I’ve always been affectionately teased for being stuck in a generation I never belonged to (music-wise), having never really been into poppy chart tracks growing up, my musical education began and ended with my parents’ tastes. Fortunately, there was plenty they disagreed on so this education was pretty rounded. Musically, my heart really belongs in around the Seventies and Eighties although I also adore everything from Twenties Jazz and Glen Miller to Elvis. Just before Summer, realising my intent to work toward a career in music journalism I decided it was necessary to broaden my horizons.
Slowly but surely I began my journey to enlightenment, but what struck me wasn’t so much that modern chart music isn’t half as bad as expected but more that not all new music is as far from my classic oldies as I realised. To discover that the concept of incorporating elements of older style and sound in new releases exists was both intriguing and ideal to me and I began to delve deeper.
Hudson Taylor are a great example of an emerging band whose sound is very retro, similarities can be drawn to Mumford and Sons, King Charles or even Amber Run. But for me Hudson Taylor have an older feel, perhaps I’d even reference The Beatles as some of their songs like ‘Battles’ or ‘Written in Water’ show links through lower keys, stronger rifts and even their stand out cynical tone in terms of lyrics.
On the other hand ‘Care’ sounds incredibly reminiscent of The Beach Boys, the high pitched, almost Barber-Shop harmonies and light guitar in this track are unmistakable in terms of influence. Noting that both The Beatles and The Beach Boys are Sixties boy bands despite their hugely different styles suggests this era is a major source of inspiration for Hudson Taylor. It’s clear that musical styles of even that far back are being carefully preserved if you only pick and choose the right artists.
Another band I have fallen in love with and who have recently been in the charts is Milky Chance. With a particularly folky tone, they are more in line with old Blues and Country sounds. However unlike Hudson Taylor’s pure, softer acoustic style, Milky Chance go a step further and mix this with electronic elements inspired by German DJs. In interviews they’ve referenced everyone from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers to Bob Marley, which clearly supports this assumption.
In contrast this idea can be applied in a wider sense to an entire genre, being introduced to ‘Electroswing’, (the name given to an emerging musical genre which combines orchestral, upbeat swing sounds of the twenties with very modern electronic elements) was an absolute revelation to me. Great Electroswing artists at the moment include Parov Stelar, ADSS and most importantly, my favourite, Jamie Berry. To my delight I found that Berry in particular expertly crafts tracks that in no way diminish the brilliance of classic swing sounds, incorporating recognisable tunes but also mixing his own but always maintaining that brilliant fun, party feeling behind Swing and Jazz.
It seems that in the music industry it’s becoming fashionable to incorporate backdated elements, almost in the same way that vintage clothing has become such a statement and so sought after. People almost seem bent on outdoing each other or competing, leading to commonly used terms like ‘hipster’ ‘indie’ and so on, as in most cases music seems to follow the same patterns and cycles as fashion. A perfect way to explain these competitive extremes is to point out how common it’s becoming to remix Beethoven and Mozart into club and house tracks, particularly prevalent in European clubs. To find that this common theme is only just emerging leads me to believe it will thrive and develop in the next decade which only makes me more excited and consequentially more keen to pay attention to it’s development and new releases.