Monday, April 27, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Music’s minimal movement a familiar trope for Gen Y critics

decicco column sig

By
From page B1 | November 23, 2012 |

When end-of-year best album charts begin popping up soon, Kendrick Lamar’s “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” is a shoo-in to top a few lists.

One notable thing about “Good Kid” is its adoption of minimalism. This is not minimalism in an electronic sense or a classical one, but one rooted in cutting things down to a simple form.

Beats are often used as decoration for Lamar’s words. The backing track on “B—-, Don’t Kill My Vibe” feels like little more than a sighing guitar hook and drum loops.

Lamar’s record isn’t the only one keeping it simple. It’s a pattern I’ve noticed among some recent, critically celebrated albums.

Fiona Apple’s “The Idler Wheel is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do” is, unlike its title, pretty bare bones. The Brooklyn-born songstress teamed with a fellow New Yorker, drummer Charley Drayton, to cook up a record that is often sparse and desolate.

The album closer, “Hot Knife,” is primarily Apple and her sister redoubling their voices into a choir, accompanied only by a timpani and a sporadic tickling of the ivories, yet it’s one of the most dense tracks on “Idler Wheel.”

Across genres, the move to minimalism feels like an unconscious trend that is occurring right now in music: Lamar, Apple, James Blake, Frank Ocean, Bon Iver, The Weeknd, Drake, Mumford & Sons and more.

This doesn’t feel like a purposeful, genre-crossing choice on the part of the artists, but their critical praise does seem to have a genesis of its own.

Generation Y has grown up and gone into the workplace, claiming what few jobs it’s been able to find in the past few years.

In a fight to stay cool and hip, many music publications employ young scribes who know their Bryan Adams from their Ryan Adams.

These people are increasingly from the “MTV Generation,” people who grew up in the ’80s when bigger was deemed better – excessive hair, clothes, colors and enough synthesizers to blast Manuel Noriega out of hiding.

The ’80s were so inflated in musical terms that the early ’90s are a stark response: Not the celebratory rock of Guns n’ Roses, but the gloomy grunge of Nirvana. Not the fun vibes of Run D.M.C., but the harshness of Dr. Dre and gangsta rap.

Also associated with this contrast between the ’90s reaction to the ’80s is the idea that simplicity is a musical code for being real, authentic and genuine.

Ah, authenticity. That’s a word I hear often associated with indie folk, indie rock and general music hipsterdom.

Perhaps there’s something in the DNA of the critics that they don’t even fully fathom, which explains why albums that are stripped down to their essence are enjoying such critical success.

The minimalist approach of Lamar, Apple and others speaks to them in a language they understand and for which they have been primed on an instinctual musical level their entire lives. They’ve been taught from a young age that what is simple is what is real.

However, this Pavlovian priming isn’t rooted in fact. No artist or genre owns the copyright on authenticity.

In fact, authenticity is more about perception and projection than reality. Lamar’s record sounds genuine. He has the intimidating tag of being “from Compton,” which lends his rhymes a credibility based on societal notions about the locale, helped in part by Dre and his ilk.

But “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City” is catchy and mixes questions about creating an identity within a cycle of violence and crime. It has something interesting to say, but I doubt its minimalist approach is the result of a conscious effort by artists across numerous genres to appeal to the critical code that simplicity equals authenticity.

However, if I’m wrong and artists such as Lamar and Apple are secretly phoning each other in a genre-spanning game of one-upmanship, if it’s strengthening the music each makes, then they shouldn’t kill each other’s vibe.

To read more of Nick DeCicco’s blogs, visit http://dailyrepublic.typepad.com/forthoseabouttorock. Follow him on Twitter @ndeciccodr.

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco

Nick DeCicco is the editor of the Tailwind and writes the pop culture blog/column For Those About to Rock. Before joining the DR staff in July 2007, DeCicco (pronounced Deh-CEE-Coh) worked at The Union in Grass Valley, Calif., and the Greeley Tribune in Greeley, Colo. A 2004 graduate of the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, DeCicco spends his free time attending concerts, listening to music, going to movies, traveling and hiking.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

County action speeds Solano fairgrounds plan to next phase

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Paint the Town Purple; and Roxie

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
White minister fought for civil rights in the south

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Farmers markets herald return of summer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
City Coach hosts first block party

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Bid Corderos Park, city staff recommends

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

Denim and Diamonds fundraiser set May 16

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

 
Crash claims life of Concord teen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4

Biz Buzz: NorthBay offers extended hours for primary care

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Biz Buzz: Retail store helps those with autism

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Committee schedules contractors breakfast

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Budweiser kicks off new parks campaign

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

Biz Buzz: Dutch Bros. plans ALS fundraiser

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
Biz Buzz: Company schedules pasta class

By Susan Hiland | From Page: B7

 
.

US / World

Picture it: A 1,000-year exposure showing a changing Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
‘Batman’ killer studied brain disorders before mass murder

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Image from the quake: Heavy damage in Nepal ancient city

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Fighting rages in Yemen’s 3rd-largest city, strikes continue

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Mountaineers, guides stream from Everest after avalanche

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Putin accuses US of supporting separatists in Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Death toll in Nepal quake rises to more than 3,200

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Late spring complicates already perilous amphibian migration

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Quake agony revealed quietly on trip from Nepal airport

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Corinthian Colleges to shut down all 28 remaining campuses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
No time to lose: Global response to Nepal quake gears up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Japan’s prime minister goes to US to showcase close ties

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Israel says airstrike on Syrian border targeted militants

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Family, friends in Baltimore mourn death of arrested man

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
.

Living

Today in history: Monday, April 27, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Parenting: How to set boundaries on screen time

By The Washington Post | From Page: B5

 
Horoscope: April 28, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

Horoscope: April 27, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A7

 
My husband doesn’t want me to redecorate home he had with first wife

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A7

.

Entertainment

TVGrid April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
TVGrid April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

Warriors confident after sweep of Pelicans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Giants-Rockies game postponed by rain

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Motorcycle rider from Livermore killed in Nevada race

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Billy Andrade and Joe Durant win Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Cavs sweep Celts as James scores 27 in 101-93 victory

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

It’s here: Fight week begins with Pacquiao caravan to Vegas

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
American Pharoah completes final pre-Kentucky Derby workout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newgarden claims first IndyCar Series win not far from home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Justin Rose wins in New Orleans for 7th PGA Tour title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Wall, Beal lead Wiz past Raptors 125-94 in Game 4 for sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Paul, Clippers even series with 114-105 win over Spurs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Ko wins Swinging Skirts for 2nd straight year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

.

Business

.

Obituaries

Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

 
Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Janis Ruth (Sefzik) Skinner

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

.

Comics

Frank and Ernest April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Peanuts April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baldo April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sally Forth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Zits April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

B.C. April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sudoku April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword April 28

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Rose is Rose April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

For Better or Worse April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Zits April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Frank and Ernest April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Peanuts April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Dilbert April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Baby Blues April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Sally Forth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
B.C. April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Garfield April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Beetle Bailey April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Blondie April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Get Fuzzy April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Pickles April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Wizard of Id April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

Baldo April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A6

 
Bridge April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Crossword April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Cryptoquote April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

Word Sleuth April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7

 
Sudoku April 27

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A7