LCD Soundsystem was an American alternative dance band from New York City. It was fronted by singer-songwriter and producer James Murphy, co-founder of record label DFA Records. The group released three critically acclaimed albums: their eponymous debut (2005), Sound of Silver (2007) and This Is Happening (2010); the last brought them commercial success, charting in the Top 10 of the Billboard 200 and the UK Albums Chart. The band is a three-time Grammy Award nominee.
On February 5, 2011, a statement was posted on the band's website that announced its disbandment following a farewell concert, which took place on April 2, 2011, at Madison Square Garden. The farewell concert is chronicled in the documentary film Shut Up and Play the Hits. Their last televised performance was on February 14, 2011 on The Colbert Report.
Early singles and self-titled album (2002–2005)
LCD Soundsystem gained attention with its first single, "Losing My Edge". Described as "an eight-minute, laugh-out-loud funny dissection of cool over a dirty electronic beat"; the single became an underground dance favorite. This was followed by other well received singles "Give It Up" and "Yeah".
LCD Soundsystem released a double disc set simply titled LCD Soundsystem in February 2005 to critical acclaim. The first disc contains the album and the second contains re-releases of previous singles. The opening track "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" quickly gained popularity and entered the UK Top 40 in March 2005 and was later featured on several video game soundtracks like SSX on Tour, Forza Motorsport 2, Burnout Revenge, and FIFA 06. The band toured with M.I.A.
In June 2005, the band covered a Siouxsie and the Banshees song, "Slowdive" for the B-side of "Disco Infiltrator".
On December 8, 2005 the group received nominations for two Grammy awards in the Electronica category for their self-titled album and in the Dance category for "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House." This album was also chosen as No. 94 of Amazon.com's "Top 100 Editor's Picks" of 2005.
45:33 and Sound of Silver (2006–2008)
In October 2006, James Murphy released a track entitled "45:33" as part of a promotion with Nike for download from iTunes. Despite its name, the track is 45 minutes and 58 seconds long - the number of seconds a reference to John Cage's 4'33 - and was claimed to "reward and push at good intervals of a run". However, it was later revealed that this was not the case, but that Murphy merely wanted the opportunity to create a long piece of music, akin to E2-E4 by Manuel Göttsching.
LCD Soundsystem's second album, Sound of Silver, was released on March 20, 2007, to near universal critical acclaim. Praise included Mixmag awarding it the title Album of the Month, a 9.2 score from Pitchfork Media and a 5-star review from The Guardian. The album release was preceded by the single "North American Scum".
LCD Soundsystem's subsequent single "All My Friends" included covers of the song by both Franz Ferdinand and former Velvet Underground member John Cale. The digital download "All My Friends" EP also includes a cover of the early Joy Division song "No Love Lost". In September 2007, the "A Bunch of Stuff" EP was released and the band went on tour with Arcade Fire. Late in 2007, the band released "Someone Great" as the third single from Sound of Silver and re-released 45:33 on CD and vinyl through DFA Records. In December 2007, there was a release of a 12-inch record containing b-sides from European singles for the North American market entitled "Confuse the Marketplace".
Also in December 2007, the band received a nomination for the Grammy for Best Electronic/Dance Album. The album was also named the best album of 2007 by publications such as The Guardian,Uncut and Drowned in Sound.
Time magazine named "All My Friends" one of The 10 Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at No. 4. Writer Josh Tyrangiel praised the "magic" in the song, saying that the song's "straightforward repetition of the same guitar, keyboard and bass lines, combined with lyrics about life without regret, and life with all kinds of regrets pays off with a punch about what we lose as we get older." The track was later named the second best song of the 2000s by Pitchfork Media. The album was also nominated for the 2007 Shortlist Prize, where it lost out to The Reminder by Feist.
After finishing touring for Sound of Silver the band recorded and released a song entitled "Big Ideas" on the soundtrack of the film 21. This song was ranked number 63 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 Best Songs of 2008.
This Is Happening (2009–2011)
On November 18, 2008 Al Doyle seemed to suggest in an interview with 6 Music that the band would soon be discontinued. However the following day both Doyle and James Murphy quashed this rumor, with Murphy indicating a new LCD Soundsystem album was on the way. Murphy began recording in the summer of 2009 in Los Angeles. Possible song titles mentioned at that time included "Why Do You Hate Music?" and "Love in LA." For the 2009 Record Store Day the band released a cover of Suicide member Alan Vega's song "Bye Bye Bayou".
On February 23, 2010, the official LCD Soundsystem website announced that the album had been completed. The first single was set to be "Drunk Girls" and on March 25, a stream of the song was put on music site One Thirty BPM. The title of the album and the cover were revealed on the DFA site on March 30. The album, titled This Is Happening, was released in the UK on May 17, 2010 and in the US on May 18, 2010. Prior to the release Murphy promised that it will be "definitely better than the other two." Murphy also stated that it was likely to be the last LCD Soundsystem album.
The band performed two secret gigs in New York on April 9 and April 12, 2010, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg (Brooklyn) and Webster Hall in New York respectively. James Murphy made an impassioned plea with fans and industry attendees at the New York gig not to leak the album to the internet in advance of the May 17 release date. It was reported in the NME that Murphy went down on his knees onstage and stated:
"If you got a copy of the record early and you feel like sharing it with the rest of the world, then please don't ... We spent two years making this record and we want to put it out when we want to put it out. I don't care about money – after it comes out, give it to whoever you want for free but until then, keep it to yourself."
For the 2010 edition of Record Store Day, the band released 1000 copies of a single-sided 12" single of This Is Happening track "Pow Pow." When speaking to The Quietus in August, Murphy insisted that LCD Soundsystem would continue to record music, stating: "We’ll do some 12”s and things like that. I just need to get away from it being a big thing."
The first single released from This Is Happening was "Drunk Girls" featuring a video co-directed by Murphy and acclaimed director Spike Jonze. This was followed later in the year by "I Can Change". On November 8, 2010 the band released a "live-in-studio" album called The London Sessions, designed to invoke the spirit of Peel Sessions. In addition to this they released a vinyl single of longtime live cover "Throw" by Paperclip People on Carl Craig's Planet E label.
On February 8, 2011, LCD Soundsystem announced on its website that it would be playing its last show ever on April 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. When tickets went on pre-sale and official sale, there were widespread problems with availability and online ordering, and the show became sold-out suddenly. Murphy pointed the finger at scalpers, writing on his Twitter account: "i will try to figure a way out to fuck these fuckers. NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, IT IS NOT WORTH THAT KIND OF MONEY TO SEE US!" and "1500 for a single ticket? Fuck you, scalpers. You are parasites. I HATE you." Following the immediate sale of all available tickets, LCD Soundsystem announced that they would be playing four warm-up shows at New York's Terminal 5. The setlists at those shows were nearly identical to the setlist of the final show at Madison Square Garden. The final song performed by LCD Soundsystem at the farewell show was "New York, I Love You But You're Bringing Me Down". The show lasted almost four hours with appearances by Arcade Fire, Reggie Watts and others. This officially marked the end of LCD Soundsystem.
Post break-up (2011–present)
On April 16, 2011 Franz Ferdinand released Covers E.P., which featured various covers of their songs by different artists. One of the tracks was "Live Alone" covered by LCD Soundsystem.
On April 12, 2011, Murphy confirmed, via LCD Soundsystem's Facebook page, the release of the final show on DVD, with a better quality than the stream offered by Pitchfork, and is expected to be released early on 2012. In addition, a documentary called Shut Up and Play the Hits, chronicling James Murphy during the 48 hours before and after the final show, screened at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and later given limited release in select theaters. On April 19, 2014, the definitive live record the farewell show, The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden was released in a 5-box vinyl edition.
- James Murphy – vocals, drums, bass, percussion, claps, organ, programming, drum machine, synths, guitar, effects, keyboards, piano, clavinet, wurlitzer piano, snaps, omnichord, vocoder
Murphy played the majority of the instrumental parts on LCD Soundsystem's albums himself. However when performing live, Murphy often called upon a wide variety of musicians depending on their availability. People who played live with LCD Soundsystem include:
- Nancy Whang – vocals, keyboards, synths
- Pat Mahoney – drums, percussion, drum machine, claps, synths, vocals
- Tyler Pope – bass, guitar, synths, claps, drum machine
- David Scott Stone – guitar, percussion, synths
- Matt Thornley – guitar, percussion, piano, synth, drum machine
- Gavin Russom – synths, vocals
- Al Doyle – guitar, percussion, synths, bass
- Phil Skarich – bass
- Jerry Fuchs - drums, percussion
- Phil Mossman – guitar, percussion
- J.D. Mark - guitar
- Studio albums
- LCD Soundsystem (2005)
- Sound of Silver (2007)
- This Is Happening (2010)
- Best Electronic/Dance Album – LCD Soundsystem
- Best Dance Recording – "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House"
- Best Electronic/Dance Album – Sound of Silver
- discography at Discogs
- discography at MusicBrainz