By: Charles John Babcock, Managing Editor
We’re all Gonzos in our own way (that’s slang for weirdo, if you don’t know). But being a part of the YouTube generation means we’re not just in remote control; we’re in a total coup over the media world. The Internet has held over the previous fetish-obsession of the 1990’s and allowed our youthful skins to bask in it. Off-beat, awkward, quirky, and maybe even “Zooey Deschanel” is an adjective at this point, but whatever word you want to use, there’s music ripping masks off of itself and its own genre.
There’s plenty of tripped out material for the long ride between fear and loathing home for this graduating Bloomsburg senior.
Let’s focus first on two artists from the 4AD record label. First, SpaceGhostPurp and his “Blvckvnd Rvdix 66.6 (1991)” mixtape. There are the strange names, the ghost of 1990’s hip hop hanging in SpaceGhostPurp’s music like moss from a particularly trendy tree, and a track like “Tha Phonk,” with a haunting beat, sexually explicit lyrics, and precarious insert samples of a woman presumably moaning (though it sounds like a loop of a tortured scream). The lack of emotional resonance for the drive home is something rather alarming, though in other places on the mixtape he may go in interesting places, he hasn’t yet crafted a track that emotionally captures something from the 1990s like Tupac or Biggie.
On the complete other side of spectrum is Grouper. A female singer-songwriter not easily dismissed is one sly way of putting it. More accurate would be a goth and reverb-ed out construction of a female by a female. Grouper’s track “Heavy Water/ I’d Rather Be Sleeping,” is possibly the most emotional resonant any singer-songwriter (outside of perhaps Katheleen Edwards and country queen Lucinda Williams), that it can get. The perfect tune for thoughts of the cosmic burden of existence, as well as getting out of bed, the track strikes a cord and reminds me a lot of my years at Bloomsburg, slow days of the muddiest town in Pennsylvania in bright sun.
There are of course all types of remixes and varities of changes to songs that take tradition and turn it on their heads. Bloomsburg days seem like inaccurate photocopies of their own yesterdays.
Interesting looks back at songs make up suburban genres like Witch House and Drag. Perusing things like bandcamp.com, you’ll find these eventually. Both of these genres take a lot from Houston rap culture, particularly the codeine influence of the remix style “chopped and screwed” as perfected by the Swishahouse collective (check out UGK’s “Diamonds and Wood” to get a great example of the remix genre). There are remixes of contemporary pop trash, like “When The Chains Break” a Drag version of “Cannibal” by Ke$ha, which is done fantastically by DEERDUS† (check out their ep “Blank Looks on Teenage Girls”). Avoid bands like SALEM who ride Goth-Rap cliché and mediocre hipsterism hard, though their Britney Spears track “Till The World Ends” is a must YouTube (how non-conformist, YouTube as a verb).
There is of course a cream of the crop when it comes to Drag and Witch House, namely PARTY TRASH. The drag of “Will You Be There” by Michael Jackson (R.I.P., YOLO), is immediately post-ironic and classic, not to mention emotionally crushing, and can be seen as MJ asking for love, PARTY TRASH looking for fans, or a recent undergrad fumbling his way on Route 80.