The Arcade Fire perform "Maps"
by Sean
Please note: MP3s are only kept online for a short time, and if this entry is from more than a couple of weeks ago, the music probably won't be available to download any more.


A small Sunday afternoon update.

The Arcade Fire - "Maps" (Yeah Yeah Yeahs cover). This is an mp3 rip from the Arcade Fire's Friday performance on BBC radio. I remember Win and Regine talking over spaghetti about how much they liked this song, how it was just "one big looped chorus", and that it was the guitar-line that stuck your ears like glue. And now they've covered it and damn if it isn't one of the most potent things I've heard this year. (How I would love to hear it live.) The band's stripped away that central guitar line, stripped everything skeletal, and with the singers' trembling voices the vulnerability clangs between drumbeats. The harmonica, when it sounds, is so small and human - something you can take or leave. It's no longer just a song to hold in your heart - it's a song to cradle. As if the Arcade Fire decided to see what was left when all of the reassurance was cut away, musically and emotionally. "They don't love you like I love you" -- I can hear question marks at the end of that line, now, if I want.

(Substantiated) rumour has it that they're on Top of the Pops tonight. And they were on CBS earlier this weekend, with Bowie.

I've gotta say that I'm glad they didn't break up.

Posted by Sean at September 11, 2005 12:52 PM

umm, isn't this "since you've been gone"?

Posted by bonie at September 11, 2005 5:55 PM

uh... no...

Posted by Sean at September 11, 2005 6:02 PM

weird. their voices sound out of tune to me. cute idea though.

Posted by ed at September 11, 2005 7:34 PM

ted leo's cover of 'since u been gone' includes part of this song, so...

Posted by nick at September 11, 2005 10:05 PM

Good grief, this is spectacular!

Posted by Adele at September 12, 2005 12:32 AM

The best part is the harmonica and xylophone.

Posted by Tyler at September 12, 2005 2:08 AM

Nefarious internet pirates have plundered the good ship bbc and released the Arcade Fire's performance for transatlantic enjoyment:

Posted by tobias at September 12, 2005 4:16 AM

I actually thought it was pretty weak for the Arcade Fire, and it just didn't feel like a love song the way it does when Karen O sings it. and I agree, their voices do sound out of tune. I guess I was just expecting a lot more from a great band covering a great song.

Posted by Christine at September 12, 2005 8:47 AM

See, I love it when a cover is really different from the original, either in instrumentation or in spirit (or, best of all, both). this ISN'T the same sorta love song, no siree, and maybe they're outta tune, but that's the whole point! this is a song where the love's got some doubt, too, which seems much more true to me (at least right now), where things are wavering and impurely articulated. and it's brilliant.

Posted by Sean at September 12, 2005 8:53 AM

i dunno. i'm not sure their out of tune vocals=emotion/sincerity. i think it just sounds weak. i like covers that are totally different too, but this to me sounds rather shoddy, through and through.

Posted by ed at September 12, 2005 10:04 AM

argh - no, i'm not advocating some "out of tune = sincere" fallacy, but the "weak" vocals DO sound "weak"! ie, there's an aesthetic of weakness/vulnerability/fear that's new to the song, and really really interesting.

Posted by Sean at September 12, 2005 10:17 AM

wow this rocks. it's amazing how both the instrumentation and regine's voice capture the same kind of intensity as YYYs/karen o while sounding so different from one another. thanks.

Posted by julseas at September 12, 2005 3:41 PM

Out of tune vocals? It's indie rock, so there's always going to be the chance of shaky intonation and God-awful guitar tone. The Arcade Fire write beautiful songs and obviously play and sing their hearts out, so it's all good.
p.s. This is a very cool version of Maps. Thank you!

Posted by scott at September 13, 2005 1:06 AM

blah dont really like it at all, i couldnt even listen to the whole thing it was hurting my ears. thats why people shouldnt cover songs people expect to much out of it. and if you do do it your way dont try to match it. never gonna happen!!

Posted by dominique at September 16, 2005 8:06 PM

the Arcade Fire have debts to pay.

Posted by jesus, keeper of tricked-out carrots at September 17, 2005 9:30 AM

this just sounds lame. who are they paying off to get this much attention?

Posted by porgie at September 17, 2005 10:22 AM

this just sounds lame. who are they paying off to get this much attention?

That's a funny thing to say. Said the Gramophone are friends and extremely long-time supporters of the band. Jo at the BBC likes the album. Why is this difficult to understand?

Posted by Sean at September 17, 2005 11:28 AM

I was a bit dubious at first, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs original has a special place in my heart, but I have to admit, rather than being shocked and dismayed, that I like the version they've come out with. Well done kids.

Posted by Euan at September 19, 2005 7:32 AM

It is quite appropriate that this was posted on September 11th, becase this cover is an atrocity of the first order.

Posted by Bart Burgess at October 23, 2005 7:00 PM

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Sean Michaels is the founder of Said the Gramophone. He is a writer, critic and author of the theremin novel Us Conductors. Follow him on Twitter or reach him by email here. Click here to browse his posts.

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