For my money there’s no band closer to the profound Talking Heads then the James Murphy led LCD Soundsystem. Breaking onto the scene in 2005, the climate was ripe for change. With the help of Nancy Whang and the incomparable Pat Mahoney, among others, LCD was able to grow into something that had been just a solitary man making music, with no intent on touring. Multiple albums, a breakup, and a reunion later, LCD is back proving to many uninitiated how fun, important, and danceable they are. Modern day disco punk fans rejoice, LCD is back and killing it. Here’s the top ten list for your reading pleasure.
10. Tribulations, LCD Soundsystem
One of the best things about this band is the tones they use in their electronic instrumentations. Sort of old feeling, but not in a contrived way. It feels very much like a disco movie with rough edges. This mood is very evident in our number ten choice, ‘Tribulations.’ It’s easy to move to, but it also packs a punch on the emotional level. The song is jointed together by resentment and mistakes, through various courses in life. Murphy’s voice also has the sway of a torn man dependent on dance and moving to escape his pain. It’s an early sign of what would come, and is every bit as fun.
9. One Touch, This is Happening
One of the things this band, and Murphy in particular do so well is building of sounds then exploding them into something more bombastic and prominent. The first example of this today comes from “final” album track ‘One Touch.’ Not that the third album isn’t brilliant, but there are only a few areas where the album defies ultimate expectations. The first listens to this showed me that. One of the longest tracks on this list, ‘Touch’ manages to build together gaps with virtually the same beat at the start of the track. It’s not hard to follow, which I think is why the track is fun and menacing at the same time.
8. Daft Punk is Playing at my House, LCD Soundsystem
In your face from moment one, ‘Daft Punk is Playing at my House,’ manages to be everything you need to know from LCD and Daft Punk. it manages to sound like both bands without much effort or hackery. It has that DP beat to it, and even though it’s not electronically oriented to a high degree, it feels like something the Robots would produce, or at least play at random moments. I also have to say I can’t think of any band saluting someone else on a track so obviously. Wouldn’t you be nervous if you knew your favorite didn’t like the song you made to profess your love?
7. I Can Change, This is Happening
One of the most uplifting songs on the countdown also happens to fall near the bottom, which is still better than 95% of other music around today. The way Murphy’s voice croons through discoballs, and in that moment you’re in a little club brightened by electronic pulses and shimmers in the dark air. It’s one of the easiest songs to move to on this album, and makes it a little more sentimental. The lyrics also take a brilliant but dark path towards the end, which depicts yet again the romantic tendencies in this band. Really pretty, but also really honest when it needs to be.
6. Home, This is Happening
Last songs on records aren’t as easy as you might think. The great last song either crescendos up to glorious highs, or descends to somber lows that quietly take over a space. Of those two, ‘Home’ is the first type mentioned (We’ll get to the other kind in a bit..). Again the use of building is used to gorgeous effect, the song coming at you like a circus themed dance club in the middle of Autumn. It eases into things, slowing adding to the rhythm and beat overall. LCD is essentially at this point an electronic, dance oriented version of Tool. Long, big songs, consistently adding or changing aspects as well as expectations. They also happen to be brilliant.
5. Get Innocuous!, Sound of Silver
The first time this enters your ears, you realize everything is right with the world and this band will almost certainly deliver on another masterstroke of an album. Again with the upward build, number five on the Top Ten LCD Soundsystem songs, has the added advantage of a boom of a voice at the top of the elevation. It always reminded me of a man serenading you at the climax of an escalator, except with weird visuals all over the place. Seeing this live not two weeks ago was simply wonderful, and the intensity of the energy of that crowd made it all the more of a moment to be at peace with everything.
4. Movement, LCD Soundsystem
Ah yes, the bands one true punk song. ‘Movement’ is everything is claims to be. The synth starts with purpose and intensity, and James’ hurried, increasing aggressive vocals only add to the tensions waiting to get ripped apart with not hurting, but more dancing. It’s a track that inspires you to hoist fits in the air and lose your mind for a small amount of time. It’s also shorter than most LCD songs, so it doesn’t feel overly long. It gets to the point fast, and shows you how to rock even faster.
3. New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down
And here’s the depressing last song. Truth be told, I’ve felt brought down by my city of choice, New Orleans, more than once. Maybe that’s the curse of living in the same place you were born. In the number three selection, Murphy sits solo and taps away on the piano a tale of love, but also of honesty, and anger in how the city makes you forget everything good, and envelopes itself around you, unable to get those choices back. Murphy doesn’t often try to hit high notes when he’s as naked as he is now, but for this track is works better, way better than expected, and with that the last track of Sound of Silver wraps up and we proceed to number two...
2. Dance YRself Clean, This Is Happening
Like i said earlier, slow building tracks are sort of a thing for Murphy, Whang and Mahoney, along with all the other eclectic members of the band. For nearly two minutes the song gradually tops itself, although never in an over the top fashion. By the time the drums ramp in and the belting vocals start peaking out, the song is transformed to a dance club masterpiece. It’s not only the second best song from the band, it starts off this incredible album with a slow burning bang that proceeds to set the pace for a wonderful evening listening to jams from NYC, the only place that could invent that sound.
1. All My Friends, Sound of Silver
Very rarely in life, you find a top 10 all time song. “All My Friends,” the number one LCD Soundsystem song, gets all the way to my top five favorite all time songs. There’s something so carefree, resilient, and thought provoking that makes it all work so well. The build and gradual nature of the song do miracles. They instinctively come together in a cordial weave of spontaneity, the way yawn eventually makes something warm and welcoming. I’ve listened to this song more times that i could ever count, but it never gets old, not even for a second. It’s a gift to us all, and i’m thrilled to have it in my life.
Landon Murray is a New Orleans native, who thrives on painting the world he interprets through the useful forms of all types of art he feels connected to. He's seen over 1000 bands, and had loved mostly every minute of it. He has an amazing 10 year old dog, and is loving life.
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