It’s been really slow on the Indie rock front lately, it seems all the indie hipsters are out having fun this summer and are leaving their song writing to more depressing winter days to come. I can’t blame them really, especially after the winter most of us had on the East Coast, but I do need some new music ASAP folks. Actually, on a more serious note, I think the scene as a whole is changing musical direction again and it’s becoming increasingly harder to find bands with pure instrumental rock backbones. As a result, I’ve had to scour the seven seas to find even a few morsels to keep me entertained. Whilst searching I’ve noticed this phenomena of new bands creating fuzzed out, lo-fi sounding 8-track recordings and claiming it to be artistic expression. I’m on the fence about this issue to be honest. In this day and age, there is no real reason to have low quality studio recordings. The artists are recording on equipment like 8-tracks because they want to recreate a vintage recording feel. In the sense of recreating vintage, this superimposed fuzz almost seems creditable, but when you consider the sound (ie, pop, electronic) that most are layering with this fuzz the credibility of the idea becomes lost again. Catchy precise hooks and beats are generally things that make a great pop song and if a pop song is really good, I’ll be inclined to create my own distortion by pushing my speakers to the max. The addition of recorded fuzz simply makes the songs feel a bit sloppy and I hesitate to turn up the volume in fear I might introduce more distortion making the entire song illegible. Luckily, there are varying degrees to which this technique is employed and the lesser distorted range is growing on me a bit. Below is a little introduction to three different bands ranging in “fuzz” intensity, so you can decide for yourself.
The newest kids on the block, Sleigh Bells just had their first album entitled Treats released this year. The duo comprised of Derek Miller (formerly of the group Poison The Well) and Alexis Krauss mix music and guitar samples with electronic beats, layer it with Alexis’ girly pop voice and then douse the combination in a concoction of lo-fi fuzz. The overall product is dance party pop and while many criticize their music as empty calories, it is undeniably tasty to the ears. I was happy that Sleigh Bells album Treats was lighter on the fuzz factor than their original 2009 demo tracks , tracks that I found to be almost unlistenable. Pitchfork seems to be quite happy with the Sleigh Bells new release also, giving it an 8.7 ( here ).
Perhaps the current poster children for implementing the lo-fi fuzz pop song sound are Wavves , a San Diego based three some who debuted in 2008. Wavves has two releases to date, their self entitled album (2008) and King Of The Beach (2010). They have more of a garage band feel and use generous portions of the fuzz effect. While I think the lo-fi sound makes more sense in combo with garage band genres, I also tend to think Wavves over does it a bit. Pitchfork is in agreeance with their style however, rating King Of The Beach with an 8.1 ( here ).
Essentially a solo act, except when on stage Neon Indian (aka. Alan Palomo of VEGA and Ghosthustler) is another leader in this lo-fi revolution. Neon Indian takes more of a retro 80’s feel all together though. The basis of the songs are dreamy electronic pop and overall his works seem to have the most well balanced mix of fuzz. Neon Indian’s debut release was in 2009 and titled Psychic Chasms . Deadbeat Summer is probably the most popular track off the album having showed up on several playlists and Pitchfork gave it an 8.6 ( here ).