In re-imagining Steely Dan’s 1977 classic album Aja, Toronto art rockers The Darcys breathe new life into songs I’ve heard perhaps 500 times. The Darcys render these songs not grooveless, but grounded in a mostly minimalist, modern electronic landscape. They typically maintain vocal melodies but update the music by removing the pristine jazz-influenced approach of the original work and replacing it with bleak and angular electronics, regimented guitar, and metronomic percussion. That’s not to say the vocals sound similar to the original, though; voices are frail and subdued, standing in stark contrast to Donald Fagen’s honking silver tongue jive.
This is an exhilarating free download. Check out the distilled jam in ‘Aja’, and the ghost-in-the-machine interpretation of ‘Deacon Blues’. Re-imagined as 90s alternative rock, ‘Peg’ picks up the tempo midway through the record. The swinging ‘Josie’ is recast as a delicate and anxious hymn (rather than celebration song). Fans of Aja (and who’s not) that appreciate modern ‘art rock’ will find much to enjoy here.
Stream: The Darcys – ‘Black Cow’
Stream: The Darcys – ‘Aja’
Stream: The Darcys – ‘Deacon Blues’