Get our free newsletter
Standout Track: “600,000 Bands,” in which singer and author Ian Svenonius examines the contemporary popular music landscape and concludes that, well, it’s really big. “Six hundred thousand bands/Each one makes a sound/ Everybody wants you to listen to theirs/But you can’t right now cuz you’re listening to this,” he sings. Fugazi drummer Brendan Canty and Tom Bunnell provide the sorta sleazy backing groove.
Musical Motivation: Svenonius plucked the song from his subconscious two years ago, around the time blog-band mania first hit its stride. After completing a lecture tour for his book, The Psychic Soviet, the singer got together with Canty and Bunnell to further explore that spoken-word format. “Everything is ad-libbed,” he explains. “Lyrics, vocals, and the music. That’s the Felt Letters sound, the lack of premeditated composition.”
Personality Crisis: “600,000 Bands” may have been recorded two years ago, but its message still feels relevant. In fact, there may be more bands now than ever before. Part of the problem is that old bands keep getting back together. “It used to be that bands only existed for a couple of years—they typified an era,” Svenonius says. “Now people never break up. Or [they’re] loathe to announce their dissolution.” A deluge of new artists only aggravates the issue, he says. “Every person is in maybe one band or five bands. There’s a kind of multiple personality disorder,” he says. “That used to be kind of an anathema. You wouldn’t want the guy from the Raspberries to be in three different groups.”