I was so happy with the definition I came up with of a thing called "The triangle" (=Rock-Punk-Metal)... It has given me kind of a comprehensive "zone" where I can put everything that I gravitate to musically, from Credence Clearwater to Asesino, from Ozzy Osbourne to Derek and the Dominoes, and everything in between. (My knowledge of the roots of rock is sketchy; as far as I know, it had something to do with the brokenhearted African slaves bringing their rhythm patterns to the pentatonic scale brought by the brokenhearted Chinese quasi-slaves, plus some kind of contribution (melodies, instrumentation, chord progressions?) from the Irish immigrants, who didn't lead very happy lives in those days either).
So far my "triangle" scope has served me well (I also listen to stuff outside the triangle, for example Igor Stravinski, Earl Hines, and a lot of local heroes you wouldn't recognize but I love, in the end it is all music, it is either alive for you or made of cardboard, but I find useful to have some kind of framework, always with the caution of not taking the map for the territory). But the other day I stumbled upon an item of curiosity that got me thinking for a while; the indie genre called "Lo-Fi", does it belong in the triangle? And if so, where we put it?
Not being big on labels, my homemade definition of "Lo-Fi" is: those recordings made by bands who intentionally use low fidelity recording technology as an artistic, expressive device. My all time heroes in this area (and perhaps also one of the bands I love the most in general) are Sebadoh. At a very distant second, I also enjoy Guided by Voices, and not so much (although perhaps they are the most mainstream band in this genre, and people love them), Pavement.
So I'll speak of Sebadoh mostly. Do they belong inside the triangle? Absolutely. Especially in their first records ("Bubble & Scrape", "III"), they have that kind of crude, insane, anarchic energy that makes you jump like an ape, and glorious amounts of distortion and dissonance. Plus III, for example, is one of those records with like a million songs of a minute each. Chaotic, luscious, and full of rage; just the way I like it. As their other colleagues, they have an intense folk side, but far from the mellow vibe you usually associate to that genre, you have to listen to it to believe that someone can rock so hard with a ukelele! It could only get more aggressive if they'd hit you in the head with it...
They also have powerful, intimate melodic ballads (like "Think (let tomorrow bee)", for example), with nothing to do with the polished and generally sterile sound we associate to pop music. In fact, I'd say, along time, the "product mix" of Sebadoh has moved more towards this kind of melodic stuff rather than the noisy one, with divided opinions (I love that stuff too because Lou Barlow's melodies are crazy good, and what ambiences he creates, and besides the latest Sebadoh album, "Defend yourself" has also its share of rude blasts, too).
So where in the triangle does Lo-Fi live? My vote goes to punk. Their attitude is punk, direct, in-yer-face. Their "break the rules" stance soundwise, their continuous experimentation, is punk (for example, destroying toys or little objects to create particular sounds, or this song by Guided by Voices where you hear in the background someone leaving through a poorly oiled door... first time I listened to it I thought "you have to be kidding me"...) Their DIY, make do with what you've got attitude is punk, too...
In the end all of this are just labels, that do not add or take anything away from the musical experience. I guess I was just looking for an excuse to introduce these bands to the rest of "the gang", and this post was the mean. Now I'm feeling an irresistible desire of listening to "Defend yourself" again. See ya...
I have a guitar and I'm gonna use it