Today's Time Machine: Bands Bringing Music From The Past Into The Present

By Savannah DavanzoContributing Editor

Article photo - Today's Time Machine: Bands Bringing Music From The Past Into The Present

Today’s music is a delicious mix of genres, tones, sounds, and feelings. We have pop royalty ruling the charts, major rock bands selling out stadiums, and country crooners delivering hit after hit. But in 20 years or 50 years or a hundred years, what will we remember most about this age of music? Will it be the rise in wildly witty rap or the windows-down-scream-it-loud pop hooks? We won’t really know until we get there -- to the future, to the point of looking back.

When we think about the 20s, we think of sweet, soulful jazz. When we think about the 60s, we think of psychedelic rock or the Brit-pop invasion. When we think about the 90s, we think about moody grunge and legendary hip-hop. Then there’s today. Hidden in corners of the unending fabric that weaves a lifetime of sonic goodness are current artists who craft distinct music that hearkens back to the music of our past: music that doesn’t necessarily fit in comfortably with today’s over-saturated bubblegum pop landscape, but music that pays tribute to the funk and grunge and polka of way back in the day.

Want to take a step back? We’ve got you covered.

Introducing 10 of our favorite “time machine” bands…


Artist: Mobvibe

Decade Represented: 60s

Genre Represented: psych-rock

They might be based in Greece but nusixties band Mobvibe are reaching from a deep well of English influence for the psychedelic Brit-pop style music they’ve been releasing slowly but surely. On their debut EP, The Nusixties Invasion: Part One, Mobvibe transform the swirling psych-rock soundscape of the 60s into a more modernized version dotted with surprising indie-pop elements. A cacophony of buzzing psychedelia, Mobvibe’s discography aims to introduce a new genre of music to the world. Welcome to the nusixties.


Artist: Maddie Ross

Decade Represented: early 2000s

Genre Represented: pop

When you listen to Los Angeles singer-songwriter Maddie Ross, you’re transported right into the middle of your favorite teen movies: Clueless, Mean Girls, Bring It On, you name it. Decked out in punchy garage-rock rhythms and bubblegum pop tones, every single Ross release is sweet like sugar but made razor sharp with an edge. P.S. Keep your eyes and ears out for her debut full-length album, Never Have I Ever, this May -- a whole soundtrack to the 2000s queer romantic comedy you’ve always wanted.


Artist: Pokey LaFarge

Decade Represented: 20s

Genre Represented: swing

Pokey LaFarge does it all. Equipped with a voice somewhere between a croon and a trill, he’s delivered a lengthy discography spanning over a decade of vintage-inspired albums that find Pokey playing with woozy blues, high-speed swing of the 20s, classic folk, and more. Each Pokey release is a new masterclass in raw, muddied, genre-defying talent nobody can execute quite like he can.


Artist: Ivan & The Parazol

Decade Represented: 70s

Genre Represented: glam-rock

Hungarian indie band Ivan & The Parazol sound like they’ve been doing their thing since way back in the 70s, but they actually formed in 2010. You wouldn’t believe it listening to the searing rock riffs, distorted instrumental solos, and flashy energy. This is the kind of music you bang your head to and pump your fist to amid a wild crowd all sharing in the revelry that is Ivan & The Parazol’s groovy, edgy glam-rock anthems.


Artist: Leftover Cuties

Decade Represented: 30s

Genre Represented: swing

Los Angeles band Leftover Cuties are aptly named. They really are adorable and the music they make is too -- led by buzzing brass sections and quirky ukulele strums, their sweet brand of retro-meets-modern sounds like sunshine. The songs are upbeat, quick-tempoed, and practically basking in the warmth of sultry vocals and powerful instrumental camaraderie.


Artist: The Bad Dreamers

Decade Represented: 80s

Genre Represented: electro-pop

The moniker of Grammy-nominated producer David Schuler, The Bad Dreamers is an electro-pop project releasing neon synth tracks that burst with the buzzing, wailing, electric energy of our 80s favorites. Punchy slaps on the drum pad and urgent synth swells help to create an emotional ambient experience on every Bad Dreamers track.


Artist: Caro Emerald

Decade Represented: 20s

Genre Represented: jazz

Dutch jazz singer Caro Emerald has a golden voice. It’s a total throwback to the sultry, silky voices of 20s lounge singers. Paired with pulsing piano plinks and quick percussive slaps, Caro manages to craft a mesmerizing blend of today’s catchy pop and the jazzy soul of practically a hundred years gone.


Artist: Speedy Ortiz

Decade Represented: 90s

Genre Represented: indie-rock

Massachusetts rock band Speedy Ortiz are just as at home in today’s lo-fi scene as they would be back in the 90s, settled amongst fellow raging garage rockers and indie artists. With several soaring full-length albums under their belt already, Speedy Ortiz continue to pair drowsy vocals, robust rock instrumentation, and lighthearted tones for a dizzying 90s-flashback result.


Artist: Shannon and the Clams

Decade Represented: 60s

Genre Represented: surf-pop

Shannon and the Clams is one of those bands that seem to have emerged from the rubble of a thousand different influences. The result is impressive -- the California-based quartet successfully merge the warring elements of twangy rockabilly, retro doo-wop, surf-pop, and a whole lot more. On paper, it shouldn’t really work, but it does, courtesy of each member’s unending musical prowess.


Artist: blushh

Decade Represented: 90s

Genre Represented: garage-roc

We already know the 90s were brilliant for music, but what you don’t know is that among Nirvana and Calamity Jane and No Doubt and so on, there could have been blushh. Crafting quick pop tunes led by rugged guitar riffs and steady percussion, blushh delivers fuzzy nineties-inspired garage-rock bangers modernized by howl-along hooks and pop sweetness.


Want to linger in the past for a little while longer? Follow our Time Machine playlist below.

About Savannah Davanzo

Savannah Davanzo is a music journalist and social media coordinator from New York. Over the last six years, she has built several websites dedicated to highlighting underrated new music, all while pursuing her Master’s degree in Arts Entrepreneurship. She is the founder and lead editor of ​ The Music Mermaid where she writes album reviews, exclusive premieres, music op-eds, interviews with artists, and more. In addition to her work with TMM, she’s thrilled to be part of the MusicNGear team!

Contact Savannah Davanzo at

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