Daily Archives: March 4, 2010

Fun, Esoteric Indie Music Trends

I recently wrote about hipster music trends for Relevant Magazine‘s “New Music Guide,” which you can read in full (three pages worth!) here.

Among the current soon-t0-be-unfashionable indie trends that I describe are neo-shoegazer, chillwave/glo-fi, and preppie Afro-pop. Read the full article if you’re interested in knowing more about these genres… but here is a little taste:

Shoegaze Revival
We can blame Sofia Coppola for this one. Her films—particularly Lost in Translation and its unforgettable final scene—did more for the shoegaze revival than just about anything. When 80s shoegaze icons Jesus and Mary Chain serenaded the milky morning-after malaise of that Tokyo sunrise setting with their song “Just Like Honey,” something very zeitgeisty and wonderful clicked in the musical consciousness of hipsters everywhere. Now, 7 years later, neo-shoegaze is all the rage. An outgrowth of the early Oughts garage-rock revival (especially its noise), the neo-shoegazer trend celebrates all things lo-fi, reveling in wall-of-sound noise, dense layers of slightly monotonous guitar, and largely inaudible or indecipherable lyrics. These are bands like California’s No Age, New York’s The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Crystal Stilts or Vivian Girls, Vancouver’s Japandroids, Britain’s The Big Pink, or Sofia Coppola’s Swedish fave The Radio Dept.

Chillwave/glo-fi/thrift store music
For those who think shoegaze is officially passé, the “next thing” on the pseudo-underground, “subversive-because-it’s-not-American Idol” radar is probably “chillwave,” also known as “glo-fi.” This trend is characterized by a sort of washed-out, pre-digital dance vibe that has a vaguely haunting, ambient quality to it—as if you just unearthed a shoebox of old cassette tapes from the late 80s/early 90s and spliced them together with whimsy. A sort of proto-techno, trance-inducing homage to those boozy late summer nights in the city when spilt beer, humid air and fireworks combine to make all dreams seem possible, Glo-fi retrofits the modern raver spirit for a trip down Goonies memory lane. … Leaders of the pack for this emerging trend include 2009 “it” bands Neon Indian, Memory Tapes, Washed Out, Nite Jewel, Toro Y Moi, Bibio, and Sweden’s Air France.

Preppie Afro-Pop
Globalization has left its mark on nearly every aspect of everything over the past two decades, including well-heeled indie music. In recent years, many of the biggest buzz bands have been characterized by their heady appropriations of African and world music sounds. The poster-child for this is Vampire Weekend, the quartet of twentysomething Columbia grads who present an airy picture of Ray-ban-wearing Hamptons beach life while simultaneously making a Ph.D.-level statement about post-colonialism.