A Brief Look at 12 of Microgenres, from associated artists
October 10, 2015 10:05 PM   Subscribe

The Fader recently collected insights from artists associated with 12 microgenres of the past 15 years, from electroclash to vaporwave, but they left out sound samples. That's remedied, below the break.

1. Electroclash (Fuse.TV - RIP Electroclash: 12 artists to know)
Sounds like: deadpan, sing-spoken social commentary over clunky machine beats.
Peak year: 2002
Three notable artists/groups: Chicks on Speed ("Flame On, with Mika Vainio"), Le Tigre ("TGIF"), Peaches ("Diddle My Skittle")
See also: 10 electroclash songs that still hold up (in 2012) [Slideshow]

2. Crunk ("What is Crunk?" on Rap.About.Com)
Sounds like: A way-too-turnt, Southern branch of shout-along rap.
Peak year: 2003
Three notable artists/groups: Lil Jon (Bravehearts;Lil Jon;Nas - "Quick To Back Down"), Three 6 Mafia ("Ridin Spinners feat. Lil' Flip"), Crime Mob ("Knuck If You Buck")
3. Snap (Snap back to roots, by Sasha Frere-Jones)
Sounds like: Simple hooks, super-sparse production, and, of course, finger snaps.
Peak year: 2006
Three notable artists/groups: D4L ("Laffy Taffy"), Dem Franchize Boys ("Talkin' Out Da Side Of Ya Neck"), K-Rab ("Bubble Gum feat. D4L")
4. Baltimore Club (Standing Still: The Stagnant Life of Baltimore Club by Lawrence Burney)
Sounds like: The same five kick patterns, the same five breakbeats, and every sample you could imagine, just more fucked-up and better.
Peak year: 2007
Three notable artists/groups: Rod Lee ("Come On Baby"), Scottie B. ("You Can Call Me Al with King Tutt"), Blaqstarr ("Shake It to the Ground (Crazy Leg Edit) feat. Rye Rye")
5. Balearic Pop ("Happy days are here again," vintage '08 Guardian article on the return of Balearic sounds and new artists)
Sounds like: Lush, seaside disco that’s equal parts happy and sad.
Peak year: 2008
Three notable artists/groups: The Tough Alliance ("Neo Violence"), Studio (Out There"), Air France ("No Way Down")
6. Shitgaze (Google auto-translation, original Italian article on "Weird Garage")
Sounds like: Heavily distorted no-fi guitar rock.
Peak year: 2009
Three notable artists/groups: Psychedelic Horseshit ("Rather Dull"), No Age ("Fever Dreaming"), Wavves ("No Hope Kids")
7. Chillwave (The Brief History of the Totally Made-Up Chillwave Music Genre, by Dave Shilling)
Sounds like: A memory of a memory.
Peak year: 2009
Three notable artists/groups: Neon Indian ("Deadbeat Summer"), Washed Out ("Feel Around"), Toro y Moi ("Talamak")
8. Witch house (The Short Life, Weird Death, and Mild Rebirth of the Witch House Genre, by Sam Hockley-Smith)
Sounds like: Screwed-up, melancholic, vaguely occultish machine music.
Peak year: 2010
Three notable artists/groups: Salem ("Sick"), oOoOO ("Burnout Eyes"), BL§§D ØUt ("Quill")
9. Jerkin (We're Jerkin' (Starring the New Boyz, J-Hawk and Pink Dollaz), article by Jeff Weiss)
Sounds like: Hyper, lo-fi raps for limber-legged teens to dance to.
Peak year: 2010
Three notable artists/groups: The New Boyz ("You're a Jerk"), The Rej3ctz ("I'm Fitted"), Young Sam ("Tool Time")
10. Cloud Rap (Don't call it #cloudrap, from Red Bull Music's H∆SHAG$ series of videos)
Sounds like: Taking NyQuil and listening to Hot 97.
Peak year: 2011
Three notable artists/groups: Main Attrakionz ("Perfect Skies"), Yung Lean ("Lightsaber // Saviour"), Clams Casino ("I'm God")
11. Vaporwave (Vaporwave: A Brief History [of a genre that no one has heard of])
Sounds like: IMAX sound design, waiting room Muzak, and late techno-capitalism.
Peak year: 2012
Three notable artists/groups: James Ferraro ("Sim"), Chuck Person ("Eccojams Vol. 1"), New Dreams Ltd. ("Dedication")
12. Drill (Chiraq, Drillinois: Guns, Murder, Music, and Understanding, by Tony Delerme)
Sounds like: Colonial military music, three centuries later.
Peak year: 2012
Three notable artists/groups: Chief Keef ("It's A Drill feat. Sasha Go Hard"), King Louie ("My Niggas"), Young Chop ("I Can't Trust a Soul feat. King Rell")
If you want to browse through more micro-genres and past movements, SPIN's May 2010 issue (Google books preview) features a very short description and key artist/album on the top of a series of pages.
posted by filthy light thief (34 comments total) 74 users marked this as a favorite
 
Great post! My favorite way (or used to) to discover microgenres was to click on last.fm tags for certain artists. Dreampop, shoegaze, witch house, chillwave, chill house, acid jazz, etc. Fun stuff to discover! With the atrocious website redesign though, I haven't dared to even try to venture /shudders/
posted by yueliang at 10:34 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Some more vaporwave
posted by caaaaaam at 10:37 PM on October 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Awwww, I didn't know I missed crunk until I saw it mentioned, where've you been crunk? Also I thought vaporwave was still a going concern? I may be doing that mid 30s losing touch with the Zeitgeist thing.
posted by threecheesetrees at 11:21 PM on October 10, 2015


I now have a strong urge to try and troll some young vaporwave listeners by adding a touch of reverb and mastering to the pinball fantasies and pinball dreams music and proclaiming it the cutting edge of retro.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:41 PM on October 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Weird, I wouldn't have pegged Le Tigre as electroclash, but come to think of it Kathleen Hanna's work as Julie Ruin does feel a bit like proto-electroclash so maybe?

Also, the vaporwave documentary is simultaneously the best introduction I've seen to the genre, convincing evidence that it's a viable art movement, and eerily hard to take seriously for some reason, like the whole history is actually a big joke played on the unsuspecting but gullible viewer. This is despite being familiar with a few of the releases mentioned in the video. Bravo, Wolfenstein OS X.
posted by chrominance at 12:07 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I recently heard of "Pastel Punk" from a friend who's the kind of person that has written over 100 words about Health Goth as a trend and maintains multiple avant-garde facebook groups. I'm intrigued but I can find very little evidence that pastel punk is a real musical genre. He claims that it's a tumblr thing.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:15 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm also interested in finding out whether there's such a thing as a seminal Sea Punk album. I like the concept but I've never heard any good Sea Punk music.
posted by One Second Before Awakening at 12:17 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


More crunk:
Huey - Pop, Lock & Drop It (better vid?)

More Baltimore Club:
B-More Gutter Music - Bodymore Murdaland

More balearic pop:
jj - Kill You
Studio - Turn the Radio Off

More chillwave:
Memory Tapes - Stop Talking
CFCF - Raining Patterns

More shitgaze:
Japandroids - The House that Heaven Built
Titus Andronicus - Fear and Loathing In Mahwah, NJ

More witch house:
Salem - Raver Stay Wif Me
Crystal Castles - Not In Love

More cloud rap:
L.W.H - Bitin and Shakin
Friendzone - My Wishlist
Blue Sky Black Death ft Cam'ron - Valley Of Kings
Blue Sky Black Death ft Gucci Mane - Keys
Just about anything Friendzone produced for Main Attraktionz (808s & Dark Grapes II especially)

More drill:
Sasha Go Hard - Bricks
King Louie - Live & Die In Chicago
Fat Trel - Rich as Fuck
SD - Don't Believe Me
Tink - Bars
(Also all the big Chief Keef singles, I Don't Like, Love Sosa, etc)

I could list a lot more of hiphop related ones, but I'm already repeating artists. Feel free to memail if you're interested.
posted by yeahwhatever at 12:43 AM on October 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


Let's give *everything* a stupid name!
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:58 AM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah I recognize some of these names but my dominant impression is one of overwhelming unreality, like a Borges catalog of musical genres.
posted by grobstein at 1:06 AM on October 11, 2015 [6 favorites]


Every Noise at Once is a map of many, MANY genres of music and bands with associated soundclips. Highly recommended.
posted by bouvin at 1:32 AM on October 11, 2015 [10 favorites]


Whither Dan Deacon?
Whence moombaton?
Whyfore, crabcore?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 1:59 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Jon Mitchell, thanks I loved the heck out of that game back then! Love rediscovering the soundtrack! (I wonder if you're onto something here btw, some similar sound in there of young people discovering sequencing and pattern programming and the tools influencing their compositional strategies.)
posted by yoHighness at 2:40 AM on October 11, 2015


this is the best.
posted by everythingyoudoisaballoon at 2:42 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


I now have a strong urge to try and troll some young vaporwave listeners by adding a touch of reverb and mastering to the pinball fantasies and pinball dreams music and proclaiming it the cutting edge of retro.

OK, after watching that mini vaporwave documentary this is in fact not a million miles from how it actually originated.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 3:27 AM on October 11, 2015


Still love witchhouse. The goth I used to love, plus Twin Peaks, plus indecipherable ungoogleable lyrics. Pure crack for me. The two best artists, or at least my two faves, are Ritualz and CRIM3S.

Ritualz (†‡†) - Ghetto Ass Witch -- quite possibly the best witchhouse song ever, but anything RItualz does is worthwhile. Even the post-witchhouse stuff. Especially the post-witchhouse stuff: Muerte, MX

CRIM3S - Drawn -- the perfect shadowy song for reflecting on a long night of criminal activity

I suppose it's mostly dead now, but there's a beautiful half life with artists like Bones and everyone involved with Team Sesh.

As a middle-aged person, Vaporwave is kinda wonderful too. There's nothing like having the music & culture & random ephemera of your youth being remixed and shredded by those kids who've taken up permanent residence on your lawn. My only criticism is that sometimes the sound is pure imitation 1982, minus the existential terror.
posted by honestcoyote at 4:00 AM on October 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


The shorter, more upbeat and faster tempo vaporwave tracks absolutely destroy me. SO MANY SOUNDS YAY

Saint Pepsi (YES I DO KNOW IT'S A TERRIBLE NAME) is the name of the artist responsible for my favourite release in the genre, Hit Vibes. 'Skylar Spence', 'Have Faith' and 'Strawberry Lemonade' are all super.

Also that mini vaporwave doco linked above actually has some pretty decent analysis.
posted by Quilford at 5:14 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


And the next five microgenres --

Glutencore
Sounds like: The ambient noise at your local food co-op, plus lots and lots of reverb and a looped drum sample
Peak year: 2017
Notable/founding artist: Santa Flaca

Pank (also Panq)
Sounds like: heavily sedated toddlers weakly banging theremins together in a Chicago police station
Peak year: 2018
Notable/founding artist: The Murder Hobos

Post-Electroclash
Sounds like: electroclash, but slower
Peak year: 2022
Notable/founding artist: Kathleen Hanna, surprisingly

Ish
Sounds like: Electronic beeping, in 5/4 time, as the building around the instruments is slowly eaten away by newly sentient military robots. But, like, pretty, you know?
Peak year: 2024
Notable/founding artist: Colossal Device

Reagan-Soul
Sounds like: the screams of the damned as the floodwaters rise and consume them
Peak year: 2025
Notable/founding artist: pretty much everybody (turns out 2025 wasn't a great year to be a person)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 5:56 AM on October 11, 2015 [20 favorites]


What everythingyoudoisaballoon said. Even if this is a spoof.
posted by y2karl at 6:45 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


I may be doing that mid 30s losing touch with the Zeitgeist thing.

It turns out that the zeitgeist was just a way of selling stuff back when cultural goods were bound in time and space. The explosion in genre is a reflection of the fact that culture has become muliplex and dislocated, an attempt to lay claim to the unstable and transient, or if not a claim, then a handhold to cling to.
posted by xchmp at 7:18 AM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


for more cloud rap/dream pop, might i suggest kitty (formerly kitty pryde, probably best known for ok cupid, a song i love, but she's come a long way since then).
marijuana (ʃ⌣́,⌣́ƪ)
☠DEAD❤ISLAND☠
♡ SECOND LIFE ♡
Ψ retr0grade Ψ
posted by nadawi at 8:07 AM on October 11, 2015 [5 favorites]


i really liked Chillwave (Washed Out etc). Great example is Poolside's cover of Neil Young's Harvest Moon. Languidly fantastic stuff.
posted by ephemerae at 10:15 AM on October 11, 2015 [2 favorites]


Cloud Rap; didn't know you could rap over the Cocteau Twins.
posted by scruss at 11:12 AM on October 11, 2015


Ish
Sounds like: Electronic beeping, in 5/4 time, as the building around the instruments is slowly eaten away by newly sentient military robots. But, like, pretty, you know?
Peak year: 2024


I'm marking my calendar. That description sounds like music I've already written.
posted by Foosnark at 1:15 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


One Second Before Awakening: I'm also interested in finding out whether there's such a thing as a seminal Sea Punk album.

Coral Records is a snapshot of that scene, including work by Ultrademon, whose album Seapunk was the first album to solidify the joke-made-real.


threecheesetrees: Awwww, I didn't know I missed crunk until I saw it mentioned, where've you been crunk? Also I thought vaporwave was still a going concern? I may be doing that mid 30s losing touch with the Zeitgeist thing.

I'm there with you. When I read this list, I thought they were joking with Jerkin and Drill (and I had hoped the latter was inspired by The Wire). But no, both are full-fledged scenes, more "real" than sea punk (IMO).


Potomac Avenue: Whither Dan Deacon?
Whence moombaton?
Whyfore, crabcore?


I know, but you're always going to miss something with these lists. I was surprised to see juke and footwork off the list, but this is for passed genres, and those might still be living.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:45 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is great, thanks!

It's worth noting that Daniel Lopatin, aka Chuck Person (whose Eccojams album is often considered the album that kicked off vaporwave), also releases music under the better-known pseudonym Oneohtrix Point Never. The most recent OPN album R Plus Seven is vaporwave-adjacent and really really weird, kind of like a post-ironic black hole that traps all nostalgia in its event horizon.
posted by Frobenius Twist at 2:10 PM on October 11, 2015 [3 favorites]


Weird, I wouldn't have pegged Le Tigre as electroclash.

Yeah, the only band of the three that I would have immediately thought of if asked to define "electroclash" is Peaches. The "10 electroclash songs..." list seems closer to me, although this Quietus article seems closer yet, with Quintron & Miss Pussycat, and Ladytron, and Fischerspooner, and Adult., Felix da Housecat, Miss Kittin, etc.
posted by ubersturm at 2:49 PM on October 11, 2015 [1 favorite]


All of these sound like something Stefon would tell you about.
posted by hot_monster at 2:55 PM on October 11, 2015


I get strong demoscene feels from vaporwave. Are they at all connected? I think my seminal exposure to demos influences my appreciation of vaporwave, which is otherwise too muzak for my normal tastes.
posted by bobobox at 5:12 PM on October 11, 2015


I get strong demoscene feels from vaporwave. Are they at all connected?

I think that's pretty much the reason I pegged the tracker music from pinball dreams as somewhat vaporwave-esque, as they are written by the ex-demogroup that ended up forming DICE, now EA DICE, which most recently released Star Wars Battlefront. But otherwise, no, I don't think so. I think the current-gen demosceners all pretty much write very polished brostep & IDM for their demo soundtracks.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:11 AM on October 12, 2015


No reference to Vaporwave should exclude Macintosh Plus.
posted by cellphone at 7:36 AM on October 12, 2015


Electroclash is one of those genres where I'll love one song and hate the next two. Except maybe for Ladytron; I can't hate anything of theirs, though some songs are better than others.

I'm really digging oOoOO. I see them described as "Witch House/Chillwave" and I'm not sure how much they're one and how much they're the other; almost everything else I've listened to until now that was described as Witch House just made me wrinkle my nose and skip most of the track.
posted by Foosnark at 9:19 AM on October 12, 2015


I'm also going to nominate "First 5 Seconds of Donald Fagen's I.G.Y on an 8-minute loop" as a potential vaporwave classic. I am now semi-seriously tempted to make some.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 11:36 PM on October 12, 2015


I see vaporwave and I'm like, Duke Nukem Forever came out!
...
...
posted by grobstein at 7:23 AM on October 13, 2015 [1 favorite]


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