Everybody from scene kids to hipster vermin to beard-scratching avant-garde types have one thing in common: They’re always ready to brag about “the next thing” they’re into. You can’t like deathcore when black metal is the desecrated shit, man. You can’t like dark ambient music—you gotta be down with True Sheffield Black. You can’t like pop-punk because, well, there are roughly five strains of it currently flourishing, and a couple of them sound like Bryan Adams. And that means you're always one misplaced T-shirt away from being bullied on some complexion-challenged prick's Tumblr. Because AP’s all about providing you with guides to everything both sublime and suck-ulent, we decided to take a stroll through some of the more pointed (and pointless) genre exercises of recent memory. (Note: Level Of Idiocy ratings are based on a one-to-10 scale ranging from agreeable to go-find-a-girl/boy/farm-animal-to-kiss-you-dude.
PRACTICIONER: Attack Attack!
The boys from Attack Attack! locked themselves in a basement with instruments, microwavable burritos and a downloaded copy of the first Enter Shikari album and came up with their debut, Someday Came Suddenly, in 2008. Knowing they needed a hook, someone in the band came up with a twist on headbanging that involved bending the knees to look like a lateral crab walk. Kids dug it, hipsters had grist for their mill for a couple weeks and voila! A one-band subgenre was born!
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 5, due to several mitigating factors: a) The band coined the term as a marketing tool more than any kind of aesthetic designation (drummer Andrew Wetzel said AA! now describe themselves as “dubcore,” citing a mix of metalcore and dubstep), b) No other bands actively, willingly used the term to describe themselves and c) the A-Team are rumored to be disassociating themselves from the electro-metal-screamo scene they came up through, in order to reposition themselves as an “active-rock” band to appeal to people who work at radio stations who don’t like music, anyway.
PRACTICIONERS: 3OH!3, Breathe Carolina, BrokenCYDE
Hip-hop beats? Check. Auto-Tune unit warm and running? Affirmative. Party-hearty hedonism ramped up? On it. The amalgam of hip-hop, booming beats and sonic chrome-plating created a booming industry for the Billboard charts, dance clubs and Girls Gone Wild video soundtracks.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 7. Except for BrokenCYDE, whose cloying addition of screamo signifiers in an effort to appeal to Warped Tour Nation puts them in a genre all of their own, one we’ll call “autism crunk.” Those dudes get a 10, most certainly.
PRACTICIONERS: Meshuggah, Periphery, Sikth, Born Of Osiris
What do palm-muted guitar chords played through distortion pedals and big-ass amps sound like? If you started thinking, “djent, djent, djent, djent,” good for you. If you answered, “Your point is what, exactly?” well, it’s maybe because the metal community is in need of new subcultures, having burned up the lot they’ve already devised in the last five decades.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 9. You need a specific genre designation for something we’ve heard a gajillion times? If we follow that logic, Stevie Nicks and Miniature Tigers may be described as “chukka-chukka” (see below.)
PRACTICIONERS: Agathocles, Arcagathus, Dropdead
We understand that every music subculture will inevitably have its own splinter factions, the kind of thing that’s going to impress friendless bloggers and/or what’s left of the music press. We were schooled by a discerning grind-snob that the term “mincecore” came to fruition in the late ’80s to emphasize the more primitive, anti-technical aspects of grindcore, based on stamina and the need to make a convulsive personal exorcism. When we asked if the term came up in regular discussion amongst enthusiasts, our consultant told us to shut up if we didn’t want to get a toilet-bowl swirlie. Fair enough.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 9. It’s all grindcore, people.
PRACTICIONERS: Ultrademon, Zombelle, Unicorn Kid
It seems like every lifeform with access to some kind of synthesizer is trying to build their own niche in the hopes of fomenting a movement. (Does anybody still describe their music as electroclash?) The seapunk syndrome cops everything from straight-up techno, Top 40 R&B, house music (divas optional) and minimal wave, while visually delivering it all in shades of turquoise (you know, the color of the purest ocean water) right out of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Know what’s really funny? Synth op/programmer/genre fulcrum Albert Redwine (aka Ultrademon and Fire For Effect; pictured left, center) used to play keyboards in Josephine Collective, whose John Feldmann-produced Warner Bros. debut is cut from the same Downey-treated cloth as Boys Like Girls and We The Kings.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 7. We will bet you sushi for dinner Lady Gaga has minions monitoring this movement right now, so she can exploit the daylights out of it to tweeners and moms whose musical tastes never deviate from the endcaps at Target.
PRACTICIONERS: Frosthardr, Crimson Moonlight, Frost Like Ashes
The scene’s got unreadable band logos, plenty of hair and a great sense of both the arcane and furious. But instead of inviting you to come sip the broth of Hell from a damned infant’s skull, these bands are thrashing in the name of Jesus Christ. Call it redressing the balance, appropriating the weapon or whatever: Unblack metal is gaining some traction, having spawned a fanbase, a documentary, the scorn of black-metal outfits and the concern of one former black-metal maniac (former Mayhem guitarist Kittil Kittilsen) who became born-again.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 5. Playing heavy music in the name of a higher power that’s not Big Daddy Satan isn’t new (cf. Christian metalcore). The existence of the trite vernacular to describe it seems pointless, though.
PRACTICIONERS: Salem, White Ring, oOoOO
Chopped-and-screwed hip-hop submerged in melodramatic, syrupy drones and usually adorned with pitched-down vocals—because when a voice sounds like its batteries are running low, it’s, ahem, “scary.” Its relation to actual house music is akin to a hippo consorting with a cheetah. Also, no actual witches would ever give this music the time of day.
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 6. The typography used to render witch-house band names—triangles, crosses, and other sigil-like characters—is more interesting than the music.
PRACTICIONERS: CrossCollateral, Credit>Default, Madoff
Named after the financial realm of hedge-fund managers, straight-hedge bands appear in suits, have “1%” inked on the tops of their hands and play a vicious strain of punk/grind which celebrates the accumulation of wealth and denigrates the plights of the poor, the struggling working class and third-world countries. CrossCollateral’s firewall-protected EP ($200 for four songs via PayPal) begins with an imitation of Men’s Wearhouse founder George Zimmer saying, “You’re going to like the way you die—I guarantee it.”
LEVEL OF IDIOCY: 12. Because we just made up this whole entry. We're hoping someone takes the bait, though.