Lately, I’ve been guilty of it: listening to the same 20 or 30 songs on repeat. Skipping some half way through when the hook becomes redundant or my favourite verse passes, or when I’m afflicted by that lack of focus that’s supposed to characterise Millennials (perhaps there’s some truth to that?).
Each month, £9.99 of my hard-earned cash is debited out of my bank account for my Spotify Premium subscription, giving me access to over 30 million songs. I must listen to about 0.0000000001% of these. When I’m feeling more adventurous I check out the Discovery page, but after a few songs the comforting familiarity of the Rolling Stones, Bowie or Cab Calloway creeps suggestively into my mind.
But it shouldn’t be this way, right? There are fresh and interesting artists out there, sweating their guts out for our attention. There are many, too, who draw on some of those old favourites for inspiration and deserve a listen.
Here’s a couple worth listening to:
Back in the day: Ella Fitzgerald
Today: Hailey Tuck
Ella Fitzgerald is a staple of the 20th century song box. Newcomer Hailey Tuck is a full 74 years younger, but similarly nails the ballsy, piano jazz ballad. Originally from Texas, but now Paris-based, you can sometimes catch her performing in London at venues like the Crazy Coqs.
Back in the day: Pink Floyd
Today: Eternal Tapestry
Pink Floyd’s appeal spans many demographics: Dark Side of the Moon, boasting some of the world’s most famous cover art, is beloved by students, while The Wall is your dad’s favourite rock opera.
Beyond that, Pink Floyd are known for their protracted multi-instrumental music, not unlike Portland band Eternal Tapestry. If you like disappearing into an eight minute sonic wilderness, give their most recent album Wild Strawberries a go.
Back in the day: 13th Floor Elevators
Today: Night Beats
There’s nothing more evocative than psychedelic rock for capturing the spirit of the 1960s, and The 13th Floor Elevators’ ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ is one of the classics of that age and genre. Perhaps there’s something in the water in Texas (where the Elevators hail from), because our 21st century equivalent, Austin band Night Beats, have a similar bluesy psych rock thing going on.
Their latest album Who Sold My Generation – a 1960s referencing title if ever I heard one – is great for adrenaline-charged songs like ‘No Cops’, about police brutality, and ‘Egypt Berry’.
Back in the day: The Ronettes
Today: Cat’s Eyes
I first stumbled across Cat’s Eyes in 2011 after hearing the title track to their eponymous debut album. Having appreciated The Horrors, Faris Badwan’s main band, I was intrigued by this more leftfield collaboration with classical singer Rachel Zeffira. Cat’s Eyes is a lot more chilled out than The Horrors: all orchestral finishes and ethereal vocals, bolstering classic melodramatic girl group lyrics.
It’s this and Zeffira’s soft, almost saccharine vocals that create parallels with 60s girl groups including The Ronettes, as well as ‘call and response’ passages in songs like ‘Face in the Crowd’.
Back in the day: Alice Coltrane
Today: Hiatus Kaiyote
The weirdest of the bunch. Alice Coltrane was an avant-garde jazz pianist who hit her zenith in the 1960s and 70s with eastern influenced albums like Journey in Satchidananda. While nobody today quite captures Coltrane’s eclectic sound, Hiatus Kaiyote make a good effort in producing blissed out genre-busting music.
Is it R&B? Soul? Dance? Listen to ‘Swamp Thing’ and let me know. However, Nerdist‘s description that they sound like “a double rainbow all the way” is pretty accurate.