Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday, we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Morning Show with John Richards, is “New Theory” by Washed Out from the 2010 album Life of Leisure on Mexican Summer.
I’m not so sure the music world really needs another sub-genre but for the sake of those people that find them helpful here we go: Georgia native Ernest Greene’s solo project, Washed Out, is one of the most interesting and exciting bands to emerge from the ever-expanding movement known only as CHILLWAVE. Chillwave of course is the newest way to describe the collective sounds of previously created sub-genres like synth-pop, new-wave, shoegaze and electronica. Like other bands from the “movement” (see: Neon Indian, Memory Cassette, Toro Y Moi), Washed Out inhabits the nooks and crannies between these previous constructions but never really planting its feet in any one place for too terribly long. This rejection of structure in favor of dreamy, conceptual sound-scapes is the origin of Chillwave’s “chill.” Anyone that’s ever found hypnotic comfort in Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Mojave 3), My Bloody Valentine or even Low will likely find the ethereal texture of Greene’s music quite pleasing. Building on the strengths of dreamy ambience, Washed Out’s second EP, Life of Leisure, ratchets up the accessibility with glitzy instrumentation that calls to mind a time when pop music wasn’t taken so seriously. It wears shiny colors and dances with the lights on. On Washed Out, a DJ friend of mine recently commented: “It’s music like this that proves my dreams of being a Solid Gold Dancer are still alive!”
Clearly the EP’s strongest track, “New Theory” is the perfect blend of dream and reality. Like some kind of wonderful John Hughes hallucination the catchy beat is the perfect backdrop for youthful memories. Greene’s ghostly vocals smear Vaseline on the lens, blurring lines between fact and fiction. I never went to Prom, but when I imagine it happening, well, this song seems to be playing (there is also a disco ball and the smell of gym socks).
If you’re hoping to catch Washed Out live in the Northwest, you’re unfortunately out of luck. Ernest Greene was just in town at the Vera Project last week, accompanied by and performing with Small Black. Hopefully, you were there. If not, you can head over the the East Coast and follow him on tour. His MySpace page will tell you where he’s heading. For now, you can check out this, from one of their hundreds of SXSW appearances last month (but if you really want the Solid Gold dancers, go here):