Arcade Fire have crawled through a creaky, darkened looking glass and found a lost, perhaps losing world populated with forlorn soldiers, urban paranoiacs, rough water, guiding lights, lions and lambs, and idling vehicles.
Cloaked in increasingly trad folk and '80s pop-song structures, engineering by Markus Dravs (Björk) and Scott Colburn (Sun City Girls), and contributions by members of Calexico, Wolf Parade, and Final Fantasy, Arcade Fire thankfully put lyrical clichés to work during Neon Bible's clamorous service, to the end of genuine storytelling. They're preaching the gospel of transcendence through music and art something that now seems unique to rock, in contrast to rap questioning a holy war in "Intervention" ("Working for the church while my family died / Your little sister is going to lose her mind / Every spark of friendship and love will die without a home / Hear the soldier groan / He'll go it alone") and the god-fearing hysteria of "(Antichrist Television Blues)" ("Don't want to work in a building downtown / I don't know what I'm going to do / Because the planes keep crashing, two by two"). Arcade Fire are far from the first to fire artful shots in response to wartime, but Neon Bible as bold and beautiful, as hysterical and hopeful, as corny and acute as a rockin' soap opera or Jesus Christ Superstar feels like the best album of 2007 so far. *
June 12, 8 p.m., $31.50
UC Berkeley, Gayley Road, Berk.
The Portland, Ore., upstarts with mighty fine shaggy rooster cuts step up with '70s-style glitter pop. With Time Flys and Apache. Wed/7, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com
OLD TIME RELIJUN
K Records' wrecking crew just might find a deity at the bottom of a beer stein. With Tussle and the Weasel Walter Quartet. Wed/7, 10 p.m., $5. Knockout, 3223 Mission, SF. (415) 550-6994
CocoRosie's girly rapper protégé freestyles with a thumb-sucking bounce. Is her Lovers and Crypts (Voodoo-Eros) for reals? With Tha Pumpsta and Bruno and the Dreamies. Thurs/8, 8 p.m., $6. 21 Grand, 416 25th St., Oakl. (510) 444-7263. Tues/13, 9:30 p.m., $7. Hemlock Tavern, 1131 Polk, SF. www.hemlocktavern.com
A new self-titled EP finds the Bay Area moodniks waxing gothily. With Worship of Silence and This Isn't It. Sun/11, 9 p.m., $6. Hotel Utah, 500 Fourth St., SF. (415) 546-6300