Ladies and gentlemen, it’s again time to branch out your earlobes and add to your musical palette. Yes, we’re into part three of Everguide’s How to Look Cool on Spotify and weird subgenres. Check out part one
and part two
if you’ve missed ‘em.
Bikini Kill, 7 Year Bitch, Bratmobile
Writhing about onstage as they growled into their microphones with the full force aggression of third wave feminism, Riot Grrls exploded on the punk rock scene with an explosion of oestrogen and a political messages. Armed with their guitars and a gender equality motive, Kathleen Hanna’s band Bikini Kill pioneered the rough and righteous movement with an underground scene of girls ready to rock and stick it to the man (in more ways than one). Originally coming to the boil in the early ‘90s moshpits of Washington, Riot Grrrl spread to the UK and, of all places, Brazil, encouraging women to make their own media and express themselves through DIY technology. They focused on creating a lo-fi, anti-technology culture with loud, punk rock music at the centre flagged by photocopied zines. They were loud, they were proud, and they didn’t apologise for getting nude, their coarse language or offensive gestures
. Riot Grrrl is not for the prudish and makes for ideal hairbrush singing material. Rock out.
The Who, David Bowie, The Kinks, Pink Floyd, The Decembrists, Coheed and Cambria
Those who keep their love of musicals on the d-low can stop hiding behind the cyber-cloak of private listening sessions on Spotify. Rock opera, much like that musical episode of Buffy
, is just as badass as the music you know and love, but incorporates a running narrative with theatrical elements like crazy costumed fictional characters, monologues and explosive denouements. A rock opera record’s songs are unified by a story line that usually revolves around a protagonist on an existential quest (bar Marilyn Manson’s reverse trilogy of Antichrist Superstar
, Mechanical Animals
and Holy Wood
). A genre that was popularised in the 1960s and ‘70s, The Who got the ball rolling in 1966 with the nine-minute six-part track, ‘A Quick One, While He's Away’
, from their album A Quick One
. Three years later they released their first full-scale rock opera album Tommy
, an epic story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy who learns to overcome his psychosomatic disabilities. Other examples of rock operas include The Kink’s 1969 release of Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
, Pink Floyd’s The Wall
in 1979, Frank Zappa's dystopic Joe's Garage
, a three act rock opera about the life of a young musician who lives in a world where music is illegal, and perhaps most famously, David Bowie’s The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars
, a tale of a promiscuous raven-haired rock star alien.
Shoegaze and Nu Gaze
My Bloody Valentine, Slint, Slowdive, Seam, Ride
Far from being a new edition to the musical vocabulary of musos young and old, shoegaze is a genre of alternative rock that can be traced back to Britain in the late 1980s. Rock ‘n’ roll folklore has it that London band Moose
inspired the label, as lead singer Russell Yates sang lyrics taped to the floor. Coined by bemused journalists from music bible NME
, Sounds Magazine
and weekly broadsheet Melody Maker
, the genre refers to the detached, motionless and subdued performances of artists who were fond of distortion pedals, droning guitar riffs, vocal melodies and nonsensical lyrics that combined to create a fuzzy wall of sound. Naturally, using a distortion pedal requires continually monitoring the foot area, hence the term 'shoegazing' was born. With the implication that they lacked any showmanship, bands who found themselves slapped with the category were none to happy. Regardless, the label stuck and became part of the ultra-exclusive and incestuous scene contemptuously called, 'The Scene That Celebrates Itself
'. It fizzled out with the rise of grunge and dream-pop, but has enjoyed a recent revival with bands like Wavves and Deerhunter, who employ a similar introspective style. Don’t confuse it with stoner-rock and you’ll get extra indie cred.
Creed, Limp Bizkit, Disturbed, Korn, Hoobastank, Papa Roach
This genre’s another of those labels that’s not typically aspired to, and you probably wouldn’t find it sandwiched between ‘salsa’ and ‘techno’ at JB Hi-Fi. But if you were creating a high-energy compilation of thrashing guitars and in-your-face vocals to get you pounding on the treadmill, you would name the playlist 'sports metal' and Chocolate Starfish and the Hotdog Flavoured Water would become the soundtrack to your weight loss. Bands generally slapped with this label have a hard rock sound, soaring vocals, and an incessant, driving momentum that gets the adrenaline pumping, much like watching cage fighting or wrestling (coincidentally, check the vid below). It’s fast, it’s loud and most bands enjoy wide commercial success.
Technical Death Metal
Athiest, Necrophagist, Cynic
Commonly referred to as progressive death metal or abbreviated to tech-death, consider technical death metal the more introspective and calculating cousin of the metal family. With its genesis traced back to the first death metal bands, such as the aptly-named band Death, the subgenre divorces itself from the Satan worshipping public image of metal’s in-yer-face blood and sweat-filled performances. It’s still as loud and as heavy as a Catholic nun’s worst nightmare, but does away with cliched and gory lyrical content, incorporating existentialist themes sung in tenor, which aren’t too dissimilar from the Cookie Monster.
Horde, Kekal, Frost Like Ashes
Whereas thrashing guitars and meathead filled mosh-pits are pretty much the antithesis to a Sunday school full of believers, Unblack Metal bathes Black Metal music in the white light of Christianity with lyrics about eternal salvation. High-speed tempos, blast beat drumming and screaming vocals are met with evangelical sentiment, often attacking Black Metal’s Satanic roots and misanthropic nature. Rock out with your cross out.
oOooOo, Creep, Salem
Originally an internet meme that lost all sense of irony and became an actual thing, witch haus is relatively new to the musical thesaurus. A micro-genre also known to music aficionados as ‘drag’, the term was coined by artist Tim Egedy
circa 2009 to describe his own brand of house music laden with eerie, hypnotic vibes. He was, of course, taking the piss. As internet mockery is wont to do, the satirical sub-genre went viral, travelling from Pitchfork
to the rest of the internet nether. It was then gobbled up by bloggers and soon became a tag on Last.fm. It reached fever pitch with a New York Times article
chronicling the early days of the modern electro goths tunes of choice. Not that they’re particular techy – songs are chock full with white noise and distorted lyrics buried in sound. Tracks usually feature pitched down vocals that borderline whisper with incantations, a drowsy tempo and placid reverb. Witch Haus also borrows a lot of elements from shoegaze, chillwave, dubstep and hip hop (Salem’s remix of Gucci Mane is amazing
). Still not sure how to classify a true witch? Look for names that can’t be pronounced, like oOooOo, or names with composed of unicodes, triangles or cross symbols, and keep them saved in your phone for obscure music credibility.
Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys, the Whomping Willows, Gred and Forge
Not many authors of children’s literature can lay claim to inspiring an entire subgenre of music. J.K Rowling’s famous boy wizard became a source of satirical sonic energy for brothers Paul and Joe DeGeorge back in 2002, turning Harry Potter
plot lines into choruses, they took wizarding fandom to a new level of punk rock. Becoming Harry and the Potters, they reached international success through meta-fandom, sans production studios, managers, PR assistants and recording budgetary restraints. Riding on the broomsticks of their success (har-har) were hundreds of other wizard rock tributes, most notably Draco and the Malfoys, the Whomping Willows, Justin Finch-Fletchley and the Sugar Quills, Gred and Forge, Tonks and the Aurors, Swish and Flick, Ministry of Magic, The Moaning Myrtles, The Parselmouths, and Kingsley and the Shacklebolts. Wizard rockers are easily identifiable by their lightning bolt tattoos, broken spectacles, Hogwarts references, and an unwavering continuation of the Harry Potter
franchise. Something tells us that ‘Bella and the Swans’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. Three points to Wizard Rock.
(This song is LOL).