Posts Tagged ‘genre’

Goth Music

November 11, 2011

Just what I needed! Instructions!!!

Currently at work, watching The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with the audio down (it’s a silent movie, I’m pretty sure this is fine) and listening to some Goth Pop music.

…Goth Pop…is that a genre?

By Goth Pop I mean the kind of music you’d expect to hear in an 80s movie about vampires, or playing in an Emo Kid’s room with the lights down and the sound of scribbling pen on paper.  You know…poetry…or something.

When I was in high school I listened to EVERYTHING.  But after getting a collection called ‘Undead: A Gothic Masterpiece‘ I became fascinated with the wide scope of goth.  I mean, vampires weren’t that popular…but The Crow was…and really, is The Crow goth?

The central themes of goth…in my opinion, I’m not doing research, I’m just ‘assuming’…are romance and death.  If you think about it, that kinda makes sense.  At some point, vampires stopped being hideous beasts and became romance-machines.  In the end, their goal is killing you and drinking your blood…but they dress nice while doing it.

But it’s so much more than that.  There’s the anarchistic, wild and free, ‘punk’ side to goth.  Think of a vampire or other dark creature who’s essentially a trickster, doesn’t really give a crap, does what they want.  Sometimes violently.  That shows in the music too.

There’s melancholy…boredom…lack of hope for the future.  That plays well with the goth sensibility.

What this gets me thinking about (I’m not trying to write a treatise on gothic music through the ages) is how each genre is incredibly diverse.  Goth seems like something that would be pretty straight forward.  But it’s not.

Every artist brings their own taste and style to their music…genre seems to come out of a strange blend of inspiration (the music the artist listened to and likes) and creativity.  Genre is a helpful way to identify the general mood or sound, but each artist (should) bring a unique approach.

Which is why giving genres you may not like…or even think of…a chance.  If you love music, you’ll be certain to find something you like under the label.

…even if that label is covered in white face paint and fake blood.

((this blog is what happens when I random thought comes to mind and I just roll with it 😉  Sorry if it’s kinda…disconnected!))

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Dark and Long

September 30, 2011

Head Out Of Gutter, You!!!!  This is what I mean.

This video introduced me to Underworld. It was a strange time.  In 1994 grunge was in full swing, and then Kurt Cobain died.  The Beatles (minus John) secretly got together to record tracks over an unfinished song by Lennon, and then released it.  Britpop truly crossed the ocean with Blur’s ‘Parklife’ leading the way (…you can probably argue with me here, but that’s how it was from my perspective). Weezer was born.  Woodstock came back.  New Kids on the Block broke up.

And then there was Underworld: a strange blend of chill electronic, male vocals more akin to a rock band, and surreal lyrics.  The album title said it all, ‘Dubnobasswithmyheadman.’ (Note: my favourite album of all time has the same titlestructure, ‘Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot‘)

Most people know Underworld from Hackers, but I know them from this video, airing late night on The Wedge, where I discovered all of my favourite bands.

This song changed music for me.  It was a droning dance tune that ran four minutes long and had a melody that sounded like it was sung to track…as opposed to sung once, sampled, and repeated.  I imagined these guys on stage with a band, a computer, a synth, and a microphone…rather than two decks and a pyro show.

Sure, Gary Numan had stood on stage and played synth music that could pass for a rock song (and sometimes was!)

But Underworld smashed two worlds together for me and remained unique at the same time…it didn’t sound as much like they were taking parts of rock and parts of electronic and blending…it was like they had created a whole new sound by themselves.

I guess they did smash two worlds together…and then dragged them kicking and screaming underground.  Maybe that’s how they got their name.

It’s 2:00 am…and I’m listening to Nu Disco!

April 16, 2011

A short post, hopefully to find you in the morning and help brighten your day!

I’ve become fond of ‘nu disco‘ this week.  I think I’ve always been fond of the genre, I’ve just had bad luck with it…rapidfire explanation in 3…2…1…

  • I first noticed the genre on Beatport while looking for remixes of an indie song
  • I listened to the ‘Top Ten’ Nu Disco tracks at the time…they were all…boring
  • I associated the term ‘Nu Disco’ with, essentially, ‘Daft Punk Wannabe’
  • I began hearing awesome tracks in the genre-less space* and gave them the self-made title ‘Neo New Wave’
  • While bored, months later, I checked out a collection of nu disco tracks…they ALL sounded like my ‘neo new wave’ songs…some were even better!
  • I returned to the genre on Beatport…and either producers are better, or I had picked a bad week, because they RAWK!
I put recently reviewed Aussie darlings Miami Horror in a strange subset of nu disco after hearing more of it, except they perform it live with instruments…which gives them super-kudos in my books.
I especially enjoy tracks (like the one below) that trick you: it’s rap…and then it’s a cool disco sound with a modern produced twist:
Surprising music, whether it’s a simple beat switch or an unexpected chord change, is awesome.  I especially like music that draws from supernatural themes…doing so with a disco feel is hyper bonus:
One last track…play it loud to get yer groove on!
So there you go!  An unexpected genre is kicking my ass with fun-ness!  Have you discovered any new genres recently?  They’re being invented about as often as a song is mashed with another.
Here’s a fun challenge…could someone find me an ‘Alt-Dub-Disco’ track?!  Does that exist?!? Anyone who comes close gets…a prize…of some sort!!

What’s gonna happen???

March 22, 2011

I am guilty…I am as guilty as anyone else.  From the late 90s I have downloaded free music from the net, and I used the same excuses as most people: I’m hearing the songs free on the radio (though…it seemed much more innocent back then!) …why not hear them free on my computer?

Keep in mind, there was no easy way to walk around with the music back then.  I literally only listened to the music on my computer!  Which was big and bulky and slow.  And downloading was a pain…I could’ve walked to the Village Music Store in downtown Erin and bought the CD before the download was finished!

…and I was downloading the stuff I didn’t want to spend $20 on…like 80s Retro hits, or that ‘one’ song by the artist I didn’t like but didn’t mind…or that big album by an artist I see in stacks at the used CD store in Guelph for $5 because everyone bought it but no one liked it.

The problem with a good thing is that the consequences aren’t visible, and the future can’t outweigh the now.  I was listening to an episode of Radiolab and they touched on the concept of the ‘Now’ you and the ‘Future’ you…for instance, in the case of quitting smoking, the ‘Now’ you wants to quit…but the ‘Future’ you is weak and doesn’t have the same resolve that you have right now.

The ‘Now’ me wanted to listen to a tune and found it online for free!

The ‘Future’ me is watching the record industry go to hell in a hand basket, and wonders if buying my favourite artist’s albums might have made a difference.  Humour me for a bit…and please remember, I’m kinda rambling…consider it a thought experiment!

Imagine for a moment a different ‘now’ – a new future from your past – in which you had bought ONLY the music you liked.  You didn’t splurge on the latest U2 album ’cause it was popular, or that pop album because there was one song you liked.  If you like u2 or pop, let’s say you focused on them…in my case, I’m thinking stuff like Broadcast, the Jayhawks, and later Franz Ferdinand (which I *did* buy, btw…all of those) or even more obscure stuff, more indie.  You and I focused on buying albums, going to shows, and dumping ALL my music-money into the stuff I loved.

…would that genre be all powerful now?  If I and all my friends and the world (…or you and all your friends and the world) supported the  music YOU loved, would that music be strong, the Top 40 be dotted with the next generation of your music?

…if this is how it works, then I guess the world loves the predecessors of Taio Cruz, of Jason DeRulo, of T.I. and Usher and P. Diddy…

We complain that the labels are conservative and not opening up to great artists who have to remain indie…but if they’re conservative, then it must mean that the Top 40 today is born out of evolution, meaning that it was the support of the populace that grew us from Boy Bands to Grunge back to Boy Bands and into electro-dance-urban and the rest of the pop we hear on the radio and in the bars today.

And Rebecca Black is only doing the same thing the major labels did without a major label.

Honestly, how is Friday any different than ‘Baby?’  I’m gonna backtrack and mention that I think Baby is actually a fricken amazing pop song, it does everything pop should.  Although I’d LOVE a world where Mumford and Sons, Phoenix and Art vs Science are the Top 40…I understand that pop means ‘Popular’ and despite piles of angry comments on YouTube and hater sites, Bieber is popular.

…and so is Rebecca Black.  My roommate was singing Friday yesterday…but after he repeated the title in an effective copy of Rebecca Black’s voice, he uttered “Ooooo–oooh”…a la ‘Bieber’…a la ‘Baby.’  Because, at least during the chorus, they can be easy to mix them up.

We brought this on ourselves.  We downloaded  music instead of supporting it, and all the media had to gauge the pulse of the world (because, trust me, they AREN’T going to sift through thousands of blogs to figure it out) was what the labels told them, and what the labels knew was what we were buying, and what we were buying was pop, and urban, and dance.

I may be way off…this is more theory than reality, but I don’t think I’m that far off.

And what happens when no one is buying music anymore.  How will musicians make music, unless they have rich parents who pay music ‘factories’ to make their little girls stars, or little boys playing guitar on YouTube and being discovered by an insider?

It’s almost impossible to say, because the ‘Future’ me is going to have to deal with it, and even though I’m trying to figure it out the ‘Now’ me is living in a different time.  I just hope I make the right decisions from now on.

A little bit of this…a little bit of that…

March 1, 2011

There is a strange phenomenon (do dooooo do-do-do) in the music industry where artists are being WAY too creative.  I mean, it’s sickening.  They aren’t fitting the strict guidelines being set forth by radio stations, record stores, and blogs.  They are too pop for rock, too rock for pop, indie but not indie, fitting one rule but not another.  In essence…they’re being all…artistic AND commercially. Gross!

How can you make it in this world if you don’t fit the dropdown-menu settings being offered by the quick-get-to-it culture of the internet??!

Two things are clashing in my brain right now. One is that an artist I work with (full disclosure there…yes, I’m working with her) is very talented, has a great song, and everyone I’ve played it for loves it…but she’s having the hardest time getting exposure from anything other than Canada’s music video network (…GAH, you think that’d be enough!)

Now, there are a few complications: she has no shows lined up right now, plus her album won’t be out until spring.  But in today’s culture, having a single and a video should be enough to get kick started.  It works for pop musicians, who may not even compile an album (of previously released singles) for a year and not tour until summer.

Pop radio says she’s too rock.  Rock radio says she’s too pop (…or too female…which is a whole other issue in itself)  Despite the fact that we can draw connections to artists like Avril Lavigne…who’s new single is having NO trouble on radio…radio is uninterested.

The other brain thought is inspired by Jaron Lanier’s book You Are Not A Gadget, which among many other subjects talks about the impersonalization of the net and how bad web design influences social behaviour.  Long and short for my purposes: I see this happening in music, not just economically (music is free, right??) but in how it is consumed and how it is broadcast.

Think of Facebook, or many other social networking sites.  You are a complex being…yet many ‘options’ for how you present yourself to the world are a selection of generalized terms: I am single…I am married…I am employed…I am angry…

There’s so much more going on, especially in creative expression (and how could you consider your life anything more than a creative expression) than the general.  Now I totally agree that there’s a need for some sort of order…for instance, imagine going to a record store where very genre possible has it’s own section.  The arguments that would ensue from fans to disagree with a store’s classification??  Rock/Pop, Urban, Country…it does alright as a ‘header.’

But if all radio is so focused that rock and pop can’t mix…or that a country song with a beat is too dance for country…or heaven forbid…some country leaks into our rock (yah…Elvis and Buddy Holly NEVER sounded like country) the artist is penalized.

“YOU CAN’T PLAY HERE!”

This is a problem.  How can you be introduced to new music, new concepts, if all you’re being presented is a narrowed-down experience.  I want someone to slam the square peg into a round hole (…stop with your sick thoughts…) and give me the chance to hear something I haven’t heard before.

I’m not talking about ‘cross-over.’  Cross-over is when a rock band writes a ballad that suits adult contemporary so someone plays Hedley or All-American Rejects on the ‘older person station.’  I’m talking about not being locked-in to a genre and closed minded to everything else.

Execs seem to feel that their fans don’t want diversity.  If that’s true…why do Bonaroo and Coachella sell so well.  Do you honestly think all those people are ONLY interested in the one or two bands playing?  That anything that differs from their ‘genre’ is automatically rejected.  Screw that!

I believe that YOU are like ME…I want to see Eminem AND Mumford and Sons, I’m as excited about Gary Numan as I am about Neil Young.

Why can’t a new, talented rock-pop artist find a place to play?

A Critical Thinker Tries Dubstep

February 28, 2011

Got it...but what else???

I consider myself to be a music enthusiast.  I’m sure some people think I’m a music snob, or a music nerd, but I don’t like those terms since I try not to reject one style over another, and I am happy to listen to music I don’t like or understand.  I love Outsider Music, I listen to the latest pop star and the latest alt-country act with equal excitement.

A year or two ago I went to see Ministry live, and opening for them was Meshuggah.  I have to admit…I loved the show!  I actually preferred Meshuggah over Ministry.  They opened my eyes to the complex nature of metal. I couldn’t understand it!  I couldn’t figure out how the musicians did it. That’s what drew me to the genre…it was complex, mysterious, and unique.

I get you, you scary scary men.

See…before that moment I didn’t ‘hate’ death metal but I also never really looked into it.

Fast forward to now…and for a  year I’ve been told that Dubstep is ‘now’ the best music out there…the future…is going to take over…blah blah blah.  I reacted the same way as I did with death metal…I asked a few people to send me links to ‘amazing’ Dubstep, you know, that song or artist that made them fall in love with the genre.  Song after song was sent my way with descriptors like “Sick!” “Amazing!” “Best song I’ve ever heard.”

Song after song bored the living fuck out of me.  Literally!  The ‘sickest’ song to me sounded like a track that was going somewhere…and then opted to go nowhere instead…and that choice is what people love!! It built me up to expect a payout but instead slowed down, turned up the bass, and often did little else.  I didn’t get it, but I also couldn’t see what people were talking about.

That was my problem…if I don’t understand but can see what people like about a genre, I give the genre credit.  But I could see no redeeming characteristics, and worse…no one could describe it for me!!

…requests for “What is it you like about these songs” were constantly met with the same notes I was given before…Sick! Amazing! Best song I’ve ever heard.

 

Dubstep Enthusiasts according to Google.

But WHY!?!?

I asked if you could dance to it…no response.

I asked if it was better to listen to if you were high…no response.

At this point I almost felt like dubstep was popular because…it was popular!  Like Zsa Zsa Gabor, famous for being famous.

A recent comment on my blog brought the subject back up, praising the music industry for catching on to the popularity of dubstep much faster than usual:  Britney Spears incorporates it, radio stations are even dropping in dubstep tracks, a ‘dubstep’ DJ (…though most of what I’ve heard has been drum and bass or other genres) graced the cover of Toronto’s free culture weekly, NOW, last week.

But no one has been able to explain it to me other than to reject me for not getting it naturally!  “Oh…it’s underground…you wouldn’t get it.”  Like I’m ‘not a kid today’ so I can’t get it.  I’m pretty kid like.  Ask anyone…I play with stuffed animals AND play my music loud!!

This past weekend I listened to CRAPLOADS of dubstep, I found a track or two I enjoyed for what it was, and tried to immerse  myself.  I still can’t see it as anything different than a passing musical fad – like happy hardcore, or grunge.  There are many salespeople and fans, but it’s almost like they’ve either sold their previous preferences to engage themselves ‘solely’ in the genre, or have been fans since it’s emergence five or six years ago and have rejected all other music as a result.

Which may be a reason I don’t get it…if you’re close-minded and only like a genre, you’ll defend it to the death but probably can’t explain it well to the uninitiated because there’s nothing to compare it to.

Correct me!  Educate me!  Don’t just push me aside and tell me that if I don’t get it now I probably never will.  I’m a music enthusiast, I want to get it and I know there’s a reason you like it.  I just need a fellow enthusiast to tell me how!