Another (belated) edition of Old School Sundays is an appropriate one with Daft Punk's Random Access Memories hitting stores in just two days. It's because up above is the duo's first U.S. show... ever... in 1996... in a small town outside Madison, Wisconsin. Yeah... not even in Madison. Needless to say, this isn't in HD, but we do have a spectacular "Daft Punk" label. More importantly, we get to see a helmetless Daft Punk get the party going with some good tunes across 30 minutes (my favorite stretch is at the 17 minute mark). Let this one play and you can get a sense of their original sound, of which you can still hear in their music today.
If you still haven't heard the full album, then what are you waiting for?! Stream Random Access Memories before it hits stores and read my in-depth review on why Daft Punk delivers an album we've never heard before.
Daft Punk delivers an album we've never heard before.
I'm through three listens of Random Access Memories today and the album is undoubtedly a well-executed hybrid of sounds, instruments, and complimenting vocals that altogether create something that many of us actually expected from Daft Punk: an album we've never heard before.
Let me expand upon this admittedly general hyperbole. An album we've never heard before. Sure, every single album released is an album we've never heard before. But what this statement means is that Random Access Memories stands out, and will always stand out, on its own. This album lives up to the hype and, quite frankly, has it all. It contains elements of genres that I would never think flow together this well — from Daft Punk's usual brand of electronic and pop to moments of funk, disco, jazz, metal, alternative, soulful R&B blues, and I may have left out more. Seemingly every single type of guitar, woodwind, and keyboard setting was used; every single note hit. Try this at home: fast forward to a random 5 seconds of each song and note the first sounds you hear. Do it again within each song and you'll likely notice a difference, let alone the vast difference between the tracks themselves.
My trip through the album began with a favorable impression of the mix of the guitar and funk that defines "Give Life Back To Music" — a definitive song title that represents the album as a whole. It wasn't until "Instant Crush", however, when my impressions turned from "OK, this is groovy." to "Whoa, this is on another level!" That's not to discount highlights like the soothing R&B moods of "The Game Of Love" and "Within" and the end of "Giorgio By Moroder". But my instant crush with this album truly synched with the chords just mere seconds into "Instant Crush" featuring Julian Casablancas (pun intended, yes, but it couldn't be further from the truth).
The funk of the Pharrell-featured "Lose Yourself To Dance" and "Get Lucky" (the former being another new-age pop hit) is separated by the album's tallest roller coaster of a record. I mean that in a good way as "Touch" featuring Paul Williams is a strong personification of the wide range of sounds and styles of the entire album in one 8 minute long trip. The build-ups (one of the album's many great ones) from little to no sound (a simple piano and Paul Williams' vocals), to funk and dance next infused, to Daft Punk's vocals of "Love is the answer...", the triumphant choir echoing that amazing phrase over orchestral elements, then finally concluding where the song started: on the abrupt transition to "I need something more" of the Paul Williams' vocals over a piano. I'm quite sure that song couldn't possibly have anything more.
"Beyond" and "Motherboard" continue the good grooves just as I was anticipating the album to dip. To me, it momentarily does with "Fragments Of Time", but this song has all the ingredients to grow on me with more listens. "Doin' It Right" will likely be the choice of many as the album's catchiest song, mine included. And "Contact", and its amazing build-ups all the way to the very end, is Random Access Memories' fitting conclusion; plus, the runner-up to the track most likely to be included in a movie soundtrack behind "Touch" (although there's a touch of wishful thinking in this prediction).
Random Access Memories is a movie within itself though. From beginning to end, there's not one track to skip and the aforementioned wide variety of sounds, instruments, and genres keep the listener engaged to a flawlessly flowing one hour, thirteen minutes, and fifty-five seconds. Daft Punk could have made another TRON: Legacy and I would have been happy with another dark, electronic themed album. But in this one hour and change, they instead challenged multiple themes, and succeeded in creating a cohesive album of such distinctly different and individually powerful sounds. That's why I say they deliver "an album we've never heard before". And at the end of the day, "Everybody will be dancing and be doing it right."
*TIBS FAVS.: "Instant Crush", "Touch", "Get Lucky", "Doin' It Right"
FROM EARLIER TODAY: Daft Punk also released a teaser this morning: the "unboxing" of the Random Access Memories vinyl, that perhaps does feature the first 20 seconds of the album towards the end. It sounds great and the video is quite the effective teaser.
Perusing my Facebook feed earlier today, my cousin out in Cali shared a new video his buddies shot out in L.A. set to Daft Punk's infectious new single "Get Lucky". No family bias here, I wouldn't post this if it weren't dope so press play and see a simple yet entertaining concept that perfectly fits the song — man dances, flips his hat, and clicks his heels across a variety of L.A. landmarks.
It's fun to see the random people walking by react to the dances as well. All of the hat tricks by Famous Ramos were pretty slick and through to the end, there's some neat, subtle moments like the dance moves for Daft Punk's part and a couple randoms dancing along with him. Overall, the way the video was shot reminded me of Dirty Vegas' "Days Go By" (who remembers this?!) and it's a well-done, unofficial video that captures the class and essence of "Get Lucky". Lookin' forward to see what Daft Punk themselves does for their visual for the Random Access Memories standout (the new album out May 21st!).
And to keep it going with Daft Punk, here's a new interview they did with Pete Tong of BBC.