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This list is something I've been thinking over for a while now, and basically boils down to certain artists', albums', and songs' similarity to others' output, although reading these overlaps in a much more favorable light than normal "ripping-off-the-sound!" decriers may typically shine on such scenarios. This list is by no means comprehensive (feel free to add your own in the comments), tries to avoid some archetypal culprits (ie, early Coldplay and Radiohead; early[ish] Muse and Radiohead; probably some six other bands and Radiohead), and, as with anything musical, is ridden with personal bias. I'm sure many of the bands and works here I credit with pulling off their theft/homage with aplomb are disliked by others for similar reasons. That's fine. I just think there's a conversation worth having here, where imitation transcends mere tracing and becomes something that can not only stand on its own, but also quite conceivably enhance a listener's appreciation for the inspiration; I hope you'll indulge me...
1Ghost Bath

...sounds like...

Kicking things off with an immediate contradiction of my "no obvious choices" guideline, it's almost parodic how closely Ghost Bath's sophomore album apes the blackgaze popularized--though by no means minted--by Deafheaven's crossover breakout. There's a whole sub-argument to be had here about longer-standing acts like Woods of Desolation, Lantlos, & Alcest, but again, personal bias rules the day, & it'd be disingenuous to say I clicked on Deafheaven's salmon-hued banner ads with a deep appreciation for Neige already at work. In their way, Deafheaven belong in debtor's prison as much as their American brethren above, although at least Ghost Bath also had the audacity to title their album with a wink to their (reluctant) inspiration. All of which would be for naught if they didn't pull off the blend so capably, something sorely lacking on Funeral &, from the haphazard sound of the lead single, may have abandoned them again on the upcoming Starmourner (whose title may also overdo it).
3The Republic of Wolves
His Old Branches

...sounds like...
4Brand New
The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me

Another fairly obvious choice, especially what with the lore surrounding the leak of the former being mistaken for demos of the latter--and honestly, without that narrative guiding the way in, there's a good chance this parallel would stick out a lot less, especially with tRoW's comparatively folksier songwriting (which has only compounded over time). But still, as far as impressions go, even inadvertent ones, this had many of us fooled, with good reason, and is arguably even more admirable for, as the Devil and God is a hell of an act to aspire to, let alone plausibly expound upon, to the point that Brand New themselves didn't even really try to.
5Of Machines
As If Everything Was Held In Place

...sounds like...
Define the Great Line

This is an example where I'll readily admit I may have overlooked several other acts that could well better represent the sound being copied due to sheer ignorance, but to my mind, Of Machines' first and only album sounds like the work of a group who had spun Underoath's second iteration as post-hardcore with electronic trappings non-stop for three years, and decided to ear-candy the hell out of it. Nothing on the album above is as aggressive as "Returning Empty Handed" or even album opener "In Regards to Myself." But if you, like me, could listen to "Writing on the Walls" all day, As If Everything Was Held in Place is basically that syrup-drenched aesthetic stretched to feature-length, and (to these ears, at least) a lot less tiresome than that might imply.
7The Victor Ship
Contes De Fees

...sounds like...

Getting a little more granular here. Unfortunately, the Victor Ship flamed out far too quickly, but their nuanced approximation of not only Thrice's melodic post-whatever sound, but also Dustin Kensrue's vivid lyrical blend of storytelling, metaphor, and subtle (at the time) spirituality still serves as an exemplar of what can be achieved when an already masterful work is shaded in and built upon, making the end result feel less like a Xerox and more like one of those transparent overlays. Plus, the opening one-two punch of "Why Do You Hoard?" / "Why Do You Squander?" easily outshines a good 75% of Thrice's own prior expansion of this sound on the Alchemy Index (which I whole-heartedly love, by the by, Fire and all).
9All Get Out
The Season

...sounds like...
10Manchester Orchestra
Mean Everything to Nothing

Another example where context may have colored things for me, but I saw Nathan Hussey open for Andy Hull's Right Away, Great Captain! at a show where he (Hussey) himself drew the comparison between their two mainstay bands. He was half-joking (the other half...I wanna say resentful?), but honestly, once I picked up the Season and gave it a few closer listens, the more sense it made. Both bands' surprisingly nearly countrified take on whatever main genre you'd call this ("alt"?) is informed by heartfelt, occasionally twangy, raw, and painfully confessional vocal performances, instrumentals that toggle deftly from muted and serene to overdriven glory (see: The Season's title track is, for my money, as earwormily anthemic in its own right as "Shake Me Out," thought with an unfair fraction of the popularity), and a knack for slightly off-kilter turns to songwriting. Again, this is homage done tastefully and, given Hull's literal endorsement of Hussey, with an almost admirable openness.
11Vancouver Sleep Clinic

...sounds like...
12Bon Iver
Bon Iver, Bon Iver

Perhaps only held this side of the line by its own brevity, the above Australian act's EP is to Justin Vernon's sophomore disc what the Blood Bank EP was to For Emma, Forever Ago--except that it stays firmly rooted in the "Woods" (ifyouknowwhatImsayin?). Vancouver's another band my first thorough exposure to was in live setting, and from the mix of swelling, reverb-drenched soundscapes masquerading as melodies to the vocalist's falsetto & "Was that even English?" diction, when my girlfriend leaned over and asked me, with what I only later learned was less-than-complete sincerity, "Is this a cover?", I actually couldn't, for the life of me, immediately answer. Still, I was a sucker for the sound on the record, and while Vernon himself would evidently grow tired of it before the rest of us, Vancouver's extension neither overplays its hand nor overstays its welcome.
13Danny Elfman
The Kingdom

...sounds like...
14Explosions in the Sky
Friday Night Lights

...specifically, the former's closing track, the fittingly if uninspired-ly titled "Finale." Again, this could all be chalked up to context, especially since director Peter Berg immediately followed up his underappreciated football drama with the fitfully resonant Syriana-lite above. But I'd wager that even those coming in without that knowledge, and at least passingly familiar with the Texas post-rock act's oeuvre would be forgiven for thinking "Finale" one of their mellower, more contemplative tracks. (That being said, it also doesn't hurt the song that it was used for one of the film's strongest, most affecting passages, which serves to amp its emotional aspect tenfold.) It's also striking from the opposite angle, in that it's Danny Elfman, almost unrecognizable here set against his stereotypical, Tim Burton bounce mode. In its own right, his chameleonic approach impresses. For those uninitiated, here's a link to judge for yourselves:
15Blaqk Audio

...sounds like...
16Depeche Mode
Music for the Masses way of Convenant, as most folks with ears know, but arguably not as much as...
17Eiffel 65

Getting to an embarrassing one here as we wind down, but the song "Your Clown" from Eiffel 65's debut--and shockingly, somehow not only--album stood out even to prepubescent me as almost a carbon copy of the electronic-informed, vaguely dark sound of the 80s exemplars of the form. And maybe it's because of my aforementioned age at the time, but the thing works. I will stand by this song, and depending on how many beers I've had, still blast it and sing along as the mood suits. Maybe you had to be there, and if you weren't, I may in fact envy you in retrospect, but still, if you've stuck it out this long, well, first of all, thanks, and here's my gift to you:
18Hotel Books
I'm Almost Happy Here, But I Never Feel At Home

...sounds like...
Return to Struggleville

...sounds like...
20La Dispute

...sounds like...
Catch For Us the Foxes

And, to end things, an example of the negative side of this trend. I fully realize this chain is a bit more tenuous and facile ("Hey, shouted spoken word post-hardcore-ish...uh, shouted word? Core?"), especially given the respective trajectories of most of these bands (I doubt anyone would confuse Wooden Heart for Rooms of the House, for instance, to say nothing of the entire back-half of mwY's catalog at this point). But Hotel Books, to me, represents basically all that go wrong with imitation-as-flattery, ratcheting up the worst impulses of its predecessors (over-dramatics, chiefly, but removed of any of their poetry or, perhaps more pressingly as well as ironically, their urgency--despite being as frantic as the others are insightful). And hey, you may well disagree with this, as well. I accept that, and welcome the criticism. But I hope you've had at least some fun or engagement playing along thus far, and look forward to y'alls sharing your own thoughts on the subject below.
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