The War on Drugs – Thinking of a Place
‘Thinking of a Place’ left me absolutely transfixed. For its 11 minute duration, I sat there absolutely absorbed in its wondrous, hazy americana. I love how the song never feels rushed; everything feels perfectly in place. The harmonica that flits in halfway through, the melodic guitar solos, the slinking synths. These are all things The War on Drugs have been honing for years, and with ‘Thinking of a Place’, they’ve found their winning formula.
David Bowie – Love Is Lost (Hello Steve Reich Mix by James Murphy for the DFA)
This David Bowie remix, which came out in 2013 (yes, I’m fashionably late to the party sometimes), is quite possibly the best track I’ve heard all year.
LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy weaves gold on one of his idol’s lesser known songs ‘Love is Lost’ (off The Next Day). The Steve Reich ‘Clapping Music’ sample is pure genius. It takes centre stage for five minutes as the rest of the track unfolds, the lyrics, the catchy, warped piano.
Then, halfway through, just as the clapping dies down and you think it may be over, Murphy transforms the track into a pulsating disco classic. Wow.
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Speaking of James Murphy, the beginning of May brought about the awesome release of two new songs – a double A side – by LCD Soundsystem! Side A features ‘Call the Police’, a raucous, dynamic number that seems to sum up the modern day mindset with incredible economy: “We all, we all…we all, we all know this is nothing/This is nowhere”.
But it was Side B’s American Dream that hooked me even more. Over a quintessentially LCD Soundsystem backdrop of hypnotic synths and guitar rhythms comes the tormented torrent of introspective feelings, Murphy’s falsetto at times cracking under his own burden.
Patti Smith – Wing
Another thing I did while not blogging was go to Patti Smith’s “final ever Australian show” at the Festival Hall in Melbourne. And it was quite a show. Patti has to be one of the best and most consistent performers around. Her stage presence is magnificent, so at ease and still so full of energy.Yet, at the start of the show, from afar (my view was from bleachers, raised and to the right side of the stage), the audience felt strangely subdued. I couldn’t shake the feeling that many of them weren’t very familiar with her material. I might have imagined it, or maybe I mistook it for the fact that everyone was sombre over it being Patti Smith’s last Australian show.
Either way, by the halfway mark, Patti Smith’s charisma had proved infectious yet again. If her cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ was the emotive jolt (the same cover she delivered at Dylan’s Nobel prize ceremony), then bringing out local hero Courtney Barnett for the rousing, politically-charged ‘People Have the Power’ took the crowd to fever pitch.
Her encore consisted of three great songs: ‘Because the Night’, ‘Rock n Roller Nigger’ & a haunting a-cappella version of ‘Wing’, which brings me to my only regret: that I’ll have to travel overseas to see her again.
Radiohead – I Promise
Radiohead’s decision to resurrect ‘True Love Waits’ for their last album A Moon Shaped Pool must have stirred up some nostalgia. Barely a year on and they’re back with ‘I Promise’, another of the jewels in every Radiohead acolyte’s crown.
Radiohead first played the tender, rhythmic ballad on their tour supporting Alanis Morissette in 1996, but it got shelved from the OK Computer recording sessions that followed. Kid A & Amnesiac saw them venture even further from the alternative sounds of ‘I Promise’. And so it remained.
Until now. The release of ‘I Promise’ ties in with the upcoming OK Computer 20th Anniversary LP OKNOTOK, which includes three unreleased tracks ‘I Promise’, ‘Man of War’ & ‘Lift’ as well as eight b-sides.