Tag Archives: James Murphy

Song-A-Day: February 4th

It’s a good day to dance for multiple reasons! For one, because I’ve taken off work tomorrow with the impending threat of a snow storm threatening my commute to work, and more importantly because today is James Murphy’s birthday! Murphy turns Fourty-Four today as a retired musician who’s career started in his early-mid thirties with the release of a single, one which joked about how out of touch he was becoming in “Losing My Edge”. That song was only intended to be a single, but when it received a terrific response due to it’s wit and depth of musical references present, Murphy’s career grew to become somebody who was nearly impossible to purchase tickets for at his sold-out final show at Madison Square Garden in only three albums time. Today Murphy works with other artists as a producer or contributor, and his impact is still being felt from this role rather clearly to this point in the music scene. Once again though, it’s fun to look back at beginnings with today’s Song-A-Day, “Losing My Edge”, especially when we do it with Spanish subtitles .

Yeah, I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge.
The kids are coming up from behind.
I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge to the kids from France and from London.
But I was there.

I was there in 1968.
I was there at the first Can show in Cologne.
I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge to the kids whose footsteps I hear when they get on the decks.
I’m losing my edge to the Internet seekers who can tell me every member of every good group from 1962 to 1978.
I’m losing my edge.

To all the kids in Tokyo and Berlin.
I’m losing my edge to the art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties.

But I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge, but I was there.
I was there.
But I was there.

I’m losing my edge.
I’m losing my edge.
I can hear the footsteps every night on the decks.
But I was there.
I was there in 1974 at the first Suicide practices in a loft in New York City.
I was working on the organ sounds with much patience.
I was there when Captain Beefheart started up his first band.
I told him, “Don’t do it that way. You’ll never make a dime.”
I was there.
I was the first guy playing Daft Punk to the rock kids.
I played it at CBGB’s.
Everybody thought I was crazy.
We all know.
I was there.
I was there.
I’ve never been wrong.

I used to work in the record store.
I had everything before anyone.
I was there in the Paradise Garage DJ booth with Larry Levan.
I was there in Jamaica during the great sound clashes.
I woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.

But I’m losing my edge to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent.
And they’re actually really, really nice.

I’m losing my edge.

I heard you have a compilation of every good song ever done by anybody. Every great song by the Beach Boys. All the underground hits. All the Modern Lovers tracks. I heard you have a vinyl of Every Niagra record on German import. I heard that you have a white label of every seminal Detroit Techno hit – 1985, ’86, ’87. I heard that you have a CD compilation of every good ’60s cut and Another box set from the ’70s.

I hear you’re buying a synthesizer and an arpeggiator and are throwing your computer out the window because you want to make something real. You want to make a Yaz record.

I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.

I hear everybody that you know is more relevant than everybody that I know.

But have you seen my records? This Heat, Pere Ubu, Outsiders, Nation of Ulysses, Mars, The Trojans, The Black Dice, Todd Terry, the Germs, Section 25, Althea and Donna, Sexual harassment, a-ha, Pere Ubu, Dorothy Ashby, PIL, the Fania All-Stars, the Bar-Kays, the Human League, the Normal, Lou Reed, Scott Walker, Monks, Niagra,

Joy Division, Lower 48, the Association, Sun Ra,
Scientists, Royal Trux, 10cc,

Eric B. and Rakim, Index, Basic Channel, Soulsonic Force (“just hit me”!), Juan Atkins, David Axelrod, Electric Prunes, Gil! Scott! Heron!, the Slits, Faust, Mantronix, Pharaoh Sanders and the Fire Engines, the Swans, the Soft Cell, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics, the Sonics.

You don’t know what you really want. (x15)

Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013

1.  Hiatus Kaiyote – Tawk Tomahawk

Tawk Tomahawk

This Australian outfit’s short, neo-soul/R&B LP easily got the most plays in my music library this year.  With a 30-minute runtime, this album behaves like a mixtape, and is delicious from start to finish. Its dynamic soundscapes oscillate between spaced-out hip-hop and future soul grooves, showcasing the band’s compositional prowess and musicianship on each song.

2.  Jai Paul – Jai Paul

Jai Paul

UK producer Jai Paul’s album was released amid controversy, heightening the anticipation for his long – awaited debut. A ploy? No matter, this is a surefire banger that is bound to make you move! Whether he intended to or not, Jai Paul serves up this year’s finest offering of electro pop, chopped with weird glitches, silky interludes and eccentric vocal harmonies.


3.  Unknown Mortal Orchestra – II

II

UMO’s sophomore release reveals a new direction for the group without abandoning its psychedelic roots. Singer/songwriter Ruban Nielson refines his song structures, even dabbling in some R&B along the way, as the band delivers a somewhat patient and more polished offering from their debut effort. Fans of their first will have their thirsts quenched by phased out guitar riffs, distorted horn lines, and psyche-funk breakdowns, as II intrigues listeners while luring them further down the rabbit hole.


4.  Thundercat – Apocalypse

Apocalypse

Stephen Bruner’s bass grooves have been in high demand for the past few years, notably lending them to Flying Lotus’ recordings while touring in Erykah Badu’s backing band. Apocalypse could be considered a concept album, exploring themes of friendship, love and loss, as Bruner responds to the death of long-time friend and keyboardist, Austin Peralta.  A fusion of pop, soul and R&B layered with tasty vocal harmonies, scorching bass lines and a few wacky time signatures, Apocalypse delivers catchy hooks amidst its complexity that ensure repeat listens.

5.  Matthew E. White – Outer Face

Outer face

Matthew E. White’s follow-up to last year’s Big Inner, Outer Face serves as an extension of his solo debut – rooted in Americana, and confident. White’s attention to detail is what makes this album shine; with prudent panning, dynamic swells, subtle touches and bass grooves to boot, Outer Face is simultaneously patient and bold.

6.  Bilal – A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal

A Love Surreal ventures toward the avant-garde side of neo-soul and R&B to accompany the Coltrane nod in its title. With unconventional melodies and harmony structures overtop smooth chord changes and back beats, Bilal explores his creativity on this release. The result is an album that engages listeners with multifaceted arrangements, dynamic swells and sexy spells, all without sacrificing accessibility.

7.  Danny Brown – Old

Old

The Detroit rapper’s follow up to his widely praised debut, XXX, features a slightdeparture from his established signature sounds, solidifying Old as this year’s gold standard for hip-hop. Functioning as a dual album, its A-side features more old school production, while the B-side nods to more contemporary, party-rap configurations. Now in his 30’s, Danny Brown explores stories of aging betwixt his inescapable past of poverty and drugs, carefully constructing this concept album as each song masterfully flows to the next.

8.  Ducktails – Wish Hotel EP

ducktails4Matt Mondanile was a busy man this year, releasing two albums for his solo recording project, Ducktails. On Wish Hotel, Mondanile records by his lonesome, diving deeper into the hazy soundscapes explored on his full-length release, The Flower Lane, from earlier this year.  While the LP meanders, Wish Hotel maintains focus, clouding its listeners with phased out pop melodies and distorted keyboard tones, capturing the mood of its fall-time release.

9.  Arcade Fire – Reflektor

ReflektorNo surprise here as Arcade Fire’s latest has made quite a bit of noise since its October release, finding itself atop myriad year-end lists. Clever marketing tricks aside, Reflektor is equipped with production from James Murphy, and showcases the pure craftsmanship of Arcade Fire. Perhaps in an attempt to capture their live sound, the album is lively and paranoid, switching seamlessly between carefully constructed choruses and limber electro-grooves, effectively keeping listeners on their toes.

10.  Foxygen – We are the 21st Century Ambassadors of Peace & Magic

Foxygen

Foxygen’s first full-length release feels as though its paying homage to their Sixties’ heroes while simultaneously poking fun at them right to their faces. Its playfulness is endearing and supports its lyrical prowess, alternating between folk tales and colorful anecdotes. We are the Ambassadors delves into psychedelic breakdowns amidst shifty time signatures and clever hooks; this album is more fun with each repeat listen.
Continue reading Fatty’s Greasiest Albums of 2013

dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

The year 2013 was the first year I, dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS, graced WCDB as a DJ. It was the best of years, It was a year filled with great music and plenty of hard choices. The top 20 albums according to me are officially out and the crowds have been quelled. Enjoy.

TOP 20 ALBUMS OF 2013

20. Los Campesinos! – No Blues

No Blues

This album came out on October 29. Many would call this indie rock-pop at it’s best, but I call it great music. That’s why its number 20. My favorite song, “Avocado, Baby”, strikes at my heart strings. The lyrics, “A heart of stone, rind so tough it’s crazy, That’s why they call me the avocado, baby” really shows you how this band can be a little goofy but sing about some of the more serious things in life. Do I recommend listening to this album? Of course!

19. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Mosquito

Mosquito

I’ve listened to this album over and over again, and the music video for “Mosquito” continues to creep me out. This album has a song produced by the GOD James Murphy. The two songs that are to be listened are called “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito”.

18. James Blake – Overgrown

Overgrown

Overgrown is one of those albums you can have playing while you do EVERYTHING. Driving? Overgrown. Sleeping? Overgrown. Shopping for groceries? Overgrown. The song “Retrograde” just resonates with your ever living soul. You probably hum, I know I do. His previous album is just a preview of what he can do. This album really shows a mature James Blake. Amazing.

17. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

I started listening to this album by playing the song “Fireproof” through my speakers. It was like a wild fire and before I realized it I had listened to this album multiple times through. There are other songs to look forward to hearing, “Don’t Swallow The Cap”, “This Is The Last Time”, and “I Need My Girl” are just some of the few that need to be named.

16. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Modern Vampires of the City

The pop that was seen on previous albums is again found in this album. The gang of four that call themselves Vampire Weekend have once again made a great album. Songs like “Step”, “Diane Young”, and “Unbelievers” really can be traced back to their first album. This album receives my 5 Diane Youngs out of 5 Diane Youngs.
Continue reading dj bANANAS iN pAjAMAS’ Top 20 Albums of 2013

Kyle’s Best of 2013

2013 wasn’t an amazing year for music, but a lot of cool things did happen. There were artists who re-emerged on the scene in Daft Punk, My Bloody Valentine, Boards of Canada, and The Pixies, and then there was a movement headed by Daft Punk and Arcade Fire to try and revive disco in a modernized way. The reason for my semi-disappointment is that a lot of the artist’s efforts this year to set a new standard for their peers failed in my eyes to create something overly significant and lasting (with one exception). Motives aside, and favoritism thrown out the window, here are my top 25 albums to get released in 2013

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25. Of Montreal- Lousy With Sylvianbriar

Release Date: October 08, 2013

Grade: B

I’m really interested to know if this album’s stripped down and more accessible approach was a choice made by Barnes or his management. A part of me hates it because I view him as one of the most fascinating artists out there and really enjoy hearing what he creates when he tries to make electronic masterpieces, but Lousy With Sylvianbriar serves as a reminder to earlier Of Montreal days when he made his living off making pretty pop songs and displayed his thoughts in a less bizarre way.

Track Pick: “Triumph of Disintegration

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24. Thee Oh Sees- Floating Coffin

Release Date: April 16, 2013

Grade: B

One of the better noisy rock albums that came out this year, Thee Oh Sees is a band that must be an absolute blast to see live and tries to capture that energy on the album. When that does happen it’s an awesome thing to hear, but it happens inconsistently as interest tends to fade during the second half of the album, but there are some gems on it like the one suggested below in “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster”.

Track Pick: “Toe Cutter – Thumb Buster

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Afraid of Heights

23. Wavves- Afraid of Heights

Release Date: March 16, 2013

Grade: B

I like listening to Wavves because their music is fun, and that’s why Afraid of Heights gets mentioned here despite it’s struggle to be substantial. They can do much better than this and have shown potential to write interesting songs, but they haven’t quite gotten to their peak yet in my opinion and I’m hopeful that they do soon.

Track Pick: “Cop

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220px-Trouble_Will_Find_Me

22. The National- Trouble Will Find Me

Release Date: May 17, 2013
Grade: B

The product was still good on Trouble Will Find Me, but it’s a difficult one to get inspired by because it sounds uninspired in comparison to the previous three releases. I do enjoy Berninger’s delivery and cadence in their music a lot though, and it appears that even a sub-par record by The National is a quality album when you compare it to it’s peers.

Track Pick: “Don’t Swallow the Cap

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peace-in-love-album-leak21. Peace- In Love

Release Date: March 25, 2013

Grade: B+

This was the debut album for the group and it was a great success by a lot of standards. Their sound has evolved already from their first EP, and In Love is a more consistent album than most bands will achieve in their entire discography, let alone on their debut. This group has a ton of potential but I still have some questions about which genre they ultimately gravitate towards, because they’re stuck in between pop and rock right now and that’s not a good place for them to be because they’re completely different approaches.

Track Pick: “California Daze

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Continue reading Kyle’s Best of 2013

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Here’s the finale: songs ten through one on my 100 favorite songs countdown.

10. Bob Dylan- Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind/ You coulda done better, but, I don’t mind/ You just kinda wasted my precious time/ But don’t think twice, it’s all right.

I adore Dylan as an influence, how could you not when so many of your favorite artists view him as an inspiration, but there’s only one song of his which actually stops me in my tracks. “Don’t Think Twice, it’s Alright” captures Dylan telling his girl that he’s leaving, and that he is doing it because of her. It’s the chance of getting hurt in the relationship that scares everyone, and Dylan goes through a bad one here where the girl “Just wasted [his] precious time”, and Dylan blames her for it because she didn’t do enough to try and make it work. Still, he makes sure to let her know that she doesn’t need to worry about what she’s done to him, because this is a risk that he knew about going in. He’s going to be able to get over this. There’s no desire to see her again, and he knows that she never really had the intention of hurting him in the first place, it just didn’t work out, and that’s alright.

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9. The Velvet Underground- Heroin

“Oh, and I guess that I just don’t know.

This list was made before the death of Lou Reed, but it’s difficult to not take that route while writing about it now. When Reed passed I had to learn about it through social media posts which took an overly symbolic approach to the subject, and as people re-explored his catalog they searched for the lyrics which suddenly looked more meaningful than previously thought. It’s cool that people found these connections, but I hated it because that overly-symbolic look wasn’t what Reed was about at all in my eyes. This wasn’t the man who tried to hide anything in his music, he was the guy who’d actually done it and wanted to let you how what it was. On “Heroin” we get a look at the the hope in the music alongside the gradual buildup and rush of the instruments which ultimately leads to the song’s ‘high’, but it never fails to fall back with what is in my opinion the best lyric that Reed ever wrote: “And I guess, that I just don’t know”.

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8. Animal Collective- Fireworks

“They’ve got two flashing eyes and they’re colored why/ They make me, feel, that I’m only all I see sometimes.”

There’s so much joy in “Fireworks” once you learn what to appreciate in it. The narrator is an observant and self-aware man who dreams one day of having a family he can take to the beach, to watch the fireworks. In his current life though he’s dealing with the same monotony as the rest of us and  he’s learned the routine of how to ignore the repeated questions and tasks he encounters every day. Instead he gets lost in thought about what he hopes for, he thinks about what his kid will think the first time that he sees the fireworks, and all the wonder that will be in his eyes at that point. But what if the child was color blind and just wasn’t able to comprehend what he witnessed? This view on experiential learning reminds him that what he views in the world is completely shaped by how he happened to view it when he was growing up, and leads him to think that “I’m only all I see sometimes”.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 10-1

Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Here are numbers 20-11 on my countdown of my 100 favorite songs.

20. Daniel Johnston- True Love Will Find You in the End

But how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light, the light?

Daniel Johnston is a difficult musician to familiarize yourself with because, in honesty, there is a lot of bad music in his discography. The reason why he’s important is that Johnston, the manic depressive and schizophrenic, has moments in his music which reach absolute beauty. “True Love Will Find You in the End” is a song which begs it’s listener to not give up the belief that you will find the one…eventually. It’s a song to represent the hope that if you stay open and yourself for long enough, one day luck will turn your way and you’ll find the perfect person for you; and that’s the point of everything. You can build up barriers and try to send off a false message, but if you continue to be yourself and look for love then it will find you in the end. “True love is searching too, but how can it recognize you unless you step out into the light”? It’s a discouraging quest (“Don’t be sad, I know you will”), but he believes in the promise of the reward.

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19. Bright Eyes- A Song to Pass the Time

“Now I have locked my actions in the grooves of routine/ So I may never be free of this apathy/ But I wait for a letter that is coming to me/ She sends me pictures of the ocean in an envelope

It’s not a part of “A Song to Pass the Time”, but the interview that precedes this song at the end of “An Attempt to Tip The Scales” is a very good introduction to this track. “A Song to Pass The Time” is told in a manner similar to what Dylan would do, in that they wrote down their observations and described real human interactions rather then trying to conjure a story with a point in mind. The difference between Dylan and Oberst is that while Dylan would say what was there due to his confidence and experience, the younger and depressed Oberst seems to focus on what he thinks is missing. Why does he love the mexican children kicking rocks in the street? Why are all the businessmen and suburban mothers so emotionless and repetitive? Why isn’t my desperation to stay close to the people who I’ve formed a close relationship with shared? I love the verse above because it shows Oberst’s hope that at some point love will just save him from all of this, and she’ll be able to help him understand everything that tortured him before.

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18. The Postal Service- We Will Become Silhouettes

“We become silhouettes when our bodies finally go.”

I love tragic songs that sound happy, and “We Will Become Silhouettes” is the poster boy for that category. Death is still a certainty, in fact it seems to tell the story of an explosion which will is going to kill us all, but it’s become a celebration because that’s when our bodies will finally become silhouettes! We shall become immortalized once “our shells simply cannot hold all our insides in and [then] explode”. Tamborello’s music is cheerful and stuffed with simple, melodic rhythms to represent the joy of the song in it’s own beautiful way, only one example of how well these two worked together on the album.

Continue reading Kyle’s Favorite 100 Songs: 20-11

Album Reviews: Arcade Fire, Cults, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.

Grade: A-

Release Date: 10/28/2013

Staying fair with this album is difficult. On one side, the Arcade Fire and Reflektors buildup was gigantic and the live show I attended(and covered in another post) was the best live event that I’ve ever seen. This seemed to set the table for this to be an almost unfathomable ‘next-step’ for a band which was already one of the premiere names within the alternative music scene, and a band who was already following up on an album which won album of the year in 2011. In my opinion, that next step didn’t happen on Reflektor, but you can’t hold the fact that an album didn’t turn out to be a classic against it when grading. Reflektor is a very good album which contributes to the dream of reviving disco in 2013, and it’s awesome to hear that when Arcade Fire collaborates with James Murphy the product can legitimately be played and danced to at random venues. There’s also a few new Arcade Fire gems like “Normal Person”, “It’s Never Over (Oh Orpheus) “and my personal favorite “Here Comes The Night Time”(which I personally believe will become as hypnotic and repetitively played as “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” was for Tame Impala in 2012). Reflektor is much better than the average record that you’d hear, which is why it deserves an A-, but it’s hard to mark it higher when it’s likely the third or fourth best Arcade Fire album out of their four releases(Neon Bible being it’s competition). The final viewpoint for me is that it’s really cool to hear Arcade Fire do disco, but I don’t think that this product is as good as what they’ve done before, so I hope it’s not a permanent sound shift.


Cults- Static

Grade: B-

Release Date: 10/14/2013

Cults had an outstanding  self-titled debut album back in 2011 which showed a lot of promise for the indie pop duo, but there was a bit of an odd development in between that release and their sophomore effort Static. Madeline Follin and Brian Oblivion decided to split and end their relationship, but maintain the band and continue releasing music together, a snippet which makes tracks like “Always Forever” a bit of an awkward listen. Static is a step back for the band in terms of the energy and catchy pop choruses which were present on their debut, but this album is still a fun listen even if it is an unspectacular release.


Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.- The Speed of Things

Grade: B+
Release Date: 10/08/2013

Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. and Cults actually have a lot in common, both indie pop duos released terrific debuts in 2011 (Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.’s being It’s A Corporate World) and  released their second albums within a week of each other. It’s a tough band to judge because Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. is exceptionally good at making music with pop gimmicks in it, which begs the question of if an album should be judged based upon how enjoyable it is or how likely it is to last the test of time. The Speed of Things is not an album which is going to inspire people to make new music or make people marvel at their sources of inspiration, but the album is a tremendously fun listen with moments that are surprisingly beautiful. Hopefully increased exposure for the band inspires them to take more risks in future projects about song topics because they have a great pop sensibility, and it would be fun to hear what a more ambitious project by them would sound like.