Monthly archives: September, 2015

It’s like listening to… Week 9

This is a weekly series of genre descriptions. If you disagree with my descriptions, you’re probably wrong. It’s OK. It happens to the best of us.

For the rest of this series, click here.

Danny Elfman:

It’s like listening to a child’s dream. The sky rains glitter and fairy dust, as an aquamarine sun floats through the sky. Then, goblins riding on dark clouds clash against kaleidoscopic clowns and circus performers. Explosions of inky darkness dot the edges of the battle. As the ink overwhelms your vision, you sense the fighting fading away. But something else is coming…




Straight towards you…

Yes, Danny Elfman counts as a genre, too. Listen to him here. Also, this description is only about his scores. His work with Oingo Boingo is for another day.

Gothic rock:

It’s like listening to ash and hail raining down around you, as the air grows hotter and thicker. The very reality around you cracks and fractures, hungry fissures racing past your feet. The crumbling ground you stand on could give way at any moment, sending you tumbling into a burning abyss.


But, what a wild ride it’s been. It was worth it. You light your cigarette and breathe deeply, calmly closing your eyes. You’re ready for what happens next.

Inspired by Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead“.
See also: Siouxsie and the Banshees.
And, The Cure.

Alternative rock (pre-grunge):

It’s like listening to the soul of a dirty, crumbling, concrete-slab neighborhood. The energy within the walls hums and pushes against its boundaries. There, at the cracking seams, the power wriggles free. It’s made up of dozens of pieces. Some match, but are in the wrong place. Most don’t.


Its rough hodgepodge nature doesn’t seem to bother it a bit. It thrives in the chaos. The gaps in what has come before are where it dances and plays.


Off it goes.

Inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshee’s later work.


It’s like listening to a friend tell a joke that you already know to someone else. As the joke builds to its climax, you’re more excited than anyone else to get to the punchline. The sentences get shorter. Choppier. You’re bouncing with excitement.


Your friend nods to you and starts the punchline, the and you jump in, too. The two of you proudly leap to your feet and shout the words together.

Inspired by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones & Reel Big Fish.

It’s like listening to… Week 8

This is a weekly series of genre descriptions. If you disagree with my descriptions, you’re probably wrong. It’s OK. It happens to the best of us.

For the rest of this series, click here.


It’s like listening to a musical prodigy attempting to compose grandiose pieces. Upon revealing their latest opus, the prodigy finds out that they were cursed by an unholy spell to be compelled to use every damn sound effect on their keyboard. All attempts at breaking the curse have only mild success: repeatedly using the same effect instead of all of them.

Inspired by Major Lazer’s “Pon De Floor” (moderately cursed) & “Lean On” (heavily cursed)
Bonus: An attempt at breaking the curse.

Disco house:

It’s like listening to an urban spirit, its soulful, sexy energy seduces your limbs into rhythmic movement. The moon rises and slumbers during your ensorcelled fit of dance. When the spirit finally releases you from the dance, you aren’t sure what month it is.

Inspired by Lauer & Canard.


It’s like listening to an ocean made of steel. Steel sheets of waves break free of the open sea, charging to shore like implacable juggernauts. Exploding upon the shore, the waves shake your very soul into movement.

Inspired by Manolin “el Medico de la Salsa”.

John Williams:

It’s like listening to a skyship shaking free its earthly moorings and soaring straight to strange lands, stranger folk, and adventure. During the middle of its voyage, a dark cloud crawls in front of the sun, casting snakes of shadows slithering across the deck. But, the skyship’s drive fires brightly, brashly brushing the darkness away.

Yes, John Williams counts as a genre. He has more major albums than the entire Top 40 chart combined. Anyways, listen to this. And this.

It’s like listening to… Week 7

This is a weekly series of genre descriptions. If you disagree with my descriptions, you’re probably wrong. It’s OK. It happens to the best of us.

For the rest of this series, click here.

Epic trance:

It’s like listening to the still calm of the air atop a cliff. The soft breathing of the wind nearly lulls you to sleep before you remember your purpose and step off of the edge.

The water rushes past your ears as you plunge into the ocean below the cliff. The water frantically boils with your sudden dive. As the water settles after your dive, you begin to float, first on the water’s surface. Then, lazily sailing through the air.

Inspired by Tycoos and Armin van BUUUUURRRRREEEN!

Afro-Cuban Jazz:

It’s like listening to city made of brass instruments floating through the sky. The wind rushing past the city walls creates a bright, booming sound that pulls people from the ground and lifts them up to the clouds. The peal of trumpets echos across the world, sending the city lazily spinning across the heavens, dancing with the air and the earth.

Inspired by the unequaled Dizzy Gillespie.

Industrial punk:

It’s like listening to a city-destroying mecha battle, buildings exploding as 20-story tall robots fight for the freedom of the cyborgs and their human allies. Fists the size of large trucks desperately grip swords so large that they’re only dwarfed by the spirit of the pilots controlling them.

Victory is not sure, but the hearts of humans and robots will always yearn for freedom that no boundary can contain.

Inspired by Powerman 5000’s “Transform” EP. “Theme to a Fake Revolution” & “Free

By request: Baroque:

It’s like listening to the Earth crack and fracture, letting loose an ancient evil that has been patiently awaiting its inevitable release. Newly reborn, it slithers along the ground, like a sentient cloud, a miasma of malevolence. As it glides across grass, it steals the life from every blade it encounters, growing stronger.

Before long, the once weak wisp is now a towering tornado of torment.

But, wait…

What is that?
What *is* that?

While the ancient evil had been devouring life, its twin had been flowing through the night’s sky, stripping it of its darkness. Its twin surges forward, and the two primordial forces crash, flashes of jet black and pearl white lashing out, devastating their surroundings.

And just as soon as the battle began, it is over. There is no clear victor, but we are among the survivors. And that is enough for now.

Inspired by Bach’s toccata and fugue in D minor & Handel’s “Sarabande“.


It’s like listening to a joyful parade start to sweep by your window. As you lean out to listen, the music pulls you into the streets. Your feet barely touch the ground as you bounce through a crowd of dozens of new friends.

Inspired by Panjabi MC.

It’s like listening to… Week 6


It’s like listening to an arcade full of video game machines from the 80s playing a symphony. Halfway into the first movement, Donkey Kong plays a sour note and Q-Bert screams at him. Arkanoid tries to keep the peace, but the waggling paddle sends the rest of the ‘orchestra’ into a frenzy that culminates with 8-bit explosions and spilled quarters.

Inspired by: Riot Games’ “Bit Rush”Anamanaguchi:


It’s like listening to a caravan rolling through an unworldly desert. The sun blinds you every time you try to look up. Instead, you fix your eyes on the sands in front of you, though they shift colors with every blink of your eyes, an uncontrollable kaleidoscope. The wheels spray sand against the caravan, creating a rasping beat that keeps you alert, but relaxed.

Inspired by: Lost at Last’s “Radhe” & March Across the Endless Plain (Cecil Harding)


It’s like listening to one hundred and one nights of dancing, bells and bangles jingling as the crowd pounces out a tribal beat with their steps. Your voice is lifted up and carried along on a bed of other dancers, all singing that same song, one that none of you know, but all of you feel.

Inspired by Beats Antique & Asian Dub Foundation

Big Beat:

It’s like listening to a stampede of drums that have just exploded through a paper banner in front of their locker room. As they demolish the field, fireworks, distorted guitars, and the crowd scream their approval. The drums face off against a team of snarling keyboards.

After four fierce quarters of block rocking beats, diesel-powered firestarting, and tripping like I do, the final score blasts off of the scoreboard.


Inspired by The Prodigy, The Crystal Method, & The Chemical Brothers.

Dance punk:

It’s like listening to a can being kicked down the street, its metallic rattling vibrating the formerly still air of the alleyways. The can picks up speed, crashing against the buildings harder and faster. Before you realize it, you’re the one kicking the can, desperately trying to destroy the establishment.

Inspired by Does It Offend You, Yeah’s “We Are Rockstars”. Also, Hadouken’s “M.A,D.