LCD Soundsystem is an American rock band from Brooklyn, New York. Formed in 2002, it is fronted by musician James Murphy, co-founder of DFA Records, the record label to which the band are signed (alongside Columbia Records). The band began by recording and releasing multiple singles from 2002 to 2004 leading up to their eponymous debut studio album, which was released in 2005. It garnered critical acclaim as well as a Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Their single "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House", which has become the band's most successful single, also received a Grammy nomination for Best Dance Recording.
In the following year, LCD Soundsystem recorded and released "45:33", a forty-six minute-long composition that was made as a "workout track" especially for Nike as part of their Nike+ Original Run series. In 2007, the band released their second studio album, Sound of Silver, to critical acclaim and another Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album. Three years later, LCD Soundsystem released their third studio album, This Is Happening, which became their first top-ten album in their home country of the United States.
In February 2011, a statement was posted on the band's website that announced its disbandment. It was to be made official following a large farewell concert at Madison Square Garden on April 2, 2011. The farewell concert is chronicled in the documentary film Shut Up and Play the Hits and was also made available as a live album, titled The Long Goodbye, in April 2014.
After a series of rumors hinting at a possible band reunion, LCD Soundsystem released the single "Christmas Will Break Your Heart" in December 2015, making it their first single in five years. LCD Soundsystem later confirmed their reunion and announced an expanded tour, including appearances at several high-profile music festivals, as well as a new studio album, which will be released some time in 2016.
Early singles and self-titled album (2002–05)
LCD Soundsystem began by releasing a string of singles under DFA Records, which was co-founded by band frontman James Murphy. They gained attention with their first single, "Losing My Edge", which peaked at number 115 in the UK. 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 the single "Give It Up", and in the following year, "Yeah" and "Movement". The latter two peaked at number 77 and number 52 in the UK, respectively.
LCD Soundsystem released their eponymous debut studio album in January 2005 to critical acclaim. For the CD version, the first disc contains the album and the second contains a compilation of previous singles. They later released the single "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House" the following month, which became their first UK top 40 hit, peaking at number 29, as well as their most commercially successful single, charting in Australia, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The band toured with M.I.A. following the release of the album.
In December 2005, the group received nominations for two Grammy nominations, one for Best Electronic/Dance Album with their self-titled album and one for Best Dance Recording with "Daft Punk Is Playing at My House." Their self-titled debut was also placed at number 94 of Amazon.com's "Top 100 Editor's Picks" of 2005.
"45:33" and Sound of Silver (2006–08)
In October 2006, LCD Soundsystem released a composition entitled "45:33", as part of Nike's Original Run series. It was made available for download from iTunes. Despite its name, the track is actually 45 minutes and 58 seconds long—the title is a reference to vinyl speeds (33 and 45 RPM)—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 studio album, Sound of Silver, was released on March 20, 2007, to universal critical acclaim. Praise included Mixmag awarding it the title Album of the Month, a 9.2 score from Pitchfork and a 5-star review from The Guardian. The album release was preceded by the single "North American Scum", which was released in February 2007.
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 Grammy nomination for Best Electronic/Dance Album with Sound of Silver. The album was also named the best album of 2007 by publications such as The Guardian, Uncut and Drowned in Sound. The album was also nominated for the 2007 Shortlist Prize, where it lost out to The Reminder by Feist.
Time magazine named "All My Friends" one of The 10 Best Songs of 2007, ranking it at number 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.
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, final concert, and split (2009–11)
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.
LCD Soundsystem covered the Franz Ferdinand song "Live Alone" for the Franz Ferdinand Covers EP. The cover was released as a single through the Domino Recording Company on April 11, 2011. 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. 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 March 5, 2013, LCD Soundsystem was named one of Rolling Stone’s New Immortals—"currently active (or relatively recently defunct) artists who [they] think will stand the test of time."  On April 19, 2014, the definitive live recording of the farewell show, The Long Goodbye: LCD Soundsystem Live at Madison Square Garden, was released in a 5-box vinyl edition.
Reunion and new album (2015–present)
In October 2015, a Consequence of Sound article reported that "multiple sources" confirmed that LCD Soundsystem would be reuniting in 2016 and headlining "high-profile music festivals in the US and UK". This report was eventually confirmed by Billboard, but later that day, DFA Records label manager Kris Petersen confirmed that LCD Soundsystem would not be reuniting. DFA co-founder Jonathan Galkin also confirmed in a Pitchfork article that the band would not be reuniting.
On December 24, 2015, LCD Soundsystem released the Christmas-themed track "Christmas Will Break Your Heart", acting as the band's first single in four years. Regarded as a "depressing Christmas song" that James Murphy had been singing to himself for years, the song was recorded during 2015 after Murphy had gotten past band members Al Doyle, Pat Mahoney, Nancy Whang, and Tyler Pope to come to DFA Studios in New York City to record the track. It was released as both a digital download and 7-inch vinyl. Both Consequence of Sound and Billboard again stated, after the release of the song, that "multiple sources" can confirm that LCD Soundsystem would reunite in 2016.
On January 4, 2016, the band's reunion was confirmed when it was announced that LCD Soundsystem would be headlining the 2016 Coachella Festival. The following day, the band announced that they would be releasing a new studio album some time in 2016. On February 13, it was reported that LCD Soundsystem had signed with Columbia Records. On March 23, it was announced that the band would also be headlining the 2016 Lollapalooza Festival. The band performed two shows at Webster Hall in East Village, Manhattan on March 27 and 28, officially marking their first shows in almost five years. The event had a ticket distribution system in the form of a lottery. On April 5, it was announced that the band would also be headlining the 2016 Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, California. On May 5, it was announced that the band would headline the 2016 Austin City Limits Music Festival in Austin, Texas. On June 10 the band headlined the Friday show of Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.
- 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, vocals
- 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
- Eamonn O'Keeffe – piccolo