Spotify Special – In a Tidal Wave of Mystery (Deluxe Edition), by Capital Cities

ss01-inatidalwaveofmystery

Released June 4, 2013

1 hr, 1 min, 27 sec

Spotify is, depending on who one talks to, either the best promotional tool for musicians, or the end of the music industry.

Streaming media was, for a time, billed as the “solution” to the unsolvable problem of rampant music piracy. Services like Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, and countless others were thought to be the future of the music industry; in 2014, it doesn’t feel like the solution it was touted as being, not by a long shot. Digital music sales, though they have been slipping, still rule the roost. CDs chug along, the great medium of the past thirty years, dying the slow death it has been stuck in since the advent of the iPod. Vinyl is somewhere at the bottom, fueled solely by hipsters who have deluded themselves into believing records sound better than digital mediums. (They don’t.)

For a brief period (about five months), I was a Spotify subscriber. I bought the basic plan, yes, but I was convinced that this would be the only way I would ever listen to music for the rest of my life. For about three months. Then, I remembered that I go places where I don’t have my laptop and a wi-fi connection to partake in the Great Streaming Future, and I pull out my phone and listen to the mp3s I’ve got on there.

I still use Spotify, obviously – this post wouldn’t exist if I didn’t. But it’s a strange use case for me. Aside from using it to pull up random bands to try them out (which, I think, is the true benefit of streaming services), there is a small selection of albums that I listen to solely through Spotify, for whatever reason. I’m really not sure what that reason would be. It’s surely a subconscious thing – I don’t want to pay for these albums and have them with me wherever I go, but I have zero intention of pirating them, either, so I use Spotify whenever I get the itch to listen to them.

Those albums, my friends, are the focus of the Spotify Specials.

I’ll tell you right now, there won’t be very many, maybe six or seven at most. I probably won’t cover all of them, either – this is weekend content, so if I have something better, I’ll do that.

Now, four hundred words in, let’s talk about Capital Cities.

This band is damn weird. End of post.

(I’m kidding.)

Capital Cities entered my ears, as one would probably expect, through their hit single “Safe and Sound,” which was completely inescapable for most of this year and part of last year. Every other hour on 97X in Tampa – “here’s Capital Cities with their single Safe and Sound.” But the song was so catchy that I just had to listen, and enjoy it every single time. I’m a sucker for a good pop track.

Eventually, I thought, “maybe I should try out that album, give it a spin, see how the rest of it sounds.” So I did. And when I was done, I had no idea what I’d just listened to.

It certainly wasn’t “Safe and Sound” stretched over 61 minutes.

That’s the thing that really appealed to me after a second listen, though – Capital Cities is a band that packs a ton of variety into the general “pop” container around their music. Every song feels distinct, even when the signature trumpet works its way into the rhythm. Some tracks are a throwback to the Seventies, with a bit of 2013 pop flair thrown in to contemporize it. Some tracks are very much rooted in the pop ecosystem of 2013. One track starts out as an ad for Capital Cities and their publishing company. In the middle of the album. Featuring André 3000 and a bunch of random pop-culture soundbites for good measure.

Weird.

But it’s a very good, original album – a strong debut. I still haven’t bought the album, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Capital Cities and what they release in the future.

Especially if they keep the trumpet. That thing gets me every time it shows up.

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