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Strange Music Genres You Need to Know

Forget about hip hop, rock, and pop, those are old school; these unusual genres represent the new school.

By George GottPublished 7 years ago 6 min read
Top Story - December 2016

While musical genres like rap, rock, pop, hip hop, jazz, R&B and EDM have huge audiences and are known all over the world, there are many more interesting types of music that are worth discovering. Some are a fusion of categories, while others are their own bizarre niche. Either way, it's worth opening your ears and expanding your playlists with these strange musical genres.

If you have read Aleister Crowley’s The Book of the Law and you're intrigued by occultism, you will love witch house music.

Perhaps you have heard Crystal Castles before but did not have a name for the band’s unique style of dark, occult-themed electronica. Witch house (sometimes known as drag or haunted house) is influenced by the ‘chopped and screwed’ subgenre of hip-hop with some added industrial and noise elements; picture a mix of Three 6 Mafia and The Cure.

The name itself derives from an inside joke between electronic musician Travis Egedy (aka Pictureplane) and his friends; while describing the type of music he makes during an interview, Egedy half-seriously used the term ‘witch house’ in an effort to characterize his horror and witchcraft-inspired lyrics and dark, noisy atmosphere. Intentional or not, the name stuck and a new genre was born.

Other bands included in this genre are Salem, Purity Ring and Glass Teeth.

If you like crazy graphics and think you can handle hearing millions of separate notes in a short period of time, this genre is for you.

The experimental genre–which came on the music scene in 2009 by way of Japan–refers to extremely complex musical compositions that can’t be played by humans on a regular instrument; musicians make this music using MIDI files (which store musical notes and timing). In fact, the genre’s name is self-descriptive of that MIDI process, the “black” part referring to the crazy black graphics that emerge on sheet music when a composition features so many notes simultaneously. Sometimes compositions are constructed with these visual patterns in mind; MIDI notes are played really fast and in a particular order to create an amazing audiovisual experience.

Should you wish to play these seemingly impossible masterpieces and turn into a “blacker” (the term reserved for creators of black MIDI music) all you need is the proper sequencer, a lot of creativity and a lot of time on your hands.

If you haven’t heard electroswing before, you should incorporate this unusual genre into your playlist rotation.

Electroswing originated in the 90s after a number of artists took samples of vintage jazz and swing records and began mixing them with hip-hop and EDM. Artists like Doop, Lucas Secon and Jurassic 5 started to play their sets in small venues but soon enough, this genre was a fixture in music festivals around the world.

There's no more appealing scenario than walking into a club to hear your favorite jazz tunes blasting from the speakers but with the added coolness of hip hop and energy of EDM. If electroswing is your thing, then you have some amazing nights ahead of you.

If you like video games and heavy music then you will love this awesome fusion between 8-bit sounds, audio samples of old video games and smashing drum riffs and solos.

The term Nintendocore was first used in the metalcore scene when Horse The Band incorporated 8-bit elements into their music. Their album “Secret of the Rhythm of the Universe” was the first album distributed from this genre, although the first rock bands that experimented and played with 8-bit sounds were Minibosses and The Advantage (and both of those bands are truly mind blowing).

There are a lot of punk, hardcore, post hardcore and metal bands that experiment with the 8-bit world and are tagged as nintendocore, so there is plenty to listen to if you get into this category.

You have probably heard bands like Gorillaz or Bjork, but have you ever picked up on the enormous trip hop influence? If not, you need to educate yourself with some Massive Attack and Portishead records.

It all started with the sound systems in the 80s - huge collections of jazz, ska, reggae, swing and tons more of unbelievable music. The influence of this movement and its music runs wide, from late 70s skinheads and mods to 90s Europe hip hop culture, among many others.

Simply put, trip hop is a perfect mix between European hip hop and samples from the greatest Jamaican influences of all time. In fact, this blend is often executed so perfectly that each individual component is barely detectable within a song; instead the singular pieces work seamlessly together to form a sweet layer of “trippy” sounds for the listener to enjoy. This genre has inspired a lot of bands like Cibo Matto, Grimes, Team Sleep and Garbage.

If you like horror movies and creepy stuff then this one is for you!

This genre is basically rockabilly infused with punk and rock elements. The Cramps are often considered the pioneers in this genre, but they rejected the idea of being too closely associated with the psychobilly scene and distanced themselves accordingly.

The Meteors were the first band to be considered ‘pure’ psychobilly but other psychobilly bands soon emerged in Europe – groups like Reverend Horton Heat and Necromantix.

After the genre’s initial boost in popularity following The Meteors' release, there was a lull in new music. Later on, though, there was a new wave of psychobilly bands led by Tiger Army in the 90s.

This musical style–also known as shoe gazing–was born in the United Kingdom in the late 80s but gained more widespread recognition in the 90’s.

The genre was named in reference to a particular behavior many artists within this genre used to inexplicably display, a habit whereby musicians would avoid eye contact with their audience. Instead, they would gaze at their shoe. Shoegaze.

The sound of the music is really loud with droning riffs, waves of distortion and cascades of feedback.

Bands of this genre typically prefer to keep their music underground and consequently have trouble maintaining popularity, so this genre will likely remain both underrated and largely unknown.

Representative artists of this genre are My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Slowdive, Pale Saints, The Verve and Telescopes.

Born in the mid 80s in England while the bands Amebix and Antisect were at the height of their success, this genre (also known as simply 'crust'), is a mix of hardcore punk and extreme metal. The lyrics tend to speak to social and political ills, usually with a dark and pessimist touch.

The sound is very filthy, raw and brutal, somewhat comparable to the D-beat style of hardcore punk; it's similar to The Varukers but harder in tone. Bands like Nausea, Doom, Excrement of War and Extreme Noise Terror comprise the foundation of this genre.

Amebix's album “Arise” is considered the first truly crustpunk album, but the band Hellabastard was the first to actually invoke the term with their demo “Ripper Crust” in 1986.

Other bands within this genre worth following are Chicago's Los Crudos and Argentina’s Migraviolenta.

Nerdcore is, quite literally, a genre of hip-hop that emphasizes themes that are of the stereotypically nerdy variety. Many nerdcore artists share their music for free on the internet and the genre in general tends to abide by a DIY ethic. Songs in this category are laden with nerdy references, containing lyrics about Star Wars and other science fiction series, as well as role-play games, fantasy, science, computers, and politics.

Indeed, the sound of nerdcore varies from artist to artist, as the genre is more defined by the lyrics than the music itself, but sampling that hasn't been legally licensed is something that most of the artists have in common.

MC Frontalot is one of the more prominent nerdcore artists, with songs like “Good Old Clyde", intended as a humorous ode to Clyde Stubblefield for providing the world with the very widely-sampled “Funky Drummer” drum break (while ironically sampling that same song).

Some other artists representative of nerdcore are Bad Credit, Mega Ran, MC Lars, Dual Core, Sammus and Monzy. But like the genre itself, nerdcore artists do not hold to one specific definition and thus come from all corners of the music world.

If you enjoy hardcore punk, drum, bass and industrial metal, then you already like breakcore music; you just haven't been formally introduced yet.

This style might best be described as a manipulation of jungle, ragga jungle and hip hop beats played back at high speeds with distorted 808 and 909 drums and abrupt, violent changes in rhythm.

Dev/Null, Venetian Snares, Nick Blast and Quatros are some of the better known breakcore artists.


About the Creator

George Gott

Writer & Social Media Editor for Jerrickmedia who is an avid reader of sci-fi and a fierce defender of women, minority, and LGBTQ rights.

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