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It feels pretty safe to say that just about everything’s been done. In modern music originality seems to come only in interpretation and spin rather than in form or content. That’s not at all a cynical statement, but rather one that points out the limitations and frankly, the effectiveness, of certain musical forms. Harmony is pleasing, certain chord progressions work to embed themselves in our memories, easily recalled and whistled or hummed when needed, and on and on and on.
What’s more, it seems like the more you learn about music, the tighter the circle of references becomes. You can hear the latest song from the latest blogosphere victim being foisted into your earholes by the legion of tastemakers and easily disseminate the myriad bands that comprise its influences. That can be fun and it can tiring, hearing the same sort of influences paraded around in an endless loop, a well-worn rut of aesthetic regurgitation.
Today’s featured track is noteworthy not because it’s groundbreaking or completely reinventing the form of a pop song. It is notable because the influences present in the composition come from a skein of musical ore rarely mined in contemporary music. The Stepkids, one of the fantastic Stones Throw label’s newest signings, conjure up sounds of lesser known soul groups of the late 1960s/early ’70s mixed with soft psychedelia from that same era.
Embedded in the genetic code of “Shadows on Behalf” are echoes of soul bands like The Friends of Distinction, The Cornelius Brothers, and The Fifth Dimension rubbing up against some of the trippier forays of soft-rock/psychedelic bands Gallery, The Marmalade, The Casuals, and Classics IV.
The result is a breezy, easy-going jam that bends out of center and leans toward something outside of the usual benchmarks. As such, it’s a refreshing song that should send people in search of more by this band and to dig deeper into their influences, most of them long forgotten bands that deserve a renaissance.
The Shadows on Behalf 12″ single was released this past April; the band has plans to release a full-length in the fall of 2011.