Truckloads of New Music

About two years ago, I picked up nearly one hundred albums worth of dj sets and live material from a few of my favorite artists over the course of the fall.  During the next few years, I cooled my downloading jets and took some time to absorb the material.  Then about a week ago when I had grown tired of the same old thing, I began to investigate the music I had missed.

Around 2007 I was primarily listening to ambient, dream pop, slowcore/sadcore and indie folk music.  After four years, I was worried that each of these genres had nearly disappeared.  It seemed that they had been replaced by innumerable post rock bands and a hundred groups that sound like Arcade Fire.  (Sorry people, I just can’t get into mindie pop.)

Still, I knew that ambient music could not be dead – in 2010 The Black Dog had released the highly acclaimed Music For Real Airports.  It was a contemporary answer to Brian Eno’s genre defining 1978 masterpiece, Music For Airports.  The Black Dog’s album was built from over 200 hours of field recordings, and it was my favorite LP of 2010.  353 copies were pressed, and I got #16.

Music for Real Airports
Low’s Drums and Guns LP from 2007 sustained my faith that slowcore was alive and well but it wasn’t until I visited the Chairkicker website last night that I was struck with the incredible news that April 12th is the release date for Low’s new album, titled C’Mon.  It was recorded in the same church as 2002’s Trust album, so I’m expecting great things.

The 39 second album trailer for C’Mon

Also in 2010, Robert Plant covered two of my favorite Low tracks on his Band of Joy LP.  Both were well-crafted performances and do great justice to the originals.  They’re worth looking up.

I compiled a list of the top 120 artists I was interested in but hadn’t fully explored.  Goldmund, Hammock, Hannu, Helios, Mum and Mus were all in my top 10.  (If you enjoy any of these artists please drop me a line!)  I will listen to each of them in the coming weeks.

I then spent the next 7 days pouring over music blogs to find out what else I missed during this transitional period.  Thanks to the wonder of metadata I found twenty new artists to explore and learned of a micro-genre I had missed in my previous travels.

The first gem I found was a Swedish band called Air France.  They haven’t released a proper album but they have two beefy EPs of catchy chillout tunes that quickly caught my attention.

Here’s a track from their No Way Down EP titled, “Collapsing at your Doorstep.”

Insound laughably described their music as “beach foam pop.”  I found a beautifully sarcastic reply to this statement from the Neogaf forums…

“Let this be a lesson to you, inventing empty terms to describe simple musical styles makes you sound stupid, or ever worse, like a British music journalist.”

Air France appears to be too innocent and not nearly self-conscious enough to fall into the subgenre category I hinted at above – chillwave aka glo-fi.

Chillwave is nothing new, it was the so-called talk of the blogosphere in 2009.  The term was originally coined by Carles of Hipster Runoff and was used interchangably with the term glo-fi or even hypnagogic pop.  Poster bands would include Toro Y Moi, Million Young, Blackbird Blackbird, Memoryhouse, Weird Tapes, Neon Indian, Washed Out, Small Black and Delorean.

If you’ve ever listened to Panda Bear’s Person Pitch or Ariel Pink then you’ve heard the beginnings of the socially shunned sub-genre.

Toro Y Moi – Still Sound

To oversimplify the formula – record ambient psychedelic loops with some needlessly heavy effects and 80s synths, channel it all through a handheld tape recorder and stick a picture of a seagull flying on your album cover.  Perform at SXSW and you’re all set.

As cheesy as it sounds I still like what I’ve found so far.  There’s no shortage of bands offering their EPs for free or next-to-free and Soundcloud is loaded with chillwave mixes.  Even better is the latest incarnation of chillwave – blisscore.  Tanlines, Lemonade and Delorean are great examples.

But who knows… depending on how amazing this new Low album is, I may just tune out for another couple of years.

If you’re feeling particularly bitter and cynical about the whole concept, head over to flavorwire.com and read “How to Start a Chillwave band.”

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