Together with Tim Goldsworthy, James Murphy runs the influential DFA Records who’ve released Black Dice, The Rapture, Le Tigre and Chromeo. On his own, Murphy is LCD Soundsystem—a dance punk outfit that sounds as comfortable in the garage as in the discotheque. The lead track on LCD’s debut self-titled album, “Daft Punk is Playing at My House,” even imagines a scenario where the two ends meet and a seminal dance group plays a punk rock house party.
Murphy’s mixture of live rock instruments (drums, dirty bass guitar) with synths and electronics often sounds like a garage band playing Daft Punk songs. His music has a rough edge that makes it personal and approachable.
This lack of pretense is something that he has made a priority. A second disc included with the album contains the early single “Losing My Edge” that basically set the tone for LCD. On that track, Murphy’s lyrics skewer an uberhipster who “woke up naked on the beach in Ibiza in 1988.” This lyrical deadpanning drops over a simple, head-bobbing beat and plenty of cool keyboards.
Live, Murphy brings a full band to play LCD’s music. The quintet pushes the dance beats further into the rock idiom. Others have dabbled in such juxtaposition, but LCD Soundsystem covers their disco in rock music’s grit and grime with an authority sorely lacking in the “art-school Brooklynites in little jackets and borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered eighties” that he sings about.
[This piece appears in All the Rage.]