Saturday, February 2, 2008

Nouveau Retro: It's Not All Terrible

That's right, you heard me. There are a few modern bands with distinctly retro sounds that actually pull it off. Not only can they mimic obsolete genres, but they actually add something to them.

Who are these bands? Not in any particular order:

1. The Chesterfield Kings

The Chesterfield Kings are the result of a failed science experiment from the 1980s in which musicologists attempted to clone the Rolling Stones. After the disappointing single Start Me Up, the Stones were cloned using DNA from their discarded syringes. But something went wrong akin to Lex Luthor accidentally creating Bizarro, and we were left with a wholly unique musical act. The album to check out? The Mindbending Sounds of the Chesterfield Kings. The first track, I Don't Understand, is their signature song as far as I'm concerned.

2. Midlake

Midlake's release from 2006, The Trials of Van Occupanther, is the closest you're going to get to a modern equivalent of mid-70s Fleetwood Mac. Only replace Steve Nicks with a whiny guy whose art school thesis project most likely involved found objects. I know that sounds bad, but it's actually quite good. Sadly, the single Roscoe is the best song on the album. Listen to this song and then listen to Rhiannon and Gypsy. You'll see what I'm talking about.

3. The Brian Jonestown Massacre

I've been listening to these guys since 1998, and I've never been disappointed. The antics of frontman Anton Newcombe were popularized in the 2004 documentary DiG!, depicting the rivalry of BJM and the Dandy Warhols. I've seen them live a few times, and it's a bit like going to see a hockey game, because 2 out of 3 times the band erupted into violence. In 2004 at the Mercury Lounge, Anton punched out his guitarist because he didn't like the guy's girlfriend. This is why there are so many lineup changes. Unfortunately, these days Anton spends more time writing vitriolic anti-Bush rants on his MySpace blog than writing new music. But the man is hell with a sitar.

4. Comets On Fire

I'm not really sure what to say about this band, except that after hearing Hatched Upon the Age, I had to have the album. It's hard to really pin down where their retro sound lies, but to me it is reminiscent of certain early 70s Krautrock. Listen to the track here.

And that's all I got. For now.

1 comment:

Jimmy Shelter said...

Funny, I recently posted a similar post on my blog.

If you like the Chesterfield Kings, you also might like the Urges and the Madd.