Nobody sounds like you

I suspect everyone has a premium account on Spotify now. Maybe you have a favorite album or playlist that you play in the background while you work. You probably have one for working out, another one for doing the laundry. I have one for meditation, and one for running.

I love the random surprises that pop up when I have my music on shuffle, so lately I just press Shuffle Play on all my Liked songs. I enjoy trying to guess the artist name within the first few bars of the song. I smile as I recall people or places while I sing. Sometimes I feel a little hurt in my heart.

The other day, after Adele and MGM classics, after Carly Rae Jepsen and Third Eye Blind, I heard a familiar keening, notes sustained, a melancholy that was familiar. “That sounds like Aldus,” I thought. I took a look at Spotify, and there it was: Dayami, from the album Halang, by the Purplechickens.

Art by Tof Zapanta. Image grabbed from the Purplechickens Facebook page, with permission.

I’ve never been any sort of music writer. I write with no authority on the technicalities of music or the talent of this vocalist, that guitarist. I write only what pinches at my heart, and I have to say nobody does it like the Purplechickens.

I can’t tell you about any intricate journeys on which their music will take you. I can’t say, listen to this guitar, or that drum…? I can’t say, reminiscent of so and so with hints of this or that guy. I certainly can’t tell you what critics and fans say about their music.

I can only tell you they sound like nobody else I’ve ever heard. I can only tell you they make pain and terror and loneliness sound so beautiful.

I can only tell you that the sound of Aldus Santos’ voice takes me back twenty years, to a leaky tent under the rain. The pauses between drum beats bring me back to the grassy, tree-filled campus where I met these guys and first heard their music. The sound of the guitars remind me of my teenage heart and its little crises and ambitions, and the voices that made me cry and ache.

I can only tell you they used to make me want to cry, just a little bit, and I don’t always know why. Perhaps it’s in fond recollection of the people we were and the people we wanted to be, and in bemusement of the people we could have been and ended up being. I can only tell you that the tears are still here, but they come with fondness.

Give them a listen on Spotify. (Looks like they have a new album coming soon!)

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