Friday, January 28, 2011

Ducktails- III: Arcade Dynamics (2011)

So i have to admit i am a little late to the whole Ducktails game, i missed out on all the limited cassettes 7 inches and all that jazz, I was aware of this guy's existence i had just never sat down with one of his albums. From what i am led to believe is that this new album is a bit of a departure from his earlier work, apparently his early work is all drum machine/synth style stuff with lazy stoner singing over it...but then again i could be wrong.
What I am hearing now on this new album is pretty boring and bored sounding indie rock in the vein of something like Sebadoh or Pavement without any of the ambition. The sound isn't terrible it's just not terribly engaging, it sounds tossed off but not in a very good way, it just kind of comes off lazy.
Now this brings me to a big topic i have been throwing around regarding this new resurgence of "lo-fi" and "chillwave". To be honest i am pretty much over it and i never really was into it to begin with. There is something very opportunistic about a lot of these bands, they all have a similar template; usually 1 or 2 people grabbing a 4 track and making something vaguely indie rockish, somewhat shoegazy, all with this "stoner haze" blanketing it. it's indie pop dragged through the mud until it comes out a pretty thing covered in dirt and this mud makes everything sound the same. sure the melodies are different from one artist to the next but it all sounds like it was recorded in the same studio with the same engineer. The genre of music is so similar it just feels like i could grab a rod and cast out and come back with an idea of the whole scene just by listening to 1 me that is awful. I need variety , i need umph some muscle or at least some real genuine weirdness. Once again let me state that this music is by no means bad or awful i just find it frustrating hearing all these 3rd rate Sebadoh's when there is so much more territory to explore.
So yeah this album is not an abomination and it's nothing amazing but to me the middle ground it occupies is the worst offense and this is something that has no place on my musical map of important and interesting things to listen to. this shit is stale, pleasant and stale....

02 Hamilton Road by deef deeferson
04 The Razor's Edge by deef deeferson


  1. dear sean:

    while I think that the points you make about this album are totally fair (even if I do lean towards enjoying it more than you do), the second half of this review is pretty debatable. for one, you lump in chillwave and lo-fi together, and without citing any examples, write the whole concept off. but which bands are you referring to? it kind of seems like you are using this ducktails album as the basis for this statement, which is not very convincing, because this album doesn't sound much like his old work and is definitely a step down. btw this is his first album with vocals, he's basically taking it in a new direction which is away from the work that made him one of the more recognizable "chillwave" artists. so its cool if you don't like this album because its really not that great, but it makes a pretty poor launching pad for taking down chillwave or lo-fi as a whole. do you count panda bear as chillwave? ariel pink? I mean there are a lot of super-boring chillwave bands, more than there are good ones, but I dunno that I agree with this particular argument.


  2. to be honest i did lump lo fi and chillwave together because i feel they are pretty similar and at least doing the same kind of thing, it's not necessarily in the notes but it seems to be more of a feeling, an overall mood that these artists create.
    i dont find panda bear or ariel pink to be chillwave or lo-fi at all, there is too much going on and too much money behind it(in a good way) to have the same feel
    a couple of amazing examples of really good chillwave/lo-fi are the julian lynch album mare, the wise blood ep i put on my list and as an early example and what i might consider one of the first in the style would be the russian futurists"let's get ready to crumble".

    this whole thing wasnt meant on attack on the genre being an abomination so to speak i just dont like the hazier aspects of a lot of the artists and i feel like the whole scene is walking in this somewhat uneventful fog .

    this ducktails album was used as a bit of a launching pad for my musings on chillwave but i do feel as somewhat of an ambassador to the scene it was a fitting review to place that discussion in.

    but yeah like every genre i like a little here and a little there i am just getting kinda tired of this one, just like i was tired of indie pop a few years back etc..... it all goes in cycles

  3. sure but by even saying "chillwave sucks" you are making it into more of a real thing. but if we are going to treat it as a real thing, both panda bear and ariel pink are listed on the wikipedia page for chillwave. and ariel pink is basically considered the template for the whole lo-fi retro pop pastiche that basically defines the whole chillwave sound. the julian lynch album is basically a folk album in my eyes, I don't recall anything being very lo-fi about it. and it just seems strange to me that you are using the not-very-chillwave new ducktails album to make yr point about chillwave! at any rate I don't really think "chillwave" is any great shakes, but I think you should say which artists you are thinking of when you say it is boring and creatively bankrupt.