As I get older, the more I believe in the adage of “everything old is new again.” It is a concept that is often paired with nostalgia, though the two can exist separately. You see this everywhere you turn. Fashion, music, television. They all have it. I sometimes find myself frustrated by the lack of innovation and experimentation. Boredom sets in and your mind craves a challenge.
I went through this last summer. Rock, pop, soul, and everything else in front of me was boring me. Everything I was hearing was just becoming noise. Static amongst the static. I tried listening to other genres to cleanse my contemporary Western-influenced rock music palette. I engaged in various native folk, acid jazz, and most of Phillip Glass’ discography. I wondered what was going to save me from the monotony. I’ve since regressed back and enjoy the standards again, but I still find myself occasionally bored with the musical landscape because of its repetitive nature. However, sometimes you can relish in the irony of a mood.
In the middle of this weird phase, I first heard “Class Historian” by BRONCHO. When I heard the song open with its signature repetitive “du, du, du” refrain, I was floored. This song was exactly what I was rebelling against, but I could not help myself. The simplicity of its throwback style was just too cool and has since stood out as one of my favorite songs of 2014.
Everything about the recording and presentation of “Class Historian” is an exercise in nostalgia. BRONCHO is a modern Indie rock band but model themselves after the DIY punk and new wave bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The music tracks feature an unpolished, driving guitar that sounds like it was recorded in a garage. Additional guitars paint a sonic dreamscape that lie underneath the pulsing rhythm of the lead guitar. Imagine early INXS with some ironic undertones.
The vocals are a treat as well. The “du, du, du” refrain adds a playful humor and mysticism that accentuate the dreamy theme. The words are slightly distorted with an echo that adds a hazy aura over the whole song. Ryan Lindsey’s mumbling singing style features sharp increases in pitch that add to this as well. Much of what he is singing is hard to understand and the pitch change creates a jarring effect as if you are trying to fight falling asleep. It almost seems purposeful in order to surround the lyrics in mystery. The vocals and music combine to create a complete dream experience.
I am so happy I found this song when I did because it is truly phenomenal. It serves as a clever throwback to older musical styles while establishing its own independence as contemporary rock. Sure, our society and culture is fraught in stagnation. However, there are consistent elements that seem to transcend time and space and influence all types of musical genres. What is now a clever homage to a particular time has the potential to blossom into something new and exciting. BRONCHO is a very new and very young band. If they can continue their path of resurrecting styles while crafting their own niche, I see many good things in their future.