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Listening

Out With the Old, in With the New

Maybe Bill Drummond is right. Maybe we are inundated with a glut of music nowadays via mp3s and too much of it is nostalgic. Rather than obstinately avoiding all music for a day, we should instead be aiming for more current sounds to widen the cultural breadth. Sure there’s tons of overlooked music from way back when that needs to be discovered and appreciated before the creators die of loneliness, but what about the kids out there in the streets trying to create something new? Don’t they need the respect more than a one-hit garage band from the ’60s whose members are now insurance salesmen? If nothing else, some of the love could be spread a bit more evenly across the cake.

Ever since Sunnn O))) was written up in the Times, I’ve been trying to find an alternate soundtrack for my own imaginary power ceremonies, something I hope my parents won’t happen to see. Otherwise that could be really awkward.

» Listen to “Echoh Air” by the Psychic Paramount


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I can’t say I was too excited to learn that Zombi sound a lot like Goblin—’70s Italian electro chase-scene music—but they do it so well that it can’t be denied. Even better than the originators. Appeals to prog sentimentalists, horror movie aficionados, and trance ravers alike. Best seen live or heard very loud at three in the morning.

» Listen to “Surface to Air, Part 1” by Zombi


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And if it’s slowly building, dark, progressive music you want, there’s also Danava, a Portland, Ore., group of evil, whispering and dueling guitars. Some of it is straight-up Black Sabbath rock; some is a soundtrack for a slasher film yet to be made.

» Listen to Danava at MySpace


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Velella Velella is a Breezeblock-style amalgam of samples and ’70s funk. Some songs sound like reverse-engineered Dr. Dre samples, others like white-boy disco, and even others like sped-up Money Mark keyboard ditties. Let’s hope they don’t fall to the same legal sampling fate as the Go Team.

» Listen to “The Bread Is Hard as Crackers” by Velella Velella


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The Aquarium are an odd mix for a Discord band: more pop and flutter than usual, and with a keyboard that channels Emerson, Lake, and Palmer—not that it should be held against them. After all, it works, and with interpretable lyrics!

» Listen to “Can’t Afford to Live” by the Aquarium


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Orchestrated storytelling and folkish sounds do go well with a banjo accompaniment—it ties in the American literal tradition with a nice flourish. Then take all of that, bring it to an epic boil, and simmer (covered).

» Listen to Grizzly Bear at Moistworks


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Gentle electronics and singing women always seem to remind me that the digitizing of the world may not be so bad after all. It’s that lulling sound that says, “Sleep gently, the robots will be here soon.” Maybe the over-saturation of old music isn’t so bad; if that’s what the robots bring, so be it.

» Listen to Mahogany at Sound Bites

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