Make no mistake, Sound of Silver is a dance album. While those intentions are obvious, I translate the record a little differently. This is an album that hits me seasonally and evokes a sense of longing and nostalgia. Something inside me seems to gravitate towards it every time the mercury starts to drop. The longing and nostalgia is always for easier, innocent times with friends who I rarely get to see anymore. This catharsis has been further pronounced recently. We, my college fraternity friends, lost one of the best we knew in Jamie Grady to a heart attack, right before Thanksgiving. Someone Great is Gone.
LCD Soundsystem is James Murphy. Some consider him to be an arrogant, pretentious, compulsive prick. This is further highlighted in a book in my closet, Meet Me In The Bathroom (soon to be a movie), an oral history of the 2000’s NYC indie scene. Murphy seems like a grumpy old man trying to fit in among the young, hipper kids. Maybe that’s been his plight his whole life, to be one of the cool kids. But this album shows the work of a differently labeled Murphy, a mad genius. It doesn’t rely on bass tics and drops nor does it just echo sounds for lyrics. There is a true analog craftsmanship combined with some poignant, personal stories. The album opens with a brilliant synth layered arrangement, “Get Innocuous.” I don’t have synesthesia but I can only imagine what this song must feel like to someone who does. To get an idea of that and just how much is going on in this track, you MUST watch this YouTube vid. “Time to Get Away” is thought by most to be a track about an ex, but it’s really just a scathing attack on Murphy’s old manager. For me it is much more simplistic, just the wanting to get out of “here” (not so much New Orleans but the moment) and back to younger, simpler times. “North American Scum” gets alot of attention but never has done much for me. It’s the next two tracks that define the album, “Someone Great” and “All My Friends.” These are not only the two best tracks on the album but contenders for the whole decade. “Nothing can prepare you for it/ the voice on the other end.” There are few songs that can combine such a burrowing melody via synth with matching lyrics to evoke such sorrow. These effects are physical. I can feel the pain of this song. Anyone can consume his meaning as their own. It has an ability to choke me and bring me to tears. The synth “keeps coming” until it’s gone. As good as “Someone Great” is, I’ve always preferred “All My Friends,” Murphy’s response to Joy Division’s “Transmission.” It begins with a repeating piano melody that builds in tempo and volume before Murphy erupts in the end. Krautrock pioneers have to marvel at this song. I’m 18 years old every day until I look in the mirror or listen to this song. Then melancholy for the past sets in. It’s a loving melancholy for great friends who shaped me. The album goes into some classic dance jams with “Us vs Them” and “Watch the Tapes.” “Sound of Silver” is a sardonic take on aging. More passing of time thru dance. It ends with a love song to New York…though it may not seem it. While I may long for my times in other places with transplanted friends and may also have so many issues with the problems of New Orleans, it’s home.
Grady battled and beat pediatric cancer which left him with many associated comorbidities…but you would never know. He always wore an immense smile. It almost seemed like he knew some secret to life. Grady was genuinely content. He’s the person I know who most lived up to the cliche “treat every day like it’s your last.” He would call me all the time just to see how I was doing. He would share and spread any wins I had with Hogs. He went door to door to liquor stores in SC when our wine entered the state. He answered every late night drunk call with that signature smile. He was the definition of a great friend: there for you at your lows and celebrating your highs. I know I’ve shared that definition in previous posts but I truly want it to compound. What was most astonishing was just how many people had that same relationship with him. We are all going to age and sadly die, but we must strive to be content so we can enjoy this wonderful life. Live like Grady. “Where are your friends tonight?” Give them a call.
Favorite Tracks: “All My Friends” “Someone Great” “Get Innocuous” “Us vs Them”
Pressing: DFA Records. DFA-dfa2164. Original US Pressing. 2007