This is a lo-fi article. It’s written in non-joined handwriting on toilet paper stolen from The Joinery with a pen once used by Nathan Williams. Well, not really. It’s typed on a family computer in the suburbs, but that’s probably just as lo-fi, if not more so (Nathan has nothing on my dreadful Sanyo microphone). The reason I’m writing this article is to explore a few ideas about lo-fi and bedroom music culture, which seems to have become a very prominent style/ethos in the music of 2009 and the years preceding it.
So Cow – Halcyon Days
The past year has been quite significant for a number of Irish lo-fi acts. You needn’t look further than Tuam for one particularly great conquest. I’m of course speaking of So Cow, who after years of making music in his shed, received a well deserved good review for his Tic Tac Totally LP from hipster media giants Pitchfork. I’m sure you all know about how great So Cow is from this here blog, so I won’t bother you with my fanboy banter (but zomg I totally have this rare So Cow bootleg tee hee, cough, anyway). It doesn’t stop there though. The sudden news that Conor O’Brien’s (initially) bedroom-based project Villagers had been signed to none other than Domino Records (Pavement, Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors) was a great surprise to many, and an inspiring thought for bedroom dwellers and all Irish musicians. These two particular artists did it their own way, with nothing more than miniscule equipment and talent.
R. Stevie Moore – Why Can’t I Write A Hit?
The idea of lo-fi music is nothing new (people like Daniel Johnston, and before him R. Stevie Moore have been making music at home for years that we have luckily gotten the chance to hear), but in this age of high speed internet, it is quite easy to see how lo-fi music is now so greatly heard. Anyone with a computer can quite easily record an album and have it online as a download the very next day. This makes me think a bit. It seems as if the perceived natural progression from making music in your bedroom and uploading it, is to get noticed/signed and record in a studio. But is this in fact a progression? Does the quality of sound recording actually influence music for the better? Does it retract from the honesty of the music? I suppose that it depends on the artist, and the style that suits them, but on a spiritual level, I’d assume something recorded alone by the person who wrote the songs would be more honest, and free from outside influence. Let’s put it this way, there is often amateur pornography with people who love each other, and there is often professional pornography with people who don’t love each other. The amateur pornography mightn’t be as high a standard as far as angles and lighting go, but you can tell they love each other, and that’s what matters. I could probably run in circles all day thinking about honesty in music, the complications of defining it and its importance (and sound like a pretentious moron in the process), so I think I’ll stop.
The Meanest Boys – We Are Devoted
In 2009, it is impossible to ignore this lo-fi/bedroom culture. Their friend requests are in your inbox. Their songs are on your hard drive. Their studio is the place you used to go as a child to play lego and drink apple juice before your mother collected you at around 5pm in her Volkswagen. Everyone has a project, and I think that’s truly a wonderful thing. It’s refreshing to know that this music is being made everyday behind closed doors; this beautiful music which would have been lost had it been written 15 years ago (although I have to mention the tragic musical geniuses who could quite easily be incredibly famous if they were only a bit luckier [The Meanest Boys for example]). Mine the internet for all the music it has. The website might go down tomorrow. The artist might never re-upload that one specific split EP they did with that one specific friend of theirs which is the greatest thing ever recorded. The internet works in wonderful ways; that one teenager with the dodgy myspace layout might be the best thing you hear all year.