America, and the rest of the world, is in the midst of one of the most significant economic recessions of modern times, and I believe the hard times, unemployment, uncertainty, anger, and frustration that is plaguing average citizens of the world, is going to result in a continued growth of lo-fi indie noise rock. Much like early punk rock represented an anti-establishment DIY aesthetic, lo-fi indie noise rock has the potential to define a currently frustrated indie-youth subculture.
The timing seems perfect, the metaphorical electro bubble, while not necessarily burst, has certainly been deflating. The vast quantities of DIY electro acts and music blogs to emerge between the release of Justice’s Cross (2007) and Cut Copy’s In Ghost Colors (2008) is impressive, but while a lot of enjoyable dance/party music has came out of the recent electro wave, it has gotten to the point where enough is enough, and a lot of music critics and music fans have found themselves SCREAMING FOR SOMETHING MORE ABRASIVE.
I know I’m not alone in this feeling. Two easy examples of music publications who clearly share this attitude are Pitchfork Media, and Gorilla vs Bear. Neither will dismiss great indie-pop/indie-electro/indie-disco (for the most part), but both have been pushing less accessible noise rock over the last 12 months.
Similar to how indie-pop (see Postal Service, The Shins, Death Cab for Cutie, The Decemberists, Super Furry Animals, Stars, The Pipettes, etc.) started loosing its dominance post-2005, electro/disco is starting to become a little less market dominant now (although for me dark-disco – ie. Glass Candy/Chromatics – still feels appropriate).
The bands that I currently have picked out for the “soundtrack to this depression” include No Age, Titus Andronicus, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, Wavves, and Times New Viking. These bands are not necessarily my personal favorites – although I love the Wavvves LP (2009) – but I believe they constitute a genre, a time, and a place in music that we’ll be able to look back at, and say “oh yah, I listened to indie-noise-rock when my Bachelor’s Degree couldn’t even get me a job as a burista, and I couldn’t fucking handle listening to another indie-pop/electro-bloghouse hit on the fucking Hype Machine.”
While the aforementioned noise-rock bands are the type of music that I’m really looking at here, I feel it would be selling this era of music short if I were not to mention indie-popular music from other genres that possess some of the lo-fi, harder to digest, less accessible aesthetics of noise-rock. Just to note, when I say lo-fi I’m referring more to an audio aesthetic than a recording technique.
Lower-fidelity rock acts like The Dutchess and the Duke gained popularity in 2008 (via Pitchfork’s Best New Music, surprise surprise), and indie-metal acts like Harvey Milk received a little more attention from not-so-metal music publications (but I still can’t relate to any metal, and I have a feeling a lot of indie-nerds feel the same).
Recently garage rock bands like The Strange Boys (a LaCinta favorite), The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (early-Sloan meets Exploding Hearts), and Cymbals Eat Guitars (Built To Spill meets early-Modest Mouse) have been received with excellent reviews.
The Black Lips are set to release their grimy new album 200 Million Thousand (2009), and they kicked off the online media frenzy with a series of bad ass stories from the band’s attempted India tour (which is probably being edited for VBS.tv as you read this).
Lo-fi psychedelic bands like Deerhunter, Atlas Sound, and Black Dice have seen increased attention over the last year, and newcomers like Pit Er Pat, Tickley Feather, and Blind Man’s Color have left strong first impressions.” The Pitchfork Twitter account (via Mark Richardson) recently tweeted, “Are my headphones in worse shape than I thought or did the new black dice come up on shuffle?” – and to me at least, that comes across as a huge compliment.
Even electro has had its share of lo-fi makeovers, with groups like Heartsrevotion and Pictureplane making danceable electro a little less accessible, and a little more noisy.
There have also been 8-bit electronic groups like Truckasauras and Dan Deacon taking the stage, and musicians like Nite Jewel have put a layer of dirty makeup over the typically polished electro/disco model.
Given the notable rise in popularity of noisy indie music, rockers like No Age becoming involved in skate culture and starting their own record label, and teenagers like Nathan from Wavves receiving unbelievable initial attention, it seems that – for the moment anyways – my prophecy of lo-fi indie noise rock becoming the soundtrack to this depression may just become reality.
“Got no car. Got no money. I got nothing nothing nothing not at all. Got no bike. Got no girlfriend. Got no time. Got no money. Got no friends. Got no family.” – Wavves
Just you watch, day by day you are going to become more attracted to feedback, and distortion, and emotions other than “let’s dance!” Times New Viking may sound like a hell-of-a-racket at first, but before long you’re going to be gritting your teeth, and banging your head, while you embrace the noisy racket. It only makes sense, because you’re probably going to be unemployed, in debt, pissed off, and totally lost any day now.
Here’s some link to MP3’s so you can start building your soundtrack to the depression (if you haven’t started already). Go ahead, a change in musical pace might be just what you need, and I mean what else are you going to do? Listen to MSTRKRFT’s abomination of a new electro album?!
No Age “My Life’s Alright Without You”
Titus Andronicus “No Future”
Titus Andromicus “Arms Against Atrophy”
Vivian Girls “Second Date”
Vivian Girls “Where Do You Run To?”
& “Surfing Away (live)”
Dum Dum Girls “Catholicked” ❤
Wavves “So Bored” *& “Weed Demon” ❤
Times New Viking “Drop-Out” ❤
& Titus Andronicus “My Time Outside the Womb”
& No Age “Eraser”
If you can think of any other bands I should include in my lo-fi-indie-noise-rock grouping, or have any other thoughts that may be of interest, please leave a comment on the article. I’m really hoping LaCinta’s readers take more to discussing matters with one another via commenting on the site.