Feb 28 2010

Chillwave: A Broad Analysis

What can be said about chillwave in its roughly 8-month existence as a subgenre of “indie” rock that hasn’t already been said?  The subgenre has been dissected, praised, destroyed, re-praised, mocked, etc.  The always tongue-in-cheek, but really not that clever blog Hipster Runoff loves poking fun at Chillwave because it is, in fact, a relevant movement in our current state of music; they’re responsible for the JPEG above.  (I would love to delve into how much I dislike the Hipster Runoff blog/radio show/movement, but that is a post for another long day.)

I personally would like to know what’s next for chillwave, if anything.  There is a definite sound the subgenre has incorporated and brought to the table; I assume, like most subgenres of rock music, it will die soon.  In its wake, however, will come an obviously-influenced new subgenre, incorporating some elements of chillwave with other movements in music today, mainstream or otherwise.  Maybe this new subgenre will be more interesting/popular/catchy than chillwave, maybe not.  I’m not ready to declare chillwave dead, however.  I still think there’s plenty to come, and with artists like Washed Out and Neon Indian receiving an incredible amount of press/praise, I envision the genre growing before burning out.

Many people, however, still don’t know about this exciting new subgenre, which incorporates the now-standard lo-fi aesthetic many indie acts have been using.  It also adds the textures of shoegaze, 80’s pop, hip-hop, dreamwave techno, and a lot of sampling.  Simple melodies usually carry the songs along in a dreamy fashion; the subgenre has been described as great “summertime music,” however, I don’t feel that is always the case.

As with most research on the Internet, Wikipedia is a good place to start for those interested in discovering this new movement, but I also find this Musical Pairings blog post a concise description of the subgenre.  There’s also a pretty nifty mixtape I HIGHLY reccomend downloading to introduce yourself to the sounds of Chillwave, which you’ll discover are varied, yet somewhat intertwined.  I would imagine the mixtape would be great for a walk along a beach during a sunset or a drive in the country on a clear night with a full moon.