What I’m listening to: Chillwave out, bro

Chillwave is a term coined by the great Carles of Hipster Runoff. If you’re not familiar with that individual, please visit his blog here (WARNING: this site should not be navigated from your workplace). I find his blog posts to be full of humor and insight you cannot get anywhere else. As defined on his site, “Chillwave” is a sub-genre of indie rock where synthesizers/electronic effects are used predominantly over guitars. There’s almost always mellow vocals and it usually features ambience. It has quickly become one of my favorite styles. It doesn’t take somebody with a degree in rocket appliances to figure out that this is great music to unwind to. My introduction to it was through a Clams Casino mix-tape track that featured Imogen Heap (I did a post on them awhile back that can be viewed here). It really takes you to another place, it does.

I was totally into this chillwave music but it was so deep I ended up in this ocean and then I was just like...Woah

I was totally into this chillwave music but it was so deep, I ended up in this ocean and then I was just like…woah

1. Washed Out-All I know

Washed Out has truly become the face of chillwave. I cannot think of a band that more epitomizes the genre than this project led by Ernest Greene. I first heard of them on Portlandia as their track “Feel it All Around” is played during the title credits. “All i Know” is a newer track off their latest album Paracosm. It features a long, flowing intro that assures you will be listening to something pleasant. After that, Greene’s vocals kick in and the ride begins. Green’s vocals are good at times, and definitely sub-par for others (I think the vocals are the weak point of “Feel it All Around”), but they are stellar during this track. It is my estimation that you will further look into this group after enjoying this moderately-paced, quaint gem of a song.


2. I Break Horses-Denial

In case you have fallen out of the loop on the Swedish indie scene, I’m happy to introduce you to I Break Horses, a wondrous electro group that has produced a variety of tunes I’ve come to like in the recent weeks. They are composed of Maria Linden and Fredrik Balck. These two know how to incorporate electric themes and influences about as well as any more well-known electronic artists such as Daft Punk or Chemical Brothers. What I like about this music is the lack of uptempo beats that techno music features. This isn’t music you can dance to but I think that was far from the intention when it was written. There are plenty of catchy effects both instrumentally and vocally (@ 1:58). I’m going to shut-up now so you can get to listening to this remarkable track. Be sure to check out their work if you liked this one, you can play it right off their website of which the link is provided above.


3. Neon Indian-Sleep Paralysist (Com Truise “Eyelid” Remix)

This last song is a Com Truise remake of a popular Neon Indian track called “Sleep Paralysist”. While I think the original is a good song itself, this remix is an improved effort. The haunting intro is the highlight of the song for me. The bass-sounding synths are also heavily available throughout the song.  The chorus is underwhelming and the vocals are just a notch above serviceable. Nevertheless, I generally like Alan Palomo’s vocals, they complement this type of music very well. This is the darker side of chillwave and has a little bit more going on than most tracks of this genre but this does not equate to a less enjoyable listening experience whatsoever.


Events: RAYGUN/Maximum Ames Records Listening Party

Just recently, back in late July, actually, I had the privilege of attending a special event being hosted at RAYGUN shirts. Maximum Ames Records (link) is a label dedicated to spreading the musical works of Iowa bands. Iowa bands do not get as much love as they should in the music scene and thanks to efforts of groups like Maximum Ames Records, that is changing. Along with releasing their artists albums on vinyl and hosting their own festival (which was held back on Sep 29th), they host unique events like this. I had never been to listening party before and it’s not all that often that I get to enjoy hearing something on vinyl. It had also been a long time since I checked out RAYGUN so I figured…Hey, why not!?

The catchy display Maximum Ames put on.

The catchy display Maximum Ames put on.

It ended up being a very wise investment of my time. There was a small crowd there that gradually increased as the evening went on. RAYGUN is a must visit for any native Iowan or outsider who happens to be visiting our fine city. The catchy sayings that are not only featured on their clothing but many other types of memorabilia gives you plenty to look at despite the relatively small floor space. They were kind enough to provide all guests and shoppers with free pizza and PBR (which took the party up a  fuckin’ notch if you ask me).

This is always a place I try to stop by whenever I’m in that part of town. I tip my cap to Mike Draper and his RAYGUN team for creating such a unique concept for a business and thriving…especially in this economic climate. The messages they send through their merchandise serves as a calling card for Des Moines. They are continually spreading their influence throughout Iowa (just check their Facebook page…19,000+ likes don’t lie, brah). Founder Mike was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at Des Moines Area Community College’s Small Business Awards Banquet. I have no doubt then when Iowans leave their home state wearing Raygun apparel, they turn heads as well. How could you not with taglines like “Des Moines…Hell Yes.”


A handy notebook...the cover title suggest it will mostly contain anthems about generation Y'ers not reaching their full potential and moving in with their parents after 6 months of being out of college.

A handy notebook…the cover title suggests it will mostly contain anthems about generation Y’ers not reaching their full potential and moving in with their parents after 6 months of being out of college.

All in all, this was a terrific event and I know the success of it will encourage them to host more. I talked with Maximum Ames rep Patrick Tape Fleming  who was very personable and was able to give me plenty of info on some of these underexposed bands. One group that I took a liking to was the Wheelers. I’ve posted a performance of theirs below. If you’re into a lo-fi garage sound, give it a listen for sure. Or…you could do yourself an even bigger favor and check out one of their shows. Whatever you do, put attending  a listening party at a trend-setting and  quaint clothing store toward the top of your bucket list.  If that’s not available, there will be a beer tasting event at Zombie burger on 10/10 where Backpocket Brewing will be serving a new IPA named specifically after RAYGUN. And if you haven’t gathered this in the rest of this post by now, know that anything with the RAYGUN name attached to it is much worth attending!