Genres You Should Really Try No.4: Lo-Fi

Pavement - Slanted And EnchantedLo-fi isn't really a style of music, it's more of a recording technique. Basically it's a lack of studio expertise, money, equipment which leaves a recording sounding sless polished than most bands. However some bands have turned this into a selling point, citing records from the 60's and 70's that were badly recorded, especially garage rock bands like The Sonics or Monks. Lo-fi came into fashion in the late 80's/early 90's when bands like Sebadoh and Pavement recorded albums on the cheap that still managed to captivate listeners.

Pavement were founded by Steven Malkmus and Scott Kannnburg who decided to record some of their songs in the studio of local hippy/drummer Gary Young. Their early EPs featured no bass and guitars at maximum treble. Eventually they recruited another drummer and bassist, but retained a scratchy guitar sound when they recorded their first album "Slanted And Enchanted", which has mass critical acclaim. Eventually Pavement refined their sound, despite claiming they still couldn't play their instruments, and eventually split after 5 albums in 1999.

Other artists have taken lo-fi as an aethetic; Grandaddy have recorded albums in frontman Jason Lyttle's home, so to has Andrew "Fog" Broder. He takes lo-fi to it's limits by featuring tracks that are broken up by the phone going in his house or improvising with cheap insturments like kazoos. Home recording's come into it's own recently; both Scissor Sisters and Tv On The Radio have recorded slick sounding albums in appartments, due to members of each gorup having some production experience. With the quality of computer software and cheap equipmen, lo-fi is actually a sound bands are artificially putting on their records. The Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney, admits to being a sound geek and hating the polished hi-fi sound of modern records. He produces the bands records with a haze over their songs that makes them sound like they were recorded in the 70's.

If you like the sound of this you can try:

  • Grandaddy – The Sophtware Slump
  • Pavement – Slanted & Enchanted
  • Fog – Ether Teeth
  • The Black Keys – thickfreakness

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