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The 10 Best Instrumental Bands…

…To Make You Feel Like You Live In A Movie


You know why it’s fun to listen to music when you’re walking down the street or on the bus? Because it turns those mundane, everyday moments into something that feels like part of a dramatic, exciting movie. Trouble is, those pesky lyrics can interfere with the story going on in your head. That’s why we’ve rounded up ten vocals-free bands to soundtrack your life with.


10. El Ten Eleven

What they sound like: A hummingbird’s heart pumping bird blood, spacey guitars, and throbbing bass throughout a very bizarrely put together bird’s body.
The perfect time to listen to them: This Los Angeles duo used to be good to listen to during a run, but the band’s newest record, Transitions, due out in early November, slows things down with a massive dose of cool. It’s so chill that, really, it’s great for feeling like you’re in Ocean’s Eleven everywhere you go. So many of the tracks excel at making the most mundane tasks, like perusing the soup aisle, feel like pure espionage -- just imagine the flavors are different passwords to tell your contact, and you’re set to go. (We aren’t responsible if you say “split pea soup” to the wrong person and the Russian ambassador you were assigned to protect dies. Ah, whatever. Escort missions are so boring.)


9. Flying Lotus

What they sound like: The kind of cold sweats you get after mainlining too much Winterfresh gum.
The perfect time to listen to them: While working out. Shlocky ‘80s hair bands have had their day in the montaging sun as the staple soundtrack for movie characters getting stronger, faster, or hairier to save the day: This guy dishes out a kooky mix of free jazz, electronic, noise, and general whacked-out weirdness that’s a different, more whimsical approach that helps you pretend you’re not slumming it in the YMCA gym – you’re training for a psychedelic space mission! In space!


8. Man Or Astro-man

What they sound like: Mystery Science Theater 3000, if the robots flung thorny riffs instead of thorny barbs about awful movies.
The perfect time to listen to them: Waiting it in line for anything sucks. It sucks, sucks, sucks. But blast a little bit of these spacey-surf-rockers and you’ll get so pumped -- like Dwight Schrute before an important client meeting -- that you won’t mind as much because you’ll be pumping fists and kicking like a zombie Rockette. Also, you’ll quickly progress to the front of the line because of the aforementioned seizure. It’s good stuff.


7. RJD2

What they sound like: The theme to Mad Men.
The perfect time to listen to them: Maybe it’s because RJD2 wrote the theme to that show about Christina Hendrick’s cleavage in the ‘60s, but RJ’s music is fantastic to listen to while pounding a couple drinks with the guys. Not that Maxim condones the unspeakable act of drinking alcohol, of course, but a rum and coke and a cherry Swisha charring in the ash tray is not exactly a terrible way to while away a Tuesday afternoon. And if that’s not your style, this is a bitching soundtrack for trying on a new suit.


6. Ratatat

What they sound like: A rapper with incredible flow who was abandoned in the jungle as a child, then raised by a pan flute and a synth, with an 808 for a big brother. They taught this young boy to only speak using his rhythm, and to only speak when not being spoken to. And now he won’t shut up.
The perfect time to listen to them: Nature is great, and loggers shouldn’t cut down the trees and junk because Ratatat is the perfect band to listen to while taking a leisurely stroll through the woods. The duo often tosses in bird chirps and tiger growls in the mix -- not as a gimmick, but because they fit the vibe perfectly. Use it to your advantage, and when you feel like going to some more gangsta woods, pump some of Ratatat’s really great hip-hop remixes.


5. The Bad Plus

What they sound like: Elevator music in heaven.
The perfect time to listen to them: Getting out of the shower, shaving, and getting ready for the day. Nobody listens to balls-to-the-walls rock 24/7, and these guys slow it down enough for anybody with a pulse to appreciate taking a breather when you need it most: after shaking off last night’s hangover with a brisk hose-down and a well-deserved massaging of the scalp with a reasonably clean beige towel (scented candles are optional). Don’t forget the loofah! (It should be sawdust-scented to match the tool shed-scented candle.)


4. Anamanaguchi

What they sound like: What video-game characters listen to when working up the courage to ask out the hot 16-bit girl at the 8-bit bar.
The perfect time to listen to them: When lacing up for a workout. There are tons of bands to listen to when out running or out lifting weights, but one shouldn’t overlook the importance of a proper soundtrack for your prep time. The boys from New York - who are all beefy studs in their own right - will infuse your bones with the drums from Mega Man, your mind with a sense of melodic exploration on par with Toucan Sam’s nose, and your muscles with a tensile state of extreme readiness. You may also be sexually aroused for 12 hours afterwards, which is completely normal. And yeah, we know that there are two entries for going to the gym on this list, but Christ, if there’s one time we all need help to not die of boredom, it’s the fucking gym.


3. Skeletonbreath

What they sound like: Gogol Bordello’s  self-conscious internal monologue.
The perfect time to listen to them: You need a new hat, don’t you? That old porkpie hat you’ve got is so musty and dusty that it’s starting to look like a sloppy joe sammich without the bread. Well, gypsy weirdoes Skeletonbreath crank out the tunes that are perfect to listen to while trying on a bunch of head-toppers. May we suggest a fine turban or fez? The Middle East is all the rage these days.


2. Godspeed You! Black Emperor

What they sound like: Sadness. Regret. Lunch meats.
The perfect time to listen to them: When it’s raining out something fierce and your car’s broken down, the subway ain’t running, and you’ve got errands in town to do. In those conditions, flipping around this Canadian band’s morose, sparse discography can make any man feel like an Eastern European beggar child just trying to make ends meet. You can also ask your butcher how to make end’s meat, which is a delicious, but morally troubling delicacy.


1. God Is An Astronaut

What they sound like: Every moment in every Western when the hero has just shot the bad guy, kissed his lady love, and heads off into the sunset, never to return again -- all at once.
The perfect time to listen to them: You’ve saved the day. Whatever that means to you, you did it. You’ve earned this moment, buddy, so make a triumphant noise unto the world. Your words are the lyrics this song has been aching to have, like a woman aching for your touch. Go get ‘em, tiger.