“Jackhammer” by Local Construction Company. On repeat since 8:52 am, indefinitely.
Liner Notes: In an age where a Sunday is considered to be a day of rest, whereupon not a soul does anything that is remotely close to work, where that same soul sits in quiet reflection, or can even choose to sleep as late as the soul chooses, Local Construction Company dares to question “Why?”
Local Construction Company, commonly known as LCC, has been pushing the boundaries of mainstream sound for decades and has influenced a myriad of other performers through the years. The recent new age sounds of groups like “Car Alarm in The Middle of the Night” and the popular and gregarious “Yelling Drunk People” both are reminiscent of the bold, repetitive rhythms and tones of LCC. In fact, the Sao Paulo Billboard credited the recent rise to second place of “Firecrackers When Your Team Scores” to LCC. On an international level, the Boston-based group “The Big Dig” credits LCC to their long-standing popularity and presence in the Northeast of the United States. LCC has been, without a doubt, one of the most formative groups in contemporary urban sound.
Local Construction Company has released their newest CD (No Rest, Obnoxious Records, 2006) dedicated to pushing the social envelope. This album is one of their most political, following relatively mild releases like their 2004 album Men Working and their 2003 Neverending Traffic. But like all the greats, LCC is constantly reinventing themselves. Nowhere is this reinvention more clearly seen than on this new album, in tracks like their title track, “No Rest.” With repetitive, hard, loud percussion the listener is transported to an almost war-zone. The thick bass, reminiscent of electronic music, and the inconsistent high-pitched vocals create at first a jarring, uncomfortable atmosphere. The listener questions why LCC would begin the album with such a caucophonous song. But the in-your-face lyrics (translated here from the Portuguese into English), “It is Sunday Morning / You are lazy and we have / been up since the wee hours / and that means you have to / wake up / too / and we don’t care / if you are tired / because we have to chop up the street” remind the listener that the world is a hard, uncaring place. Later references in the same song, and in others, to the War in Iraq further push that message.
Anti-Bush and pro-choice lyrics, surprisingly exist in LCC’s following tracks, “Too Bad For You,” “This Morning is as Good as Any Morning,” “There’s Less Traffic on Sunday Mornings So It Makes Perfect Sense to Do Construction Then,” and finally, “Oh, Sorry, You Have a Hangover?” In fact, local radio station Cidade FM, which prides itself on the variety of music it plays, has refused to add the group’s most venomous track to their playlist, “You Come Down Here And Do It Yourself If You’re So Pissed Off” because they lyrics aren’t appropriate for the workplace.
Perhaps the most controversial song on the album is “Jackhammer.” While the first-time LCC listener will be drawn toward hearing only the central instrument, which in this track actually is a jackhammer, it is the background vocals that are in fact what make the song so disturbingly effective. LCC wanted an international feel for the song, so they managed to get a young American female singer to do the ethereal background sounds in English. The combination, therefore, of Portuguese lyrics with English background sounds add to the confusion and frustration LCC intended to create. The singer, US-born Gina Coggio, screams a string of obscenities over LCC’s sounds. The obscenities, easily recognized in any language, promote the overall anger of the album and can be tied easily to the social issues facing Brazil, the United States, and the world at large. Coggio’s sounds include these obscenities, smothered by what sounds like a pillow as if she were yelling the obscenities into it. She adds her own questions to those LCC has already established: “Are you kidding?” “Do you know I will choke you if you continue?” and the occasional aggravated sound, “AAaaaaarrrggggggh!!!!” She also adds, effectively, more percussion: the beating of fists against a wall or a headboard, and the stomping of feet on wood and slate floors.
Overall, newest album “No Rest” is a socially forward-thinking, daring masterpiece that is sure to top both Brazilian and international charts.