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Music, like life, is evolution. It starts with an idea—maybe a few chords rhythmically thrown together that makes for something like a hook or a chorus: Simple but catchy. It becomes ingrained in your memory. From there, you keep adding elements to those few chords, building on it until—voilà!—something like a song emerges. And then: You keep building and building until, finally, you have a finished product.
The process isn’t unlike the mechanical processes used to create everyday products on Science Channel’s deeply satisfying show How It’s Made, only it’s happening in your brain. Rarely do the songs we know and love ever sound that way when they were first conceived. Moreover, rarely do musicians care to lift back the curtains and share how the songs on their albums came to be. But when they do, it offers a fascinating glimpse into the craft of songwriting.
Today, the newest album from indie-pop quartet Soccer Team—its first in nine years—drops via Dischord Records (be sure to check out City Paper‘s full review of the album in this week’s issue). Yesterday, the group quietly put up the demos of Real Lessons In Cynicism on Bandcamp, which gives you a rare glimpse into its songwriting process.
“We have an affection for demos,” says the band about the release. “Some are just too terrible or embarrassing to share, some are slightly cringe-worthy but interesting (when you can hear the germ of an idea), some include vocal gibberish or soon-to-be-abandoned lyrics, and others… well, sometimes a demo version becomes a released song.”
Indeed, the Real Lessons demos are raw and incomplete, but on songs like “Friends Who Know” and “Mental Anguish Is Your Friend,” you’re able to hear how jams evolved into the dynamic, fully realized songs on the new album. As an added bonus, the band has even annotated each demo, explaining how the song began and evolved as the group worked on them during each practice session. You can order Real Lessons In Cynicism here, and then listen to the demos below to hear how musical evolution happens.