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Minimalist Alt Rock

by Dan Weiss

Minimalist Alt Rock

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Indie rock spent most of the 2000s and early 2010s being praised for its grand, sweeping gestures -- Arcade Fire, The National and Sufjan Stevens all trafficked in big, well-orchestrated sonics. But one notable, beloved outlier was Spoon, whose new album, They Want My Soul, is receiving typical kudos this week for Britt Daniel's distinctively minimal arrangements, be it a handful of uncluttered piano notes or one repetitive block chord on guitar. The ultra-pared-down style is nothing new to alt rock and pioneering indie music, from Young Marble Giants' palm-muted clicks ("Final Day") to the Magnetic Fields' Casio-like "loop songs" ("Young and Insane") to The Ramones' famous three chords and 16th hi-hat hits ("Beat on the Brat" and countless others). An early single by The Fall said all it needed to best: "We dig repetition."

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