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New Weird

Related: American music - folk music - weird - literature - new

Espers (2004) - Espers [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

New Weird America (musical movement)

Antony and the Johnsons - CocoRosie - Devendra Banhart - Espers

Musical movement
New Weird America describes a musical movement in the 2000s which boasts a new uprising of weird and psychedelic music. It is a revival of sorts of the term Old Weird America, coined by Greil Marcus. The style of this movement is derived from folk and psychedelic groups from the 1960s and 1970s. The bands of this movement are usually classified as psych folk, acid folk or most notably as freak-folk.

In 2004, The Wire magazine ran a cover story on this movement, written by David Keenan. However, there is no definitive source for information about the movement, as most works are hard to find and distributed independently.

New Weird America is not a unified movement. It was a term derived by journalists such as post-rock and indie rock. Many of these bands do not identify with this term but have been lumped into it by the press. The underground American scene has been around for a long time. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Weird_America [Jan 2006]

List of musical movements --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_movements [Jan 2006]

New Weird (literary movement)

The New Weird is a literary movement presently in progress. The writers involved are mostly novelists who are considered to be parts of the science fiction or speculative fiction genres. Its most notable authors include Justina Robson, M John Harrison, Steven Cockayne, Alastair Reynolds, Steph Swainston, Thomas Ligotti, and China Mieville.

The core idea of the New Weird is that literature should transcend the genre in which it is written, and therefore it is not only acceptable but encouraged that a writer blur the borders between genres. Many New Weird writings contain elements of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.

Critics of the New Weird note that the divisions of genre are built for a reason and that the traditional divisions of genre are based on which types of ideas work best together. Supporters speculate that the New Weird will follow the lead of Cyberpunk and become an important part of recent literary tradition.

This genre owes its birth to the 1940s pulp author and legendary horror icon Howard Phillips Lovecraft, whose stories often combined fantasy elements, existential and physical terror, and science-fiction devices. Lovecraft has influenced countless authors and artists (such as Stephen King, Clive Barker, Chris Carter, Anne Rice, Alan Dean Foster, Robert Jordan, the Wachowski Brothers, and even Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis as is evident by the monstrous Zoul and the "gateway to our world" concept popularized in Ghostbusters. The ever-popular idea of ghost busting equipment, ie, something similar to Akroyd's and Ramis's proton packs (also called neutrino throwers) was possibly also first introduced by Lovecraft, via his story "The Shunned House," and the interaction of fantasy-horror elements with science-fiction technologies so popular in science-fiction, fantasy, and horror has remained so ever since.

Lovecraft is best known, perhaps, for his Cthulhu mythos, with its extra-dimensional alien forces out to destroy mankind from the mind outwards. When he originally created this fantasmical cosmology of fallen, alien gods, weird other-dimensional portals, and strange variations on magic and the occult, he set a precedent: in his correspondence with other writers, he shared the mythos, and made it common property for others to play with. Howard Philips Lovecraft may have inadvertently been the first author to ever encourage a brand new invention: fan fiction.

Aside from Lovecraft, there is Stephen King's mammoth Dark Tower saga. It is set in a parallel universe where Gunslingers are the last knights of a fallen utopia, and the last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain, is out to save Mid-World from the fall of the Dark Tower, the hub of all existence. He is beset by a demon called the Crimson King and his friends include a recovering drug addict, a schizophrenic civil rights activist, a reincarnated 12-year-old boy, and a hybrid between a raccoon and dog called a "bumbler", named "Oy," after his bark.

In Italy the most important representative of the New Weird is novelist and historian Valerio Evangelisti, who has been developing his own fictional world, based on medieval history, science-fiction, fantasy, horror and gothic since 1994.

See Farscape and The X-Files for examples of New Weird in television. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Weird [Jan 2006]

Noah's Ark (2005) - CocoRosie

Noah's Ark (2005) - CocoRosie [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

A unicorn, a rainbow spitting zebra and what looks to be a horse sprouting a third eye are engaged in group sex on the illustrated cover of CocoRosie's second album. If that leads you to expect something playful and magical but also starkly screwed-up from the recording inside, you are on the right path. With assistance from Antony and Devendra, Ark is easily one of the most rewarding releases of 2005. The core of the music is made by singers/multi-instrumentalists Sierra and Bianca Cassidy, formerly estranged sisters who bonded over music and made their magical debut in a Paris flat. Their music has a lunatic music box feel that ought to appeal to fans of Bjork and Joanna Newsom, while the lyrics mine transgressive territory more often found in a book by JT LeRoy than a pop song. The true stars of the album are the singers' lovely, ethereal voices, which refract a '30s jazz-blues idiom through a strangely deadened, forever-sad delivery. It's the vocal equivalent of the toymaker's creations from Blade Runner and it is simply beautiful! -Mike McGonigal

CocoRosie are an American duet that formed in 2003. Stylistically they may be assigned to the indie rock, psych folk genres, and are sometimes associated with the New Weird America movement. Sierra plays the guitar, the flute, and leads vocals. Bianca is a percussionist and also beatboxes. They were active for most of 2004, playing dates across the U.S. and making several trips to Europe for tours playing with TV on the Radio, Bright Eyes, Devendra Banhart and others. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CocoRosie [Feb 2006]

See also: New Weird - music - 2005 - American music

I am a Bird Now (2005) - Antony and the Johnsons

One day I ll grow up, I ll be a beautiful woman
One day I ll grow up, I ll be a beautiful girl
One day I ll grow up, I ll be a beautiful woman
One day I ll grow up, I ll be a beautiful girl

But for today I am a child, for today I am a boy
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy
For today I am a child, for today I am a boy

from "For Today I Am A Boy"

I am a Bird Now (2005) - Antony and the Johnsons [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Candy Darling on the cover of I Am a Bird Now

Itís not often that an album released in January gets called one of the best of the year in near-unison, but the second full length by Antony and the Johnsons is so startlingly beautiful that it simply has to be. Like his friend and compatriot Devendra Banhart, Antony is a super-talented singer-songwriter with a flair for dramatic artsong. But the cherubic Antony is so original he must get mistaken for an alien quite often; he sings like a bluesy opera singer and switches timbre from masculine to feminine in the space of a breath. The only vocal comparison that comes close is Nina Simone. Antonyís honest lyrics deal with deep wounds and troubled desires with matter of fact poetry and subtle humor, as in a short story by JT LeRoy. Aided and abetted by a versatile band thatís often closer to chamber orchestra than rock act, Antony delivers a visionary album with I Am A Bird Now. Oh yeah: Rufus Wainwright, Devendra, Lou Reed and Boy George all appear on here, too. --Mike McGonigal for Amazon.com

Antony and the Johnsons are an award-winning music act from New York City.

The band is essentially the vehicle for singer Antony, whose full name is Antony Hegarty. Born in Chichester, West Sussex, England in 1971, Antony moved to Amsterdam in 1977 for 18 months before settling in California in 1981. As a teenager he was enthused by the British synth pop of the time ó in particular emotive torch singers such as Marc Almond and Boy George. In 1990 he moved to Manhattan and founded the performance collective Blacklips with creative partner Johanna Constantine.

Antony's voice seems to channel Nina Simone and Bryan Ferry, and he has many celebrity admirers such as Philip Glass, Marc Almond, Lou Reed and the guest vocalists on I Am a Bird Now, Boy George, Rufus Wainwright and Devendra Banhart. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antony_and_the_Johnsons [Feb 2006]

See also: Androgyny - outsider - music - 2005 - American music

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