LCD Soundsystem “Bye Bye Bayou”

LCD Soundsystem - Bye Bye Bayou

If you’ve read my list of the Top 50 Albums of 2000-2009, then you’re already aware that I’m a pretty big LCD Soundsystem fan, and if you haven’t,  get ready for a major spoiler alert – their most recent album, 2007’s Sound of Silver, is #1 on the list.

According to a recent interview with NME, the group finally has a new album coming out this year, most likely in April, and front man James Murphy has said, “it will definitely be better than the other two.”  YAY!  In a post on the group’s website titled basically we’re announcing a tour, Murphy announced an accompanying world tour, “we’re going on tour for a long time, in a lot of places, around the planet,  for longer in support of this one record than The Beatles ever toured in total, and we’ll likely be close to you at some point.”

There is one minor detail I almost forgot to mention, they have also hinted that this may be their last album and last tour, like ever.  BOO!  So take my sound advice on this one – GET YOUR ASS TO ONE OF THESE SHOWS!  The tour will include gigs at the Coachella, Bonnaroo, Pitchfork, and Sasquatch music festivals.  In the meantime, you can get a peek at the recording of the new album over at their YouTube.

Nothing from the new album has been released yet, but here’s “Bye Bye Bayou” to tide you over and get you pumped up for your Saturday night!  It’s a cover song that was a special release for last year’s Record Store Day, and it was criminally overlooked in my humble opinion.

Visit the LCD Soundsystem site for tour dates and more info.

Four Tet – On Record and In Concert

Four Tet - There Is Love In You Four Tet
There Is Love In You
(Domino) 2010

Purchase: Lala | Amazon

By the time the hypnotic female vocal sample crept into the mix about 30 seconds into “Angel Echoes,” the appropriately titled opening track of There Is Love In You, I was totally sold on Four Tet.  Despite releasing four albums and several EPs under the Four Tet name since 1999, one of which even made Pitchfork‘s Top 200 albums of the decade (2003’s Rounds), I was not familiar with Kieran Hebdan and his unique brand of electronic music.  Some have called it “folktronica,” and it’s that label that initially piqued my curiosity.

You can hear the “folk” part distinctly in some of the tracks, notably the first half of the sublime “This Unfolds,” and throughout the closer “She Just Likes To Fight.”  But trip-hop and “terminally chill,” to borrow from Neon Indian, are also pretty accurate descriptions.  With driving bass lines you can dance to, and vocal and percussion samples that bring a relaxing vibe, There Is Love In You is an album that, somewhat paradoxically, you could put on at bedtime or listen to while you work out at the gym.  In other words, it’s perfect for the after party.

Continue reading “Four Tet – On Record and In Concert”

A Thin Line Between MGMT and Hate

MGMT - Congratulations

The above image is the cover art for Congratulations, the new MGMT album due in stores on April 13th.  If you pre-order now you can get a limited edition CD or vinyl with a “scratch off front cover” and “custom metal coin.”  I’m not kidding.  As for a first single, the group said in a recent interview with NME that they’d prefer not to release any from the album, because they’d “rather have people hear the whole album as an album.”  We’ll see how Sony/Columbia feels about that.  In a year that has already seen new discs from Spoon and Vampire Weekend, and will include new offerings from LCD Soundsystem, and possibly even The Strokes, this new MGMT disc might still be considered the most heavily anticipated release.

Continue reading “A Thin Line Between MGMT and Hate”

Surfer Blood “Floating Vibes”

Surfer Blood Polaroid

If you love big dumb guitars and fist pumping, and who doesn’t every now and then, you’ll probably enjoy West Palm Beach export Surfer Blood. They are a brand spanking new band, which you can clearly tell from this Polaroid photo I got off their MySpace page (as counterintuitive as that may seem), and their debut album Astro Coast was just released last month on indie label Kanine Records.

The first single, “Swim,” has been getting some buzz since late last year, but it is the album’s opening track, “Floating Vibes,” that has particularly struck my fancy. It boasts a great fuzzy riff, a surf vibe, some handclaps, and the kind of bitingly sarcastic lyrics about relationships that only young people know how to write.

“When you told me you were leavin’
I wasn’t thirsty for revenge
No I wasn’t disappointed much at all
Cause you’ll be back again”

Hell, they even drop an F-bomb later on, and I’ve always been a sucker for bands that sprinkle in a little profanity here and there. They’ve been compared to a few bigger names that know a bit about sarcasm themselves, namely Pavement and Weezer, but to quote the first line of “Floating Vibes,” you can “forget the second coming.” Despite having an entire song on their album named after David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, they aren’t all that cerebral, and they’re at their best when they don’t try to be. Check out the song below, and pick up the album if you’re into it, it’s not a masterpiece, but it’s a solid debut.

Also, they’re currently on tour, I have tickets for the show at Great Scott next month, which only cost me like $8 bucks, and I would highly recommend you take this fleeting opportunity to see them in a small venue because I expect big things in the future.

The Best Album of the Decade – Sound of Silver

James Murphy

Sometimes there’s a man… I won’t say a hero, ‘cause, what’s a hero? But sometimes, there’s a man. And I’m talking about the Murph here. Sometimes there’s a man, and well, he’s the man for his time and place. He fits right in there. And that’s James Murphy, in Williamsburg.

Sarcasm. Cynicism. Irony. Meta-humor. Anti-pretentiousness. Booze. Amphetamines. Lackadaisical lyricism. Dirty words. Dirtier beats. Guitars and turntables. Dance music and punk rock. Nothing captured the post-millennial Brooklyn zeitgeist quite like LCD Soundsystem. In the borough of cool, they were the coolest, and it seemed like they weren’t even trying.

It may have been evolution or perhaps it was an epiphany, but at some point after 2005, Murphy’s attitude towards writing changed. The icily distant demeanor born on “Losing My Edge” melted away, revealing a cranky and opinionated, but passionate and caring, human being with a lifetime of colorful experiences and complicated relationships to share. Exhibit A: “All My Friends”.  Exhibit B: “Someone Great”.  Two of the greatest songs of our young century, totally unlike anything heard in the previous. Upon first hearing them, it was immediately apparent that conventional ideas of what dance music was supposed to be no longer applied.

On Sound of Silver opener “Get Innocuous!” a precedent is set, a defining tableau. It starts with a simple, repetitive loop, then adds another, then another, the track slowly builds, picking up speed as new and exciting sounds enter the mix, the beat kicks into high gear, going faster and faster until… BAM! Dance party! Everything after that is pretty much a blur until you come to your senses 7 minutes later. You’re not quite sure of what just happened, but you definitely liked it.

You expect to overcome this attention deficit on repeated listens, but it’s harder than it seems. The beats pleasantly overwhelm, but the lyrics are even easier to get lost in. Vividly specific enough to elicit an emotional response, but still vague enough to be easily relatable, Murphy’s memories are a gateway drug to your own. This isn’t the thinking man’s electronic music; it’s existentialist party music, unafraid of dabbling in life’s big questions and the world’s major problems, but with the good sense to not provide any answers or solutions.

The album’s lead single, “North American Scum”, provides a perfect example of these conflicting elements that define LCD Soundsystem’s brilliance and relevance. The meaning of patriotism in post-9/11 America was a constant artistic theme throughout the presidency of George W. Bush, but this is a refreshingly original take on the concept. The liberal notion of being embarrassed to be American while traveling abroad is expressed with hilariously biting sarcasm. Mistakes are acknowledged and right-wing Christian ideals are rejected, but ultimately, the message is that North America in general (and New York City in particular) is still the greatest place in the world.

Murphy’s preoccupation with the haters was obviously deep rooted. He has even said in interviews that he self-identifies as a “lifetime failure.” While his twisted sense of humor and propensity for self-deprecation are still critical parts of the lyricism, it no longer defines his music, and he’s much better off for it, as are we. From their very first single, LCD Soundsystem sounded like the promise of a brave new world and 5 years later, Sound of Silver delivered. Who knew ambition could look so cool?

Click here to read the rest of my Top 50 Albums of the ’00s