Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Last summer Washed Out came out of nowhere with the massive track 'Feel It All Around' and with his arrival was the birth of a new sub-genre being labeled 'Chillwave' and 'Glo'fi', all in reference to a bunch of artists who were making very sun-tinged pop. Included among these artists were people like Memory Cassette (and subsequently Memory Tapes), Best Coast and Toro Y Moi. So shortly after that there were a few uber-snobby internet writers who denounced it as a fad and said all of these artists were overhyped and their music was trite. Washed Out has taken the brunt of the slander. Well, first off Best Coast, Memory Cassette and Toro Y Moi sound absolutely nothing like each other except for the fact their music has a 'sunny' quality to it. This brings me to a point: one of the funny things about the current state of pop culture and the internet is that people can now exist in their own little bubble. No matter what your interests there are groups on the internet interested in the same thing. As a result pop culture has become a little fragmented in that there are not really films/movies/books that people really rally around. (Tangentally: I recently saw an interview with a man who has worked in the fashion industry for 40 years; his job is to predict trends and report them to designers. He recently gave it up saying 'there's no point, there are no such thing as trends anymore') Think of how many more radio stations and television channels there are now compared to even ten years ago. You have options. As a result what happens is people tend to call things overhyped and trite even though as far as 'mainstream culture' (which still exists, but is a much weaker designation) goes, those things don't even end up on their wavelength. My point is that the majority of people that listen to Washed Out are bloggers or VERY savvy music listeners. I have to laugh when I see bloggers say an artist is overhyped due to the fact they exist in their own little bubble of fellow bloggers and that very small group keep talking about an artist. And to put it in perspective, as far as PHYSICAL formats of his music, Washed Out has: 1 tape (Ltd. to 200 copies), 1 Vinyl EP (Ltd to 1000 copies w/ 1000 copy repress), 1 7" (Ltd to 500 copies), 1 split 7" (Ltd to 500 copies). All told that's only 3200 physical copies of ALL his music in existence.
My point in all this is to say one thing: Washed Out is actually really damn good. Yes, there were some spotty tracks on his cassette release last year, but his EP is rock-solid. And the funny thing is when he came out it seemed almost natural that people fall in love with his music even though there was little about it that was obvious or spoke to any trends in music. I think he should be applauded for taping into a zeitgeist...of people who exist in a particular bubble. This week Washed Out has released a new track called You and I and it's a stunner. This one reminds me of New Theory, a song I thought stole the show on his EP and showed a still-sunny-yet-somehow-melancholy side to his music. The other great thing about 'You and I' is that it is the sound of an artist growing. I always love to hear artists develop their sound and continue to challenge themselves. So here's You and I and a whole bunch of Washed Out gems for all you non-blog-nerds... and, yes, to silence you haters too.
Get the song You and I as part of Adult Swim's 8 singles in 8 weeks collection here.