L ast year, I discovered the genre of electro swing, which takes classic and contemporary swing-style songs and remixes it with electronic music -- think Pretty Lights' "Finally Moving," but more swing and less soul (sorry, Etta James).
I've listened to it off and on throughout the past year, but I recently joined the Spotify crowd and have since realized how incredibly awesome it is for finding new music. And the more electro swing I listen to, the more I realize how nerdy-fabulous it is. Here are some of my favorite electro swing songs: some of the best study music for a history- or tech-minded nerd.
Mr. Scruff, "Get a Move On"
This is a good song for beginners. It's a little less electric-sounding but does a great job of repeating melodies and interweaving euphonic trumpet elements. It also has a catchy beat with a steady rhythm that seems to propel you forward -- in fact, it's what I throw on whenever I'm going for a long walk. It's got some history behind it, too -- the track samples Moondog's 1969 "Bird's Lament," along with other classics.
Caravan Palace, "Star Scat"
This song combines auto-tune-sounding scat vocals with grainy, catchy backgrounds. It's like World War II-meets-Steampunk in audio form.
Caravan Palace is by far my favorite electro swing band, and only partially because they're from France (actually, a lot of electro swing groups hail from the same country as electro greats like Justice and Daft Punk). Their newest album, Panic, was released earlier this year, and they have some pretty sick music videos. Check out the video for "Rock It For Me," a bizarre sci-fi animated short that blends time periods, complete with giant dancing robots and an alien invasion.
Chinese Man, "Artichaut"
While most people would agree that Chinese Man is a group often associated with the trip-hop scene, a few of their songs are surprisingly more along the lines of electro swing. "Artichaut" features samples from 40s-era newsreels and radio shows, playfully combined with scratching, grainy scatting and vocalizations. This arrangement, along with its derivation from Chinese Man's typical style, definitely makes it one of the more amusing electro swing songs I've found.
Electro swing perfectly blends history and tech in a way that will make your ears tingle and your nerd heart flutter. While I typically listen to it while studying, the genre's infectious beats are definitely just cause for the occasional dance break. If electro swing sounds like the right thing for you and you'd like a jumping-off point, check out 8tracks user Skrozprozor's electro swing 13-track playlist: http://8tracks.com/skrozprozor/electro-swing.
Jessica Ryan is a senior media studies major at CU. She writes about nerdy things once a week for the Colorado Daily. On Twitter: @JessicaLRyan.