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Steelism, 'Marfa Lights'

The Nashville instrumental group Steelism stands out for its ability to blend vintage styles — steel-guitar jazz, surf rock, the cool vibe of 1960s movie soundtracks — in ways that don't feel dated. Steelism's playfulness, embodied in the easy dialogues between guitarists Jeremy Fetzer and Spencer Cullum, Jr., freshens up everything its touches.

This video for the steady-rolling "Marfa Lights," from the band's new album, 615 To Fame,has fun with a retro vibe by referring to old educational videos via a tribute to the BBC2 comedy show Look Around You. Pedal steel player Cullum, who is British, writes: "The video was heavily inspired by my fascination with 1970s BBC science videos. At school they would wheel in an old TV and play these quirky, unemotional science vids. They would also have this weird '70s workshop synth music to accompaniment the videos. There's a great comedy program called "Look Around You" that mocked that kind of media. So we weren't the first to try it out, but I like to think we've done it in our own way with the help of the talented Stewart Copeland directing".

Cullum and Fetzer play the scientists, with the rhythm section of Jon Radford and Michael Rinne as impassive subjects. It's a stylish hoot. Fun fact: Director Copeland, also a documentary filmmaker, shares an instrument as well as a name with that guy from The Police. He plays drums in a Nashville band called Bully.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.