LCD Soundsystem classification
February 17, 2005 12:05 AM   Subscribe

I am not too familiar with electronica sub-genres (do people even call it electronica anymore?). Could someone in the know please tell me how to classify LCD Soundsystem? Specifically the more electronic songs.
posted by Quartermass to Media & Arts (22 answers total)
I've been calling it indie-dance. There are quite a few bands like it popping up lately...I hope it lasts longer than Electro-Clash.
posted by amandaudoff at 12:07 AM on February 17, 2005

Actually, the more I think about this, I wonder if it wouldn't just be another wave of Electro Clash. They're not as punk as The Faint, Peaches or Avenue D...but they're not straight electronica, either.
posted by amandaudoff at 12:12 AM on February 17, 2005

My music mag refers to it as "punkfunk".
posted by swordfishtrombones at 12:14 AM on February 17, 2005

Also: here's a great history of ElectroClash.

Okay, I'll stop now.
posted by amandaudoff at 12:17 AM on February 17, 2005

Do people even call it electronica anymore?

In America the term "electronica" was coined to refer to artists like the Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy who got mainstream biggish in around 1997.

In Europe it's called dance music.
posted by dydecker at 12:23 AM on February 17, 2005

I've seen them lumped in with "dancepunk" bands such as the Rapture, !!!, Hot Hot Heat, etc.
posted by philscience at 12:27 AM on February 17, 2005

do people even call it electronica anymore?

I never called it electronica. I always thought that was a stupid name which sounded like it was invented by marketroids. Wikipedia claims it may have originated in Melody Maker.
posted by grouse at 1:29 AM on February 17, 2005

I'd go for Punk House
posted by acb at 3:47 AM on February 17, 2005


I love that word. Don't think anyone else does though.

Having said that, I just googled it and the eighth link is a piece by the artist who just moved into my company's studios.

posted by davehat at 4:03 AM on February 17, 2005

In America the term "electronica" was coined to refer to artists like the Chemical Brothers and The Prodigy who got mainstream biggish in around 1997.

Telling, as both artists are British.

Allmusic calls LCD Soundsystem "Alternative Dance".

Personally, I'd refrain from classicification, for the classic reasons:

-Pigeonholing doesn't help me remain open to and/or actively find new and exciting music;
-A lot of great music is great because it incorporates different genres, or transcends the concept of genre completely.

Not that I don't do it, of course.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:29 AM on February 17, 2005

My memory's hazy on this, but in the UK at least, "electronica" started cropping up in the music press in '93/'94, when everything that was being labelled "ambient" was clearly (a) nothing of the sort and (b) not really suitable for the dancefloor either.

As for how to classify LCD Soundsystem – and I ask this in all seriousness – why do you want to do it? Is it for genre categorisation/playlist reasons in iTunes/your music software of choice, or for some other reason?
posted by Len at 4:51 AM on February 17, 2005

I really don't have a problem categorizing it as Dance-punk, which happens to be one of the more specific genres I use (out of 30).
posted by themadjuggler at 5:00 AM on February 17, 2005

All of what Len said.

Electronica, as far as I'm aware, was originally used to describe B12, The Black Dog, Beaumont Hannant etc. - the stuff that was more subtle and complex than techno, but less new-age than ambient. A few years later Americans started labelling stuff like The Prodigy and (shudder) Moby as electronica.

But genres, sub-genres and labels are misleading at best, and I think people spend far too long worrying about where bands fit into the great chart of life when they could simply be enjoying their music. The answer to your question, then, depends pretty much on why you're asking. So, to repeat Len, why do you need to classify LCD under any category? Is it just for personal comfort? Or is it because, knowing that you like them, you want to find other bands that sound the same? For me, LCD Soundsystem simply is...LCD Soundsystem.

Plus - I'm confused - are you asking us to classify LCD Soundsystem, or their songs? You mention 'specifically their more electronic songs'. Would it then be more helpful/satisfactory to you for someone to say - 'LCD Soundsystem is electropunk', or for someone to say 'songs 1-6 on their album are electropunk, whereas song 7 is post-tech-black-core and songs 8-10 are nu-glam-hard-dog'? If a band fits into a sub-genre, does that automatically mean all of their songs are that same sub-genre?
posted by nylon at 5:25 AM on February 17, 2005

The preferred term for the broader genre, to my mind, is simply "electronic". I would echo those that urge avoidance of too specific classification, for the prime reason that most people that do this sound like a twat, it's impossible to maintain consistency, and that most people that do this sound like a twat.

I have never heard the term electronica used in the UK. I think the prime reason for this is that when people do use the term they tend to sound like a twat. "Dance music" is a perfectly acceptable alternative, provided the music is upbeat enough. Drum & bass is a consistently identifiable genre to warrant it's own genre name: no other electronic genres I can think of have remained so distinct or stuck around for so long as drum & bass, so in other cases it simply is not worth the effort. Also, you'll avoid sounding like a twat.

The straw that broke my camel-like back with this issue was placed one day at my friend's flat. His room-mate, a pretentious club promoter, invited us out for the evening. It was a night she was promoting, of course -- she didn't hesitate to mix business with co-habitation. "It's an urban gloomcore night" she said. I tried not to laugh like some crazy thing, and my friend looked at her blankly. "You don't know what urban gloomcore is, do you" she asked him. I swear had the Earth opened up and swallowed her at that precise moment I wouldn't have minded. That's the worst aspect of this sorry phenomenon: people use it to exclude others. The only consolation is that they tend to sound like a twat when doing it.

If LCD Soundsystem still sound like rock to you, you could always describe it as rock. Better yet -- and people always forget this -- construct sentences using words that describe the band in some way that is meaningful to you. I promise you you'll communicate much more this way, if only your enthusiasm. "I swear to God they sound like hell exploded over New Jersey, but with sleigh bells". "They're like, I dunno... Tool meets David Essex..." You may sound like a twat, but you'll have more fun this way.
posted by nthdegx at 5:41 AM on February 17, 2005

Well, for what it's worth, all of my music is really intensely classified in iTunes for purposes of building incredibly specific Smart Playlists. So there are good reasons for classifying your music by genre, besides the fact that it's fun. And I think these principled objections to genre classification are unconvincing--classifying art into genre is a legitimate critical exercise and impulse, not necessarily something 'the man' does to artists, or whatever, and even though it isn't perfect or objective it is still legitimate and rewarding to think about. If people use their genre ideas to be annoying, that's people annoying people, not genre annoying people. Meanwhile I don't doubt that there is a specific kind of house music that is urban and gloomy, and even though "urban gloomcore" is silly sounding (and obviously ironic) there's no reason it can't actually exist. At any rate: everything else (films, literature, painting, etc.) can be thought of generically, even if inexactly, and pop music is absolutely no different.

Anyway, I can say with a great deal of certainty the following: LCD is not "electronica," which, as said above, refers to big beat, mass-market dance music (e.g. The Prodigy), while again in the States music like Black Dog / Plaid, etc., is / was called "intelligent dance music" or IDM. LCD is not electroclash, because the point of electroclash is a certain 80s nostalgia, which LCD does not have. (Miss Kittin has it, and she's electroclash.)

There is a genre widely called dance-punk, which usually refers more to the bands LCD produced / inspired, such as the Rapture, !!!, and Liars (on their first record, before they abandoned the genre). I usually lump them in with dance-punk even though their sound is not particularly 'punk,' although, again, this kind of makes you ask what it is that makes a sound 'punk' or not. If you take punk to mean a certain attitude, then LCD Soundsystem are as punk as, say, No Trend, especially on a song like "Losing My Edge." I'd accept the idea that LCD are punk 'in spirit,' since they cop a lot of attitude and don't use glossy or crazy production techniques--there is something DIY about them, even though both of the members are experienced producers.

For purposes of iTunes I keep them in "Rock/Pop - Dance" (as opposed to something like "Rock/Pop - Shoegaze, Psych") along with the other DFA comps, the dance-punk stuff, Gang of Four, Out Hud, Poets of Rhythm, the Rapture, and some other compilations. So that's where they are in terms of genre in my eyes, at any rate! I'd put them in 'Dancepunk' but I'd like to keep the category a little broader.
posted by josh at 5:57 AM on February 17, 2005

Check out Ishkur's Guide, if you're ever looking for obscure electronic music genres.
posted by smackfu at 6:44 AM on February 17, 2005

...and examples of extreme inconsistency.
posted by nthdegx at 7:13 AM on February 17, 2005

I agree with everything that has been posted about classification, and would have been one of my answers.

My reason for asking is twofold. The first is as Josh says, playlist.

My second is that up unill DFA and LCD Soundsystem came on the scene two years ago, I wouldn't give "techno" the time of day. Now I find an artist whom I really like, and want to explore in that direction, and was feeling like all of the crazy sub-genres (ie Urban Gloomcore) were gettin me down. It's like learning a new language.

So - I know on the rock side of things, they are known as "dance punk" or "electro clash", but was interested in how they would be classified by technofiles or whetever they call themselves...
posted by Quartermass at 7:22 AM on February 17, 2005

Alt-House. (And good stuff, at that).
(And BTW, Qmass, Firefox for OSX doesn't know what to make of the audio tracks on your home page.)
posted by squirrel at 7:44 AM on February 17, 2005

See also Fourtet. E-mail me for details, I don't want to derail.
posted by squirrel at 7:45 AM on February 17, 2005

Quatermass – beyond playlisting reasons, genre classification just ends up getting you bogged down in endless debates, with everyone developing their own chinese whispers variants on the same 10 or 15 concepts; take this too far, and the entire exercise ends up being a self-defeating proposition: you've so many subsets and mutant descriptions that you've a different genre for every song.

Far better, surely, if you like (say) LCD Soundsystem, is to do a bit of digging. Call them what you want – dance punk, electro rock, scuzz techno snot jazz, whatever takes your fancy – in iTunes. Find out what label they're on; find out who they tour with; hell, even something as basic as hitting Amazon and clicking "people who bought X also bought Y and Z".

Sample; explore; search out some interviews and discover what James Murphy listens to, or what formed him musically (there's a great unedited transcript of a Murphy interview from The Wire magazine here); take chances, and act on whims: you'll discover a plethora of stuff that you might not have been turned on to otherwise ...
posted by Len at 8:27 AM on February 17, 2005

I've been increasingly using the term "livetronica" to describe music in my collection for music that sounds like electronic dance music, but that's being played with live instruments. Examples would be Slide Five, Signal Path, etc.

Also, there are those who claim that the endless subgenre-fication of electronic music is part of what fractured the American dance music scene. These folks claim that people defining themselves as a "sub-funk filtered disco house dj" instead of just a "dance music dj" wiped out the diversity from the dance floor. DJs focused too much on their one genre and the dancers paid the price. I'm not sure if I agree with this theory, but just figured I'd toss it out there.
posted by arielmeadow at 10:04 AM on February 17, 2005

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