Thoughtfully, LCD Soundsystem has provided a soundtrack to my day in the form of their latest album Sound of Silver. How he did this is a mystery, since my day only got convoluted yesterday because of a misread calendar, but here is the track by track breakdown:
Sound of Silver
Get Innocuous - 8:28 AM - I'd just walked my daughter and her friend that walks with us, off at her classroom, giving her a protracted hug because my unusually busy work day meant I wasn't going to see her again until after she was fast asleep. Our morning walks to school are the finest points of my day, she and her friend, both only children, get to have some mild sibling rivalry over the crosswalk button and I get to feel a palpable superiority over the line of carpoolers. My habit is to strut out the bus lane adjacent to her classroom and with cavalier flourish, whip out my earbuds and commence a day of listening. "Get Innocuous" was a perfect opening play - its strut is as propulsive as the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive" but its message is one of disappearance, dissolving as the techno rush locust swarm overtakes you. I walk past a line of businesses I pass every weekday, though I've never stepped foot in them. I cross the street in fornt of the same cars every day, but don't know them, Majestic in my innocuous-ness. A comet might as well have exterminated life while I was sleeping.
Time To Get Away - 8:50 AM - The usual struggle to propel me from the house takes place. My workspace at home is inordinately cozy, especially since some retail therapy after a harrowing family visit got me some great computer speakers, but the sun is out and there is money to be made. Today is one of those odd days where I have to attend to each one of my various clients in short spurts, whereas I usually toss them long into the calendar so that I may maintain a sheen of bohemia about me. James Murphy's perfect prince vamp kicked in as I approached the house and his stilted shout at the end met my exit to the car. LCD Soundsystem's deadpan funk is so sublime. It seems like a complete joke, like this is an art hoax with heavy lidded eyes, and I think in some ways it is, but unlike the drivel of Fischerspooner, it is actually compelling.
North American Scum - 9:05 AM - I'm stood squarely in a deep line at the post office clutching two giant grocery sacks of envelopes, books going out to hopeful reviewers, very conscious of the fact that I am on the opposite end of the barrel of the critical gun: hoping someone will notice me and then not be a complete dick about it when they do - the great reward of the American worker. Nothing puts the modern condition in as distinct a perspective as being in line at the post office. It's almost Warholian - he painted soup cans because everyone eats the same can of soup - except that like his soup analogy, it fails. The rich folks have set up banks of mailbox stores in tony strip malls just so that they may evade the people of color on either side of the counter at the post office, and not be outraged by their remarkable inefficiency. That is why I like the post office. They have nothing to prove, they are not acting like you are an orchid that needs and serves their attention, they just get the mail there, OK. The mechanical electro punk funk rock disco of "North American Scum" only heightens the experience for me. Person after person with dumb questions and lots of problems getting the mail they don't want anyway. The joyous declaration of "We are North American Scum!" practically radiates through me and echoes off the decades-old paneling. The line "the more I do it, the better it gets" in particular. We North American Scum all adhere to that idea, even in our railing against the machine, we feel we improve in our tenacity. I grow better and better with each millimeter of my smirk.
Someone Great - 9:35 AM - The post Depeche Mode throb of this track, its clack‚Äîclack beat burbling between dynamo pulses in a brilliant bouquet of synthetic warmth - kicks in as I pull into my barber. I probably don't really need a haircut, but I love my barber and it does put work off another hour. He has a partner who often stands by an empty chair while a 30-minute queue forms behind his. Not that the other barber is that bad, but my barber is that good. My half-assed socialist tendencies urge me to take the first chair available, which is always, always the other barber's, but my wife insists I wait him out. I'm typing all this as I wait for the cops and carpet salesmen before me to get their crew cuts so I can have him trim me back to a pre-lycanthropic state of hirsute. Along with being a great barber, and a rather amiable guy with a charming new set of braces clogging up his speech, he is also a boxing promoter. The waiting room is plastered with framed number cards and promo posters for Black Rhino, a promising thug of a guy who blew a Showtime boxing contract with a crack-fueled carjacking at the drug store around the corner from my house. I don't care much about boxing, but would've cheered him on steadily only because of the connection to my barber
All my Friends - 10:06 AM - Still waiting...but I'm up next. Murphy does an amazing Strokes impression in this vaguely melancholy repetitive rocker, one that actually trumps The Strokes at their own game in a number of ways. He has the lonely cool of The Cars, a woodpecker steady piano pulse and little Sterling Morrison bursts of guitar peeking through the cracks. Like the Strokes, this is great ambient rock. I don't know what he's saying, and it has a ton of words in it. It all lines up together in gear precision, gradually rising like blood pressure as the night progresses. "If I could see my friends tonight..." The lonely call of every wolf in the pack.
Us v. Them - 11:15 AM - Nothing bolsters me more for the fight than a fresh haircut and a cheeseburger so my procrastination takes on gastronomic form with a stop at Sonic. I wisely set up this schedule today so that I won't be able to eat until 9PM so I figure I'd better hit it. I generally view my life outside the house as vaguely adversarial. Trace little direct conflict happens, but I start seeing everything as a parasite eating up my valuable time, time that I could be frittering away with out the burden of being paid for it. It's stupid, but it's there. The syncopated indie-disco of this track is the perfect alarm for my charge into the day. The long road I need to drag down to get to the office zips by with Murphy's Berliner Bowie moan and the errant cowbell. It's like listening to the average of all the alpha waves of the drivers all around me. "Us and them, over and over again" It's almost like a reverse of the equally percussive "Sympathy for the Devil" with self-aggrandizing melting into self-hatred, stuttering to a stop as I pull into the parking lot.
Watch The Tapes - 11:30 AM - Since I'm engaging in empathetic fallacy, I assume "Read the pamphlets and watch the tapes" mirrors the endless phone queries my office mate gets, and the one-ended conversation I get to experience in the highest fidelity. This track is pretty good, but the one thing that sticks with me is that it contains the same exact "Ah WOo-Hooooo" after the chorus that is in ELO's "Don't Bring Me Down." ELO is a band, much like Steely Dan and the Beach Boys, that I am increasingly horrified to find that I am in the only person in my circle who hates them, or at least is not given to slobbering when their name is invoked. I thought the same thing about LCD Soundsystem when I first started hearing the ravings about them, and thankfully, my editor's love letter to "North American Scum" turned me around on them. This song sounded immaculate on my new speakers I got yesterday, the same speakers I was tempted to download and play ELO's Out of the Blue on, fearful I'd discover what. according to everyone, I'd been missing.
Sound of Silver - 2:51 PM - The album has been on repeat all afternoon as I crafted this, in an attempt to block out my office mate, but now that I am in the transition stretch of moving on to a meeting with a different client now, it's the first I've gotten to hear it full on. In fact, I have to bolt right now, so....
Sound of Silver - 4:20 PM - This track really sums up not only the album and the band but also my threading of this disc through my day, First the mantra repeated throughout it:
Sound of silver talk to me
Makes you want to feel
Like a Teenager
Until you remember the feelings of
A real-life emotional teenager
Then you think again.../p>
My unusually hectic schedule today is on part of my second childhood I'm having as a freelance worker, not tied to a cubicle, a company, a title, anything really. On the way to my final gig of the evening, I passed through the bucolic campus where my college years were spent, and the flickers of the sun through the spring growth of the trees fits the circular nostalgia Murphy is talking about here. Sonically, the passage through different beats and grooves that underlies the chant reminds me specifically of Ministry's "Twitch" when that band was just entering the chrysalis before emerging as the bloated metallic moth it was to later become. The song evolves almost imperceptibly, evoking Steve Reich's phase experiments as much as it does the dour pop of the Human League. I put it on repeat a couple times as I bask in this caf?© before getting back to work, its spinning wheels timing themselves to the entrance and exit of co-eds maxing out their new credit cards on overpriced espresso, and the codger across the way furtively pecking at his laptop too.
New York, I Love You - 4:42 PM - A friend who lived in New York in the late Warhol years, one well connected enough that RuPaul was once her roommate long before she rose and fell from relevancy, told me that New York City becomes your life when you live there. You don't live in it, rather it lives through you. You become one of 20 million conduits for that city to transmit itself. This song, proclaiming "I love you, but you're bringing me down" because of its gentrification and cleaning up, it's lost its shine. If New York is one's life, and this album is right now all about me, then it is really saying that once life sets in, once the details of it start to overshadow the murky theme, its where melancholy sets in. Right now, I'm grasping the last few moments before my night class starts, and these moments are glorious as the Ziggy Stardust flourishes that finish this number out.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com
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