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04. LCD Soundsystem – One Touch (2010)

Holy piss, I have listened to this terrible song way too many times because of this project, and I’ll be honest: some days it sounds worse to me than others. Sonically, that is. It’s still a giant deadpan wank-off bore, but occasionally the meekly growling low-end synth will worm its way into my ear enough for me to think twice about saying it sounds like a washed out bag of horse farts.

Somebody tell Phillip Seymour Hoffman he’s allowed to give his songs a bit of fucking menace!

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t parts of the song that work for me. I don’t mind it when the ringing glockenspiel tones come in and at least distract me from all the mid-heavy synth trash, for example. And the oh-so-2010 background vocal yelps in the chorus work for me very much.

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But for shit sakes, the repetitive higher-pitched bleep-blooping synth line — no, not that one, the other one — feels like something I’d have happened upon by hitting “Generate Random” on the TS-404 synth program I still have on my computer from 1999. And as much as I’d like to be nice and say that I could see how it might be better experienced with a full live band on proper equipment that doesn’t sound like shit, I… uh… I don’t think it’s the equipment that’s the problem.

Like I say, my objections here are not merely sonic in nature, but Jesus. There are just so many goddamned thwup-thwups that neither shake the very bottom of my soul, nor buzz through in a hazy abrasive drone. I’m not sure which of those two choices would have been better than what we’ve got here, but I sure as fuck would have tried at least one of them. (Then again, I also would have made the choice to not write Drunk Girls, which is the track that precedes this one on This Is Happening and fucking sucks.)

Hey, but they at least made an effort to clutter my ear-holes with so much static and so many other noises that maybe I wouldn’t notice.

Ahh, but I did notice!

And what’s this? Is he “huh-huh”-ing at me for a while here? This was a necessary little departure in your fucking interminable nearly-eight-minute-long sound painting with the I-am-super-cereal vocals? Fuck off.

Here’s “one touch” for ya: the play button on the song I’m preeeeetty sure you were trying to make, the author of which — who I always mistakenly call Martin Bormann in my head, ho ho ho — at least had the decency to ensure it clocked in under four minutes:

For Reference…

LCD Soundsystem – One Touch
iTunes | Spotify

LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

Depeche Mode – People Are People
iTunes | Spotify

Wikipedia: LCD Soundsystem | This Is Happening | Depeche Mode | Martin Bormann

Download the Shazam app iTunes | Google Play

03. Joe Tex – I Gotcha (1972)

Joe. Fucking. Tex.

Fuck yes.

I have no idea when or where I might have pulled out Shazam for this little gem, but instantly I can tell why I did. I’m a sucker for hard-driving soul, and while the drums and bass in this one are locked into a decidedly funkier groove than, say, a Northern Soul banger, the percussion on top propels it, and then Tex’s uncanny ability to perfectly take his performance up and down with the song blasts it into the stratosphere.

At least it does for me. Maybe that’s giving him a little too much credit. But no! This is good stuff right here.

The funk beat makes sense because this one is from 1972, so a little later than the real classic soul period, and my personal favourite Tex track, Show Me (1967) — another one propelled by an extra bit of percussion that Joe conducts to perfection. The especially amazing thing about Show Me is that it succeeds in spite of the fact that you can very clearly hear the tambourine player — who, judging by the clips below of something called The Joe Tex Show, might even be Joe himself — completely lose his arm by the end of the take. Imperfections. Humanity. Not only can a track weather those conditions, it can thrive in them.

Anywho… in I Gotcha it’s a machine-like shaker, unwavering, that holds everything that weaves through the track together — the walking funk bass, the horns, and Joe yelping like a slightly safer version of James Brown. I mean, it’s not exactly a revelation. It’s a pretty simple song, all in all. And, truth be told, I’d imagine the lyrics are… uh… problematic if you actually gave them a good listen (though at least not as overtly so as Tex’s final minor hit, an embarrassment of a disco track from 1977 called Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)). But who the hell would do that with so much else going on?

Evidently not me. There are tasty little wah guitar things all over this one, the horns aren’t overdone — they punctuate the right spots and do a nice call-and-response with the vocals in the verses — and under those layers of extra percussion is a hell of a drum performance, too. I don’t know who was playing this when I broke out my Shazam app to find it, but I thank them. If the rest of the songs in this project were this personally enjoyable I’d be awfully lucky.

Joe fucking Tex!

To wit:

For Reference…

Joe Tex – I Gotcha
iTunes | Spotify | On 45 at Amazon

Joe Tex – Show Me
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify

Joe Tex – Ain’t Gonna Bump No More
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify

Wikipedia: Joe Tex

Download the Shazam app iTunes | Google Play

02. Tame Impala – Desire Be Desire Go (2010)

Oh good, we’ve already reached the fucking Tame Impala portion of the project. Which, considering the Toronto bars I get drunk and likely end up using Shazam in, we should at least be thankful doesn’t encompass too many more of these. (Or, at least, I don’t imagine I’ve used Shazam for Tame Impala songs fifteen separate times. Maybe!)

But the thing is: I kinda have time for this band. Even taking into account how many fucking times I’ve heard Elephant. Lonerism is a pretty decent record, and this might even be better. And, in point of fact, this song might even be pretty great if not for the HEY GUYS WE’RE DOING LIKE THE BEATLES!!! part.

I mean, I can swallow a lot of aping. Music is built on it. But just like how John Lennon doing a 12-bar blues is fucking interminable, your Ringo-drummed, layers-of-echoed-vocals-cascading-into-the-void, I Am The Walrus thing is, too.

Or is it an end-of-Come-Together thing? Either way, bro, you’ve got to feather that shit! Don’t horse it!

And this guy tends to horse it a biiiiiiit too much for me some times, and especially in that section.

Can I really fault him for his vocal cadence? Yes, actually! And the effects and double tracking he does, too! For shit sakes, man, maybe try a little harder to not ring those bells.

But it works. And I can’t lie here. There’s an incredible kind of lo-fi warmth that Kevin Parker harnesses that I find it pretty hard not to get into. There’s some cool, cosmic sounding classic analog psych stuff going on here — and probably as much of The Flaming Lips (minus the wiener indie pop vibe) as there is the Beatles. Production-wise the fuzz tones and humps of near-feedback from the guitars are pretty damn close to perfect, things like the little egg shaker in the middle section are tasty details in a song full of them, and Desire Be Desire Go is just a damn tight, chugging groove — or at least the non-embarrassing elements of it are.

There’s more: the guitar solo section is fun, and there’s just a basic humanness to it. Surely there are loops and machine flourishes in this song and their others, but it usually feels like somebody was really physically playing it — playing everything, not just programming it. More of that from everyone, please! There is definitely an uncanny valley of electronic sound that tracks can fall into, and this one feels like it made it unscathed to the other side.

I don’t know if this track has the substance to keep me coming back to it, and the middle excursion maybe shows a lack of maturity from a young songwriter who flew too close to his influences, but fuck you, it’s pretty great. There’s a reason this band is a thing, and I’m pretty sure this is it.

And honesty, if the complaint about your too-Beatles-sounding thing is that it sounds a bit too much like it’s trying really hard to sound like the Beatles, and not that it sounds like the Beatles if they sucked, that’s actually kind of amazing. Provided we’re not talking about it sounding like Abbey Road or anything written by fucking Paul.

Of course, if I wanted some electro-Beatles, there is — with apologies to Marty Gold — only one place to turn…

For Reference…

Tame Impala – Desire Be Desire Go
iTunes | Spotify

Tame Impala – Innerspeaker
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

Tame Impala – Lonerism
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

The Beatles – Revolver
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

Wikipedia: Tame Impala | Innerspeaker | Lonerism | The Beatles | Tomorrow Never Knows | Revolver | The Flaming Lips

Download the Shazam app iTunes | Google Play

01. Primal Scream – If They Move, Kill ‘Em (1997)

Vanishing Point is a pretty great Primal Scream album — and a hell of a film in its original, 1971 incarnation, I feel it should be noted — but it was really the follow-up, XTRMNTR, that blew my head off when I first heard it. I guess because of age and geography I came to Primal Scream in an odd sort of way, and it wasn’t until that record that I really put together who the hell they even were. Screamadelica was way off my radar when it broke, wherever it broke, even though the big tracks felt familiar when I finally did get around to giving them a proper listen. And I imagine that not really understanding their unusual career arc — or that Bobby Gillespie was the fucking drummer on Psychocandy — allowed me to listen to those records with fresher ears than I might have otherwise.

Whether that allowed me to be more receptive than I might have normally been back then, by time the bass finally kicked into lockstep with the high hat on Kill All Hippies, the first track on XTRMNTR, I was pretty much hooked.

Had If They Move, Kill ‘Em been my first taste? Maybe I would have missed it all. Because… yeah… it’s fine enough. It just isn’t exactly the first song I’d play anybody off of any of their records. Or the second. Or the ninth.

The track mostly serves as a segue between more fully formed Vanishing Point numbers; the spirit-lifting and sometimes-too-hokey comedown track, Star, and the moody slow burn of Out of the Void — all three of which lead from the relentless and amazing Kowalski to the Boards of Canada-meets-PIL churn of Stuka, and give you a little bit of breathing room between the real monsters of that record.

Listened to in isolation, If They Move, Kill ‘Em is maaaaaybe a bit of a fuck-around. A cycle through some sounds and effects largely built around a cheesy Halloween screech and a bass groove that feels like it’s always about to do more, but works because it doesn’t.

I thought it was fucking Thievery Corporation at first! And actually if you listen to the first track on The Richest Man In Babylon you can maybe hear it. But holy shit, Primal Scream are so much better. So much darker and denser — during their better, darker, denser flourishes, at least. (One of which is the remix of this track by My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields, which shows up on XTRMNTR as MBV Arkestra (If They Move, Kill ‘Em).) 

Much less likely to be listened to by a man wearing a scarf indoors, too.

Anywho… perhaps the nicest thing I can say about this particular track, in this particular version, is that Mani’s bass line is lifted from a hell of a Bill Withers song, Who Is He (And What Is He To You?). Talk about a slow burn! That tambourine! And the bass there is beautifully atonal in a way that serves to ratchet up tension that, just as in If They Move, Kill ‘Em, never quite breaks. In this case, though, if it had it might have made Withers’ track come off a little more formulaic, but… also probably a better song. I really want to hear it go up just one more notch, and have Bill and the band really let loose before it fades out. It needs to go somewhere, I think.

So, yeah… I can’t lie, I’m a little disappointed that my first Shazam track was something I knew pretty well, but based on how I use the app — i.e. often to come up with the name of a song or an artist I can’t remember because I’m drunk — I guess that’s probably how it’s going to go sometimes.

I remember that it came on in a bar in Peterborough and I was the only customer at the time. Why didn’t I just have a damn human interaction with the damn bartender and ask what was playing??? Fucking technology.


For Reference…

Primal Scream – If They Move, Kill ‘Em
iTunes | Spotify

Primal Scream – Vanishing Point
YouTube | iTunes | Spotify | On vinyl from Amazon

Primal Scream – MBV Arkestra (If They Move, Kill ‘Em)

Bill Withers – Who Is He (And What Is He To You?)
iTunes | Spotify

Wikipedia: Primal Scream | Vanishing Point | XTRMNTR | PiL | Boards of Canada | Bill Withers

Download the Shazam app iTunes | Google Play

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