[Abby's Road] Transcendent Culture

The quiet of the Bavarian countryside. Post-Washington DC’s 2009 Snowpocalypse, it ended up being the perfect place to spend my holiday season. As my German boyfriend Albert and I nestled in the kitchen of his childhood, his mother, a lovely, traditional mama called Marlene, tuned the television to Bayerischer Rundfunk – the Bavarian equivalent of PBS. We began watching a documentary about traditional Bavarian music. You know the ‘oom-pah-pah’ music? Lots of horns and accordion? Think Oktoberfest. Albert and I joked for a second about how we could market this particular genre at the right place and time and hipsters would get in line for it. Then I stopped laughing.

Beirut!” I exclaimed.

Beirut – “The Shrew” [MP3]

Told you.

Yes, Beirut. Old news, I know. They, too, utilize the accordion and brass, albeit to a different audience: the bespectacled, bearded scenester audience rather than the dirndl-wearing ladies of Munich. Moments and a few quick finger strokes to his iPhone later, non English-speaking Mama was listening to Beirut. She smiled at my boyfriend in a way only a mother could, loving the fact that her son had a bit of the old country in the USA. Then we ate. AGAIN.

The documentary went on and I learned that young Bavarians are holding on to their roots hard and fast, producing their own brand of traditional music. I introduce to you LaBrassBanda.


This ended up being the perfect gift for the indie record monster that is my little sister.

…and Kofelgschroa.

I’m a little (Abby’s) road weary, 6 pounds heavier and my body clock is off, so forgive me for this uncharacteristically brief blurb. At the end of the day, I think this proves once again that everything old musically, when tweaked and twisted a little, is new again. Nothing is purely original…and this is okay.


[Photo by Abby]

Previously on Abby’s Road

6 comments to [Abby’s Road] Transcendent Culture

  • Ahhh! Very true about old music. Just look at America! One can trace just part of the Strokes’ sound back to classic rock, to Rock ‘n’ Roll, to blues, to slave spirituals, to traditional African music that dates back centuries.

    With resources these days, indie bands are getting inspiration just EVERYWHERE. Like Beirut, a perfect example. Great stuff, Abby. Really spot on.

  • I am truly hoping readers take the time to investigate and listen to LaBrassBanda. Habediehre is a magnificent record.

  • Funny, one of my favorite duos here in Chicago, My Gold Mask, has a very distinctive gypsy sound and we often talk about traditional music and the influence it has on indie bands. When I listen to groups like Luminescent Orchestratii, or O’death even, I hear how much we owe to other cultures and times. And our listening pleasure is all the more richer for that exposure.

    Standing in a field, in the blazing sun last summer and being immersed in a huge crowd, all straining our necks to glimpse the beauty of Beirut at Pitchfork Festival was an unforgettable experience. I was totally NOT expecting to love that as much as I did. Thanks for the reminder, Abby! xoxo

  • Beirut is an astonishing character to me and I can’t believe all he has accomplished to this day. We have a MASSIVE world besides the US and Europe and I’m glad artists and listeners such as yourself and Zach are willing to explore and reinvent.

    But shit, targeting to hipsters is an easier market than pregnant women 😉

    Thanks for giving me the weekend task of tracking down Habediehre!

  • I see Tart beat me to the Luminescent Orchestrii rec, but seriously, I think they’re the best at twisting the old world sound. 17 Hippies and Vagabond Opera are good in that way, too.

  • Lee

    Muruch and Tart on the same page.

    what else is new? 😉