Friday, November 30, 2012

The Kinks - "Powerman" (1970)

"It's the same old story, it's the same old game..."

Any fan of The Kinks will tell you that 1970's Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround: Part One is an overly honest look at the state of the music industry.  The album uses heavy satire to demonstrate the  greedy nature of the business.  "Powerman," the record's second-to-last track, was written as a humorous salute to record tycoons all over the world.

Now, unless you've actually had a bad experience working in the music industry, you're probably not going to relate to the song's subject matter.  However, anyone who has ever had a job before can at least relate to it emotionally.  Think about your own life - who's above you?  Who controls what you do?  What makes them so special?  How did they get there?  And damn it - where the hell is all your money going? I'm certainly not trying to single anybody out, but the idea of being the "little guy" is something that almost anyone can relate to.

It also helps that the song absolutely rocks (well, by Kinks standards, that is.) "Powerman" opens with an off-key guitar drone, which abruptly transforms into a pretty epic opening riff.  Perhaps I'm looking deeper into this than I should, but I always felt that this transition symbolized the idea of "waking up" from your own ignorance.  The rest of the song is carried by one of the most ruthless and underrated guitar riffs known to music. Overall, the band's performance sounds gritty, raw, yet somehow very inspired. The Davies brothers also provide compelling vocals, and their harmonizing is superb as always.

"Powerman" is by no means my favorite song on the album.  That award would have to go to the undeniably gorgeous ballad "Strangers," but we'll save that for another post.  Still, whenever I feel like someone in this world is trying to screw me over, this song always hits the spot.

Friday, November 23, 2012

LCD Soundsystem - "Home" (2010)

"Look around you, you're surrounded, it won't get any better...until the night."

You know, I really hate being in my late twenties.  I feel like I have to make certain decisions before it's too late.  I also wonder whether the choices I've made were the right ones.  Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for many things in my life,  but I think it's safe to say that certain events haven't exactly turned out the way I expected.

Now, before this turns into a thesis about how much my life sucks, let's focus on the main reason why I'm writing this post - a song.  In the past, I've posted on my Facebook and Twitter accounts about the excellence of a song called "Home," by LCD Soundsystem.  I've been intrigued by this song ever since I first heard it on their 2010 record This is Happening.  I wish I was lying when I say this, but I listen to this song at least once a week.  Yes, it's that good.

It's pretty easy to see why I hold "Home" in such high regard. Right off the bat, you'll notice that it's extremely catchy.  Seriously - I dare you to listen to the first minute and NOT tap your feet to its infectious opening rhythm.  The introduction slowly builds up, the main percussion kicks in, and the rest of the song is driven by a pulsating, four-note bass line.

LCD Soundsystem's songs are all about minimalism.  Despite it's eight-minute length, "Home" follows a pretty basic two-chord progression.  Thankfully, the use of some memorable keyboard noodling prevents the song from getting overly stale.  The main chorus is only heard twice, but I would hardly call this a complaint.  After all, the chorus itself is so unforgettable that you won't even need to hear it more than twice.

The lyrics of "Home" can be interpreted in several different ways.  When I first listened to this song, I thought it was a pretty straight-forward story about a group of friends who party through the night.  Sounds fun, right?  Well, upon repeated listens I started to realize that there is actually a lot more going on than I had originally thought.  Yes, this is a song about partying, but the lyrics also suggest that their night out is nothing more than a distraction to fill the emptiness of their everyday lives.  Wow...sound familiar anyone?

I'd like to think that songwriter James Murphy wrote "Home" as a swan song to your twenties.  Like I said at the beginning of this post, this time of your life pretty much sucks.  His lyrics highlight the importance of friendship and laughter, and suggest that your friends are in the same boat as you.  The idea of being "home" is a not about being at a specific location, but rather about being with the people who are most important in your life.

Above all, "Home" is a song about making the best of what you already have.  Well, at least that's how I interpreted it.  Listen to it for yourself, and let me know what you think.  Also, if you like this song, make sure you listen to the rest of This is Happening.  The same themes are present throughout the entire album, and it is a very fitting finale for LCD Soundsystem.