Archive for July 8th, 2010

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The Fancy Plans Guide to Music Genres: Part One

July 8, 2010

As you all are very well aware, I’ve subjected you to a weekly Heavy Rotation, spotlighting various bands and musicians of all persuasions. As I’ve rattled along at great length, I have no doubt deployed several musical terms in an attempt to define a sound by obscuring it with meaningless words. 

The following is a guide to the many genres currently polluting our overly defined musical sphere. It is hoped that this information will help you understand what is meant when I (or someone like me, like Pitchfork — especially Pitchfork) uses an insufficiently descriptive term like “minimal” or “slowcore.” 

"I'd like to accept this round of applause on behalf of the many, many more band members who were unable to fit into the panoramic shot..."

Post-Rock
Reserved for all bands who use rock instruments (guitar, bass, drums) but eschew verse-chorus-verse song structures for sprawling, unfocused epics. Vocals are often optional. Could just as easily been called Prog Rock, thus horrifying proponents of these two “disparate” genres. 

Fans: Chin-strokers who have outgrown the need to enjoy music on any level. Any leftover multi-instrumentalists who somehow failed to be invited to the thirty-person collective currently overrunning the stage. Marillion fans who wish to cast themselves as something other than a cheap punchline. 

Punk = no tux. Post-punk = tux.

Post-Punk
Like Post-Rock, but performed by bands who never properly learned to play their instruments. 

Fans: Gainfully-employed former punks. Art school grads. Gainfully employed art school grads. [Ed. Does not exist.] 

Witness the awkward glory that is a full-on tweecore gig.

Tweecore
Oxymoronically aggressively passive form of ultra-lightweight music, relegated to rainbow-colored EPs and Cassingles. Live performances tend to consist of band members huddling in the far corner of the venue and giggling nervously while staring deeply into each others’ eyes. 

While this performance would be graciously called “underwhelming” by normal people, its fans are usually huddled in the opposite corner staring into each others’ eyes while giggling nervously. A tweecore gig is usually breathlessly described (in very hushed tones) as being like that time when they “almost got kissed.” 

Fans: Indeterminate, as lack of spine tends to preclude the forming of any strong opinions or positive declarations. Gentle woodland creatures with anime eyes

Note: this video is running at 30 FPS.

Slowcore 
Hardcore music so glacially paced that band members are often able to work on their side projects (often of another “-core” variety) between downbeats/chord changes. Generally avoided by promoters due to the fact that soundcheck alone can run an entire night. Often described as being like “old people fucking a sloth.” 

Fans: People who find the Melvins’ hectic pacing “a bit much.” Multi-taskers. Quaalude enthusiasts

Take these gentlemen very seriously indeed, for they are well-aware of the score.

Hardcore 
One of the few genres to cross over successfully, covering a harsher, faster brand of both rock and techno. Albums and live performances tend to contain various self-affirming statements such as, “Only for the Hardcore,” “Strictly for the Hardcore,” and “Hardcore, You Know the Score.” 

These pat-yourself-on-the-back statements add a veneer of exclusivity to yet another generic mosh pit/rave, whose attendees like to spend their post-conversion downtime being preached to. 

Fans: People with self-esteem issues. Scorekeepers. Porn fans moving on from the training wheels of Cinemax

Pioneering shoegazers My Bloody Valentine exhibit their pioneering 60-degree head tilt.

Shoegazer 
Named after its proponents’ tendency to avoid eye contact with their fans and gaze on their footwear instead, which everyone thought was delightfully introverted until it was discovered that all the downcast looks were the byproduct of drug-addled guitarists attempting to negotiate their maze of effects pedals. 

With this misconception firmly in their grasp, the shoegaze scene cranked out album after album of delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) music, eventually trademarking the term “ethereal.” Of course, the music was too good (and too introverted) to last, and the scene was soon steamrolled by the heavily forested sounds of grunge, whose proponents weren’t nearly as distracted, thanks to their limited supply of pedals/imagination. 

Fans: Delightfully introverted (and misunderstood) wallflowers. Fans of the word “ethereal.” Other shoegazer bands. This guy

Hawkwind completely encapsulates every aspect of space rock in one unfathomable album cover.

Space Rock 
Like Prog Rock/Post-Rock, only with more heroin. While a prog band might allow its lead guitarist to run off an occasional 12-minute self-indulgent solo, a space rock band* will allow its lead guitarist to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent exploration of a single chord. This, of course, assumes that the guitarist in question is not currently lying in a pool of his own vomit. 

*Unless this band is Hawkwind, in which case everyone is allowed to run off a 12-minute self-indulgent solo, especially the flautist

Fans: Heroin users. Single-chord enthusiasts. Heroin dealers. Acid casualties coming down from a 2001 binge. That guy who was “This guy” in the last section.

Yet another example of uncontained German exuberance.

Krautrock 
Of all the things Germany does well (auto manufacturing, intense nationalistic fervor), “rock” is something it does not. Most of the Western world would define “rock” as the product of a guitar/bass/drum/vox combo, fronted by an immaculately coiffed lead singer. 

The Germans, however, view “rock” as the product of immaculately coiffed and emotionless mannequins playing outdated electronics in front of a beige backdrop. And, while most rock tracks have a distinct beginning, middle and end, Krautrock tracks tend to consist entirely of “middle,” often for 10+ minutes at a time. 

Fans: Metronome enthusiasts (see also: Minimal). Germans. Bands looking for unverifiable “influences.”

That wraps up Part 1. Stay tuned for Part 2, which deals with Goth, World Music, Minimal Techno and various other redundant terminology.

-CLT

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