The Parisian duo known as Daft Punk actually first formed back in 1992. The “robots” are DJs Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter. With the release of only three single, the duo started a bidding war in 1996, eventually signing with Virgin. They released their debut album “Homework” the following year. The DJs’ sound was a blend of house, techno, funk and electro, with a mild touch of hip hop. It was and still is anthemic dance music. They experienced a lot of success (in their genre) and their follow-up was eagerly awaited. Four years later, they released “Discovery” in 2001, which I still think is their definitive album. Four years after that “Human After All” came out (a letdown, but anything was bound to be a letdown after “Discovery”. The duo put together an astonishing live show (by DJ standards), which led to the release of “Alive 2007”. A ‘live” album from DJs you’re probably wondering? But it works, and works very well. They did a great job mashing some of their songs together and had a state of the art light show to go with it. They did the soundtrack for the movie “Tron: Legacy” in 2010 and now in 2013, have released their fourth proper studio album “Random Access Memories”. Based on the success of their live show, Daft Punk has grown so much bigger than they were when they released their third album. People are even paying good money for homemade reproductions of the duo’s robot helmets that are sold online. The band has really changed things up with their new release. It’s a full-blown disco tribute, bringing you back to that era and sound in a major way. They used Nile Rodgers on guitar on several tracks (you may know him from Chic – “Good Times” & “Le Freak”) and Giorgio Moroder was also a “collaborator”. Another thing the band did was go out of their way to use live musicians instead of the synthesizers they had previously based their sound on. So instead of digital string sounds, you hear an orchestra actually playing the music. The album was painstakingly recorded and sounds simply incredible. Unfortunately, this will be lost on the overwhelming majority of listeners unless you’re listening on a nice stereo system or possible a high-end pair of headphones (and no, Beats by Dre don’t qualify there). Daft Punk pulled in many others to collaborate with on this album in addition to Rodgers and Moroder, including Pharrell Williams, Paul Williams, Todd Edwards, Julian Casablancas (The Strokes) and Panda Bear (Animal Collective).
I’m featuring the track “Doin’ It Right” that features Panda Bear on vocals, because it is most like their older material. I’m still wrapping my arms around this disco homage they’ve crafted, so hearing something more familiar immediately registered with me. “Get Lucky” is also a great track, but you’ve probably been living in a cave for the past month+ if you haven’t heard that song yet. “Doin’ It Right” kicks off with their trademark heavily synthesized vocals chanting the mantra “Doin’ it right everybody will be dancing, and we’re feeling it right, everybody will be dancing and be doin’ it right, everybody will be dancing when you’re feeling alright, everybody will be dancing”. They slowly layer a beat behind this, along with some other sounds and tempo changes. Then Panda Bear’s vocals start-up, contrasting nicely with the robotic mantra in the background. This was the sound that first drew me in to these guys. If you enjoy this track and don’t own a copy of “Discovery”, you should go download that album tonight.