Hybrid music?
January 30, 2006 5:16 AM   Subscribe

MusicFilter: I really seem to have a thing for bands that combine two vastly different genres. For example, Dimmu Borgir combines an orchestra and a death metal band to form an excellent mix of metal + symphonic. What other bands should I check out?

Other examples include Skindred (reggae + rock) and Ephel Dureth (jazz + metal). My memory is failing me now for other examples, but you get the idea. Thanks ahead of time. :)
posted by denimflavored to Media & Arts (63 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
Acoustic Ladyland (Jazz + Punk)
posted by hippyboy at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2006


Forgot the link:

Acoustic Ladyland
posted by hippyboy at 5:28 AM on January 30, 2006


This may or may not help but Sufjan Stevens' album A Sun Came combines folk, indian, alternative, and a few others.

Three of his other albums (Michigan, Seven Swans, & Illinois) have a folk/showtunes sound to them.
posted by crapples at 5:30 AM on January 30, 2006


Also, Miles Davis: Bitches Brew. The original fusion album, and one of the best albums ever -- Jazz + 70's Prog Rock.
posted by crapples at 5:31 AM on January 30, 2006


Bell Orchestre (Rock + Classical)
Gogol Bordello (Punk + World)
Jamie Lidell (Soul + Electronic)
Tied & Tickled Trio (Jazz + Electronic)
posted by themadjuggler at 5:39 AM on January 30, 2006


The Notwist are sort of a hybrid of electronic/dance beats and pop songs. Sort of like The Postal service (which also probably qualifies), but, in my opinion, more sophisticated and less Ben Gibbard-y. They've got some classical flourishes as well, in the excellent string arrangements. The album is Neon Golden.
posted by ludwig_van at 5:45 AM on January 30, 2006


Some of these are albums rather than artists:

The Electric Light Orchestra (for the most part)
Lambchop (weird combo of rock and easy listening)
Rob Dougan (orchestral vs triphop vs electronica)
Panic! At The Disco (emo vs punk vs electronica)
Kanye West's "Late Registration"
Outkast's "The Love Below"
posted by wackybrit at 5:53 AM on January 30, 2006


Rachel's (chamber music, jazz, post rock)
Sleepytime Gorilla Museum (avant garde proggy metal)
Rasputina (string trio doing rock songs)
posted by sammich at 6:08 AM on January 30, 2006


Led Zeppelin + Elvis + Reggae = Dread Zeppelin. It's mind-bending.
posted by mumeishi at 6:15 AM on January 30, 2006


Enigma?

Their first album (and my favorite), MCMXC AD, is Gregorian chants + dancey beat, and way hotter than you'd expect. The Screen Behind the Mirror includes shakuhachi flutes and tribal chants + similar beats.

Try before you buy -- I'm not sure this is exactly what you're looking for, but it certainly could be.
posted by booksandlibretti at 6:25 AM on January 30, 2006


Brave Combo (new wave Polka)

Alejandro Escovedo (rock and blues with full orchestra and/or string quartet - actually, he's kind of his own genre)

Austin Lounge Lizards (sometimes these guys veer off into heavy metal bluegrass)
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:25 AM on January 30, 2006


You need to check out "Rossz Csillag Alatt Szuletett" by Venetian Snares. Two. Radically. Different. Styles.

Also, the Acid Mothers Temple. They sort of make rock & roll into a religious thing. (Of course!)
posted by Laugh_track at 6:41 AM on January 30, 2006


Beatallica
posted by majick at 6:47 AM on January 30, 2006


You should definitely check out Spiritual Beggars. They mix 60's music with metal, and the result is mind blowing. One of their guitarists is Adam Amott, who played in Carcass and still plays in Arch Enemy. The album "Demons" is completely essential. Bluesy, heavy, and ass kicking.

As far as musically diverse groups go, I would also recommend checking out hip-hop group Blackalicious and trip-hop group Thievery Corporation (if you haven't heard of them already). Both of those groups use an incredible diversity of sounds on their albums, from many geographic areas, pop-cultural influences, and different time periods. I'd check out "Blazing Arrow" by Blackalicious and "The Mirror Conspiracy" by Thievery.

Also, mad props to Dimmu Borgir. Did you know that "Death Cult Armageddon" was recorded with a 43-piece orchestra? All their orchestral stuff before that was synth but on the last album it was 100% acoustic. I saw them last year and it was incredible. Screw Metallica, I want to see Dimmu play with a full orchestral back-up.
posted by baphomet at 6:50 AM on January 30, 2006


Oh man... I forgot. Konono no. 1 is this group of thumb piano players from some tribe in Africa who got plugged into amps.
posted by Laugh_track at 6:50 AM on January 30, 2006


Holy shit, I completely forgot to mention Opeth. If you haven't heard Opeth yet, DO IT NOW. Their music is extremely metal, but they draw on influences like 70's prog, jazz, classical, southern rock, etc...they play 7-12 minute long songs with lots of insane time signature changes, acoustic interludes, clean and heavy vocals, the whole works. The album "Still Life" is transendence.
posted by baphomet at 6:52 AM on January 30, 2006


Ashley Macisaac does Cape Breton celtic fiddle rock. He hs a new album out though I haven't heard it - you should be able to get his '95 release "Hi How Are You Today?" still.

And there's Apocalyptica, in their own words: "A band famous for playing Metallica with four cellos." They're awesome.
posted by GuyZero at 7:22 AM on January 30, 2006


Orphaned Land mix prog rock, death/doom metal and Israeli traditional music to stunning effect; get their most recent album Mabool.

Another Israeli metal band is Melechesh, who use traditional rhythms and melodies in some rather intense high-speed black metal. Both of their albums are equally stunning.

There is a glut of Finnish bands who mix metal and Polka. Finntroll are the leaders of that scene, but there are many more. Turisas are a band I like a lot.

In my opinion, the best mix of black metal with classical/baroque stuff is Emperor's last album, Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire and Demise which is crazily intricate and over-the-top.

Therion mix bombastic heavy metal with choral and/or orchestral performers. The german band Rage has also worked with orchestra, but that is perhaps not as good.

See also Deep Purple's Concerto for Rock Band and Orchestra for the original and best.

Mike Amott, not Adam.
posted by nowonmai at 7:23 AM on January 30, 2006


corky siegel's chamber blues is a combo of a traditional string quartet with a harmonica and tabla. especially great live.
posted by lester at 7:35 AM on January 30, 2006


i love this thread!

if anyone has any ideas on this as a meta-phenomenon, i'd be interested in reading them.
posted by subatomiczoo at 7:37 AM on January 30, 2006


i second GuyZero - check out Apocalyptica. also, Trey Anastasio was using a full symphony orchestra for awhile (classical and rock), but at the risk of getting stoned to death by the phish fans in the house, i don't really think it was his best effort.
posted by gt at 7:49 AM on January 30, 2006


Apocalyptica is a well-known choice. Four classically-trained Finnish cellists covering music by Metallica, Pantera, Rammstein, Slayer, etc.

There's quite a few violinists that play some strange fusion combo ranging from "techno-acoustic" to "hip-hop violin," from artists like Vanessa-Mae (Chen Mei) to Miri Ben-Ari to Bond. Hell if I know if they're any good in a musical sense, but it's interesting and novel, and I guess it sells.

Guru's Jazzmatazz Vol. 1 and 2 do a very good mix of hip-hop and jazz.

Jedi Mind Tricks usually do straight-up rap, but on "Visions of Gandhi" there is some worthy experimentation: some great Classical music-inspired and salsa-inspired tracks. The only good use of classical music I've found in rap, but there's a lot of salsa and Latin influence if you look at Spanish-language rap in general as well as bands like Ozomatli.

DJ Shadow mixes a lot of strange genres together in his normally hip-hop works, tossing in everything from theme songs from 50s television shows to bad 80s music in his sets. However, it all seems to somehow come together in a beautiful hodge-podge of sound.

Check out some artists from the grime scene aside for Dizzee Rascal, if you haven't already. Wiley, So Solid Crew, Musical Mob, and Kato are good places to expand past Dizzee's stuff.

I was this close to snarkily listing some of the nu-metal rap-rock sensations, but I feel time has already beaten that dead horse of a genre to death.
posted by antiform at 7:54 AM on January 30, 2006


Madredeus' album "Electronico" is a remix of Portuguese fado music with Enigma-type synth work. It's a pretty great album.
posted by kindall at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2006


The vocalist with Nightwish frequently comes across as making you think that you're listening to an opera... with crashing electric guitars and stuff. And then they play "Walking in the Air" (the Snowman song) which is a very odd experience!
posted by Chunder at 8:04 AM on January 30, 2006


Dimmu Borgir? There're way better genre mixing metal bands than that, man.

Tvangeste plays black metal [with appropriate vocals, of course], but behind that's the Baltic Symphony Orchestra and the Prussian chamber choir.
Morgul does bizarre black metal with a solo violinist. People who're not interested in black metal often dig this.
Dark Lunacy plays death metal with a string quartet and a choir, and melodies which I suspect have some origin in some folk tradition.
In Extremo plays a mix of European medieval music [along the lines of the stuff played by bands like Corvus Corax and Cornix Maledictum] with metal. Both Saltatio Mortis and Subway to Sally play similar stuff [although some of Saltatio Mortis' music is more traditional.] Think bagpipes, drums, some electric guitars, etc.
Tanzwut and Qntal mix that same medieval music with electronic music.
Ougenweide mixes '60s folk with that European medieval music as well.
Cruachan and to a lesser extent Primordial play death metal mixed with Irish folk music.
Devil Doll plays prog with European folk elements.
Finntroll plays death metal and Finnish humppa.
Therion and Nightwish both mix opera and metal.
Yat-Kha plays a mix of Tuvan throat singing and rock/punk.
Acid Mothers Temple - some traditional music finds its way into their psychedelic freak-outs. [Particularly in their Melting Paraiso UFO incarnation.]
The Meads of Asphodel's stuff has some Middle Eastern elements, although not to the extent of Orphaned Land.
posted by ubersturm at 8:25 AM on January 30, 2006


In Extremo metal + medieval

Therion metal + opera
posted by omnidrew at 8:26 AM on January 30, 2006


more metal-esque - tristania, nevermore, agalloch, arcturus
dresden dolls is rasputina-like. porcupine tree has played concerts with opeth. gotan project is good if you like thievery corporation. totally different but similiar in complexity.
(ps. only thread/place w/ 1/3 of my music collection listed under one topic)
posted by ejaned8 at 8:35 AM on January 30, 2006


Eh, I'd call Nevermore straight-on metal, not really a mix of genres, at least based on the stuff they were playing when I heard them live a few years ago. Similarly, I'd call Tristania gothic metal, which isn't really a mix but a full genre these days, if you look at the number of bands who play it. Both of those bands are fine, but if the original poster's looking for a unique and strange mix of genres, I think they might be disappointed. Agalloch could be a mix of metal, ambient, and folk, I suppose. Particularly Pale Folklore. Arcturus is somewhat along the lines of Morgul, which I mentioned above, but even stranger.

Bands that play rock or punk infused with Irish folk music [spiritual descendants of the Pogues] are probably too common these days to be the kind of strange genre mix you're looking for, but if you haven't heard any, two bands that currently tour a great deal are Flogging Molly and the Prodigals. I'd steer clear of the Dropkick Murphys, but they're popular in Boston.
posted by ubersturm at 8:50 AM on January 30, 2006


Hoven Droven - the bad boys of Scandinavian folk-rock. There are several bands combining Scandinavian folk with the aesthetics of rock music. But these guys are the ones with the most punch. Picture young Swedish boys who grew up with posters of classic Swedish folk musicians on one side of the bedroom, and AC/DC, Led Zep, and King's X on the other. Ferocious live band (of course).
posted by Ber at 8:57 AM on January 30, 2006


I'd like to point out Iron Horse's 'Fade to Bluegrass' and 'Black & Bluegrass' (you can look them up on Amazon under the titles). The first is a bluegrass tribute to Metallica, the second to Ozzy.

Therion is a band I can't recommend highly enough.

Alas (a side project of Diabolic's Eric Rutan) put out a CD called Absolute Purity, solid Florida Death Metal with operatic vocals.

Older Vintersorg CDs (especiall Till Fjalls and Odenmarkens Son) were excellent examples of Folk Metal (blending scandinavian folk and heavy metal). Another version of folk metal is viking metal (folk influences in black/death metal. Some bands are more folk-y than others but some good examples are Turisas (mentioned earlier), Ensiferium, (the now despanded but extremely awesome) Einherjer, Korpiplaani... well, there's a lot.

That's all I got that hasn't already been mentioned, but I will add my voice to Apocalyptica, Dimmu Borgir (they're OK, but I prefer Old Man's Child), Orphaned Land, Finntroll, and Therion, Therion, Therion.

Oh, and Agalloch are masters at bringing the Doom, but I don't think I'd ever classify them as a 'cross-over' type band.
posted by Ikazuchi at 9:00 AM on January 30, 2006


If we're going to bring up Viking metal, I think that I'm required to bring up Bathory. Second the Vintersorg and Ensiferium.
posted by ubersturm at 9:10 AM on January 30, 2006


Led Zeppelin + Elvis + Reggae = Dread Zeppelin. It's mind-bending.

Even moreso, live (in Roanoke, Virginia circa 1991-ish).
posted by Witty at 9:56 AM on January 30, 2006


State of Bengal's Tana Tani - Bengali music with a modern beat. Dunno about the other albums.
posted by moira at 10:17 AM on January 30, 2006


And Retsin's Cabin in the Woods, kind of a folky alternative, downbeat.
posted by moira at 10:29 AM on January 30, 2006


Mr. Bungle. No idea what they're mixing, other than some clown pr0n.
posted by signal at 10:36 AM on January 30, 2006


I endorse Portishead for its blend of noirish smoky jazz-blues singing with elements of Hip-Hop (scratching, sampling, etc.)

Also (dating myself here) KMFDM for mixing up straight dance techno and industrial. Some may consider those two genres close enough to already touch, YMMV.
posted by BigLankyBastard at 10:36 AM on January 30, 2006


Hava Narghile: Psychedelic pop from Turkey. (Paired with this by Amazon. Haven't heard it, can't vouch for it, looks interesting.)
posted by Eothele at 10:42 AM on January 30, 2006


Second vote for Guru's Jazzmatazz Vol. 1, the album has many of the modern jazz great actually playing on it, and the rhymes are tight. Didn't like Vol. 2 as much.
posted by vito90 at 10:46 AM on January 30, 2006


Mr. Bungle's disco volante is pretty well unclassifiable. (.mp3 sample of "desert search for techno allah" here.) I also like the World/Inferno Friendship Society, what with their nutty cirkus-punk chansons. Manu Chao is all over the map. Iceburn was jazzy noisy 'core. Jaz and the Notes kinda mixes Blue Note rhythms with do-whop vox. And so forth. What an age we live in!
posted by milquetoast at 10:47 AM on January 30, 2006


Ugh. You know, of course, that 90% of bands past, say, 1975 could be described as a combination of two other styles. Look, The Clash is Lee Dorsey meets Lee Perry! And it gets even more goofy if sub-genres are included— six million bands could be called New Wave meets shoegaze. Hell, do you want some Limp Bizkit? Some Linkin Park? Rap-rock's not just a river in Egypt. And rock 'n' roll itself came from blues meeting country.
Further, beware of anyone telling you that a band is jazz and rock. Usually, that means the absolute lowest level of jazz competence plus wanky rock. If you are interested in jazz fusion, you should look at the first Weather Report album, the first three Soft Machine albums, Miles Davis's Bitches Brew (seconding a rec upthread), Jack Johnson, In A Silent Way, Live Evil... Well, he had a pretty big fusion era. Also, the Mahavishnu Orchestra's Birds of Fire.
Even more to the point, most of the bands that fuse two disparate styles tend to be novelty bands. Dread Zepplin is. Brave Combo is. The cover of Gin and Juice by The Gourds is.
Oh, and "The album is Neon Golden." No, really, it's not. Neon Golden was a HUGE disappointment, and is one of the most mediocre and overhyped albums of the last ten years. Shrink is alright though, and if you like them, you might like Tocotronic or other Hamburg Schüle acts.

Aside from that, here are some that haven't been mentioned and don't suck (I'm looking at you, Dropkick Murphys):
Bad Brains- hardcore meets dub.
Klaus Nomi- Opera meets New Wave.
Quintron- Prince sex funk meets Pere Ubu spazz.
The Boredoms- Krautrock meets punk in Japan.
White Noise- '60s chanteuse francophonic pop meets Silver Apples noise.
Marc and the Mambas- Soft Cell meets Ricky Ricardo.
Senor Coconuts- Kraftwerk meets Ricky Ricardo (novelty act. Might actually suck).
posted by klangklangston at 11:28 AM on January 30, 2006


Eothele: That album is OK, but not great. Too much filler, not enough killer. You're better off looking for Erkin Koray solo albums.
posted by klangklangston at 11:31 AM on January 30, 2006


Muslimgauze. Pretty obscure now, I guess.
posted by Leon at 11:32 AM on January 30, 2006


Jedi Mind Tricks - That's funny about the Jedi Mind Tricks ... in college, I was in a rap band called the Jedi Mind Trix, and we were really excited since we created a salsa song. "How original! How out-there!" And then, a month later, the Beasties came out with their Intergalactic album, with a salsa song on it.

Anyway, back to the question at hand. Bandits of the Acoustic Revolution is an acoustic ska/punk band. I know that's not strictly a blending of genres, but they are really really good, and different from most other stuff out there.
posted by Alt F4 at 11:33 AM on January 30, 2006


Thrice - combines a lot of genres. Older stuff combines old school metal riffs with new school punk/hardcore. Middle-era stuff is more metal with a twinge of "pop punk" but not at all of the annoying variety. Newest stuff combines metal-ish stuff with more "post-rock" soundscapes.

Michael Franti and Spearhead combines Jazz, Hip Hop and Rock quite well (and encourages taping at shows!)

In Flames is a swedish melodic death metal band that combines death metal with old school iron-maidenesque riffs, but throws in a huge heaping helping of pop sensibility. They're quite possibly my favorite band ever, though I think they might run a close second to Tool.

Also worth checking out in the swedish death metal scene - Soilwork.

I am still waiting for my joke genre of "Mariachi-core" to really exist.

Also: This thread rules.
posted by twiggy at 11:56 AM on January 30, 2006


Wow, I definitely didn't expect that many. Not bad for a first post. Thanks, everyone! I'm going to check these out tonight for sure.
posted by denimflavored at 11:57 AM on January 30, 2006


After reading through all these (which I probably should have done first):
baphomet - I did know that about Dimmu. And that is EXACTLY why I love them. Can't beat that.
antiform, I appreciate you not listing all the nu-metal crap. I was going to include Linkin Park in my original list, but not only do I not really like them, it's also not what I'm looking for. Good call.
ubersturm - I know there has to be better bands than Dimmu, that's why I'm asking. ;)

Seriously, thanks to all, and keep them coming!
posted by denimflavored at 12:08 PM on January 30, 2006


Holy crap! I completely forgot:

FLAMETAL!

You can pick up this fine mixture of flamenco and metal (finally the name makes sense, eh?) at CD Baby! It rocks!
posted by Ikazuchi at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2006


Some of my favorites :

Spiritualized = gospel + psychedelic + drone
Rasputina = classical + grunge
Can = prog + jazz + psych + ?

(I'm sure that I'll think of some more)
posted by Afroblanco at 12:43 PM on January 30, 2006


Err... yes. I own some weird, weird stuff...
posted by Ikazuchi at 12:47 PM on January 30, 2006


off the top of my head, a couple that have not been mentioned:

Jud Jud- a cappella straight edge hardcore.
Black Velvet Flag - lounge covers of punk classics.
Bud E Luv - lounge covers of metal classics.
posted by annoyance at 12:49 PM on January 30, 2006


Oh, duh, how could I not think of this the first time I commented? Afro Celt Sound System. What its name says.
posted by booksandlibretti at 1:13 PM on January 30, 2006


Infectious Grooves = Metal + funk
posted by LordSludge at 1:32 PM on January 30, 2006


I can't believe we got this far into this thread and nobody has mentioned Candiria!

They sound like Slayer jamming with Steely Dan in Dr. Dre's basement.

Metal/jazz/triphop. It's cool. I recommend "The Coma Imprint" and "Process of Self-Development". The former comes with a second CD that contains some band members' trance/ambient side project, Ghosts of the Canal.

And I second the Bad Brains, Opeth, and Mr. Bungle recommendations.

Cruachan and to a lesser extent Primordial play death metal mixed with Irish folk music

*shudder*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:19 PM on January 30, 2006


Wow, a lot of metal fans on this thread. Cool.

As for the question- I love this kind of thing, and would like to strongly second Orphaned Land, Melechesh, Finntroll, and Yat-Kha. Particularly Orphaned Land. Mabool is just an incredible album. For my own list(mostly metal, but then I'm mostly a metalhead):

Sigh- a Japanese band who are sort of like a black metal Mr. Bungle. Every album is quite different, but they've mixed metal with film soundtrack music, John Zorn-ish stuff, trip-hop, seventies psychedelia, one song had a surf guitar interlude, the list goes on. I'd especially recommend their Imaginary Sonicscape album, which is one of my favorite of all time. I wouldn't recommend starting with Gallows Gallery, their new one, though. I don't think the switch to clean vocals worked well at all...

Skyforger- black metal/Latvian folk music.

Nokturnal Mortum- black metal/Ukrainian folk music. Alas, I can't really recommend them, as they have become a neo-Nazi band. Good music, though.

Hoahio- somewhat unclassifiable, but kind of avant-pop/Japanese traditional koto music. I guess? More accessible than the description might sound.

Betray My Secrets- metal/various world musics.

Jade Warrior- a rock band from the seventies, kind of like Jethro Tull influenced by traditional Asian and African music. Later became a new age outfit, though still with the Asian/African elements.

Gonin-Ish- a very obscure Japanese prog/death metal band. Imagine a less folky, more technical, more fucked-up Opeth with a Japanese woman on vocals who alternates between clean, J-pop-like singing, and deep growls. A little Japanese traditional music influence also. An extremely weird band, but a great one, IMO.

Second Hand Rose Band- rock/Chinese traditional music. Pretty obscure. Not to be confused with the country band from Texas with the same name.

Talvin Singh- electronica/Indian traditional music

DJ Cheb I Sabbah- ditto. there's a bunch of people doing that actually, but I'm not familiar enough with the whole genre to give many more names...

And finally, the Northside label has a bunch of bands that mix traditional Scandinavian music with rock and electronic music. Hoven Droven's already been mentioned, and I would recommend Garmarna and Hedningarna particularly.
posted by a louis wain cat at 3:27 PM on January 30, 2006


Man, how could I forget Sigh? Definitely worth checking out, denimflavored. [And I do enjoy some Dimmu Borgir; it's just not the most striking example of what you're looking for.]

Oh, yeah, Waylander and also Skyclad both play metal with folk influences [mostly Celtic, in the case of Waylander.]

In Flames and Soilwork? I enjoy them, but they're pretty much solid death metal, not a fusion of dissimilar genres...
posted by ubersturm at 3:53 PM on January 30, 2006


Oh gee, who would've expected an obnoxious rant from klangklangston in which he points out the obvious as though he is the one prophet privy to the Truth?

No, really, it's not. Neon Golden was a HUGE disappointment, and is one of the most mediocre and overhyped albums of the last ten years.

No, really, it's not what? The album is in fact called Neon Golden. I have no idea what planet you live on where it was one of the most "overhyped albums of the last ten years." It got a good review on pitchfork in 2002. Other than that, I don't know what you could be referring to. Besides that, it mixes genres, which means it answers the poster's question. And besides that, you're completely wrong, and it's an excellent album. Off the Rails and Consequence are an incredible two song combo, and the string arrangements, particularly on Off the Rails, are brilliant.
posted by ludwig_van at 6:35 AM on January 31, 2006


Bullshit. Neon Golden pulled in rave reviews all over (the cover sticker on mine has a quote from the New York Times calling it one of the top 10 of the year). And it was another step in the pattern of indie fans accepting something bland and pretty over albums that were interesting or dynamic (see also later Stereolab, Feist and the American Analogue Set). Further, for those of us who had already heard of the Notwist, the album was hugely anticipated (especially after import copies had leaked) and then profoundly disappointing when it finally arrived. Further, it "combines two genres" about the same way that Beck's Sea Change does— pretty, boring electronic flourishes and pretty, boring indie rock are not two seperate genres. In fact, Sea Change is a pretty good analogue for Neon Golden (along with Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. And if Neon Golden meets your criteria, so should they).
posted by klangklangston at 8:39 AM on January 31, 2006


Yeah, it got good reviews. Lots of albums get good reviews. You're still full of crap to call it "one of the most overhyped in the past 10 years."

It absolutely combines two approaches to making music - traditional songcraft made with acoustic instruments and the use of digital technology to both create new sounds and to extensively manipulate acoustic sounds. Yes, I suppose you could argue that every album ever recorded with ProTools does this to a certain extent, but Neon Golden comments more explicitly on the juxtaposition of approaches while managing to fully commit to each.

If it hasn't been made clear by now, I really couldn't care less for your bald assertions about what's "bland" and what's "boring." You take a blunt, patronizing tone and seem to expect that to convince readers of your authority. You've acknowledged in the past that you aren't a musician, you don't qualify your opinions or make any attempt to back them up with analysis or substantial explanation, and so I'm not at all convinced of your authority about anything musical. Considering that I am a musician and a music student, I'm far more inclined to trust my own discriminative abilities, and in most cases (particularly in AskMe) to allow the asker to trust his or hers.

YHF and Yoshimi are both excellent albums, and slightly analogous to Neon Golden, but are not nearly so explicit and self-aware in their style-splicing. Really, they're different beasts altogether, they just happen to be purely studio pieces, as have been many post-Revolver albums.
posted by ludwig_van at 9:20 AM on January 31, 2006


"Yeah, it got good reviews. Lots of albums get good reviews. You're still full of crap to call it "one of the most overhyped in the past 10 years."
Bullshit. When it makes mainstream top ten lists, one after another, and doesn't live up to its promise, that's overhyped.

"Considering that I am a musician and a music student, I'm far more inclined to trust my own discriminative abilities, and in most cases (particularly in AskMe) to allow the asker to trust his or hers."

So... Your complaint is that because I'm not a musician or music student that I don't have the "authority" to speak on music? That's great that you push your own discriminative abilities, and I'm sure they serve you well, but you also have a broad affection for mediocre music. You like things with mid-tempo 4/4 beats, string washes and "pretty" melodies. I tend to be blunt and clipped not just because that's the style of writing that I do, but because these are comments, not reviews.
For me (listening to Neon Golden right now), this might as well be the Primitive Radio Gods, what with the compressed drums, lack of dissonance, and tendency to simply sustain keyboard chords for a whole measure as a way of providing more depth. The tics and tocs (processed drum sounds reminiscent of Tom Jenkins and Richard D. James) added to, say, Pick Up The Phone might have sounded daring in the day, but they're essentially useless ornamentation. The lyrics are of the meloncholy yet essentially meaningless variety. Now, four songs in, the first interesting thing they've done is the way they've used a processed banjo (or pitch shifted guitar) to create a loop for Trashing Days, but even that's overwhelmed by the reliance on one-note, one-finger keyboard melodies placed over some of the most boring drumming since Fruity Loops. The way in which it is programmed means that it's indistinguishable from house presets, and since the overall tempo of the music over the percussion never feels driven by the rhythm section, even the experiments that they do still add no propulsion.
That they are afraid to let sparse sections happen, a justified fear based on the occasional moments (like the beginning of Solitaire) feeling still ponderous but less pretty, means that even their bridges tend to be less about a breath in the melody or resolution than a droning harmony that does nothing but remind the listener that they had moved totally from their hardcore roots into dadrock.
The album is a failure as a dance or electronic album, sounding at best like Renegade Soundwave on Paxil and at worst like forgettable in-store music at a Gap Outlet, with the percussive and electronic melody outpaced wildly on that front, and it fails as a rock/pop album with the utter lack of movement outside of the late-90s mid-tempo millieu. That their attempt at fusing rock and electronica comes at the same time that Kid A did should be further evidence of the gulf between those willing to experiment and those willing to use new technology to make the same old crap. While I do think that the second half of the album is fairly decent, including the title track (whose use of brushed drums and reverberating banjo, along with the room to breathe between sparse keyboard accents), it still has the problem of sounding too much like Chicago post-rock to be innovative (Sea and the Cake, or The For Carnation, who do similar things in an analogue setting). Especially the one that you noted, "Off The Rails," which extends a cliché metaphor past plucked strings into a vast pool of middling forgettability. That the string wash swells and breaks like a tide does not justify its continued existance, which seems to be simply to balance the plucked string melodic line. How, exactly, is tossing what sounds like trad film arrangement qualify as brilliant?
I suppose if I had bothered to learn their chord progressions you'd take this pseudo-review more seriously, but this is an album that's made for NPR interstitial music, not active listening. That you can get something out of it is great for you, but to present it as somehow innovative or a good response to the asker's question is disengenuous. Neon Golden is, at its most relevant, simply trad soft rock dressed in a thin drapery of electronics and would seem to belie a fairly limited knowledge of electronic music to argue that this is somehow a synergistic combination. Only someone who doesn't listen to very much of it would see Neon Golden as ahead of its time, and listening to it now there's very littler reason to recommend it (what with the albums that have done the same thing you're trying to offer it on better). Downloading the title track and Propellor 9 would be a better bet.
Oh, and Yoshimi and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot both sucked too. Yoshimi was when the Lips finally abandoned all that was bizare and fun and wild about their previous sound in order to make Spongebob soundtracks. And, after hearing some of the new album, I'm going to wager that The Soft Bulletin is going to be the last album they ever make that's worth buying. YHF had maybe three great songs on it, and then a wash of Jim O'Rourke's middling production. The only reason it shot to the top of so many lists was the odyssey that it went on before coming out, which led people to believe that it was this amazing, challenging record, when it was simply alt-rock done MOR.
posted by klangklangston at 10:12 AM on January 31, 2006


So... Your complaint is that because I'm not a musician or music student that I don't have the "authority" to speak on music?

No, my complaint is that it's rude and unnecessary to enter an AskMe thread where someone has made a recommendation that fits the asker's criteria and reply with your obnoxiously-worded opinion of the quality of that suggestion.

The point is that beyond the fact that you're wrong about Neon Golden's quality, your opinion on it is not appropriate here. It wasn't requested in the question or in my post. You aren't answering the question, you're just being obnoxious. So while your more wordy description of why you don't like Neon Golden is a nice effort, it also misses the point.

I brought up your lack of musicianship to highlight the fact that perhaps your haughty tone doesn't match your expertise. You seem proud of your lack of formal music knowledge, though, so don't let me ruin it for you.

You don't know me or my tastes, so don't patronize me by speaking as though you do.

If you care to continue arguing about this (and I do not), I suppose we can take it to MeTa.
posted by ludwig_van at 10:50 AM on January 31, 2006


I know your tastes well enough. And if being a musician meant being a better arbiter of musical quality, there wouldn't be so much shitty music as every shit album takes at least one shit musician.

But I was coming back to the thread to say that if the original poster did like the Notwist that The Books would be a good recommendation. But I also feel warning someone away from wastes of money is just as important as steering them towards things that they would like. If you don't like that, take me to MeTa.
posted by klangklangston at 11:15 AM on January 31, 2006


I know your tastes well enough.

No, you don't. I'm sure you could name a few bands that I've claimed to like. That doesn't make your attitude in your last post any less presumptuous.

And if being a musician meant being a better arbiter of musical quality, there wouldn't be so much shitty music as every shit album takes at least one shit musician.

That wasn't my contention. Making music is not the same as understanding music. For example, if you picked up a guitar right now and started strumming it, you'd be a musician, but you still wouldn't be able to analyze a score.

But I was coming back to the thread to say that if the original poster did like the Notwist that The Books would be a good recommendation.

And that's a reasonable response to my suggestion.

But I also feel warning someone away from wastes of money is just as important as steering them towards things that they would like.

I think you're being disingenuous. If we all assumed that the asker in a thread was going to immediately buy everything that's recommended in the thread without first sampling it to see if they like it, a lot more threads would be full of useless bickering, like this one.

Alright, that's all I have to say about that.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:26 AM on January 31, 2006


Bad Livers. Austin Bluegrass trio covering Metallica, The Ramones etc. Sadly defunct now. Inbred, cornbread, braindead!
posted by AArtaud at 2:35 AM on February 5, 2006


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