Monday, March 05, 2007


Song: Secrets
Artist; Bloc Party
Album: Another Weekend in the City

I find this fascinating…

Several months ago Bloc Party’s eagerly anticipated sophomore album, ‘A Weekend in the City” was leaked to the internet. The version going around, which I got, had very weak sound quality and while I sort of liked what I was hearing it wasn’t totally grabbing me. I waited until it was officially released, bought the CD, and re-imported. Partly from living with the album, and partly because of the newly rich sound, it really started to grow on me and despite not seeming to have the punch that their debut “Silent Alarm” did, the songs subtle layers began to become more clear and I began to really like it, listening more and more.

Unbeknownst to me, a fervor was swirling in the blog community about how much “A Weekend” sucked, despite the fact that it actually hadn’t come out yet. When it was released, the official critical response was mixed, with just about half panning and half claiming it was better than the debut. It continued to grow on me, so I was still formulating a true opinion.

In the midst of this, the band was releasing a variety of singles and special editions of the album which contained extra tracks, remixes, you name it. The B-sides that were floating around totaled eleven songs, the same amount that were on the official album. Because we are in the age of the internet, blogging, and DIY music… fans compiled these songs, named the collection “Another Weekend in the City” and even created some artwork for it that looked much like the official cover for the album. Blogs really then began to blow up as many fans that were disappointed with the official release were calling “Another Weekend” much better, and more in line with the sound from their debut. I found a blog that was hosting downloads of everything and have been listening since last week.

While I don’t quite agree that their original sound is “back” in “Another Weekend,” as I think that the official album sounds just like Bloc Party itself, I will say that these songs are pretty bloody good. I don’t know any of the material quite well enough yet to say which songs should have been included on the official release and which should have been bumped to “Another Weekend,” but I am sure enough relieved that they didn’t decide to make it a double album, as in my opinion fairly well reviewed recent 2-disc sets from Christina Aguilera and The Red Hot Chili Peppers just seemed like more was more and not necessarily making the epic they envisioned.

In the age of the iPod, iTunes, and the ease at which music fans can customize their listening experiences, it seems that Bloc Party seem okay with putting out the album they wanted to officially, and then letting their fans decide how they want to hear their music. This raises an interesting argument over the roles of band/songwriter and fan. Is it not the fans that really MAKE an artists career? Shouldn’t they cater to their needs and desires a bit? Or should an artist be just an artist and give the public what they want, or simply whatever is their artistic statement. In a couple ways it seems that Bloc Party have done both. They made the album they wanted to make, yet had written enough high-quality material for two albums… but instead of holding onto it, they just put it out there and thus muting the bedwetting bloggers complaining that the album sucks and forced them to listen to another albums worth of material. Now it seems you can build your own Bloc Party album, taking the tracks you like best from the total of twenty-two. I find this all rather impressive on the band’s part, mostly because all the material really seems first rate. As a music nut I am often obsessed with finding B-sides and hard to find tracks of artists I really like and while there can be a few gems within the leftovers of even my favorite artists, for the most part this material was understandably left off if not for quality, then just for being stylistically different from what the official album consisted of.

In the case of Bloc Party, and “Another Weekend in the City,” let the debate rage on. Honestly I have really been enjoying these songs, with “Secrets,” “Rhododendron,” and “We Were Lovers” sticking out as great tunes that no Bloc Party fan should be without. And if you have “A Weekend in the City,” we sure to seek these songs out which, I must add, are all available commercially, if not on the various special editions of the album then on the singles for “The Prayer” which have been released in several versions.

So which is better? And does it even matter? The album debuted pretty strong here despite the lead singer’s recent revelation. (Yay!)


New videos from Bloc Party:

The Prayer

I Still Remember

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