Posted in Lo-fi, Post-rock, Screamo by Giri Nathan on June 30, 2010

Hi I am Giri I don’t like driving but I like listening to music while driving! And driving music is a unique beast. Plenty of people are content with the Shuffling iPod; I never really liked fiddling with the device at the wheel, since I’m a heinous driver as is, so I stick with the ancient relics known as “compact discs,” which seem to sound better anyway. Now as for what I put on those discs…

You can pretty much divide driving music into two categories:

  1. music that is good to drive to because it is good driving music
  2. music that is good to drive to because it requires careful single-minded listening

If you’re lucky, you’ll get both in one tidy package, though it’s a tricky balance. Here are some things I’ve been listening to while cruising through suburbia and getting bogged down on Route 1 for unreasonable chunks of time. But mainly the latter.

Beach Fossils (category 1)

I for one am totally content with the current trend of sun-bleached washed-out “so chill right now” lo-fi. It’s in no short supply these days, and I think these guys are among the best of that briny bunch. As for their what they sound like: they sound pretty much exactly like their name. This is kind of a feat in itself. Beach Fossils are like a salty breeze coursing over my windows as I roll through the streets of my decidedly landlocked town — they radiate jangly, surfy hooks that ride slow dull waves of reverb, inevitably cresting on that one pensive, plaintive note. Crisp and simple rhythms set a rather pleasant tempo for automobiling (ho ho) and while I’m in the car I can’t help but feel that the sunshine’s being filtered through my windshield and out of my speakers. Admittedly there isn’t much variety on this album, but it manages to stay fresh, almost paradoxically, by being so frickin’ tired-sounding. “Daydream” seems the obvious standout in terms of sheer catchiness, but I personally refer “Twelve Roses.” Whole album’s worth a spin though.

Daydream // Beach Fossils

Twelve Roses // Beach Fossils

Ampere (category 2)

At the risk of cliché: not for the faint of heart. Their “songs” are vicious bursts of razor-sharp riffs peeled off one after another after another in quick fits of technical dexterity while the drums bash out a frantic heartbeat and a singer yelps some earnest-sounding (and surprisingly thoughtful) things over it all — oh, and the whole thing rarely lasts longer than a minute. The songs are tiny self-contained capsules of emotion (and not just anger, as repeated listens will slowly reveal). Sometimes they’ll lapse into these feathered, delicate interludes and re-emerge just as badass. I find that the solitude of a car is the best way to absorb it; Ampere makes for terrible “background music” for other activities because it’s too easy to get overwhelmed by a numbing wall of noise, and the blindingly quick songs will pass you by before you can even wake up and rub the dust out your eyes and get a sense of what’s going on. I should stress that it takes some time to feel out the terrain here, to catch the nuances — to piece out the beauty amongst so much broken glass — particularly if you’re not familiar with this kind of music. I’d urge even the most dainty of ears to at least give ’em a shot. Here are a few gems … although I feel like “jagged lumps of quartz” is more appropriate.

Our Exit Strategy // Ampere/Sinaloa split

Diffident Dissonance // The First Five Years

What It’s Like to Fly // The First Five Years

This Will Destroy You (both!)

Post-rock has always held a special place in my heart when it comes to driving: it makes your journey seem a lot more epic than it actually is. (Picking up a sweaty gallon of milk at the convenience store has never felt so fulfilling.) These guys serve up some beautiful slabs of sound, giving you a nice little narrative for your everyday seven-minute errand. It’s textbook stuff for the genre: overarching melodies carve out your own peaks and valleys, even when the roads are flat and boring. Twinkly guitar buildups swell with tension, hit nigh-Olympian heights, screech out the massively distorted climax, and shudder to a close. Then the whole thing happens again, maybe before the song’s even over. And then the next song comes on and it’s a whole new landscape! You’ll feel like you’re carrying out some Herculean labors or some shit. I’d fit them in both categories because the songwriting (almost storytelling) is dense enough to warrant careful attention, but even if you zone out you’ll be happily swept away by their broad, mythic strokes. Unlike that prior band, the name doesn’t quite capture the music here — in fact, This Will Probably Make You Very Happy. Even when you’re stuck at that one red light before the 7-11.

Quiet // Young Mountain EP

There Are Some Remedies Worse Than Disease // Young Mountain EP


One Response

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  1. Kay Potter said, on June 30, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Wow, randomly found this blog! I really enjoyed how you organized “driving music” into two categories. It really helps people who have learning disabilities, like me! LOL!
    Hey, check out my website!

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