Attack of the clones

The “customers who bought album X also bought album Y” recommendation model tends to work a treat with music consumers because most bands sound like the bastard child of their influences. However, there are three acts currently enjoying healthy popularity who must have been let out of a padlocked room after being forced to listen to one album on repeat.

What’s most strange, though, is that when you hear these clones you will soon discover that this is not a bad thing.

OWL CITY (record collection = Give Up)
The brainchild of American poster boy Adam Young, Owl City’s second album Ocean Eyes boasts the sort of slick production you’d expect from a major label debut. As easy as it would be to dimiss as teen fodder, it really is an incessantly irrepressible and enjoyable listen. And if you had never heard Fireflies on the radio before, you could have singled out any one of about seven tracks on Ocean Eyes as a potential hit.

But could anyone have predicted that The Postal Service, a band as geekily indie as they get, would be the inspiration for the biggest chart sensation of the year so far? Owl City is effectively a rip-off of Ben Gibbard’s iconic synth-pop project, albeit one marketed at the Twilight demographic.

Confirm or deny, Owl City: “The more I hear people relating the two, the more I realise they are pretty similar. I had some friends in high school who would have it playing in their cars and stuff. It was cool, but it never really caught my ear.” (full interview)

Owl City – Hello Seattle


The Postal Service – Such Great Heights


May 8, Barrowland, Glasgow (tickets)

SHOUT OUT LOUDS (record collection = The Head On The Door)
For the past decade, Shout Out Louds have been doing a very decent impersonation of The Cure, and a spin of their tremendous forthcoming third album Work shows the Swedes haven’t felt the urge to change that fact.

Perhaps they get away with it because they’re so shameless. While plenty of other bands have been, and will continue to be, heavily influenced by Robert Smith and Co, few actually run the risk of being mistaken for a Cure tribute band.

Confirm or deny, Shout Out Louds: “None of us are real big Cure fans.” (full interview)

Shout Out Louds – Tonight I Have To Leave It


The Cure – In Between Days


PLAN B (record collection = Greatest Hits Of Smokey Robinson & The Miracles)
No-nonsense London hip hop star who raps about anal sex with corpses on his debut album reinvents himself on his second record as an angel-voiced, soul-singing Smokey Robinson wannabe – and pulls it off with more style than you could imagine.

From the depths of the Big Smoke comes the classic sound of Big Smokey – that’s who Plan B has to thank for what is destined to make The Defamation of Strickland Banks one of the biggest albums of 2010.

Confirm or deny, Plan B: “My godfather taught me Smokey Robinson’s The Tracks Of My Tears. That song taught me everything I need to know about song structure.” (full interview)
VERDICT: Honest!

Plan B – Hard Times


Smokey Robinson & The Miracles – The Tracks Of My Tears


April 23, Classic Grand, Glasgow (tickets)
June 12, RockNess, Inverness (tickets)

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