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Archive for the ‘LCD Soundsystem’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: TORO Y MOI-Tiny Desk Concert #845 (April 29, 2019).

I have been hearing about Toro Y Moi for quite some time and yet I never got a sense what he (they) were like.  I also always assumed it was a duo (which apparently it is not).

Chaz Bear, who performs as Toro y Moi, is going to do what he feels. In preparation for his Tiny Desk concert, we were given two possible sound scenarios: aim to recreate the heavily electronic and lustrous aura that birthed his latest LP, Outer Peace or strip away the bells and whistles for an acoustic performance. The game-time decision was the latter and fans were treated to brand new iterations of these songs.

I had assumed that the music was dancey, so this acoustic rendition was a surprise.  Reading that blurb makes more sense.

Toro y Moi’s discography conveys that same unpredictability and showcases his affinity for a wide span of genres. While largely known as an early pioneer of chillwave, Outer Peace is anything but. It’s hard-hitting, funky and directly to the point, as is this Tiny Desk concert.

It’s true.  “Laws of the Universe” is as funky as anything (that bass!–Patrick Jeffords) with the stabs of piano (Tony Ferraro) really bring the melody home.  The drums (Andy Woodward) snap and pop and bring the song to life.  And I love the nod to LCD Soundsystem: “James Murphy is playing in My house.” (we should have all replied “my house”).

Stripping down such heavily produced songs could risk revealing weaknesses. In this case, the rhythms move just the same. Removing the Auto-Tune, synths and effects make way for some insightful songwriting that’s often hard to hear in the recorded version.

Like in “New House” which is “about wanting that gold.”  It comes across as such a simple song with simple but relatable lyrics.

I want a brand new house
Something I can not buy, something I can afford
I ain’t even make it off the jetway now
Phone’s been on blast like all day (Ring)
Why you gotta do this? Try to test me now
Right when I touchdown got anxiety (Fuck)
Follow signs out of the terminal now
JFK is a different animal now
Damn baggage claim is like a warzone now
Glad I packed light clothes, I’m on my own

He has a simple, quite vocal delivery here in this mellow song.

“Freelance” returns that funk in the bass with more nice piano punctuation of melody.  I love this verse:

No more shoes and socks, I only rock sandals
I can’t tell if I’m hip or getting old
I can’t hear you, maybe you could change your tone

For the final song they brought out a special guest (who I didn’t know).

With shaker in tow, Bear sat front and center at a stool to deliver four of my favorites from Outer Peace, including “Ordinary Pleasure,” with bongo assistance from Foots of Foot and Coles.

There is definitely a sameness to the set (are they all in the same chord?)  His quiet delivery and the spare piano are all there.  But each song has a moment that lets it stand out.

Like the funky bass and the insanely catchy chorus of “Ordinary Pleasure.”  The bass and ooohs have a very disco feel to it as you dance along to “Maximize all the pleasure, even with all this weather, nothing can make it better, maximize all the pleasure.”

I have since listened to all four songs and I found the Tiny Desk versions to be more enjoyable each time–except for “Ordinary Pleasure” because the disco is ramped up on the album and it’s impossible not to shake to it.

[READ: April 29, 2019] “Poetry”

There is so much going on in this story, that it’s amazing it keeps its coherence.

James and Celeste are on vacation near a volcano.  Possible rain suggested that Celeste would not enjoy the hike but, “so, frankly, did Celeste’s dislike of hikes.”  But the volcano was there and so they had to climb it.  Celeste could sit out out, of course, but “there was the looming question of marriage and children, after all and of the deeper compatibility of our interests.”

She had once told an acquaintance that he needed harrowing ordeals to prove he’s not on the road to death.

The hike was tough–straight up, it felt–and it did rain.  He hoped they would both hold on to the idea that suffering underwrote a deeper pleasure.  He promised it would be over soon and they would enjoy the taste of prune de Cythère.  (Even though neither one knew what it actually was). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JOHN PRINE-Tiny Desk Concert #717 (March 12, 2018).

For all of the legendary status of John Prine, I don’t really know that much about him.  I also think I don’t really know much of his music.  I didn’t know any of the four songs he played here.

I enjoyed all four songs.  The melodies were great, the lyrics were thoughtful and his voice, although wizened, convey the sentiments perfectly.

The blurb sums up things really well

An American treasure came to the Tiny Desk and even premiered a new song. John Prine is a truly legendary songwriter. For more than 45 years the 71-year-old artist has written some of the most powerful lyrics in the American music canon, including “Sam Stone,” “Angel From Montgomery,” “Hello In There” and countless others.

John Prine’s new songs are equally powerful and he opens this Tiny Desk concert with “Caravan of Fools,” a track he wrote with Pat McLaughlin and Dan Auerbach. Prine adds a disclaimer to the song saying, “any likeness to the current administration is purely accidental.”

I thought the song was great (albeit short) with these pointed lyrics:

The dark and distant drumming
The pounding of the hooves
The silence of everything that moves
Late in night you see them
Decked out in shiny jewels
The coming of the caravan of fools

That song, and his second tune, the sweet tearjerker “Summer’s End,” are from John Prine’s first album of new songs in 13 years, The Tree of Forgiveness.

He introduces this song by saying that.  This one is a pretty song.  It might drive you to tears.  He wrote this with Pat McLaughlin.  We usually write on Tuesdays in Nashville because that’s the day they serve meatloaf.  I love meatloaf.  We try to write a song before they serve the meatloaf.  And then eat it and record it.

For this Tiny Desk Concert John Prine also reaches back to his great “kiss-off” song from 1991 [“an old song from the 90s (whoo)…  a song from the school of kiss off 101”] called “All the Best,” and then plays “Souvenirs,” a song intended for his debut full-length but released the following year on his 1972 album Diamonds in the Rough. It’s just one of the many sentimental ballads Prine has gifted us.

He says he wrote it in 1968…when he was about 3.

Over the years, his voice has become gruffer and deeper, due in part to his battle with squamous cell cancer on the right side of his neck, all of which makes this song about memories slipping by feel all the more powerful and sad.

“Broken hearts and dirty windows
Make life difficult to see
That’s why last night and this mornin’
Always look the same to me
I hate reading old love letters
For they always bring me tears
I can’t forgive the way they rob me
Of my sweetheart’s souvenirs”

The musicians include John Prine, Jason Wilber, David Jacques and Kenneth Blevins.

 

[READ: December 11, 2017] X

I really enjoyed Klosterman’s last essay book, although I found pretty much every section was a little too long.  So this book, which is a collection of essays is perfect because the pieces have already been edited for length.

I wasn’t even aware of this book when my brother-in-law Ben sent it to me with a comment about how much he enjoyed the Nickelback essay.

Because I had been reading Grantland and a few other sources, I have actually read a number of these pieces already, but most of them were far off enough that I enjoyed reading them again.

This book is primarily a look at popular culture.  But narrowly defined by sports and music (and some movies).  I have never read any of Klosterman’s fiction, but I love his entertainment essays. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL 2010 (on Palladia TV 2011).

Recently Palladia broadcast some highlights from the Austin City Limits Festival in 2010.  The bands they showed were Phish, The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Spoon and Slightly Stoopid.

There were so many good bands at this festival (why is Richard Thompson in such small print?) that I won’t really complain about the inclusion of Slightly Stoopid and LCD Soundsystem on this best of (but they could have included Band of Horses, Yeasayer, Broken Bells, Gogol Bordello (the list goes on!).  (I’d never heard of Slightly Stoopid and although I like LCD Soundsystem, live they were less than stellar).  Although I am glad they didn’t include the Eagles, thank you very much.

I’m trying to get actual set lists of these airings (they mentioned the song titles during the show but I didn’t write them down).

This was a 2-hour broadcast and it was really good.  If they re-air the episode, it’s worth watching.  The quality of the broadcast is excellent (even if the HD format does take up way too much space on a TiVo).

[READ: November 6, 2011] “Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

And to start of the holidays, I present you with this–a loving history of the beer can (for archaeologists).

This is a fairly fascinating look at the development of the beer can from 1935 to the present.  The selling point of the article is that archeologists could use beer cans to date the timeframe of an excavation.  I agree with this; however, since they only date back to 1935, I’m not entirely convinced of its long-term usefulness.

The problem with the article is that page two shows a chronological timeline.  This in itself is not a problem (although it is odd that it goes from present to 1935 instead of chronologically forward); the problem is that the article itself more or less sates exactly the same thing as the timeline.  For although this article is 20 pages long, there are tons of photos and very little in the way of text beyond what was in that (very thorough) time line.

Nevertheless, you can see the morphing of beer cans from ones that you had to pop open with a can opener to ones that finally had self opening cans.  See the switch from tin to aluminum, and even learn why the tops of cans are a little narrower than the sides (called a neck-in chime, it evidently saves a lot of money). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GIRL TALK-All Day (2010).

Girl Talk is the product of Gregg Gillis.  Gillis doesn’t play any instruments.  All he does is mash-up different songs into a killer DJ mix.  There is absolutely nothing legal about what he does (in terms of copyright), and for that reason alone, I love it.  But beyond that,  he does a great job of mashing two (and more) songs together.

Mostly this is a fun way to play “spot the song” [Hey: “In Your Arms,” Hey “War Pigs”].  And when you give up you can check out the samples list (which has 37 entries under the name D alone). [Hey, Spacehog’s “In the Meantime”]

I knew a lot of the songs that he sampled, but he also put in a lot of rap which I didn’t know.  The rap works well over the original music (what sampling would be like for real if it was legal).  [Hey, Portishead!]

Mostly you get a minute or maybe a little more of each song, [Radiohead’s “Creep”] sometimes the clips are sped up or slowed down to merge perfectly with the other.  And it’s a whole lot of fun.  [The Toadies!] As someone described it, it’s like listening to a whole bunch of radio stations at once [“Cecelia”].  And, if you don’t like the song that’s on [two seconds of the Grateful Dead?], just wait a couple seconds. [INXS].

Gillis doesn’t (really) sell his music.  Indeed, you can download all of All Day for free fromIllegal Art.  [Hey, the middle of Edgar Winter’s “Frankenstein”].

I’m not sure if it’s art, per se, but it’s clearly a lot of work, and it takes a lot of skill to make it so seamless [White Zombie!].  It probably works very well at a party too.

[READ: June 20, 2011] Five Dials Number 13

Five Dials 13 is more or less the music issue.  It is specifically dedicated to festivals and their overindulgence of everything.  And so it is long (63 pages), it is full of rather diverse points of view, it even has clouds!  Thankfully it’s not full of overflowing portapotties.  It also has lots of artwork from Raymond Pettibon, which is pretty fantastic in and of itself.

CRAIG TAYLOR-Letter from the Editor: On Festivals and George Thoroughgood
The letter opens with some comments on Festivals–two paragraphs of complainants about festivals with a final admission that the interlocuter is going to Glastonbury.  The end of the letter is devoted to a story from George Thoroughgood.  Usually I agree with the Five Dials‘ tastes without question, but I have a serious complaint about their love of Thoroughgood, about whom it would be charitable to say that he has written one song seventy-five times.  And I have absolute incredulity at this quote from George:

The promoters had gone to another festival where we played on Thursday before Roskilde, and they were so knocked out by the power of the performance they called me the next day and asked if we would mind if they changed our show time to close the festival.

Are you seriously telling me that they would change the headlining act a weekend before the festival?  How pissed would you be if your headliner was bumped for 90 minutes of ‘Bad to the Bone’?  Good grief. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RAFTER: “No Fucking Around” (2010).

This song made one of The Onion’s AV Club voter’s Top Ten lists this year. The  description was interesting enough that I had to go check it out.

Rafter is on Asthmatic Kitty, home of Sufjan Stevens, so I assumed the disc would be intriguing, if nothing else.  The song starts out with an overly autotuned (practically mechanical) voice repeating the title.  From there the song slows down with some interesting lyrics.   As the reviewer said, it strips dance music to its barest essentials.  This trend seems to be kind of popular lately, and I’ve noticed that when it works, the rests are very catchy, (when it doesn’t it’s boring as all get out).

Now, I first listened to the song with the video (see below) which I love.  So I’m not entirely sure how much of my enjoyment of the song is predicated on the video.

However, I’ve now listened to it several times and my enjoyment grows with each listen.

Although I am always more interested in indie rock than dance and pop, occasional a pop song or a dance song will grab me and make me listen. LCD Soundsystem has had that effect, as has Daft Punk.  I’m not sure if this whole album is as interesting, but I certainly enjoy this song.

Shame that I’ll probably never hear it without going to YouTube.

[READ: January 11, 2011] “The Years of My Birth”

This story impressed me both for its unexpected emotional pull and its twist (in a sense) ending.

When the story opens, we learn of the narrator’s birth: she was an undetected twin who was, for lack of a better term, squished by her brother.  When she came out, the doctor said she would likely have birth defects; her mother, when asked if they should try to save the baby, shouted “No!”

But the nurse had already ensured the baby’s survival.  The baby was disfigured, with a misshapen head and twisted legs, but she appeared mentally normal.  And yet, since her mother had already rejected her, (and times were different then), the nurse, a Native American woman, took the baby home and raised her as part  of their family.  She even nursed the baby since she was already nursing a young girl at home.

The Native American family tended to her, working on re-shaping her head (with massages) and mending her legs (with stretching), and she found herself thriving (reasonably).  Her adoptive family was very supportive and although her closest-in-age sister once said she’s never get in trouble because she was white, she formed a very tight bond with all of her adoptive siblings. Her brother even nicknamed her Tuffy because he knew she’d get a nickname eventually and he wanted to give it to her.

Tuffy lives a quiet, modest life, never making to many attachments, for fear of getting hurt.  Nevertheless, she always felt a kind of ghostly presence in her life.  She knew it was her twin, although she didn’t know where her brother was physically, what he looked like, or even what his name was.   But their bond, or whatever it was, was always there.

And then one day out of the blue, she get as a call from her “mother.”  She wants to connect.  So Tuffy meets her for dinner and the truth comes out (just like a recent plot of 30 Rock): her twin needs a kidney.  And your heart goes out to her.  For so many reasons.

The last section of the story, though, reveals the depth of the character that Erdrich has created in Tuffy.  Because even though she knows that this family has done nothing for her, she has this connection to her twin.  Her family discourages her from contact with her “mother,” but Tuffy feels drawn to help.  Even though she knows she owes them literally nothing, she starts to think that maybe she got the better deal in life.

And then we find out why he needs the kidney, and our feelings gets even more complicated.  And when she finally meets her twin, things go in another direction altogether.

I was really surprised at how complex this short (4 page) story was.  I was riveted, and as I mentioned, emotionally torn.  It’s a great piece.

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SOUNDTRACK: MOBY-Everything is Wrong (1995).

I suppose that everyone knows that Moby (the musician) is Herman Melville’s great- great- great- grandnephew.  And that’s why he has the middle name Melville and had the nickname Moby.

Moby started out as a techno guy. He even made the Guinness Book for the fastest bpm ever recorded (since then, many have surpassed that) with the song “Thousand.”  It’s an interesting song, although more for its novelty than anything else.  He also had a cool hit called “Go” that sampled music from Twin Peaks.  And in 1999 he took over the world with his album Play, which featured some 18 songs that were all licensed for commercial use (many of which were ubiquitous that summer).

But this disc, Everything is Wrong, came out before Play, and it was considered a high water mark for dance music (before the next high water marks of Fatboy Slim and LCD Soundsystem came out, of course).

So this disc was hailed as the big breakthrough for Moby.  And it has something for everyone.  It opens with a pretty piano piece ala Philip Glass which is, as its name implies, a “Hymn.”  From there we get a heavy techno beat and “Feeling So Real” kicks off.  Gospel-like vocals soar above the dancing (this foreshadows Play quite a bit).  It sounds very 1994 to me, although I don’t think it sounds dated, necessarily.  And then comes his stab at punk.  “All That I Need is to be Loved” is a fast blast of aggro music.   The problem is that Moby doesn’t do punk very well.  His guitars are too trebly, his vocals aren’t very strong and despite the beautiful melodies he creates, he doesn’t write very catchy hooks.

“Every Time You Touch Me” returns to the style of “Feeling So Real” and is another stellar dance track.  While “Bring Back My Happiness” runs even faster.

“What Love” is another screaming punk track.  This one is closer to Ministry.  It’s quite a slap in the face after the rest of the disc.

“First Cool Hive” slows things down with a groovy almost ambient track.  And “Into the Blue” is a moody song that sounds like it could also have been taken from Twin Peaks.

“Anthem” returns to the fast beats with ecstatic moans sprinkled over the faster and faster beat.

The album ends with two tracks, “God Moving Over the Face of the World” which is a beautiful instrumental (again ala Philip Glass or more likely Michael Nyman) that weaves in and around itself for 7 minutes.   (It, too, hints of Twin Peaks).  And, “When It’s Cold I’d Like to Die,” while not exactly uplifting is coldly beautiful (kind of like a long lost Eurhythmics track)..

The disc is such a mishmash of styles, that it’s hard to really know what to classify it as.  Some of it works wonders.  Other tracks (notably the punk experiments) are less successful (even though I did enjoy them then, I think they just didn’t age well…or maybe I didn’t age well).  Of course, over the course of his career, Moby has attempted all of these genres in more detail, so this was almost like a sampler of what he would be doing later.

Sixteen years later it holds up quite well (although I still think Play is better).

[READ: Week of June 7, 2010] Moby-Dick [Chapters 42-61]

The reading this week opens with a chapter about whiteness.  And how somehow Moby-Dick is even more fearsome for being white.  As the chapter opens whiteness (even in skin color) is lauded.  But by the end, he cites it as being particularly creepy: white whales, polar bears, albinos.  (I think that this was my very least favorite chapter so far–I was uncomfortable reading it and I didn’t get a lot of humor from it either).

Some more down time passes, with Ishmael describing how Ahab is able to plot a course to find Moby-Dick.  It’s not just looking for a needle in an ocean–there are pathways that whales follow, for instance.  This is followed by a chapter that allows Ishmael to swear, absolutely swear! that whalers can recognize the same whale even years later if you tried to kill it but failed (and that he himself remembers one whale that got away from a mole under its eye). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LCD SOUNDSYSTEM-Sound of Silver (2007).

When this album came out it was hyped as a great dance record. I ordered it on Amazon, but there was some kind of problem (I ordered the import by mistake) and it wasn’t going to be shipped for months. So, I ordered their first album instead (and reviewed it way back when). I finally got this one, and even though I liked quite a few of the songs, I’m not sure that I’d need another LCD record. But we’ll see.

As for this one. The songs are typically dance in style (lots of repeated beats, perfect for dancing, and quite long…7 or 8 minutes). So, really it’s the lyrics that you want to listen for. And for the most part they are surprisingly good. I’ll mention this first as an example and an exception: the title song’s entire lyrics are “Sound of silver, talk to me, makes you want to feel like a teenager, until you remember the feelings of a real live emotional teenager. Then you think again.” Pretty funny stuff. And yet it’s 7 minutes of the same thing over and over. Phew.

“North American Scum” on the other hand, has great, funny, diverse lyrics. And, “All My Friends” is another single-worthy song. “Watch the Tapes” has a fun shouted chorus of “read all the pamphlets and watch the tapes.”  Depending on your mood and/or your current situation, the repetition is either fun to sing along to or tedious. Let’s hope it catches you in the right mood.

I’m saving the last song for its own review, as it is so different. “New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” is a beautiful piano ballad sung with a mournful, cracking voice. It lists valid complaints about the state of New York City these days. The lyrics are here. It’s a weird song to end a dance disk with, but it’s really great and ratchets the whole proceedings up to a new plateau.

[READ: June 31, 2008] “Animal Tales”

I loved Simon Rich’s Ant Farm. He does comedy in short burst that never overstay their welcome. This piece is a really fun, short collection. It is about how animals see the world. He could have easily included 100s of animals, and who knows maybe he will, or maybe he exahusted the topic. In this one he has three animals: (more…)

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