You’ll never see the rock critics expounding on the seminal influence of Simon and Garfunkel to contemporary music – but it is there. Not because S&G broke new ground like the Beatles or the Kinks or the Who. Nor did they exude a counter culture rock persona like the Rolling Stones or Jimi Hendrix. But they did contribute to the unique 1960s synthesis of musical styles, songwriting, and performance that would define the popular song in the decades to come. Paul Simon’s genius was in melding the authenticity of folk music with the more relentless hooks from pop music, cast against a dazzling array of musical backdrops (something more fully exploited in his solo career). But in S&G, his talents produced a unmistakable sound, regardless of the style of the material. That sound can be found all over the contemporary music-sphere.
Australian band The Paper Kites nail the S&G sound on “Never Heard a Sound,” from the signature acoustic finger rolls to the effervescent harmony vocals.
Chicago’s Fruits Bats take the influence but sound like they’ve tuned everything down into a lower register on “Rainbow Sign.”
I wasn’t convinced Steve Robinson and Ed Woltil really fit the S&G bill until about half way through “The Boy from Down the Hill” because I was too distracted by the more obvious Bryds and Beatles influences but the vocals do have some very S&G touches.
You Won’t sound like S&G from an alternative dimension, you know, the one where everybody here is there too but somehow just a bit weirdly different. “Three Car Garage” is a wonderfully weird and different S&G-style single.
Jeremy Fisher is the living embodiment of S&G studies, a master of the master’s many styles. Really, if Simon and Garfunkel were sensible and wanted a killer comeback album they would just comb Fisher’s catalogue for an album or two of amazing material. Fisher particularly excels at the up-tempo S&G sound (e.g. Cecilia, Mrs. Robinson, etc.) as is evident from “The Scar that Never Heals.”
Ireland’s Villagers capture the more morose side of S&G on “Becoming a Jackal,” particularly when you hit the chorus.
Check out the following links that will take you to these bands’ various internet real estate: Paper Kites, Fruit Bats, Steve Robinson and Ed Woltil, You Won’t, Jeremy Fisher, and Villagers. You Won’t will be appearing at the Drake in Toronto May 10 for what will be an intimate and undoubtedly amazing show.