Artist of the Year: James Murphy
Since taking over the Stateside column in February of this year, I have had the opportunity to report on some top emerging bands and rising trends in the U.S. independent scene. I have also had the privilege of taking in some fine performances in the past year, from outdoor festivals to intimate club shows. I have picked up albums on recommendation and downloaded scores of songs from new groups. Ultimately, 2010 was a series of great musical moments, and, for me, some of the best moments involved LCD Soundsystem.
I had been aware of James Murphy, the producer/engineer/DJ who cofounded the influential DFA label and serves as LCD's sonic architect, for some time. I had liked LCD's 2007 hit "All My Friends" and heard that his (current) touring band was nothing short of phenomenal.
I had the chance to see that band as a headliner at this year's Pitchfork Music Festival and was blown away. After that, I began hearing the singles "Drunk Girls" and "I Can Change" on the radio. I would make it a point to play the latter on the jukebox of my local and watch my friend Jane swivel on her barstool to the song's addictive homage to the British synth-pop of our teens.
I picked up a copy of the album, "This is Happening", and downloaded the songs for my iPod. I spent weeks traveling back and forth from the office listening to textures, beats and clever lyrics-dance pop music made by a man my own age (Murphy turned 40 this year) that sounds youthful, even as it acknowledges a long history of discovering the club sounds of New York, London, Detroit and Chicago.
Hats off then to Mr. James Murphy for putting on one hell of a show! I'll be toasting the end of 2010, likely with LCD Soundsystem pulsing in the background. Stateside wishes a happy holidays to one and all-see you in 2011!