Watch: David Bowie - Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy): We’re a few days removed from Halloween, but this video is still bloody creepy.
Do you remember the first time? Well do you? And why did you choose them? Was it the drink or the time of year, or the position of the planets? Or was it just their hair?
To me, beauty in music can come in a form of ways; whether it’s the first time you heard that song, the people you were with and the memories attached, or whether it’s the simple gorgeous construction of a track, both musically and lyrically. For me, the beauty of the songs I’ve selected lies in both. The speed in which we as a society consume music today means that for these songs, they’ve already stood the test of time in my mind and will most likely continue to, cliche and all.
Los Campesinos! – We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed
No matter how many times your fourteen year old self jumps back out for a few minutes of immaturity and borderline-twee indie, Los Campesinos!’s first two records don’t sound dated and that’s because the maturity of the lyrical content bounced off the juvenile feel of the music behind it in a way I’ve not enjoyed since Johnny Marr’s intricate, feel-good guitar lines linked up with Morrissey’s darkly genius wordplay. “We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed” is the weary knowledge of love and post-adolescence in itself in a way that’s only as aged as its listener and although it’s a somewhat sinister beauty, it’s beauty all the same.
65DaysOfStatic – Radio Protector
Sometimes it’s the ‘hit’. That one that turns you around to a band and to a series of memories that are ingrained in your mind until someone’s singing Reuben by a campfire in the rain. 65DaysOfStatic for me have been a reason to miss the last train home, a reason to venture out into the suburbs to see friends you’re scared of losing touch with, a reason to stand up after that box of wine’s finished and get drenched in torrential rain in a field in the Midlands and a reason to stay at home listening to records alike. “Radio Protector” is the centre-point of all of this for me. It’s slow build from delicate piano through to the powerful beast it grows into is what beauty feels like when it pumps through every vein in your body and takes over.
Sigur Ros – Hoppipolla
That the BBC chose this to be the theme song for David Attenborough’s Planet Earth is no clichéd accident. Planet Earth was a feast for the senses and the addition of Sigur Ros’ track created something beyond that. It’s possible to enter moments of nirvana with the help of this band, and the climax of this song is as good as (not that the use is condoned) any street medicine out there. To leave this out would be to leave a gaping hole in a list that by its very nature, was made for this track.
LCD Soundsystem – All My Friends
“To tell the truth, this could be the last time.” Sometimes beauty hurts to hear, regardless of how pretentious that may sound. Someone else wrote the reasons that this may be the best song of the noughties and regardless of whether they’re right (they are), the instant joy that this song creates in me, mixed with the acute awareness of its lyrical content earns it a space in almost every list I’ll ever write.
Snow Patrol – Open Your Eyes
Sometimes it’s the song you know you shouldn’t love but you’ll still listen to and scream along with friends to regardless of the noise complain that awaits you in the morning. As well as the obvious theme that runs throughout Snow Patrol’s back-catalogue, love, there’s a feeling of camaraderie in “Open Your Eyes”; albeit somewhat Brokeback Mountain-esque. As with LCD Soundsystem, there’s a simplicity to its structure that gains in power throughout, culminating in the kind of arena rock sound that Snow Patrol often strived for when they weren’t toying with the kind of tracks Leona Lewis could cover, before the gentle last “All this feels strange and untrue, and I won’t waste a minute without you.”
Big Big News of the day: Yes, it’s the Anton Corbjin-directed video for the already leaked return single from Arcade Fire, “Reflektor”, featuring David Bowie and produced by James Murphy. I never knew I wanted a seven minute Arcade Fire disco track til now, but now I never want anything else.
News roundup of the day:
- There’s going to be a remake of Jumanji. Yep, our childhoods are dying, one remake at a time.
- Ellen Campesinos! has departed Los Campesinos!, making her the fourth member to leave the band in the past few years. Her farewell blogpost is quite lovely and getting me all emotional.
- Kevin Smith is making Clerks III. YAY! It’s going to be his last film. BOO!
- Michael Caine has said a few words about the apparently ambigous ending to The Dark Knight Rises.
- Hipster wet dreams are coming true: Arcade Fire are in the studio with LCD Soundsystem supremo James Murphy.
- Wanna see some brand new footage from Iron Man 3? Here’s the Japanese promo for it.
- Jamie xx DJed a Boiler Room session t’other night, and it was quite excellent. Give it a listen here
- Jessie Ware plus Katy B, with a homage to Aaliyah? Sounds good to us.
- Rejoice! Kristen Wiig is going to be in Anchorman 2.
- Not yet sick of zombies? Still like hearing "Gangnam Style"? Well, "The Dancing Dead" is for you.
- In case you’d forgotten, 30 Rock is ending very soon. Here’s something to drive it home even further.
- Frank Ocean's been nominated for six Grammys, whilst Justin Bieber has exactly zero nominations. One-nil for decent music eh?
February 8 2011. A day that crushed many a fan’s dreams. A simple announcement on the LCD Soundsystem website marked the end of a band that wasn’t really meant to be a band. They were older than your typical rock outfit and yet shot to superstardom in less time than most other bands due to their unique blend of disco and punk stylings, drawing influences from a catalogue of the most well stocked record shop in all the world. And yet it was at this peak that they decided to call it quits. This left many, myself included, quite flabbergasted that a band with so much popularity would decide to drop out of the race while in pole position. Rumours flew around as to why they had called it quits but the real reason was primarily that they were getting too old. James Murphy started the band at the grand old age of 32 and around ten years later wanted to focus on other things. The band had come together as a group of friends simply to have a good time which exploded into the LCD Soundsystem we know today.
Shut Up And Play The Hits is a document of the subsequent last ever gig. And by last ever gig, they sure as fuck meant “last ever”. No reunions, no nothing. If they were going out, they were going out with a bang. So the date was set. April 2nd at New York’s Madison Square Garden. What followed was a 4 hour party with guests such as Reggie Watts, Arcade Fire and label mates Shit Robot. It was less of a bang, more of a firework fuelled spectacular. I stayed up until 5am watching the live stream of the gig and, even alone in my bedroom, it was the best thing ever.
Shut Up And Play The Hits covers the run up to this huge blowout, the witching hour itself and then the come down, hangover fuelled day after alongside interview snippets with James Murphy as to why he decided to quit as well as dissection of his work and his career as a whole. Electric concert footage covers most of the documentary, making it more akin to Stop Making Sense than Living In The Material World (which is apt because I often think of LCD Soundsystem as my generation’s Talking Heads), but the interview snippets give you an insight into the psyche of James Murphy, a notoriously shy character who hates talking about the meaning of his songs. The most eye opening scene is a simple scene in which Murphy visits the lock up where most of the gear from the MSG gig is being held before being sold off. He walks into the lock up, sits in a chair silently, gets up, walks among the gear and just breaks down in tears. This is a man who is not sure if he made the right decision in disbanding LCD Soundsystem, as mentioned when he is asked what the defining failure of LCD might be, but is happy that he had a fucking great journey along the way.
The real highlight, however, is the concert footage itself. The cheapest concert film ever filmed at Madison Square Garden, it doesn’t feel that way at all. The energy is electric and places you right in the centre of this huge party as old friends play together for the last time and the crowd go wild. Having seen LCD Soundsystem live before, the energy of the actual live gig is still there even in a cinema. The party atmosphere is one of the prevailing memories of that gig and is the reason why it is one of my favourite gigs ever, if not THE best gig I’ve been to. I ended up going on my own because a friend couldn’t go but I met loads of people, was right at the front in what Murphy himself calls the “party block” (the block of 1000 or so people near the front who are just having a fucking great time) and just danced for the entirety of it. Watching Shut Up And Play The Hits brought back all the great memories from that night; from everybody losing their shit when the room went pitch black during Us vs Them and the light shining on the mirrorball was the only source of light to the mass singalong of New York I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down. And that’s what made me sad when watching SUAPTH. The fact LCD Soundsystem will never play a live gig together again. That’s what they were best at. They wanted to turn the conventional gig on its head and turn it into a huge disco. And they succeeded. Gig in, gig out that is what we got. And that is why they were the force that they were. They knew how to have a good time.
And they went out having THE BEST time.
LISTEN/// GORILLAZ, JAMES MURPHY & ANDRE 3000 - DOYATHING
The Converse 3 Artists, 1 Song scheme has previously brought together such artists as Santigold, Julian Casablancas, Pharrell Williams, Vampire Weekend, Kid Cudi and Best Coast for some rather great tunes (“My Drive Thru” and “All Summer”), but the latest track has got to be the most exciting. Bringing together Gorillaz, LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and Andre 3000 of Outkast is something of a leftfield pop coup; the result is something of a meld of all three artists’ sound. It’s funky, weird and filled with all sorts of electronica. That said, it’s mostly worth listening to for Andre’s verses. But it’s free to download from Converse’s website, so what have you go to lose?