2010 in Review #5: The build up to some of the year’s greats

The Arcade Fire - The Suburbs

In this series, Matthew Montgomery takes a look at five of his favorite happenings in the music world. Between today and the end of the year, you’ll get a chance to read the top five.

Waiting in eager anticipation can be fun, but when you’re incrementally fed exciting bits of music before a release, it’s that much better. Case in point: “I Didn’t See It Coming” from Belle and Sebastian’s Write About Love and “The Suburbs” from the Arcade Fire‘s chart-topping outing.

It may be in part because I’ve grown to love both groups since my teenage years, and they’d both waited several years to hit the new releases section of your favorite record store — but boosting that anticipatory glee can only be a good thing. Can you imagine being hit with the new album from your favorite band without a moment’s notice? It would be disorienting! That anticipation helps to build expectations so they can either be let down or boosted, depending on your perspective.

It’s a bit like waiting all week for a football match: Maybe Arsenal will execute a beautiful smash-and-grab with four goals, but you could also end up with Arsenal losing 1-0 to United on enemy territory. (Don’t mention Spurs, though. That’s like your favorite band putting out an album worth burning at a Christian music bonfire — metaphorically speaking, or something.) But that’s the exciting part!

Belle and Sebastian did it perfectly with their preview video for Write About Love and other engaging media efforts — like the Flickr-centric photo contest. Let that be a lesson to reasonably popular groups: Engaging your fans pays off.

But a bigger lesson to take from the two releases? Indie stars can absolutely hit the top of the charts. The Arcade Fire are one of only a few groups to release an album on an independent label and have it hit the number one spot — and if things go well over the next few years, it won’t be the only time. The ascendancy of indie labels and indie music is still in motion (more proof? Listen to Kanye West’s “Lost in the World” for an evocative sampling effort, ) and The Arcade Fire proves it to us.

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