I recently finished Kim Gordon’s memoir detailing her time in Sonic Youth along with the intimate details of her breakup with husband (and fellow Sonic Youth member), Thurston Moore. I mostly enjoyed the book, but I had to laugh – she spent a few sentences bashing Lana Del Rey. It was puzzling to me, as Sonic Youth have championed the music of The Carpenters for over 30 years now. Take away the tragedy of Karen Carpenter, and you are left with brilliant pop music. The time spent bashing Lana Del Rey reeked of indie elitism which both amused and got under my skin a bit. Hell, Sonic Youth covered Madonna! In this day and age, who cares? Anyone can listen to anything at anytime. Music should be an all-inclusive family – no cool kid games. At least, that’s my outlook. As far as Lana Del Rey? I think she is brilliant, and her latest record is her strongest yet.
Attack of the Killer Track! is a series that explores tracks from artists from a variety of genres. Some of the tracks were singles, some of them were obscure b-sides or long forgotten album tracks. One thing is certain – all of them are killer tracks.
Grunge wasn’t REALLY born in Seattle, WA now was it? No, no – it has its origins in the grittier city of Tacoma, WA with the garage rock band The Sonics. Punk wasn’t REALLY 1st bandied about by the Sex Pistols now was it? Nope – have you heard of The Modern Lovers (later covered by the Sex Pistols). How about that band that featured Damon Albarn and Liam Gallagher? Sorry – made that part up. “Losing My Edge” by LCD Soundsystem is a song about hipsters, by a hipster, for hipsters, making fun of hipsters. If there is anything you’ve taken away from my writings I’d hope you understand – I’m in both camps constantly. As I’ve gotten older I’ve lost the self-important edge that goes with knowing all the complicated relationships and scenes from music over the years (though the knowledge has stayed in my brain). What does it all matter? Anyone can look up anything on the internet at anytime and be hip to the secrets of the indie elitist. This song features a repetitive and catchy dance beat as James Murphy spouts off about various scenes and bands from the last 50 years. He always comes back to the refrain “I was there – I was there” – which becomes funnier as the song progresses. The song was released as a 12″ single on July 8, 2002 on the DFA Record label (owned by James Murphy). The video features Murphy being slapped repeatedly as he mimes along (in an edited version). My beloved Sonics get a shout out at the end. Key lyrics:
I was there in 1968.
I was there at the first Can show in Cologne.
I’m losing my edge.
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 used to work in the record store.
I had everything before anyone.
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.
Hype can be a dangerous game. For every band that releases a hyped 1st record and sustains a successful career afterwards, there are thousands of bands that lit up the music world the 1st time around then disappeared from view. In my opinion some of those bands may have been deservedly relegated to the sidelines, while I scratch my head at some bands that are considered “One Hit Wonders“.
Franz Ferdinand (named for the Austro-Hungarian Archduke whose murder sparked World War I) have had a curious trajectory in both the UK and the US (for the sake of this review, I’ll just mention those two entities though I do realize there is an entire world out there). The 1st self titled record was a hit on both sides of the pond and was a record both in love with the late 70’s post punk scene as well as the modern dance punk hipster revival. Ambiguous lyrics, music that sounded like it mattered – what was not to love? The follow up, You Could Have It So Much Better was another huge hit in the UK but failed to make an impact in the US. The same fate was afforded to the 3rd record, Tonight in the United States. In fact, 8 years on from the debut record I wonder if today’s early 20’s hipsters are even aware of Franz Ferdinand?