WEIRD AND ECLECTIC | Expand your musical horizons with these emerging genres

Hypnagogic pop Ariel Pink (Photo by Julio Enriquez/Creative Commons)

Once there was just pop and rock and roll. Then, hard rock, heavy metal, power pop, punk and new wave inflated the musical lexicon courtesy of daring critics and fervid fans. Now, there must be a galaxy of new musical terms to shock your grandmother and we picked out some of the strangest ones for your listening delight. Here’s ten of them:

  • Bummer pop. This reformulation of soft rock moves to the guilty pleasures of chugging pop-rock chords and lyrics that project the angsty drama of teen love. Hardcore fans kneel before Weezer’s poignant pop rockers and their current acolytes can be heard on Bummer Pop Volume 1, available on your favorite online music platform.
  • lowercase.  A type of electronic music transforming the shuffle and crumple of paper into magical compositions. Variations include ambient chunks of sounds interspersed with long silences and a kind of post rock where the music builds slowly from quietude to an extreme treatment of paper sounds. Pioneer Steve Roden has found kindred spirits in noise musician Caretaker and classically trained composer William Basinski.
  • Hypnagogic pop.  Coined by music writers of the venerable UK monthly publication Wire, hypnagogic pop artists like Ariel Pink borrow from the guitar-driven psychedelic pop of ‘80s bands to fashion an update of millennial power pop. The hypnagogic element refers to the ghost-like recall of an earlier sound and lyrics that’s nostalgic of a fading past.
  • Glitch hop. It’s your typical hip hop glitched or interfered (I say gouged) with other sounds by manipulation using a computer. The interference aka cross-breeding results from chopping, crushing, beat repeats, insertion from anything from funk  to psychedelia to classical music to produce an altogether mesmerizing new track. Mostly heard on computer games, glitch hop’s current poster boys are Flying Lotus and Prefuse 93.  
  • Black MIDI. Not associated with a rising Brit rock band, the term  refers to MIDI files that are remixed and stuffed with thousands, millions, and even billions of notes. The black designation refers to the massing of notes to create a sort of ‘black’ mess of characters in traditional piano score. YourTube must have has gazillions of samplers and 101 intros that rack up millions of views, with musicians collaborating on various Black MIDI
  • Vaporwave. It’s a mash-up of the softer sides of muzak,  new wave, lounge jazz and modern pop remixed, some critics call it manipulation, to create nostalgia for the late ‘80s when the world was transitioning from analog to digital technology. It’s supposed to sonic throwback to interest in cyberpunk and Japanese anime during the period. Oneohtrix Point Never alias Daniel Lopatin is a leading veporwave star.
  • Cute metal (Kawai core). The Japanese trio Babymetal created the musical and visual imagery that this genre puts across. They mix sugary pop hooks with machinegun metal attack so the cuteness is ironically on the money. Throw in some Gothic almost horrific tropes and Kawai core becomes a nice alternative term.  Resist at your peril.       
  • Blackgaze. Lovely shoegaze shoved into the monster sound of death metal is what’s this strange beast is all about. You get the quiver of shoegaze plugged to the nightmarish howl of dark metal.  The genre’s heroes are beloved by any metal head and best ones come with such great names like Wolves in the Throne Room and Deafheaven (from the US of A) and Alcest (from France).
  • Pornogrind. Also known as pornocore, this is relentless death metal pushed by a mindset obsessed with deviant forms of sexual encounter and violent abuse. Some describe it to be the end of an already extreme form of music. ( I wonder what to call the music of a performer who shat onstage during his shows?). Beware though that after playing pornogrind (from Torsofuck and Oral Piss Olympics, for example), you have 95 percent chance of getting kicked out of the house!
  • Skweee.  Originating from Scandinavia, the genre’s name comes from  “squeezing out” the grooviest sound possible from exciting funk, soul and R&B sources. So, it’s purely electronic music meshing early hip hop beats with the musical attractions of Rick James, Dazz band, Parliament and Kraftwerk.  A typical skweee track is also peppered with computer game blips, pops and drones as can be heard from Beem, Daniel Salvio, Color Separated and Wankers United!

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