So why lo-fi?

lo-fi band Best Coast of California

In today’s music world it can seem like every popular song is terribly artificial, overly processed, and unforgivably marred by auto-tune. Is there no room for humanity in a business that’s dominated by pitch-perfecting, high-tech, expensive machines? Is there any form of originality in pop music? Song after song is practically the same. Live shows are nothing but overdone moments of hyperstimulation. In many ways, it appears that artistic merit is a thing of the past in today’s pop. But hi-fi doesn’t dominate every realm of music—except many people wouldn’t know that, since they’re completely unaware. And it’s not necessarily their fault; after all, such bands and artists receive very little attention from television and radio stations.

In the world of indie and underground music, bands have experimented with lo-fi for decades, and the fuzzy sound has become very popular lately. Lo-fi, for those of you that don’t know, is a recording style that is not intended to sound particularly crisp. In other words, lo-fi music is meant to sound homemade and inexpensive. Don’t get me wrong, it probably sounds a lot better than a karaoke night at Karaoke Boho fueled by student discounts! But there’s no gaudy flash to lo-fi, which is not the case on the billboard charts or on your friend’s Lady Gaga-heavy iPod. Lo-fi has transitioned from being a simple recording technique to becoming a genre in it’s own right. My suggestion is, if you’re bored with the monotony of popular music, then try listening to some lo-fi indie acts.

Four bands I’d recommend checking out are: Smith Westerns, Wavves, Yuck, and Best Coast. Smith Westerns are a young trio from Chicago whose glam-tinged 2011 album Dye it Blonde has garnered a lot of attention from music journals like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork. I’ve seen this band live and I was very impressed by the skill and musical maturity of a band composed of guys my age, yet it was of course wonderfully youthful too. Wavves and Best Coast are probably the biggest lo-fi acts out of California right now (and the two groups’ lead singers are dating!). Best Coast’s debut album Crazy For You cracked the top 40, which is a huge achievement in today’s indie scene, and demonstrates the increasing popularity of lo-fi. I also think it’s pretty cool that this success was realized by a female-fronted band. Yuck’s self-titled album is, in my opinion, by far the best album of 2011, chock full of shoegaze wonder.  Yuck is comprised of musicians from New Jersey, London, and Tokyo, which has an interesting influence on their sound. Many of these bands and other lo-fi acts take their queues from the original kings of lo-fi, the cult 90s band Pavement.

The fours bands I’ve mentioned have been touring extensively, promoting recent albums (I’ve been lucky enough to see all four), so there’s a chance you could still catch them yourself! If you’d like to experience some nostalgia then I highly recommend seeing Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks on Monday, September 26 at Terminal 5. Stephen Malkmus is the lead singer of Pavement, which just finished up a successful reunion tour, and he’s now touring with the Jicks. If you’re bored with what’s playing on z100 you should try listening to these bands and exploring websites like Pitchfork and the music blog Fucking Nostalgic to discover even more. And don’t forget indie darkroom, the only true indie radio station, which is on 87.7 FM!

Anjelica LaFurno (Baruch College)

Visit my tumblr here

Image credit:

Click here to download the Campus Clipper iTunes App!

Follow Campus Clipper on Twitter or keep current by liking us on Facebook

Interested in more deals for students? Sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter to get the latest in student discounts and promotions. For savings on-the-go, download our printable coupon e-book!


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.