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There’s music meant to be listened to ratcheted up to “8” on the massive home stereo with speakers booming a bass line big enough to drive you neighbors ‘round the bend (The Clash, The Small Faces’ “Tin Soldier,” anything on Stax Records). There’s mind music you sit and ponder, thinking about how darn clever that artist is, and shouldn’t you be doing something half as worthwhile. Then there’s the perfect background music you use to read with, cook with, and even fall asleep with.

Salaryman doesn’t fall into any of those ready-made categories—this is headphone music. You need to pull their rich, sumptuous sound close to your ears so you can really focus on every squibble and groove, while simultaneously being overcome by a deeply funky wall of sound.

Music scribes are trotting out Tortoise and Stereolab comparisons to Salaryman at an astonishing rate, but Salaryman is much funkier, somehow managing to come off as a Krautrock Booker T. and the MG’s. Interestingly, Salaryman is actually the alter-ego of indie stalwarts, The Poster Children, that perennial CMJ favorite from good ol’ Champaign, Illinois.

Now this is instrumental music, which can often be an insurmountable challenge for a rock band. Thankfully, Salaryman look to dance, not prog rock, for inspiration, blending their analogue instruments and improvised melodies with all manner of TV sound effects, retro keyboards, and digital drums and synthesizers. Rather than the overly awkward grasp for dance cred that this might have become, Salaryman have brilliantly exploited every toy and tool at their disposal to create a work patently fun and inspired. So plug in, crank it up, and groove.


Sarah Zupko founded PopMatters, one of the largest independent cultural criticism magazines on the web, back in the Internet's early days of 1999. Zupko is a former Executive Producer for Tribune Media Services, the media syndication arm of the Tribune Company, and a 10-year veteran of Tribune. Her other pursuits involve writing historical fiction and research in the fields of Slavic and German history, as well as general European cultural and intellectual history. Zupko studied musicology, film, and drama at the University of Chicago and media theory at the University of Texas, where she received her M.A.

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