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Barcelona



Washington, DC-based quartet Barcelona is a throwback to another era, but it's not the '60s (thank God). No, they recall a time when Mr. Reagan, Ms. Thatcher, and Gorby controlled the world's superpowers, when PacMan was America's arcade game of choice, when kids with feathered hair and distressed jeans cavorted in malls across the land, and when goofy dance-pop ruled the charts. Barcelona is a collection of computer-music nerds in love with the saturated bounce of the Casio and the kitschy antique robot sounds that once sounded so sci-fi futuristic. And fortunately they don't take themselves the least bit seriously -- how could they, really? -- so they wind up with sweet, hypnotized-sounding boy-girl vocals about such vital topics as soccer, robots, and Commodore 64s. This over deliciously silly synth lines, canned drums, goofball effects, and maybe a bit more jangly guitar than your typical New Wave band of yesteryear.

What else would you expect of a group of burnt-out computer programmers? I'm not sure, but somehow Barcelona's sound seems wholly appropriate. The group's members formed Barcelona to get away from the daily grind of 16-hour days spent working on their fluorescent tans while staring vacantly into those glowing screens so many of us know so well. Soon thereafter, they began working with likeminded producer Trevor Kampmann (hollAnd) on an album which would become their debut, simon BASIC (1999). After that, they released a pair of highly regarded singles, "Robot Trouble," (one of their many songs about robots) and the marvelously dorky, tongue-in-cheek "Studio Hair Gel," which contained the featured remix by Figurine's James Figurine.

After that, Barcelona put out their oh-so-infectious 2000 sophomore album, Zero One Infinity, which contains both of the above-mentioned songs, as well as "I Have the Password to Your Shell Account," "Haunted by the Ghost of Patty," and "Kasey Keller." Unless you're some kind of world-hating creep, you can't go wrong with Barcelona.