DDR Roundup: This Column Is Thirteen Years Too Old
Four To The Floor, First In Our Hearts
I used to listen exclusively to guitars. It was a product of my upbringing, satiated on a steady diet of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Temple Of The Dog and other 1990s dad-guitar rock (cue flashback to a very specific memory of my father trying to play... what was the song? Doesn’t matter. He sat in his den and played it on one of these).
For an extended period of time in my life you would have had an easier time trying to convince me to eat sunscreen by the spoonful than to listen to anything other than aging guitar-rock. Intolerant is a word that comes to mind. Then at some point the levee broke and I really went balls deep into dance music— turntables and everything. Now I’m a total prick but on the other end of the spectrum, one of those just way too into it dance music guys that listens to artists that don’t even have band names or choruses in their songs. What the hell, Ben!!!??
So I guess where I’m going with this is that the DFA sowed the seeds of this transition. Of course 13-year-old me was really into LCD Soundsystem at their (first) peak around This Is Happening, and LCD has since stood the test of time. One of the greats. So when push came to shove and I started to drift away from punk and emo, LCD Soundsytem’s “dance-punk” and the rest of the DFA seemed like a natural jumping-off point. The DFA has edge but they won’t flaunt it in your face like that guy with black painted fingernails and a Mindless Self Indulgence backpatch. Dance music is deep, hard to access, and there aren’t more than a handful of “bands” that really last much longer than a few years. It’s always spinning around. The DFA is such a mainstay in this regard.
This comp was so hard to find before I knew “how to find” dance music using the proper channels. Now that I do I’m a little embarrassed I just paid $30 for a vinyl RE:
But at the same time, it doesn’t matter. I can DJ with this big black piece of plastic and oh yeah, it’s cool. Doesn’t begin to define it. I wasn’t cognizant enough in 2003 (Hey, I was 9) to really make a statement on the first release of DFA Comp #1 and the impact it made on independent music history in its time and place. So I won’t. But I will say that even now, almost fourteen years later, this record leaves a massive footprint. Listen to the damn thing.
“I hear that you and your band have sold your guitars and bought turntables.
I hear that you and your band have sold your turntables and bought guitars.”
—James Murphy, Losing My Edge
Remember earlier when I said I had to learn how to find dance music through the “proper channels”? It’s really hard to define exactly what I meant by that. When indie rock was all I ate, there were so many sources to choose from! Prominent blogs, YouTube channels, major/medium labels, you name it. With dance music it’s a little different. Take for example this record I have today. How did I find it? Excellent question.
Three months ago I was browsing YouTube searching “100% Vinyl Dj Sets” and stumbled on some not-exactly-prominent-but-still-pretty-good DJ named Morz des Soundsystem spinning house and disco records. I really liked his opening track, which is from a comp off of Wall of Fame Records, which I promptly bought. Wall Of Fame’s catalogue isn’t huge and I wanted more of this sound, so I emailed them, praising their stuff and asking for suggestions. They responded back in like, 4 hours, and turned me onto Masterworks. Small businesses rule!
So this record, in effect, was recommended by other people that make disco-leaning house records. And that’s pretty much what it is-- every song on the record feels a bit slower than your average house cut, anywhere between 95 and 115 bpm. Very groovy. My personal favorite is the A2, “X in U” by Osmose. Great disco strings on top of a pumping bass drum that really seals the deal for me. I love listening to music that makes me feel like I call the shots.
This record really hits the sweet-spot if nu-disco is your cup of tea. The B side spins a little faster and when I pitch B2 “Keep on Feeeeeeling” by The Silver Rider +6% I really start to feel the gut punch you get from a typical house track. Crazy electric piano riff layered over Wurlitzers and a pretty convincing bassline which could be a synthesizer but would not be surprised if were sampled from a guitar. For what the record lacks in track variety and overall dynamics, it more than makes up for in pure swagger. I also think they should change that label design. Overall, a solid record built for the mid-set.