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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Is Chillwave the Sound of Summer 2010?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 12, 2010 at 2:54 PM

click to enlarge Washed Out wonders if he's your summer fave.
  • Washed Out wonders if he's your summer fave.
It may be hard for us S.F. residents to tell, but summer is here, and that means it's time to bust out our brightest, shiniest, dreamiest, and, uh, summeriest music to help make these months (more like weeks in our case) that much more memorable. Of course, deciding on the proper warm weather tunes is a completely subjective decision; some may be reaching into the fresh sounds from the burgeoning 'tribal guarachero' sound, while others are still stuck on San Francisco's biggest musical export as of late, garage rock. The former could be a bit too Dolores Park hippy rave for folks looking to chill out, and the latter might sound old hat next to the constant waves of new genres available. What to do?

Though I often cringe at the genre slapped on artists like Toro Y Moi, Neon Indian, and Washed Out, chillwave isn't changing its name, and this article on the Teshno blog argues that the fledgling style will be remembered as the music of Summer 2010. Even though the sounds were first heard around last summer, they seem to more recently be growing legs. But I can see why it's being claimed as this year's sunny sound; the music feels born from exuberant youth without a thing to do; it's as dreamy as beat-centric music is likely to get; and it makes an ideal middle ground between electronic sounds and the structured pop beloved by indie kids. Still, chillwave also feels very temporary. One of its most respected progenitors, Chaz Bundik (a.k.a. Toro Y Moi), has already switched out much of his computerized compositions for straight-up live music on his lastest single, "Leave Everywhere," and many artists associated with the sound refuse to brand themselves "chillwave."

Kristan JC, author of the aforementioned article, writes, "Whether [chillwave] turns out to be a passing ripple or of the all-consuming Tsunami-type, only time will tell." You could say that about any new genre. But a year of existence doesn't quite establish a sound -- I'd venture that chillwave's feeling of impermanence helps it claim the crown of this summer's soundtrack. The style has basically peaked (Neon Indian is making deals with Mountain Dew, guys), so it ought to remain in the hearts and minds of its listeners as romantically elusive and hazy as the songs sound when they're first heard. And in summers to come, we can return to them like unburied time capsules waiting to conjure the memories of years past.

Follow us on Twitter @SFAllShookDown and @PatricFallon

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Patric Fallon

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