Poetic Memory: Neon Cough (List)

Album download: Neon Cough – Dracula’s Mixtape

Being unexpectedly wowed by a band is always a good feeling, no matter where the musicians reside. But when they’re from your own town, it’s even more of a treat.

So you can imagine the owlish smiles and beary grins that resulted from hearing Dracula’s Mixtape, the new album from Neon Cough. The self-described “indie new-wave power-pop” band has already made a name for itself in San Diego — last year’s self-titled album earned a nomination for Best Pop Album at the SDMAs — but the relentlessly fun Dracula’s Mixtape should earn the locals even more acclaim.

From the shimmering guitar intro of opener “Goodbye July” onward, Dracula’s Mixtape is a decidedly fun, laid-back affair. Neon Cough — not to be confused with Neon Indian or fellow San Diegans Neon Dick — know their way around a melody, and Dracula’s Mixtape overflows with catchy moments. “Way Out West” hosts a shotgun wedding of Grandaddy-esque vocals, twitchy percussion, and backward guitar; the electronic “Sugar Plum” sounds like it’s being sung by a heartbroken WALL*E; and the chorus of “Birds and Snakes” will embed itself in your head for hours like an amorous tick. Don’t let the goth-sounding title fool you: Dracula’s Mixtape is the perfect soundtrack to your sunny SoCal summer.

You can download the breezy album for free from the band’s Bandcamp page, then experience the songs in person on June 2, when Neon Cough play the Art Around Adams festival. In anticipation of the show, multi-instrumentalist Dan Luko was kind enough to share some of his influences with us. You can check out the list below.

Neon Cough’s Poetic Memory

Album: One of my favorite releases by any band is The Smashing Pumpkins’ The Aeroplane Flies High box set. It’s one of the few examples of a multi-dimensional band caught on tape within a single era. The set contains the five singles from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, each of which was a different style of music — hard rock, new wave, cyber-metal, orchestral pop, acoustic balladry — and each single is on a separate disc that is grouped with other songs of similar style. It features some great covers of new wave hits (which were recorded in the mid-’90s when ’80s new wave was the un-coolest thing on the planet), a cover of “My Blue Heaven” which was the biggest hit of the 1920s, and an original country duet featuring Veruca Salt. It goes far beyond what other bands were thinking or attempting at the time, and all the songs are great.

Book: I read this book called The Manual by the British band The KLF (also known as The Timelords), and it changed the way I think about music. The book basically coaches a bloke who is down on his luck on how to have a number-one hit in the U.K. As a disclaimer, they don’t promise that doing this will make you happy, famous, or rich (probably the exact opposite) but they do guarantee a song on the charts. The book was written in 1988 at a time when house music was taking over the U.K. charts and it features some really interesting predictions about the future of music. The KLF themselves had a bizarre number-one hit in the U.K. that mashed up the theme song from Doctor Who with Gary Glitter’s “Rock N Roll Part 2.” They also had really insane pop-art performances that went over the heads of their audience at Top of the Pops.

Video Game: One of my favorite games as a kid was Mario Paint for Super Nintendo. You could draw, make animations, play mini-games, and, best of all, compose music. By placing all sorts of cheesy Game Boy sound effects on a musical staff, you could create what sounded just like authentic Nintendo game music. Recently, I transcribed a Neon Cough song on Mario Paint and it sounded like this:

YouTube video: Although it’s not embeddable (due to its awesomeness), this song and video are spookily hypnotizing. It’s a 36×36 grid of colorful waves of audio and video snippets from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s probably one of the best things on the Internet.

Website: In my spare time, I am an amateur cryptozoologist. This website is a great place for other aspiring cryptozoologists to start. The drawings, descriptions, and stories about the creatures on this website are scary, funny, and capture the imagination.



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