, Sound of Silver, Murphy continues to dabble in disco sweat and satire ("North American Scum") but expands into real nostalgia on "All My Friends," a genuinely touching ode to the Ecstasy-fueled party days of the rave era. In short, Murphy makes music for people who like to dance as well as think. But mostly just party.