Thursday, October 22, 2009

Hold on to your genre

If music has seen one growth area outside the digital over the course of this decade, it's the launch and appellation of new genres. Obviously this is something that has long been with us, Steve Lamacq famous in his NME days for coming up with three new specious groupings and a name before lunch, but this decade with the rush to promote to the charts and compartmenalise has come all manner of filing away of eager young bucks. Mostly started by the NME, yes. And in some cases never getting beyond that point. Here's sixteen examples.

WOSSAT?: Largely European invention fusing electro house, art installations and lots of panstick. Advice for girls: kohl eyeshadow, blank looks. The reason Ministry Of Sound records doesn't really do artist albums any more. Happened about eight years too early for charge of the light Tenori-Ons.
UNDOING: Bespoke 'anti-fashion' clothing designers don't come cheap.
SEE UNDER: Fischerspooner, Peaches, Felix da Housecat, Chicks On Speed, Miss Kittin and The Hacker, Tiga

The New Rock Revolution
WOSSAT?: Leading the charge away from... whatever 2000 was like, Travis possibly, a gang of artfully dishevelled retrogressive garage rockers emerged pretty much simultaneously, power chords loaded and ready for prime time. Commonly referred to as 'The bands' after their often common nominature. The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Rolling Stones not pictured.
UNDOING: Not that much room for manoevure, unless you're Detriot's own Machiavelli Jack White or not really garage rock at all (YYYs). The NME's covermounted New Rock Revolution CD included The Thrills. For pete's sake.
SEE UNDER: The Strokes, The White Stripes, The Vines, The Hives, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Von Bondies, The Datsuns, The D4

WOSSAT?: In 2004 a legal loophole in new anti-drug legislation meant magic mushrooms could be legally sold in Britain. At about the same time a handful of bands were playing around with psychedelic influences. Juxtaposition! Hello, I'm Conor McNicholas.
UNDOING: The loophole was closed a few months later. So was Dave McCabe's mind. Not really psychedelic at all, actually, often more like the La's than Gong.
SEE UNDER: The Coral, The Zutons, The Bees, Delays, Hal, Razorlight (so the Telegraph claimed)

New Acoustic Movement
WOSSAT?: A new movement of acoustic acts. Somewhat egalitarian. Quiet Is The New Loud is an excellent debut album title, you have to admit.
UNDOING: Unlike the folky types of recent past, actually just for the most part songs played acoustically.
SEE UNDER: Turin Brakes, Damien Rice, Kings of Convenience, I Am Kloot, Alfie, Matthew Jay

The Brit Pack
WOSSAT?: For no specific reason, in October 2003 the NME grouped together ten new British bands at random and slapped them together under a specious title, then sent out a package tour under that name on which only one of the ten (the Ordinary Boys) actually played.
UNDOING: Nobody else at all used the title.
SEE UNDER: We can tell you exactly: Keane, Kasbaian, The Ordinary Boys, yourcodenameis:milo, Hal, Eastern Lane, My Red Cell, The Glitterati, The Open, Kid Symphony

The Scene With No Name
WOSSAT?: Oh, thanks a lot for that one. The umbrella title for a lot of newly emergent bands in 2002 who... well, Simon Williams of Fierce Panda laid it out thus: "You know a band are No Name when...They swear frequently and for no apparent reason, they wear dark clothes (they don't look so dirty after you've rolled around onstage for 25 minutes), they play at least one song which sounds like New Rose by The Damned, and that's it - The Scene With No Name has no other rules."
UNDOING: They all turned out to be spectacularly uncommercial.
SEE UNDER: Ikara Colt, 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, McLusky, The Parkinsons, Miss Black America, Hoggboy, thisGIRL

WOSSAT?: Broadsheets getting excited about the number of under-18 gigs and sixteen year olds in bands.
UNDOING: The perils of writing about a band for reasons other than their music. They have to balance rehearsals with homework! Yes, and they sound like the Kooks.
SEE UNDER: Cajun Dance Party, Bombay Bicycle Club, Pull In Emergency, Lo-Fi Culture Scene, Kitty Daisy & Lewis (who don't sound like the Kooks, but you know what we mean)

Freak Folk/New Weird Americana
WOSSAT?: American folkies, often with beards, following their own strange trip through psychedelica, Pentangle and woodland cabins. You don't have to collaborate with Vashti Bunyan to work here, but it helps. Coined by The Wire, uniquely.
UNDOING: Patience testing gigs.
SEE UNDER: Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Animal Collective, CocoRosie, Six Organs of Admittance, Vetiver, Akron/Family, Danielson

WOSSAT?: Folk... and electronica. Do you see? Not strictly electronica, in truth, more anything not immediately associated with folkish tropes. The rather good singer-songwriter Matt Eaton claims to have accidentally coined it. The Wikipedia page claims MGMT are folktronica. If you like.
UNDOING: The ongoing erosion of folkishness in most of it.
SEE UNDER: Four Tet/Fridge/Adem, Tunng, Animal Collective, Múm, CocoRosie, Caribou, Gravenhurst, The Books, Psapp, The Notwist

WOSSAT?: Oh god. You'd think people would be content with grime as Britain's own underground hip hop-derived movement, but in a last ditch attempt to make it appeal to whitey some of its leading lights started teaming up with indie bands. And not the inventive ones.
UNDOING: Well, just think about it.
SEE UNDER: Hadouken!, Marvin the Martian, Statik, Lethal Bizzle's collaborations with Babyshambles, Gallows and the Rakes (how can one man get it wrong so often?)

New Rave
WOSSAT?: Flourescence, east London warehouses, ketamine and not sounding like rave at all. Please say Bono Must Die was a collective hallucination.
UNDOING: Klaxons' Mercury winning speech, the point at which the nation realised that giving these people publicity really wasn't wise.
SEE UNDER: Klaxons, New Young Pony Club, Late Of The Pier, Test Icicles, Shitdisco

WOSSAT?: Ragged, odd, bookish, from around south-west London, some of whom played the famed Eel Pie Island parties.
UNDOING: Perhaps too raggle-taggle for its own good. Although we miss Blaine Harrison's pots and pans percussion kit.
SEE UNDER: Mystery Jets, Larrikin Love, Jamie T, Good Shoes, The Holloways, Dustin's Bar Mitzvah

New Cross scene
WOSSAT?: Angular Records-related grouping of post-punks with smarts.
UNDOING: Kele Okereke and Eddie Argos' publicised fight. Who picks a fight over musical oneupmanship with Eddie Argos? Ian McCulloch never started on Nigel Blackwell.
SEE UNDER: Bloc Party, Art Brut, The Violets, Ladyfuzz, Luxembourg

New Yorkshire
WOSSAT?: The NME decide that the north east is the place. They get lucky and catch the early stirrings of Arctic Monkeys.
UNDOING: That band go on to dwarf everything else, leading some of these bands on like bowl-haired pied pipers.
SEE UNDER: Arctic Monkeys, The Cribs, The Long Blondes, Milburn, Bromheads Jacket, Little Man Tate, ¡Forward, Russia!, The Sunshine Underground, The Research, Black Wire

Best Midlands
WOSSAT?: They still tried again for a little while, mind.
UNDOING: But didn't really carry it on any further. And they missed Johnny Foreigner, who'd just released a split 7" with SCC, one of whom has for full marks written their name on his T-shirt in the introductory photo.
SEE UNDER: The bands featured in the actual launch spread: The Enemy, The Twang (who look appalling), Sunset Cinema Club, Untitled Musical Project, Envy & Other Sins, Deluka, The Big Bang, The Gravity Crisis, Vijay Kishore, The Ripps, Ripchord, Murdoch

Not that in our quest to become proper journalists we're entirely innocent, as over the years we've brought you these four of our own invention/volition. Why not start using them yourselves?

Nu-folk: Our attempt to second guess what the Marling/Flynn/Mumford/The Great axis would be called. Actually got picked up on very briefly towards the end of last year. Laura's got one unnerving smile, hasn't she?
Nu-new wave: The New Wave Of New Wave Of New Wave, possibly. Can't quite recall who exactly kicked this one off. Maybe some Shoreditchite post-Joe Lean type.
Math-folk: Melton Mowbray's finest, Project Notion, actually use this on their biography after we coined it for their mix of tappy guitars and folky expansive arrangements. You still active, PN?
Guardian Pop: Actually coined by our friend Steve W, part-majordomo over at TV Cream, for those, usually Scandinavian, who are endlessly praised by proper music writers and ILX (and formerly Popjustice) as great modern pop music and never sell any records. Lorraine, Lykke Li, all those. Robyn having a number one ruined it, but scene leader Annie's still flying that particular flag high.


Steve Williams said...

Thanks Simon, I feel just like Stuart Maconie. Although it was actually Observer Pop, because one of the criteria is a double page spread in the Observer Music Monthly.

I was so excited when Chewing Gum by Annie turned up in the trailer for Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, I thought that was going to be her breakthrough moment.

Mistress Wanda said...

I don't think Damien Rice and Kings of Convenience should ever be in a category together, unless the category is bands that have the letter 'i' in their name.