Little-known music scenes that could, Part Deux


Since it’s been, oh, about two and a half years since I wrote the first post about obscure music scenes and I’ve stumbled upon quite a bit more music since then, I thought it’d be neat to update and add on to that original post.  Without further adieu…

If shoegaze music hit the spot, then one might find a modern, updated solace in today’s nu-gaze movement.  Relegated to Clearchannel and Infiniti-owned corporate radio, you wouldn’t think shoegaze had survived the the grunge era that began in 1991, but guess what: it did!

And, amid today’s indie music scenes, Lady Gaga, teen Emo, and computer vectoring, it’s making both a comeback and a reincarnation.  Just as the ’60s Paisley psychedelic movement gave birth to the shoegaze scene, shoegaze has now spawned the Nu-gaze scene.  It’s lovely indeed.  Throw in hints of indie and a little electro and you’ve got it.  Yummy examples include: MGMT, Ringo Deathstarr, Radio Dept, and A Place To Bury Strangers.

Sure, we eluded to the Asian Underground movement in which modern electronic beats are infused with traditional ethnic tribal percussion, instrumentation, and vocals.  Groups such as Loop Guru and Banco De Gaia were given mention.  I hope Makyo was, too – if not, we’ll pay him his due.

What we didn’t pay much homage to was India’s faster electronic music scene: Goa trance.  Apparently there is an entire cultural scene constructed around India’s Goa coast, in which several tourist destination clubs play fast, ultra-modern electronic music that provides the perfect backdrop to which to drop copious amounts of acid (and probably Ecstasy).  I don’t profess to know much about the drugs involved, but I do know that at least some of the music is pretty spankin’ cool.  Excellent sampling includes Vibrasphere, Hallucinogen, and 1200 Micrograms.

OK, we’ve talked around it long enough – indie and electronic music – now, let’s just marry the two shall we?  Oops, someone beat us to it: Indietronica.  Yes, that perfect blend between indie music and electronic.  Why didn’t I think of that?  Scrumptious favorites include Hot Chip, Caribou (formerly known as Manitoba before some unrelated douchebag threatened legal action), Bear In Heaven, LCD Soundsystem, and Tori y Moi.  Perfect for either a drive around San Antonio or a meal at Chipotle.

We mentioned Latin American music last time, but we were only dimly aware of any such rock en español from Spain itself.  Turns out, Spain is to Mexico and Latin America what Great Britain and the rest of the UK are to the US – sort of a sophisticated new-wave bellweather to be emulated and deservingly adored.  And it is – upon exploring further, we found that Radio Futura, Los Secretos, and Los Elegantes serve as just a few fantastic representatives.

I don’t know how I stumbled upon it, but somehow I found Gogol Bordello.  Then I discovered that the rabbit hole goes far deeper, into an entire genre known as Gypsy punk, which shares many common ties with various Balkan music styles, including Balkan flamenco.  Besides Gogol Bordello (an Americanized example), other examples include Firewater and Balkan Beat Box.  Mmmmm.  Perfect for a rabble-rousing rebellion!

Ahh, yes – we said the magic word: flamenco.  Specifically, flamenco nuevo.  An absolutely delish subgenre that takes the flamenco of yore and gives it a contemporary cleanup.  Some may argue that it is a bit too sanitized and that it lacks some of the anguish and passion of the former flamenco.

But critics can suck it, because flamenco nuevo isn’t trying to yodel until all hours of the morning about some lost love or bullfight.  In fact, the best artists don’t utilize vocals at all.  Apt representing artists include: Govi, Armik, Struntz & Farah, Ottmar Leibert, Incognito, and many, many others.  Perfect for a South Texan medical office…yeah.

I mentioned something about having discovered all this no thanks to American radio, and unfortunately that still holds true.  I uncovered all these genres by exploring places like Spin magazine, various blogs, friends’ recommendations, college radio playlists, and P2P sampling (including promo only CDs from the extensive collections of enthusiasts).  With all these emerging alternate avenues, American radio is losing its grip and we are no longer products to be sold and held hostage.


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