MONDAY, APRIL 04, 2016|
Posted by: Mike Montemarano
Let's face it; genre is the way that most of us categorize music in our heads. It's convenient when there's so much much music out there. But genre is an increasingly splintered and amorphous...especially due to the internet and an increasing amount of technology being used in new music. Here's a list of some genres and genre revivals with totally new takes that are worth your time.
New Weird America
New Weird America is a pretty far-reaching category of a genre, but nonetheless it has established a net of different sounds that, when combined, provide a very novel experience of music. In general, the intent is to strip down a wide variety of sounds to create an aesthetic behind folk music that is embellished by having mostly acoustic instrumentation while also adding some interesting psychedelic rock styles reminiscent of the 60s and 70s for otherworldly vibes which delve into heavy metal and noise territories. The style has sometimes seen some resounding success, both before it was categorized as a distinct style and not often in its full embrace, with bands like The Mountain Goats, Father John Misty and Neutral Milk Hotel. In the meanwhile, the genre is being bent and transformed in truly innovative ways to create some sounds that seem like a lovechild of Pink Floyd and Neil Young.
For a long time, this was a genre of EDM that had many appealing qualities but was ultimately nameless, leaving those who enjoy it feeling a bit lost in the dark for similar stuff. The seamless and awesome fusion of electronic dubstep with jazz music (also known as Jazztronica) creates sophisticated and layered sounds which are totally novel to EDM and have been championed by some of the best electronic artists out there. Whether it's jazzy instrumentation itself or sampled jazz hits, there's some really great stuff out there from the likes of Pretty Lights, RJD2, and Gramatik among many others. It takes a lot of skill to be able to transform jazz with the use of awesome quality effects in a studio, and shouldn't be taken for granted.
Vaporware has one of the strangest communities of any genre of music in recent years. The genre came about by lots of online artists posting their mixes on soundcloud, and the premise of vaporwave is essentially compositions which incorporate video game sounds and corporate muzak into mixes to create a fusion between glitch electronica and ambient electronic music. Album art and the general aesthetic of the music is hilariously 90s, and artists often go as far as they can to find the weirdest samples of video games and odd commercials to blend into their works. It's tacky in all the right ways, and I honestly thought the genre was some weird meme before hearing any songs that fell into the category. Given all that, many vaporwave artists have created some tracks which are relaxing and kinesthetic in the most unorthodox ways possible, creating sounds which sometimes seem like they're authentic tacky tracks from 90s computer software, and for that, it can be a pretty lovable take on electronic music.
Glitch is a branch of electronic music that has a deep root in hip hop beats, but expands heavily upon instrumentation and frequent use of electronic and glitchy sounds. It's beginning to reach some mainstream success with acts like Flying Lotus, but as a whole the genre is still very much an up-and-coming one. It's a very versatile sound, which can go from being very upbeat and chaotic to being more ambient and dreamy, it tends to be really easygoing on the constraints of what experimenters in the genre can do with its sound, and is always seeping into new boundaries.
It seems that the post-punk and new wave movement inspired by bands like Joy Division always seems to have resurgences and refuses to die, always coming back with a vengeance more nuanced, intricate, and more broadly influenced than before. I suppose the best way to describe this style in its current state is new wave/ post punk revival. There's a huge array of bands that take this niche sound and add their own stylistic bends to it in order to reimagine a style filled with shimmering guitars that can often times get quite loud and fast, yet always maintaining a certain dreariness to it. Bands like DIIV, contemporary New Order, Iceage and many others are reshaping the genre to add their own characters to the repertoire of sounds.
Contemporary Math Rock
With the constant reunions of pioneers of this genre from the 9's like Fugazi, Drive like Jehu, and Don Caballero, it's clear that math rock will be thrusted into the limelight again. Between the oldies and newer bands like Tera Melos, Foxing, and This Town Needs Guns, there's clearly an immersive nature to the genre in which people are always looking to delve in and experiment with their own musical virtuosities. Math rock is perhaps one of the most roomy, interpretive genres ever, basically stemming from an understanding that math rock needs to have unconventional rhythms and weird time signature changes, in addition to some cool jazzy and psychedelic guitar work. In a sense, it's just artsy, hard-to-play rock and roll, and many artists redefine just what kind of instrumentation and style is allowed to fit within the category.