Nearly Perfect Albums – #53

LCD Soundsystem – LCD Soundsystem (Double CD Edition)

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

Of course, the greatest LCD Soundsystem album is the second one ‘The Sound of Silver’ which is one of the eight perfect albums that I keep banging on about.  That flawless slice of perfection means that we have no choice but to explore the second greatest LCD Soundsystem, which is as it happens, their eponymously titled debut and luckily for us, that too is a disco bashing, cowbell smashing, guitar mangling, dance punk masterpiece.

My copy of ‘LCD Soundsystem’ is spread over two sprawling CDs, the first CD is what may people will see as the proper album, that starts with James Murphy yelping “Ow, Ow”, like a greyhound who has trod on a pit of burning coals, before Murphy precedes over the greatest cowbell solo in the history of cowbell solos. It ends some 47 minutes later with the symphonic glimmer of ‘Great Release’, which shines with lush echoes, wave sounds and Murphy’s beautifully simple harmony at the end.

Great Release – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

In between all that you get seven tracks of sheer brilliance that switch influences at the drop of a hat.  Track Two, ‘Too Much Love’ for instance see James Murphy doing a very good David Byrne impression, track five ‘Never as Tired as when I’m Waking Up’ sounds like the Beatles (in that it clearly rips off ‘Dear Produce’), and track four ‘Movement’ is the greatest song that The Fall never recorded, especially when it explodes into a full on punk workout for the last couple of minutes or so.

Movement – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

All that and I’ve not even mentioned ‘Tribulations’ yet.  ‘Tribulations’ lasts just over four minutes, but in that four minutes James Murphy still finds time (in fact he finds well over a minute) to almost entirely remove the guitars from the song and to let it be driven by a bass and a robotic sounding drum loop.

Tribulations – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

Which brings us on to the second disc, which would be a nine out of ten album all on its own (it wasn’t released with the album originally but as a limited edition – which has become pretty much the normal release, in that the single album version is now slightly rarer than the double – such was the demand for the second disc).  The second CD cobbles together all the releases that were made under the LCD banner for the 18 months or so that preceded the release of the album.

This of course means you get ‘Losing My Edge’ and ‘Beat Connection’ for starters, both incredible tracks that are guaranteed to get any party going, well the parties that I go to anyway (which are the best kind).  ‘Beat Connection’ throbs and shimmies majestically, slowly building teasingly us with a kind of Italian house groove, before it unravels dementedly towards the end.

Beat Connection – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

But you shouldn’t be content with just that, you also get the Crass Mix of ‘Yeah’, a track that will I think soundtrack the rounding up and ritualistic slaughter of hipsters when that great moment arrives.  To be honest anyone who doesn’t lose their shit when the 303’s go positively bananas around four minutes in probably doesn’t have any ears.

Yeah (Crass Mix) – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records)

Retrospective Musical Naval Gazing – #15 (2005)

Today should have been all about Kanye West because 2005 was the year, that he really arrived.  Yes there were a few hints at what was coming a few years earlier, but it was 2005’s ‘Late Registration’ album of which the track that stood at Number three in my run down ‘Gold Digger’ featured that catapulted him into one of the planets biggest stars.  Sadly, Kanye has turned into an antisemitic bellend of massive proportions and this is last time you will read his name on these pages.  He has joined an illustrious list.  I can only apologize for defending him in the past. I could try and link it back to some obvious mental health issues, but I’m not sure I want to.

So instead lets talk about LCD Soundsystem and Arcade Fire, both of whom dominated my top ten tracks for 2005.  I can’t get explain the buzz I got when I first heard ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’.  It was like I’d been shocked.  I was in, yet again, a cool clothes shop in Exeter and I was looking at their retro band tshirts but yet again decided against shelling out £20 on an Allman Brothers shirt, when it came on over the speakers.  It sort of froze me to the spot, well until James Murphy hollers “Solo” and then you kind of just want to leap about, but you can’t do that in a trendy clothes shop that sells Rod Stewart Tshirts for twenty five pounds a pop. So I stood there casually pretending to look at the beanie hats even though I definitely do not want a beanie hat that has the word ‘Dickies’ emblazoned on it but I have to hear how this cowbell solo ends.

 Of course, a few weeks later the debut album dropped and the rest is pretty much history.

Daft Punk Is Playing At My House – LCD Soundsystem (2005, DFA Records, Taken from ‘LCD Soundsystem’)

It was kind of similar with the Arcade Fire and in particular the song ‘Rebellion (Lies)’.  The first time I heard that I was at the Cavern Club having just watched (British) Sea Power tear the place apart – and as it happens they were at number five on the top ten – and I don’t feature them nearly as much as I should.

Please Stand Up – Sea Power (2005, Rough Trade Records, Taken from ‘Open Season’)

Anyway, the DJ popped ‘Rebellion (Lies)’ on just after the lights came on, and again I kind of just stood there, a lone idiot on a deserted sticky dancefloor covered in plastic glasses, taking it all in, nodding along like I knew what this was and that I was already far too cool to shout “YES” at the top of my voice. But it was astonishing from the way the strings crackles into life around sixty seconds and the way the “Wah, Wah” bit joins in at around one minute 40.  Astonishing.  All of it.

Rebellion (Lies) – Arcade Fire (2005, Sony Music, Taken from ‘Funeral’)

Ironically, the record at number four in my 2005 was in stark contrast to me that night, because as I stood their clutching my British Tea Power Mug, nodding, like a lost tourist.  I definitely didn’t look good on the dancefloor.

I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor – Arctic Monkeys (2005, Domino Records, Taken from ‘Whatever People Say I am, That’s What I’m Not’)

Finally for today, some leftfield French electronica, which found itself at number seven in the top ten.  Its pretty wonderful this.

My Friend Dario – Vitalic (2005, Play It Again Sam Records, Taken from ‘Ok Cowboy’)

I’m going to come back to this series a bit later in the year, because I want to start something new from Monday. Thanks for all the nice comments I’ve had on this series so far.

Brilliant Radio Stations From Around The World – #1

Fanatica INDIE – Based in Santiago, Chile (link opens a web radio player)

I said on here a while ago about an App called ‘Radio Garden’ which allows you to listen to any radio station in the world (nearly).   One of the joys of Radio Garden is that you can lose hours just wandering down radio rabbit holes listening to offbeat stations playing weird and wonderful music that you may never hear anywhere else if it wasn’t for the power of the Internet. We will explore some of those stations in this series – mainly because there appears to be a radio station in Hungary that appears to only play incredible gypsy punk (or at least it does when ever I tune in).  Anyway, these rabbit hole radio stations planted a seed of an idea in the back of my mind.

That seed has now sprouted into this series.  A series in which I will choose a radio station from somewhere in the world and listen to it for one hour so that you don’t have to.  I will then post the best tracks that it plays.  I may tell you something about the place where it is based as well. 

First up Fanatica INDIE, an English language (apart from the adverts, which are in Spanish) station based in Santiago Chile. 

Santiago for those who didn’t listen in geography is the capital city of Chile and is one of the biggest cities in South America, some six and a half million people call it home, which is more than half of the entire population of Chile.  The fact that it has a radio station that plays mainly indie pop fills me with joy for some reason.  The fact it appears to have no actual DJs either is in this case a blessing.

It has just gone noon (in Santiago that is) on a Wednesday when I tune in for the purposes of this piece and the first track I hear Fanatica playing is this

Aries – Gorillaz (featuring Peter Hook and Georgia) (2020, Parlophone Records, Taken from ‘Song Machine, Season One, Strange Timez’)

Which is not a bad start of an hour at all, ‘Aries’ is an incredible track, full of that trademark Hooky bass, which sounds like he has just simply given Damon Albarn an entire bassline from something from ‘Low Life’ to sing over.  Which he does very well indeed.

Twenty minutes or so later after some crazy adverts which feature people speaking very fast about I think, ‘toilet paper’ and ‘donkeys’ – (my Spanish isn’t great), this brass blessed blast of brilliance fills the room.

Nobody – Mac Demarco (2019, Macs Record Label, Taken from ‘Here Comes the Cowboy’) but that segues marvellously and almost seamlessly into this

Oh Baby – LCD Soundsystem (2017, DFA Records, Taken from ‘American Dream’)

Which may just be the greatest thing I have listened to all bloody month.

I think that this is the point of this series.  I know that I can listen to each of these tracks at home just by asking Alexa but I would never listen to them in the same hour, and that is the joy of the radio and the added thrill of simply not knowing what is coming next. 

I haven’t listened to ‘Oh Baby’ is such a long time and it such a wonderful song.  I also know that it is likely that I have peaked early in this series because right now Fanatica INDIE is the best radio station in the world and it will probably take a radio station broadcasting out of the back of bombed out milk float in Srebrenica that plays a Galaxie 500 7” back to back with a Bob Tilton flexidisc to top it. 

If you need more evidence of the absolute brilliance of Fanatica INDIE in Santiago, the last song played in my allocated hour was this

Can’t Do Much – Waxahatchee (2020, Merge Records, Taken from ‘Saint Cloud’)

Three hours later, I’m still tuned in

The Great One Word Title Countdown – The Nil Point List

Paparazzi – Lady Gaga (2009, Interscope Records)

Ever felt unloved?  Ever felt like the world hated you? Ever felt like if someone was asked to make a choice between punching either you or Piers Morgan in the face, that they would choose you? Ever been accused of pooing in your dads slippers, when it was clearly the puppy sitting next to the slippers with a smug grin on its face…..?

Welcome then to the Nil Point List.

The Nil Point List contains all the songs on The Great One Word Title Countdown that didn’t pick up a single point from any of Musical Jury.  Songs that were laughed at, ignored, ridiculed, thrown out with the bath water and then made to shop at Primark until they never darkened our doors ever again. 

Songs, that even now after nine days of assessing the final results, sorting them into tables, checking the votes and then rechecking just be to be absolutely sure that I hadn’t missed anything I still can’t quite understand how no one voted for them because they are all stone cold classics. 

Maybe I accidentally sent the list out in Russian or something.  Who knows?

Until we do, let’s look at five unloved One Word Titles, starting with the tune at the top ‘Paparazzi’ by Lady Gaga.  I’ll be honest there were two reasons why ‘Paparazzi’ was on the list, firstly is because it’s a great record, although it plays second fiddle to ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Bad Romance’ in Gaga classics.  The main reason though is when compiling this list, the episode of The Simpsons where Lisa made Gaga cry was on Channel 4 and it’s hilarious and therefore Gaga had to be included.

Yeah (Crass Mix) – LCD Soundsystem (2004, DFA Records)

 I know. The fact LCD Soundsystem didn’t get a single point in this hugely scientific and groundbreaking contest only confirms that those that did are brilliant songs and that your ears are going to be in for a proper treat over the next few months.  Well that or the Jury don’t have a fucking clue what they are talking about.  I very nearly ripped up the results and cheated when I found this out.

Goldfinger – Ash (1995, Infectious Records)

I mean I really don’t know.  Perhaps the Jury all simultaneously read ‘Gold Digger’ by Kanye West and simply avoided it.  Although that would mean ignoring the fact that a) Gold Digger is two words and that another Kanye West song was also on the list (but – spoiler – didn’t do very well either, although better than Ash did).  Again, I very nearly cheated.

Strasbourg – The Rakes (2004, Mercury Records)

You know that time where you pop a song onto a list because you know that one of the jury loves the song and you are utterly convinced that they at least will give it some points.  Well, they didn’t.

Dreamer – Livin’ Joy (1994, MCA Records)

One of (I think) seven records to reach number one that were on the long list and easily the best of them all.  A personal favourite of both Mrs SWC and Mini SWC and it didn’t get a single point. You may as well go down to local blind school and hide all their sticks you heartless bastards.

Major League Music – #7 – New York Yankees

New York, New York – Frank Sinatra

Until about ten minutes ago, I was convinced that the ‘Baseball Furies’ the make up wearing, bat wielding gang that chase The Warriors from 96th Street Station to Riverside Park wore Yankees shirts.  For that reason alone, I dismissed all the trash talking from friends about the Yankees being the spoilt rich kids of the baseball world.  As far as I was concerned the Yankees were great simply because the Baseball Furies were easily the coolest gang in The Warriors.  But it turns out that they were not wearing Yankees shirts at all, and I read in despair that their make up was based on the band Kiss.  You can really go off things, I’m all about the Turnball AC’s now and I’m glad that the Furies got their arses kicked by The Warriors despite heavily outnumbering them.

Putting all that to one side, the Yankees are, the most successful baseball team of all time, they have won twice as many World Series Titles than any other team and have more players in the Hall of Fame than any other team in history so their influence o the game can’t be denied.  Even if they do insist of playing “Are You Ready For This?” by 2 Unlimited before every sodding home game.

Saying that the Yankees are in something of a downward blip at the moment, its been thirteen years since they won the World Series, one of their longest barren periods yet.  

Musically, New York has long been seen as one of the most influential cities in the world.  It is (in some places at least) considered to be the birthplace of hip hop, garage, house, punk rock, and new wave music.  But away from all that, salsa was born in New Yorks Latino neighbourhoods, bebop, doowop and boogaloo all have their origins in one of New York’s suburbs.  I could do an entire series on bands and acts that have come of New York (and other better blogs already sort of have done that), another one on just the hip hop groups from Brooklyn and then another one on songs that are about New York. 

Like these four for instance

New York City Cops – The Strokes (2001, Rough Trade Records)

New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down – LCD Soundsystem (2007, DFA Records)

NYC – Interpol (2002, Matador Records)

Empire State of Mind – Jaz-Z and Alicia Keys (2009, Roc-Nation Records)

And here is this weeks local band tip, and there were literally hundreds to choose from – but I’ve plumped for Geese, in whose music you can apparently hear the sounds of Television, Parquet Courts, The Strokes, The Rapture and LCD Soundsystem, we’ll be the judge of that.

Low Era – Geese (2021, Partisan Records)

Of course, we shall revisit New York later in the year when the Mets come rolling into town

Next Week – another city with two baseball teams – Chicago, first up the White Sox

The Never Ending Playlist – #39

Thou Shalt Always Kill – Dan Le Sac Vs Scroobius Pip (2007, Lex Records)

I can I think count the number of decent songs that use lists on three fingers.  You have your ‘Losing My Edge’ by LCD Soundsystem with its hipster baiting role call of bands that James Murphy saw first.  You also have your ‘Endless Art’ by A House which celebrates dead artists, poets and authors across history (although that courted controversy by only have dead male artists, poets and authors on the list, to the point where the band recorded a second version just featuring dead female artists, poets and authors – and included bizarrely Mickey Mouse in that list).

Losing My Edge – LCD Soundsystem (2002, DFA Records)

Endless Art – A House (1992, Setanta Records)

And of course, you have ‘Thou Shalt Always Kill’ by Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip which is probably the best of them all.  Which considering how much I love ‘Losing My Edge’ is really saying something. 

 About halfway through this song, he tells us with some conviction that The Clash are ‘just a band’.  What should happen next is that tumbleweed should turn over and Pip and Sac should marched away and tried for crimes against humanity – as everyone looks away in embarrassment.  However, Scroobius doesn’t stop there, over the next minute or so, accompanied by a barely there video game noise beat, he proceeds to ritually slaughter several of our indie schmindie sacred cows, Radiohead ‘just a band’, Oasis ‘just a band’ by the time he gets to Bloc Party we are hooked, agreeing without even considering the consequences that they are ‘just a band’. 

Of course, its just part of a bigger list of things that we all shouldn’t be doing which includes “thou shalt not watch Hollyoaks”, “thou shalt not scream to go faster” and most importantly “thou shalt not question Stephen Fry”.  The orders come at you thick and fast some delivered with menacing venom, some are humourous, some simple common sense.  All of them brilliantly observed sections of social commentary. 

A Linked Series #4

Yeah (Crass Mix) – LCD Soundsystem (2004, DFA Records)

The fourth instalment of our linked series sees us stay in New York City but it sees us move across the city from the trendy art studio warehouse parties of say, Williamsburg, to the more gritty and urbane area of Brooklyn.  Here we find James Murphy and his merry band of cowbell bashing, keyboard mangling, guitar swinging heroes, LCD Soundsystem hosting the greatest party you have been to.

The Crass Mix of ‘Yeah’ was the second LCD Soundsystem track that I ever heard, the first was obviously ‘Losing My Edge’ and by the time I’d heard that I was already hooked.  The Crass Mix of ‘Yeah’ just hammered home the fact that LCD Soundsystem were about to become as important to me as Primal Scream, Spiritualized, and the Jesus and Mary Chain already were. 

‘Yeah’ is marvellous, it’s the sound of several songs banging on the same door whilst James Murphy and occasionally Nancy Whang repeat the words “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” over and over again (and you see why this song simply had to follow anything by the actual Yeah Yeah Yeahs).  Its starts off as a disco song, well sort of.  A cowbell bashing, acid inspired mash up of a disco song perhaps and by the end of it some nine and a half minutes later it’s smacking Josh Winks ‘Higher State of Consciousness’ round the chops with a knackered synthesizer.

It bleeps, it crashes, it bangs, strops, swoops, speeds up, slows down, man, It even contains bloody bongos and its still close to being the greatest fun you can have in nine minutes with your clothes on.

Frankly, I don’t want to leave this party, but we have to, our next destination is calling us,

Do we want to go and visit some other bands that Nancy Whang has sung with

E Talking – Soulwax (Nite Version feat Nancy Whang) (2004, PIAS Records)

Or perhaps we could check out some of the other bands hanging around the DFA label – and why on earth wouldn’t you – it’s one of the greatest labels in the world.

Happy House – The Juan McLean (feat Nancy Whang) (2008, DFA Records)

Actually, I’d forgotten that Nancy Whang is also in the Juan McLean from time to time as it happens – so this would be a double link…..then again she is in most of the bands on the DFA roster from time to time. 

But if we want to turn our back on hip New York labels and try something a little bit closer to home we can head to Glasgow and explore a different sort of soundsystem (and you should explore this because its incredible)

Back In the Dayz – Mungos Hifi feat Catching Cairo and Gardna (2021, Scotch Bonnet Records)

The Sunday Shuffle – #14

black screen – LCD Soundsystem (2017, DFA Records, Taken from ‘American Dream’)

Today’s randomly selected track was chosen by the power of Alexa.  I’d just got back in from the school run and asked her to ‘Shuffle’ and she choose a track from the wonderful fourth album from LCD Soundsystem, ‘American Dream’.  Which of course, everyone knows was the album that they recorded after they reformed in 2017, after a six year hiatus and the ‘Greatest Farewell Gig’ of all time at Madison Square Garden.

What might not be known is that ‘black screen’ is James Murphy’s tribute to David Bowie.  A few years before the band reformed, Murphy was asked to help on the production duties of ‘Blackstar’ the final Bowie record.  Murphy declined (although he did play drums on some of the album), a decision which he regretted deeply.

‘black screen’ details that regret marvellously, in a way that only LCD Soundsystem can.  A slow burning twelve minute ode to missed opportunities, and the fear of upsetting your heroes.  The whispery vocals echo around the speakers as an 80s synth bounces around mournfully.  Its tremendous.  Around five minutes in the magnitude of the level regret hits home as, Murphy’s voice drops and almost cracks as he sings “But I should have tried….more” the last word is an echo-y whisper and its eerily brilliant in a ghost like way.   Whether that is deliberate I know not.

‘black screen’ is so starkly beautiful, especially in what I will call the second phase of the song as the synths sink away into a single note and its slowly joined by a lonely sounding piano, which sounds almost classical, up against the synth.  Eventually the synth fade away into nothing and just a single piano chord is left. 

An absolutely incredible track.

The Best Stuff I Have Heard This Year #1

The current Lord of Indie

Most of the new music that I have heard this year has come from the Steve Lamacq Recommends show on Six Music. So I’m afraid that this week will be terribly unoriginal.

I’m also not doing countdowns on this blog. It doesn’t matter which is best or not quite as good as the other thing. So this is a run through, in no order at all, of some of the music that I have heard this year that I have loved or just liked quite a lot. I am not promising that it all came out this year either.

When I hear a track that I like I tend to write it down in the back of an exercise book that I was given on a work training course about two years ago. So all the tracks you read about from here having been lovingly scrawled in that book. Let’s start here….

1. Feels So Real – The Clockworks (single, 2021, It’s Creation Baby Records)

A rattlingly great single all about the nightlife of an unknown bit of London. Its wonderfully poetic as it talks about shopping trolleys being thrown in the river and the general urban decay that surrounds the band.

2. Runner Up – TV Priest (single, 2020, Hand In Hive Records)

Another rattlingly good single, this one sort of play homage to the line that Jim Bowen used to say at the end of weirdly popular darts based quiz show ‘Bullseye’. According to the band ‘Runner Up is about protestant work ethic, catholic guilt, games shows and not dancing at Christmas parties. I mean, what’s not to like about that.

3. What The Kids Want – Chay Snowdon (single, 2020)

Chay Snowdon are being likened to Muse, largely because they are from Devon (they are from Plymouth) and used the same producer as them for this riotous blast of high tempo excellence. That folks is where the similarities stop as this is pure garage rock, with added samples and a chorus so catchy that they are giving out vaccines at the local leisure centre to remove it from playing over and over in your head.

4. Let’s Dance to the Real Thing – Stone (single, 2021)

Stone are one of a wave of Liverpool bands that emerged just before Lockdown 1 ready to conquer the world. Only for that inevitable world domination to be delayed by you know what. ‘Lets Dance to the Real Thing’ is a massive bundle of fun, and sounds like the musical equivalent of four 8 year olds who have eaten too many flying saucers.

and today’s Christmas track is (shuffles random Christmas list…..)

Oooh tasty.

Christmas Will Break Your Heart – LCD Soundsystem